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Letter to the editor

It's been almost 25 years since I attended my first Heimtextil Exhibition in Frankfurt. Having been brought up on New York jobber markets and early drapery and window covering shows, Heimtex was awesome. The color, designs, the displays, the different languages, cultures was most impressive. And then there was the U.S. pavilion, … the crème of the New York convertor and mill companies.

I came to Heimtex as an attendee and wrote the odd order in the house while walking around, but there came a point where I made a decision that international trade was the way of the future, even though Rockland, a lining company pushing white and ivory, could easily become intimidated by its surroundings. The first year that Rockland did exhibit in Hall 5 … there was me and one other person, and most of the time we sat. However … at the last Exhibition in January, our stand had grown by over five times in square meters. (The Rockland Mills division of Rockland Industries was awarded the President's E Award for Export Excellence by the Commerce Department in 1991 and the President's EH Award for Export Excellence in 1995.) Needless to say, the decision to go international, at least for Rockland, was the right thing to do at the time, the interim years, now and for the future. But other things have changed, too.

The face and roster of the companies in the American pavilion are nowhere near the roster that used to attend. The image once given by the large mills and convertors is gone. Perhaps … they decided to go off on their own … with very large stands at extremely high prices. As business conditions changed, the cost … may have become too much to justify.

Now … many of the large American exhibitors with great names are for the most part just not showing at all. I am wondering if it's not time to go back to that point where the U.S. pavilion, with smaller stands and lesser expense, would be the right venue for these companies to rejoin the international sales community. I know to do so would call for a bending of the rules by the U.S. government in terms of what's shown and what's sold on these stands. I find this somewhat of a paradox, since regardless of where goods are made, if they are sold by American suppliers, U.S. warehouses are used, employing Americans using U.S. freight and U.S. offices, all of which pay U.S. taxes.

The United States has lowered our duty rates and quotas to a point where incoming goods from other nations have found their way into great use by the American decorative fabric industry. These rates were lowered by the U.S. government — the same government that inhibits the selling of these products at U.S. pavilions, even [given the above mentioned benefits].

I am complaining about … what could be done to further enhance the quality level of U.S. exhibitors and the impression such a change would have on foreign buyers at the U.S. pavilion. I've been told that it is a couple of Senators from North and South Carolina … who are standing in the way of progressive legislation.

Does this make common sense?

Stanley Fradin, president, Rockland Mills division, Rockland Industries Inc.

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