MVF Modernization Comes at Good Time
By Kelly Padgett
Final stages of Mission Valley Fabrics’ (MVF) modernization project came at an opportune time for Plains Cotton Cooperative Association’s (PCCA) Textile Division as the denim market recently made a sudden and spectacular recovery from months of weak demand and overproduction.
Adding urgency to completion of MVF’s equipment modernization is an almost overwhelming demand for denim made from ring-spun yarn. Thus, the surge in demand for ring-spun fabric already has created heavy usage of MVF’s newest equipment such as the Marzoli roving and spinning frames and the Murata winders. It is another example of the synergies between PCCA’s two textile plants since American Cotton Growers (ACG) manufactures only open-end yarn.
“This is undoubtedly the most dramatic turnaround we have ever witnessed in the denim industry,” says PCCA President and CEO Van May. “We have resumed a seven-day schedule at ACG, and amazingly, we could sell more denim during the third quarter if only we had additional capacity,” he explains.
The linked roving and ring spinning equipment began arriving in New Braunfels on April 25. Within 30 days, the first frame was up and running, followed by the second and third frames only two weeks later. Fabric made from yarn produced by these new frames currently is in demand by such customers as Levi Strauss & Co., according to MVF Manager of Administration and Customer Service Gene Bursey. He explains trends favoring open-end spun fabric that began years ago once again have evolved back to ring-spun products.
“All denim was ring-spun 30 years ago, then the textile mills went to open-end to cut costs,” says Bursey. “Now, a lot of denim apparel companies want ring-spun fabric again.”
As a result of the demand being so strong, MVF now supplies ring-spun yarn to ACG in Littlefield, TX. Meanwhile, ACG’s open-end spinning frames have not been left idled. Many orders from the denim mill’s newest customers require fabric from open-end yarn.
“Our personnel are experiencing a greater learning curve than was anticipated due to the technology involved in the new looms,” Gregory explains. He also notes the double-wide air jet looms were not equipped by the manufacturer as MVF had expected. Picanol, the manufacturer of the equipment, is shipping new parts and making necessary adjustments to the looms.
“We have asked also for additional training personnel from Picanol to help our employees better utilize the new equipment,” says Gregory. A low unemployment rate in the New Braunfels area also is contributing to MVF’s challenges.
“Our 57 new Gamma Rapier looms are running at good efficiencies, but our employees need more training, and we need more employees to meet demand,” Gregory adds. “Our 10 new single-width air jet looms also are performing well.” Disposal of MVF’s old looms, however, provided an unexpected and pleasant surprise as the equipment was sold at a higher price than originally planned.
“We made money from selling the old looms,” says Bursey, “because we received a really good price; better than we had estimated in the plan.” However, not all of MVF’s older looms were sold, and 27 looms, some of which are Vamatex looms, will remain on the job at MVF. Bursey says keeping this equipment allows MVF to continue to run top-beam-sheeting looms and also maintain the ability to weave various fabrics.
PCCA’s Textile Division will be off to a strong start in the new fiscal year beginning July 1 following completion of MVF’s modernization, a resurgence in the denim market and a return to full production at ACG. Then again, it would not have to go far to be a huge improvement from last year.