A Glimpse Into Training at STI

As we all know, employee training is an important part of running a safe and successful business. But, what does the training process look like at a textile mill? Most people don’t know that STI offers training for EVERY job on the mill floor. This is a great advantage because future employees can apply for a job knowing they are set up for success!

Trina Henderson, HR Training Coordinator

Trina Henderson, HR Training Coordinator

Here at STI, HR Training Coordinator, Trina Henderson, proves hands-on-training is the winning ticket.

On Tuesdays, Trina checks on her trainees and their trainers. She attends seminars and classes that improve workplace communication and is currently learning more about forklift training. She wants to be confident that she understands the job she is asking the new employee to accomplish. Training to Trina is not just a job, but a passion. She cares about her trainee and wants them to be happy and safe while on the job. In the interview below, Trina gives more insight on what STI training entails.

Q: What motivated you to start working as a Training Coordinator at STI?

A: I have worked in manufacturing for twenty years which included training other employees. I have witnessed employees being shown things one time, asked to sign off saying they had been trained and expected to be able to do it. I feel like everyone learns differently and in different ways. One person may be able to do a job after seeing it done one time when another person may need to see it three times. I am passionate about making sure a person knows how to do a job and feels good about performing it before being put on a job alone.

Q: What types of job training does STI offer?

A: STI offers on the job training for each job. All training is done on 1st shift. I worked with the Department Heads and trainers to create training lists for each job. The Department Heads let me know when trainees are ready to be signed off.

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I work with Charles Christenbury, Director of Corporate Training from Cleveland Community College, Sandra Jenkins (HR Recruiter), Pat Queen (VP of Human Resources), Rick Hahn (VP of Manufacturing), John Kay (President) and the department heads from STI on the N.C. Customized Training Project. This project was laid out and approved in August 2017 and will last until 2020. This project provides classes for STI employees. I am currently working on setting up Staubli training for loom fixers and improving our forklift training. Also, I will attend OSHA classes in April and May.

Some of the classes STI offers:

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-American Dornier Class for loom fixers

-CPR/First Aid Class

-Cultural Diversity Class

-HR Law Class

-Supervisor Leadership Class

-Work place Spanish class for supervisors

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Q: What is your favorite department to train in?

A: Weaving. I love to look at the different patterns because I have experience in weaving.

Q: How long does the training of an employee take?

A: 3 days to 2 months

Q: Before working at STI, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?

A: I worked in manufacturing for 20 years. I worked on the manufacturing floor doing different jobs including weaving, training people to weave, and as a supervisor.

Inspiring the Next Generation

The International Textile Alliance (ITA) is a non-profit business association that provides resources and opportunities to its members by promoting education, awareness, advocacy and technology within the textile industry. A key mission for ITA is to help grow and develop future leaders for the industry by creating opportunities for textile students from around the world.

The ITA Educational Foundation helps students find internships and provides them with resources that will help them advance their knowledge and career. Katherine Shoaf, Design Director at STI, is the Educational Foundation Committee Chair and helped to organize this year's tour. 

Every year, ITA hosts a three-day tour that gives the students an inside look at the textile industry from concept to consumer through visits to textile mills, design studios, upholstery manufacturers and printing facilities.

The students visited STI on the first day of their tour to get a firsthand look at a domestic textile mill! The students took a tour of all three plants and met with the design team to learn about their process. This was a great opportunity for STI to meet some future young professionals in the industry and encourage them to pursue a career in textiles!

ITA Industry Tour Group! There were 22 students from schools across the country, such as: NC State, East Carolina University, Western Carolina, Savannah College of Art & Design, University of Georgia and Philadelphia University. Also pictured is Katherine Shoaf from STI, and Catherine Morsell and Carrie Purgason from ITA.

ITA Industry Tour Group! There were 22 students from schools across the country, such as: NC State, East Carolina University, Western Carolina, Savannah College of Art & Design, University of Georgia and Philadelphia University. Also pictured is Katherine Shoaf from STI, and Catherine Morsell and Carrie Purgason from ITA.

