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NADFD Members Gather, Discuss Industry Shake-Ups, Both Domestic and International

August 8, 2018

New NADFD President Rob Mayer, left, congratulates past president Dee Duncan
New NADFD President Rob Mayer, left, congratulates past president Dee Duncan.

AUSTIN, Texas -- Three hot topics kept returning last week during the annual conference of the National Association of Decorative Fabric Distributors (NADFD): the boom in hospitality, Chinese tariffs, and eco-friendly coated fabrics.

“There’s a lot of changes going on in the industry,” NADFD President Dee Duncan said. “Hospitality is very strong now.”

Some 55 members met during the annual conference held July 31 to August 2, which included city tours (Austin City Hall is shaped like an armadillo), motivational speakers, and vendor meetings, among others.

President Trump announced last week his administration will consider more than doubling proposed tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, from 10 percent to 25 percent. The tariff could include upholstery, decorative fabrics, and other material made in China. A decision on the exact tariff is expected in September.

Many echoed the opinion of Scott George, vice president of sales and marketing for Valdese Weavers.

“[A tariff] creates uncertainty,” and that causes businesses to wait on purchasing new products, George said.

Still, he added the tariff could end up helping the North Carolina mill.

“A domestic supplier is a plus,” George said. “It represents value.”

Allen Hawks of Sunbrella shows company samples during the NADFD conference.

Members also discussed California’s complex new Proposition 65 requirements, which begin August 30. Warning labels for consumer products must state that the product “can expose you to” a listed chemical that could cause cancer or reproductive harm. In addition, the word “WARNING” must be in all-capital bold letters along with a warning symbol, which is a black exclamation point in a yellow or black and white triangle.

Brian Rosenstein of TSG Finishing does business in California and wondered about the impact of the new warning labels.

“As a finisher, every customer has a different take on [the new warning labels],” Rosenstein said about its possible impact on sales.

California’s Proposition 65 may be extreme in the eco-friendly trend, but it’s happening throughout the industry.

For example, Brian Grant of Omnova Solutions said the coated fabrics company offers Verde, an upholstery pattern for office, hospitality, or healthcare settings. It is “eco-preferred,” so no fire retardants, antimicrobial additives, or phthalates, which are on the Proposition 65 list and would require a warning label.

The NADFD Coates Fabrics & Leather Associate of the Year Award winner was Nassimi, Joe Filippi, left, Dee Duncan, Edward Nassimi and Debbye Lustig.

There also are innovations in manufacturing fabrics, such as recycled leather. Eric Peterson of Enduratex pointed to the LeatherPlus collection, which uses leather that otherwise would have gone to landfills. The innovative process results in high-performance upholstery for several industries, including auto, hospitality, marine, and senior living.

Many of the NADFD companies have been owned by one family for generations, but NADFD President Duncan said he’s seeing more corporate owners and private equity firms. He pointed to Glen Raven buying Sunbrella.

NADFD Sample Maker Associate of the Year award winner Leed Samples-Fulfillment, Doug Edwards, right, and Dee Duncan.

On the last day of the conference, Debbye Lustig of Nassimi said she especially enjoyed the motivational speakers: Tommy Breedlove and Ken Schmidt.

Both speakers focused on the customer experience of a company. For example, Lustig said she would add music to her trade show booth to create a happier mood.

“I like to come away with actionable things,” Lustig said. “It’s been a great conference.”

The NADFD conference will meet next year in Park City, Utah.


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