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U.S. Contractors Finding Ways to Survive Offshore
Shift Postal Service,Habitat for Humanity,
PCA seek domestic apparel = production.
DNR, Monday, Nov. 2, 1998, page 2 by Brenda Lloyd
The news reports of more and more apparel manufacturers' shifting production to Mexico and other South of the Border countries keep coming in, but many U.S.-based contractors are keeping their businesses alive by touting quality and minimum runs.

Members of the American Apparel Producers' Network (AAPN) gathered at the Perdido Beach Resort here recently for the group's fall meeting to exchange ideas and learn new ways to improve their operations. Most are doing well now, but some say its because the contracting base in the U.S. has shrunk. Others have found niche businesses, such as uniforms and career apparel, as a way to replace manufacturing that has gone offshore. Some have found profitable answers by adding their own label to replace lost customers while still maintaining the contract side of their businesses. Others are doing work for catalog houses, including L.L. Bean who want a made-in-U.S.A. label.

Three more opportunities were presented at the meeting:
  • The U.S. Postal Service plans to expand its new fashion retail business, which operated one retail store last year. The agency wants the merchandise made in the U.S.
  • Habitat for Humanity, the Americus, GA-based ecumenical housing administration that builds houses for the poor, wants to build its brand name and offer high quality American-made merchandise through retail.
  • PCA Worldwide (or Professional Caddies Association) plans to offer its own line of golf apparel, and is co-branding with the PGA Tour on merchandise
Most contractors, who say they have made changes in their companies to increase sales, had a good year in 1998 and are projecting a good 1999. For example, Joe Altonji, vice-president of Valtex, Inc., Scottsboro, AL, said his company has increased sales 40 percent in each of the past two years, and he expects sales to increase another 25 to 35 percent in 1999. And Gary Reitzas, president of North River Knitting Mills, Fall River, MA, said his sales should be up 15 percent by the end of the year, and indications are next year will be even better.

Mike Todaro Managing Director 404-843-3171, Atlanta
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