While labour costs elsewhere are rising, certain US regions with low energy costs are once again becoming more interesting as manufacturing sites.
Products such as nylon stockings and denim jeans, brands such as Lycra® and companies such as DuPont are global landmarks in the US-American textile history. However, for the last 50 years ´ and this is not an overstatement ´ two German ´imports´ have also made invaluable contributions to the success of this region of the textile world so dominant for many years: Barmag and Neumag, today part of Oerlikon Manmade Fibers, with its US activities and subsidiaries. The American Barmag Corporation and the Neumag USA Corporation have been important cornerstones of our foreign business for many years now ´ and have been technology ambassadors to the ´Land of the Free´. Many things change over time, but some things remain the same.
With a service station in Dalton, GA that opened in 2015, Oerlikon Manmade Fibers is making a clear statement about the high value it attributes to customer support in the ´Land of the Stars and Stripes´. ´We wanted to strength in our service offerings and Dalton is an important step towards achieving this goal´, states Chip Hartzog, President of Oerlikon Textile Inc. in the USA.
´And our customers are also investing in this region.´
Exactly 50 years ago, Barmag decided´for the very same reasons´to establish its first US subsidiary. In 1965, the USA was the largest manufacturer of manmade fibres, producing one-third of global output. Barmag´s business activities in the US were still limited to occasional deliveries. In 1958, the company had signed a license agreement with a US partner for the manufacture of extruders and extrusion systems ´ a new production segment at the time. However, the US market was now awarded ´special attention´, as outlined in the Barmag company chronicle: to secure its position as a machine supplier, ?its own company in the USA´ was required, comprising sales, customer service and technical support. As the US textile industry has been traditionally concentrated in the cotton centres in the southeastern states, the economically-strong Charlotte site in North Carolina was chosen as the base. From here, the company wanted to show its presence and compete with local players in the USA, Canada and Mexico.
A veritable success story began with the founding of the American Barmag Corporation (ABC) and initially just two employees. Over the three following years, US imports of textile machines rose to a ratio of 27 per cent, whereby Germany alone accounted for well in excess of one-third of these imports. The reasons for this were seen in the high quality and performance standards achieved by the German technology. And Barmag also assumed an increasing share of this: over time, successful products, such as the FK4, and later the FK6, the FK6M80 all the way through to the AFK and eAFK texturing machines, polyester and nylon spinning machines, winders and take-up machines, opened up ´ and then conquered ´ the hitherto natural fibre-dominated US market for manmade fibres.
In the first ten years, the ABC staff had already expanded to include 76 employees. On its own 80,000 sq m industrial plot, the company site was successively expanded to more than 5,000 sq m ´ providing premises for workshops, mechanical manufacturing, warehousing, offices and exhibitions rooms. In 1968, the US became Barmag´s largest export region and remained in the top group in the following years as well.
Neumag USA Corporation: founded in 1989
In this timeframe, a new player entered the stage: the Neumag USA Corporation was founded in 1989, also headquartered in Charlotte. Two employees were responsible for the US and Mexico markets, while the most important spare parts were stored at the d