Chris Dodds and Jacob Englert explaining how the warping process works.

Chris Dodds and Jacob Englert explaining how the warping process works.

Designer Glen Read sharing his experience on merchandising, how to put together a correlate package and where he finds inspiration!

Designer Glen Read sharing his experience on merchandising, how to put together a correlate package and where he finds inspiration!

Brentwood Textiles designer, Kathy Dotterer, sharing her experience and thoughts on textile design!

Brentwood Textiles designer, Kathy Dotterer, sharing her experience and thoughts on textile design!

Jessica Dalton leading her group through a tour of our new Plant 3!

Jessica Dalton leading her group through a tour of our new Plant 3!

A group of students seeing firsthand how a loom works!

A group of students seeing firsthand how a loom works!

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Below: The students also visited Bennettsville Printing on their educational tour. Check out the photos below from Bennettsville!

Carolina Works!

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STI was recently contacted by local photographer, Tim Coffey, about participating in a photography project that celebrates North Carolina manufacturers. The project, called Carolina Works, features photos of the "people behind the product", because without them, there wouldn't be a product! 

Carolina Works is not limited to textile or furniture makers; the project features companies that make car parts, bottled water, decorative laminates, salad dressing and pickles... just to name a few!

Manufacturing is a rich part of the Tarheel state's history and we are proud to be a part of it. Check out the photos below of our awesome STI employees that participated in the Carolina Works project.

To learn more about Carolina Works and to view the full gallery of featured North Carolina manufacturers, visit their page: www.northcarolinaworks.blogspot.com or click here.

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STI Wins Industry of the Year!

The Cleveland County Chamber Awards Banquet recognizes and celebrates the achievements of businesses and individuals within the county. This year, STI was honored to receive the 'Industry of the Year' award! 

The Industry of the Year award is presented to the industry that has the greatest positive impact on the community. In order to be considered, you must submit an application that thoroughly explains and provides examples of how your company: positively impacts the community, is involved in the community, performs as a business within their industry and has a high standard of conduct. Sandra Jenkins (HR Generalist), Pat Queen (Vice Pres. of HR) and Jill Harrill (Mktg. Strategist) worked together to submit an application that showed how awesome STI is!

Check out photos below of STI celebrating at the Chamber Awards Banquet on January 25, 2018. 

Above: STI employees at the Cleveland County Chamber Awards Banquet! (left to right) Sandra Jenkins, Pat Queen, John Kay, Matt Maples, Anderson Gibbons, Chris Dodds, Jacob Englert

Above: STI employees at the Cleveland County Chamber Awards Banquet! (left to right) Sandra Jenkins, Pat Queen, John Kay, Matt Maples, Anderson Gibbons, Chris Dodds, Jacob Englert

Above: John Kay, President of STI, accepts the Industry of the Year award from Tim Blackwell, owner of Personnel Services. 

Above: John Kay, President of STI, accepts the Industry of the Year award from Tim Blackwell, owner of Personnel Services. 

Above: STI wins Industry of the Year!

Above: STI wins Industry of the Year!

Above: (left to right) Chris Dodds and his wife search for diamonds!; Some of the STI team having fun at the table; the theme of this year's banquet was "fire and ice" as seen in the decorations!

STI Celebrates Major Expansion

Mark Hovis, COO, cutting the ribbon!

Mark Hovis, COO, cutting the ribbon!

This past Tuesday, STI celebrated a milestone... a milestone not only for the company, but for the home furnishings industry. For years, the industry news outlets had to tell stories of manufacturing plants shutting their doors and people losing their jobs; but now, the story has changed. 

Due to the success and rapid growth of Revolution Performance Fabrics, STI began a 150,000 square foot plant expansion in January 2017. A year later, that expansion is complete and will take STI's production from 500,000 yards a week to 750,000 yards a week. 40 new looms will soon be running inside the plant, with 100 new employees operating them. STI's lead time for fabric orders will now be 4 - 6 weeks; a far cry from the 12 - 14 weeks it takes to receive Chinese goods.

