MLM's Alessandra® Poised For Growth

May 15, 2003

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – With strengthened flame regulations set to go in effect in 2004 in California, Alessandra® heat- and flame-resistant yarns and fabrics are positioned to become important ingredients in the manufacturing chains of beds and upholstered furniture. Alessandra yarns and fabrics contain Basofil¨ fiber whose proprietary technology, machinery and intellectual property were acquired last year by McKinnon-Land-Moran, LLC.

In August 2001, California passed Assembly Bill 603, requiring the Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation to adopt more stringent open-flame standards for residential mattress/box spring sets sold on or after Jan. 1, 2004. The Bureau expects the new standard, whose authorship was initiated by the mattress industry, to better protect Californians from deaths, injuries and the economic damage caused by fires in their homes.

MLM CEO Bob McKinnon said the bill has ''created urgency,'' noting that California comprises about 12 to 15 percent of the U.S. population and ''not many national companies will want to just neglect that part of the market.''

The significance of California's legislation is far-reaching. ''What will happen, the moment California adopts it, 60 percent of the market will swing,'' said an industry lobbyist. Sources also believe that standards for bedlinens and upholstered furniture will follow in California and could go in effect by the end of the year.

''This arena will be exciting because the opportunities for development will expand tremendously like any free-enterprise undertaking,'' said Bob McKinnon. ''Those who devote resources and understand limits on the cost of the end-use market will be the ones who win. The one who really wins is the consumer.''

MLM envisions Alessandra playing a role in the hospitality industry as well. ''It's a great blending fiber. It's dyeable, printable and the hand is good and it's white. Scales of economy can be attained because it's a blending fiber.''

McKinnon said discussions about FR solutions in the mattress and upholstery furniture fields generally revolve around how to add protection without compromising quality. By providing an interliner, MLM hopes to deter the mattress industry's resistance to change.

''The industry says, 'We agree with what you're saying, but it must be nice esthetically. We don't want mattresses to sleep less comfortably, and we don't want to spend a lot of money to do it. And we don't want to change anything.'

''But drop-ins are easy,'' McKinnon said, explaining that interliners slide over mattresses and upholstery cushions. ''And the government likes this because they can pressure the industry to accept.''

While McKinnon said the woven interliners meet standards required in the Boston test and the Navy test, he went out of his way to say that Basofil fiber is not the only answer to the FR question.

Alessandra's function is contingent on the inherently heat- and flame-resistant Basofil fiber. It transfers heat away from a flame and does not burn, melt or shrink. Alessandra yarn has a patented dual-sheath, dual-core structure. The dual core, which provides FR performance, is comprised of fine glass and nylon filaments and then wrapped with a Basofil fiber blend. Polyester, which offers durability and dye-ability, encloses the dual-base system.

''[Our] business is to license this intellectual property,'' McKinnon said. A mill has been selected to commission weave and spin Alessandra yarn and woven products and sell them to Hanes Industries (Conover, N.C.), the exclusive distributor. Hanes's customers include Sealy, Serta, Simmons and other mattress manufacturers.

MLM is a holding company formed to purchase Basofil, made up of Frank Land, John Moran and McKinnon.

Under previous ownership by BASF, Basofil built a strong business delivering commercial aircraft seating flame barriers and flame-resistant protective apparel. It also held a 35 percent share of the world market for firefighter turnout gear. As a wholly owned subsidiary of MLM, Basofil LLC continues to serve those sectors.


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