Achievements & Challenges of Rapid Response Efforts

The industry roundtable discussion offered perspective from the brand, textile, cut & sew and equipment point of view.

Navigating today’s uncharted path of domestic production of PPE is not for the faint of heart, but textile execs say that collaboration– even with competitors – along with willingness to learn and evolve during an ever-changing crisis situation is bringing impressive results. Hanesbrands is cranking out 1.5-to-2 million facemasks; LA Corp is delivering pallets of 22,000 masks, with gown production underway; Contempora Fabrics is shipping about 2000 yards a week of fabric treated with DWR and anti-microbial protection for masks and gowns, in addition to making masks in-house; and Henderson Sewing Machines has placed 27 different facemask systems scattered across 14 states from Maine to California to produce facemasks in a vertically integrated supply chain.

Top Row, left to right: Michael McDonald, Frank Henderson, Will Duncan; Bottom Row, left to right: Ron Roach, Jeff Bodenhorst and Colin Holloway.

For us it's a joy to see our industry in a completely vertical supply chain activated here in America and everybody working together,” commented Frank Henderson, CEO of Alabama-based Henderson Sewing Machines, who participated in an online textile executive roundtable discussion earlier this week hosted jointly by industry associations SEAMS Associates and SPESA Organization. The lively conversation about “Supply Chain Dynamics Amid Covid-19” included Jeff Bodenhorst, owner LA Corp, cut & sew specialists in southwest Virginia; Ron Roach, president Contempora Fabrics, a circular knitter based in Lumberton, NC; Colin Holloway, global innovations, Hanesbrands; Henderson; and moderators/executive directors Will Duncan, SEAMS Associates and Michael McDonald, SPESA.

Along with PPE achievements come challenges, say execs. They cite having to learn test methods and FDA requirements and certification of PPE products along with educating employees on product that has not been made domestically in any capacity for a very long time, and providing a safe working environment. Companies take employee temperatures before they enter facilities and adhere to social distancing.

Execs agreed that every day brings a mix of excitement about new accomplishments along with exhaustion from working long hours. A routine that looks to continue: According to Duncan, the latest government projections call for 1 billion gowns by August.

An in-depth report on the emerging vertically integrated American supply chain will be featured in our upcoming May/June issue of Textile Insight magazine.