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Valdese Invests to Up Capacity

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, December 5, 2005

Valdese, N.C. — In a move that will increase its domestic production capacity by some 15 to 20 percent, and upgrade its dyeing, finishing and systems technology, Valdese Weavers will make a multi-million dollar expansion of its facility here.

The decorative fabrics mill currently has sales approaching $100 million, said Mike Shelton, president and CEO. “I know this announcement is in stark contrast to the constant stream of negative news about the domestic textile industry we have become accustomed to hearing,” Shelton observed, adding that the company has experienced growth in each of the markets it serves during this year. Sales increases for the year are in the low double digits overall, he said.

The company will retire some older jacquard weaving equipment, primarily wide-width looms that were used most for the home textiles market, Shelton explained. The new jacquard equipment was selected after a nine-month trial of state-of-the-art weaving technology and the highest level of productivity, according to Carson Copeland, senior vice president, manufacturing. The equipment will be new Dornier weaving machines equipped with new Staubli jacquards.

While Shelton declined to specify the number of looms involved, or the total dollar investment, he noted, “Although the market is flush with used weaving equipment, the productivity and reliability of the new equipment is dramatically better than any used machinery available.”

In addition, the new advanced yarn-dyeing equipment will enable the company to increase capacity while enhancing the “small dye-lot” capability necessary to satisfy today’s market. Additions will also add flexibility and capacity in the firm’s fabric finishing, he added. 

Valdese will invest in enhancements to its information system that is based on SAP AG’s Enterprise Resource Planning system, according to Snyder Garrison, senior vice president, administration, as well as in design capability to enhance its design and archiving environment.

Shelton remarked, “We see more opportunity than ever before for a domestic supplier by emphasizing our commitment to product design, quality and service.” He explained that with the company’s fully integrated information technology, “We have 90,000 active patterns that can be produced within 21 days from start to finish — including yarn dyeing to shipping.”

While retiring the wide-width looms, the new machinery “gives us the flexibility to weave in all of our primary markets.” And the company is not abandoning the home textiles business where it sees growth by providing sourced product for key customers as well as licensed fabric programs for customers’ own sourcing, Shelton said.

Similarly, the company works with specific furniture customers for Chinese cut-and-sew programs as well as piece goods. Both programs “are additions to its domestic business, not replacements,” Shelton emphasized.

The new capacity will be focused on the company’s three primary channels of distribution — contract, furniture manufacturers, and distributors which includes both jobbers and fabric retailers. The balance of its business is specialty and home textiles which includes the RV market “and business in these sectors is quite good,” Shelton said.

In terms of growth, Shelton pointed to contract as growing “more rapidly, but we’ve only been in it eight years. We’ve now hit the critical mass in both OEM and jobbers.” The company also is recording “significant growth” in both the distributor and furniture manufacturing channels, he added. Shelton sees the expansion as an opportunity to “enhance our ability to perform to, and exceed, our customers’ expectations.”

Valdese has two facilities and about 600 associates here. HTT

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