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Karsten focuses on textile exports

Karsten SA

Blumenau, Brazil

President/ceo: Carlos Odebrecht

Terrisol (U.S.) division exec vp: Eric Vergucht

Principal business: towels, table linens

Karsten SA is a major producer of cotton, and rayon and polyester textiles since 1882, when the company was founded.

The company, formerly known as Companhia Textil Karsten, mainly manufactures cotton fabrics, of which 68 percent are used to produce table linens, bedspreads and doormats. The remaining 32 percent is used to manufacture window treatments, decorative fabrics and embroidered textiles.

At its onset Karsten produced fabrics for apparel, but today the company focuses on home textiles, said Carlos Odebrecht, president and ceo.

Some 25 years ago Karsten launched its export division. Today the company exports 50 percent of its product outside Brazil, Odebrecht explained.

And even though Karsten exports its goods globally to more than 40 countries, "the American market comprises about 45 percent of our total exports," Odebrecht said. "It's our biggest export market."

Karsten's American division, known as Karsten USA/ Terrisol Corp., based in New York , is five years old. Eric Vergucht is the division's executive vp and general manager.

But Karsten originally started trading with the United States 20 years ago with the aid of agents.

"First we had reps there, and then we bought a company and set up Terrisol," Odebrecht said. "We found it's better to have a presence. The American market is a big market, and by being there it helps us stay on top of what is happening in the industry in quality and design."

Karsten also owns and operates a division in Europe, based in Germany. In Mexico and Japan, the company employs on-site representatives.

"I think that more and more companies like ours in Latin America will increase their exporting businesses in textiles," Odebrecht said. "It makes sense."

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