Business and Industry

Is dyersburg fabric still operating?

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July 13, 2009 4:14AM

No. Dyersburg Fabrics ceased operations in July 2001. Dyersburg Corporation filed for bankruptcy protection in 2000 and was hoping to come out from under Chapter 11 in 2001. The Corporation acquired Alamac Knits from Westpoint Stevens in 1997 at a cost of $125 million. At the time Dyersburg Corporation had opened corporate offices in 1998 in Charlotte, N.C. and therefore Dyersburg Corporation operated in N.C. not in Tennessee as many would believe. The acquisition of ALamac was the first nail in the coffin for Dyersburg Fabrics. They went into the game with a 60-65% debt ratio. In 1997/98 Dyersburg Fabrics was launching their Technical Performance fabrics product line that not only encompassed Dyersburg but also included certain products from the United Knitting Line. Mr. Keith Pitts was Director of Research of Development at Dyersburg and was instrumental in making this product line a reality for the Winter Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City where Dyersburg launched their new line. During 1998 and 1999 Dyersburg found itself floundering in marketing and merchandising as the "Corporation" directed $$$ for such from the Dyersburg Fabrics lineup to repositioning Alamac Knits into a performance based uniform fabric supplier. Presidio(TM) was launched in which pique fabrics were treated with stain-release and later on Moisture management. During the meantime, Dyersburg was developing nearly 80 fabrics a month going unnoticed as the merchandising and marketing crew were primarily Alamac personnel and they knew nothing about the performance fabric market. Another nail in the coffin. In early 2000, Patagonia dropped Dyersburg as supplier of their 7.5 oz ECO fleece to direct all business to Malden Mills due to quality problems coming from the Dyersburg facility. Dyersburg was the company that originally partnered with Wellman Industries in 1993 to develop a fabric in cooperation with Patagonia that was at least 55% recycled PET bottles. Dyersburg corrected their issues but it was too late and when they filed Chapter 11 Patagonia did not want to give business back to a potential company that might fold. Also, Mountain Equipment Co-op was purchasing fabric and found itself doing the same as Patagonia. Mr. Tim Hopkins was asked to move into Development and Mr. Lee Lunsford, VP-Operations at Dyersburg decided to place Joe Jenkins, whom he hired to run the Open end spinning operation and Trenton Mills into the finishing room of which he knew ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ABOUT. Quality issues arose and as I stated earlier Patagonia ditched the guy that took them to the dance. It was found that Mr. Jenkins had stolen proprietary designs with regard to the meat bag industry from Dyersburg and he and his brother had started their own company on the side competing against Trenton Mills. Dyersburg did not prosecute that I know of but released Mr. Jenkins from his responsibilities and return of equipment,etc. In my opinion, Gene McBride should have released Mr. Lunsford at that time for such a blunder as well. Mr. Lunsford was known for many at the plant and pissed quite a few of the born and raised DFI staff off. The good thing about this story is that Mr. Hopkins was allowed to return to the Finishing room to do his job as Technical Manager over the Outerwear fleece . Dyersburg though was doing a good business with Columbia sportswear where they were producing the Polartec 200 fabric under their style 0139 and Columbia was able to lay down on cutting table at their Chaffee, MO. plant side by side with Maldens. Dyersburg then went into a JV with Grupo M in the Dominican Republic where they were producing fleece garments at plant in their "free Zone" park for Columbia, Port Authority, Timberland,etc. and the Chaffee plant of Columbia Sportswear shutdown. In early 2001 , The Gap came into the Dyersburg plants to tour and talk about business for The Gap and Old Navy where production of fleece would be 200,000 yards/week. Major business that could sustain the plant. Mr. Pitts and the development group tried developing some low cost fleece fabrics per the specs of Old Navy and Gap but found for the $$$/yard price they offered to pay DFI could not compete. It turned out that the GAP could get fabric from China landed in Mexico and pay the duty/tariff and still come out cheaper per garment than Dyersburg could produce the fabric and ship to Mexico or the Domincan Republic duty free mind you and ship garments back to U.S. This is when Dyersburg knew the writing was on the wall. Textiles as the U.S. had known it ....was to be history. During April, May and June of 2001 Dyersburg was feverishly trying to move production equipment out of the Alamac plants and into the Dyersburg facility. The banks were allowing this to happen at Dyersburg. When Dyersburg Corporation went to seek more capital to complete the project and shut the N.C. plants down.....they were told NO. Guess what AlamacUSA as it is known now is still operating. United Knitting in CLeveland was sold off to Mallen Industries where Jerry Miller is President and coowner. Mark Cabral and his crew are running Alamad today. The plan was to run all product lines out of the DYersburg plant since it was the "mothership" but the kicker was having corporate offices in my opinion in Charlotte and N.C. plants were favored over TN. Dyersburg would still be operating today doing much like Malden Mills, now Polartec Industries after 2 Chapter 11 bankruptcies and support from Senator Ted Kennedy and John Kerry in Massachusetts to give them government contracts. Polartec operates plants in China today as well. Dyersburg plant was bought by a private LLC that tried to get business started again. Trouble with that is you have lost your customer base that the company once had and the personnel that tried to do this were not the ones that could make it happen. The Director of Research and Development , whom was Mr. Pitts had taken another job in Dyersburg at an automotive firm, Mr. Miller was running his own company, Gene McBride had went to work as Sr. VP at Sara Lee, Mr. Lee Lunsford went to work for another company, Mr. David Tinkle and Mr. James Houston had taken other jobs in the area as well. The gentlemen that bought the facility were farmers and local shyster businessmen with one lone wolf being Bill Wiggins who had swindled hundreds of thousands of dollars out of Dyersburg while it was running in the late 90's with Q.A. monitoring equipment that was not utilized in the knitting plant.