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Bari Offers Tale of Caution

The owners of home textiles manufacturer Bari Mills know all about what happens when quota falls off a category. They've been through the process — and it nearly killed their company.

In the mid 1980s, Barry Mills focused its business on procuring white towels for the institutional business, exporting primarily to hospitals and hotels. As one of the largest holders of quota in Pakistan for that classification, the company developed a nice $45 million business — one it thought would double after quotas were phased out in the early 1990s. Instead, the business evaporated.

“The customers didn't stay loyal, so we went from $45 million to nothing,” said Yahya Yousuf Bari, director of the family-owned company.

Bari considers his family's tale a cautionary one for overseas suppliers who expect a quota-free landscape to provide quick growth.

“Everybody has the same price point. What customers need are quality producers, on-time shipping and customer service,” he said.

Today the company is more diversified, producing bedding ensembles, jersey sheets, solid and printed sheets, towels, kitchen towels and bath robes. Last year, the company acquired terry weaving equipment that formerly belonged to Pillowtex, a modern dying unit and a print mill.

The company, founded by Bari's grandfather in 1947, sells into the United States primarily through importers servicing specialty and department stores, along with some discounters. Roughly 65 percent of its exports go to the United States.

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