By Stephanie Teel
Taking advantage of strengths and building on individual areas of expertise, Mission Valley Fabrics (MVF) and American Cotton Growers (ACG), which comprise the Textile Division of Plains Cotton Cooperative Association, are in the early stages of a cooperative effort that should prove mutually beneficial to both mills for many years to come.
ACG focuses on the production of heavy-weight denim for Levi Strauss & Co. (LS&CO.), and MVF is a vertically-integrated manufacturer of yarn-dyed woven fabrics. PCCA recognized that forming a union between the two mills would result in the ability to produce fabrics that span much of the broad textile spectrum, meeting the needs of many customers and fulfilling the aim of its mission: to add significant value to the cotton marketed for our members by being the supplier of choice to our business partners in terms of quality, service and value.
According to PCCA Product Development Manager Jerry Jones, MVF is producing sample yarn for the new 2905 denim style that ACG has been asked to produce for LS&CO. On the other side, ACG is producing an open-end yarn for some of MVF’s production mix as well as providing indigo dyeing for a light-weight denim line being developed at MVF.
Jerry Clark, MVF’s director of product development, notes that while any new partnership runs into some roadblocks on the way to becoming fully operational, the new “marriage” between ACG and MVF will create a niche market for MVF’s new textile line at a time when apparel sales are somewhat soft.
Improvements made to existing machines at ACG have aided in the material exchange by improving productivity. In mid-September, a project was completed that added 81 Omni Airjet Looms, replacing 247 Picanol PGW looms at about a three-to-one ratio of old machines to new. ACG plant manager Danny Davis says the mill has witnessed an increase in denim quality and a decrease in production costs resulting from the new looms.
The partnership between MVF and ACG has required a great deal of planning in order to meet the needs of the two groups involved.
“We spend a lot of time working with scheduling,” Davis said, adding that ACG attempts to time the projects they work on efficiently in order to finish the production and deliver the desired goods on a deadline, all the time juggling its regular day-to-day tasks.
Davis also said the trade-off of supplies creates a need for new material handeling capabilities in some parts of the two operations as well as training to handle the new materials. For example, ACG currently is looking into purchasing new yarn stacking devices to transport and handle the yarn being transferred between the two locations.
As Davis observes, the cooperation between ACG and MVF provides strength, something the two groups need as they fulfill their roles in PCCA’s mission. Jones agreed, adding that, “the synergy will be very beneficial to both locations.”