Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: Family First, Then Fabric

Happy Monday and happy belated Father’s day to all the fathers out there! I hope everyone has recovered from what should have been an amazing day with family and friends celebrating Father’s Day.  I had a lovely day with my family and some delicious Italian food too.  It was Father’s day and I am a father so why not stuff my face with pasta, pizza and so….so much more?  My belly isn’t so happy today.

Even though Father’s day was a special day for me as a father, I have other much more important things on my mind.  For one, I am so sad that my only uncle has to battle brain cancer.  On the other hand, I was so happy that he and my aunt made the trek out to my house to spend Father’s day with the family.  It truly made it one of the most special Father’s Days and I am sure it was special for him too.  The memories will certainly last forever for everyone.

The other thing that is on my mind and eating me up inside is that my oldest son (8 years old) is going to sleep away camp for the first time. Yes, sleep away camp for 49 long days.  Time is flying too fast.  I could literally remember changing his diapers.  Next it will be college.  In any case, emotions have been high in my house of late with my wife, other son and I all struggling to wrap our brains around the void that will exist in our house this summer.  Needless to say, despite being in a little bit of denial, I am an emotional wreck.  Pass the tissues please!

Thanks for listening.  Too hard this week to write a blog about anything else.  Until next week.

Sad Scott

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Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: The Proverbial Race To The Bottom

One thing that was very clear at market and something that I have been talking about a lot lately is that competition is fiercer than ever. Everyone, including me, is fighting for customer dollars in order to be one of the survivors. This is our livelihood and why wouldn’t we fight the fight to be king of the mountain or at least be on the mountain and not in the swamp below. With that, I have come to recognize that we are in a race to the bottom that is not healthy for our industry or any industry for that matter. Do you know what I mean by the race to the bottom?

As the overhead of the business equation goes up because that is what it probably does every year (higher rent, higher wages, inflation, insurance and the list goes on), the profit margin side of the equation goes down due to decisions being made to compete.

For example, a simple race to the bottom is that the yardage on a bolt in lots of cases is getting smaller or requests are being made for them to be smaller.  The majority of fabric re-sellers want smaller bolts so they can turn the fabric faster, make smaller investments, take less risk, have more variety and so on. Some vendors are doing this and competing in the race to the bottom.  Others are holding strong whereby they will only go as low as a 10 or 12 yard bolt.

All things being equal, the shorter bolts wouldn’t be the end of the world, but for these facts.  Shorter bolts mean less efficient cutting due to the constant changing of the board for the next piece, it means more boards, it means fewer bolts fit in a box due to the fact that more boards take more space and it takes up more real estate on warehouse shelves.   Guess what this all means folks?  Yes, there are increased costs associated with the shorter bolts.  So now, not only are you selling fewer yards, but the costs to make that smaller bolt are increased too.  So this is at a minimum a double whammy if not triple or quadruple whammy.  Lower margin-ville here we come.  Oh, stop the sarcasm Scott!  You are winning the race to the bottom.  I said stop the sarcasm Scott!  Not a race I want to be winning nor should you want it either.  Please resist because once you do this, there is no going back to how it used to be.

Another example is how buyers are always pushing for lower pricing. Of course, it is their job to get the best prices possible, so why not try? Anyway, I inevitably hear the buyer say that other vendors are lower priced than I am.  Obviously, that is sucky and no one ever wants to hear that.  The thing is that I never know if they are telling the truth or just pushing my buttons.  But they are saying it and getting in my head, so I have to deal with it anyway, otherwise someone else is going to keep eating my lunch so to speak. Assuming they are telling the truth and being that I have a pretty good handle on my fabric costs, I know where I need to draw the line.  At some point it just doesn’t work for me and my business.  I sell fabric to make a profit, not a loss.  Why would someone do that?   Because they want to be the winner of the race to the bottom.  I know, I am sorry, I have to tone down the sarcasm and be happy boring Scott.  I am smiling though.  I digress.

I am sure that you can come up with many more examples of the race to the bottom unfortunately.  But, in short, the winners of the race to the bottom will probably go out of business sometime soon because they are selling too cheaply and that is no way to be successful.  Be careful folks. Use discipline and make sure you know what margins you need to make to add to your bottom line and not detract.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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Tales Of A Fourth Generation Textile Executive: What Is The Future Of Our Fabric Industry?

Two weeks ago, I talked about the knowledge I gained at quilt market and this week I wanted to continue discussing the buzz at the show. I am still angry that I can’t write angry blogs.  Am I allowed to still be angry about not being able to write angry blogs?  This is harder than I thought.

Ok, let me get happy boring Scott back.  One second, here he comes.  So back to quilt market.  I am amazed about how fast the world is changing. It is just astonishing and a little scary to be honest.  Well, a lot scary.  So many conversations at market were about what would bring future success when it comes to the fabric business.  Was it digital printing? Technology? Online sales?  Direct to consumer?  Stay the course?  Too bad that no one has a clue at this point, but it looks like the Amazon effect is kicking in allover the place and freaking everyone out.  Will the world ever be the same again?  Not a chance!  Sounds like a good time to retire if you ask me, but unfortunately I am a little young for that.

If I could only see where our business would be in 5 or 10 years, it would be so helpful. LOL.  Will we be in business still?  I must say that the odds are in our favor that Jaftex will be in business since we reached the 4th generation for which the odds of that are less than 1% and that’s a fact.  In any case, I sure hope so, unless we sell out for 100 billion dollars or something close to that.  You are supposed to laugh for, with or at happy boring Scott.  Will we have more companies under the Jaftex umbrella? Will we make it to the 5th generation?  Will the kids (5th Generation) want to work in fabric when it’s not sexy like working at a start up?

What’s the future of the industry?  I wish I knew.  I typically like to make suggestions on my blogs and I am almost always right…oh relax, I am kidding.  Don’t forget that this is happy Scott and all is good in the hood, all the time and everywhere….so get used to it.  I just don’t think I can make that prediction yet.  I need more time.  The future is still unclear, but as soon as it becomes clearer to me, I will be sure to let you know.  If you know or think you know, please share.  It will be insightful to hear where you think this industry will be….I was going to say in 5 or 10 years, but I think I need to be more concerned with the next 5-10 hours.

Have a great week folks!