All successful companies innovate to grow, but each approach is unique

February 1, 2019

If there were a formula for writing a hit song, we could all do it. Efforts have certainly been made to figure out just what’s required to reach the top of the charts, but there simply isn’t a single defined path that can be taken to ensure musical success. In manufacturing, businesses that look to …

Fabric’s role in revitalizing neglected urban areas

Like other rust belt cities, Detroit began declining decades ago, propelled by a combination of bad luck, bad timing, bad decisions and economic transformations that delivered additional crushing, seemingly fatal, blows. Its condition was such that not so long ago, numerous companies sprang up offering tours of the city’s ruined buildings and factories—a somewhat morbid …

Women’s work: challenges and rewards in the specialty fabrics industry

Since the earliest days of civilization, women have sewn garments, constructed the tents they called home, and woven the textiles that made life more comfortable and defined distinctive cultures. Over the millennia, textiles produced by women have been essential to life and enterprise. As industrialization made these goods profitable, however, the textile world became a …

A dazzling duo: indoor fabrics and lighting

January 1, 2019

Fabrics have always been an essential component in commercial interior spaces. But, historically, their inclusion has been limited to more conventional roles, such as draperies and curtains, or flexible room dividers. With some exceptions, fabrics were not intended to serve as a focus in and of themselves. That has changed—decidedly. Fabrics are now looked to …

The development of the membrane structure industry in China

In past decades, with the rapid development of the Chinese economy, noticeable progress has been made for both theoretical research and practical applications of spatial structures in China. New forms of shell and spatial structures have been used in sports facilities, convention and exhibition centers, hangars, manufacturing plants and warehouses. Membrane structures, with the unique …

2018 OFPANZ Awards for Excellence winners

Twelve projects were recognized as winners of the 2018 Awards for Excellence competition hosted by The Outdoor Fabric Products Association of New Zealand (OFPANZ). The Awards for Excellence offers OFPANZ members a chance to showcase design excellence, technical skills and innovation to other members and the industry. Entries are judged by appearance/workmanship, complexity, design/innovation, and …

Seeing is believing: make sure your website and social media strategies are smart, engaging, informative, and visually appealing

December 1, 2018

Perhaps your company relies on good old-fashioned word-of-mouth publicity and steers clear of social media. Maybe your marketing efforts emphasize trade shows and real-world connections, quite successfully, rather than online communications. But you did just update your website … five years ago. Things have changed. Now your customers all have a phone in their hands, …

Fringe benefits benefit employers and employees

Whether it’s a result of a booming economy, tighter immigration laws or an educational system gone astray, finding qualified job applicants has become increasingly more difficult for those in the specialty fabrics industry. How can small businesses compete for badly needed, qualified workers? Thanks to our unique tax laws, every business can afford to offer …

Growth in the inflatables market is coming from safety and protection

Everybody knows about inflatables. They’re the bouncy houses rented for kids’ birthday parties, or the big blow-up gorilla that the local car dealership uses to attract customers. The real growth in the use of inflatable technology, however, is in much more serious (and practical) applications—even if they aren’t nearly as visible to most of us. …

A faster path to market through industry dialogue and profitable partnerships

If innovation is a key to growth and profitability because of the differentiation it can offer in our broadly commoditized industrial fabrics industry—one that for decades has been under strong pricing pressure from low-cost imports—then R&D is an essential component of a company’s toolbox for financial success. My experience, however, coincides with the observation of …