How did STI persevere through the 2008 economic crisis and become the success it is today? Sean Gibbons, CEO, provides a simple yet strong answer, "it's because of our people." Those people proudly stood inside STI's new plant on Tuesday, while Sean Gibbons and John Kay, President, addressed the large crowd of friends, family, vendors, customers and news media.

Bill Watson (President of Cleveland County Chamber), Scott Neisler (Mayor of Kings Mountain) and Eddie Holbrook (Cleveland County Commissioner), also spoke at the event about the great economic impact STI has on their residing county and the state of North Carolina. 

If 2017 is an inclination of what 2018 has in store for STI, there are some great things ahead! 

*See below photos and videos from STI's Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

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Above: Sean Gibbons, CEO, speaks to the crowd about his family's history with King's Plush and the growth of STI. 

Above: John Kay, President, recognizes the people and organizations that helped STI achieve success over the many years it has been in operation. 

Above: A tour of the new plant! Created by Anderson Gibbons

Follow the Revolution

In 2004, the world was introduced to a platform that would forever change how we receive global news, communicate with friends, promote business, shop products and generally spend our "free time"  ... it was called thefacebook.com then, but now its simply 'Facebook.'

The list is seemingly limitless on how social media has and will continue to change the world. Since Facebook's creation at Harvard University in 2004, other social media platforms have spawned; some have flopped, some have found the same success as Facebook. Arguably, the most successful has been the photo sharing app, Instagram.

Instagram hit the social media world by storm in 2010. Instagram's biggest draw was that it allowed anyone with a camera to become their own "photographer"... users could apply a filter to their pictures and make it look artistic and fun in a few simple steps. Since it's creation in 2010, the app has grown into a multi-faceted platform that allows you to message, follow, like, send stories, etc. As is with any other technology platform, your success is driven by your ability to evolve and offer users "the next best thing". 

Revolution Performance Fabrics has a Facebook business page and an Instagram page. As our brand awareness has grown from overall marketing and advertising, our social media following has significantly increased. Currently, we have close to 700 followers on Facebook and over 2,000 followers on Instagram.

Our favorite and most engaging Facebook posts are typically videos and photos of completed Revolution projects that our customers have been kind enough to share with us. Since Instagram is primarily meant for sharing photos, we often post or re-post photos of Revolution fabrics or completed projects. The best is when our customers post Revolution on their page and we can re-post it! 

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram @REVOLUTIONPERFORMANCEFABRICS!

Since there are 2.07 billion active users on Facebook and/or Instagram daily, it is safe to assume that if you are reading this blog you have an account on at least one of the two platforms. Here are some interesting facts about the social media sites you likely use every single day:

Facebook:

  • There are 1.15 billion mobile daily active users, an increase of 23 percent year-over-year
  • Age 25 to 34, at 29.7% of users, is the most common age demographic
  • Five new profiles are created every second
  • Facebook users are 76% female (out of 100% of all females) and 66% male (out of 100% of all males)
  • There are 83 million fake profiles
  • Photo uploads total 300 million per day
  • Average time spent per Facebook visit is 20 minutes
  • Every 60 seconds on Facebook: 510,000 comments are posted, 293,000 statuses are updated, and 136,000 photos are uploaded
  • 42% of marketers report that Facebook is critical or important to their business

Instagram:

  • Instagram has over 500 million active monthly users
  • Instagram users have shared over 40 billion photos to date and share an average of 95 million photos and videos per day
  • 80% of Instagram users come from outside of the U.S.
  • Instagram is used by 31% of American women and 24% of men
  • Instagram users “like” 4.2 billion posts per day
  • Instagram is used by 48.8%of brands—a number that is expected to rise to 70.7% by 2017
  • Top brands post 4.9 times per week on Instagram, an increase of more than 50% over 2015
  • 75% of Instagram users take action, such as visiting a website, after looking at an Instagram advertising post
@RevolutionPerformanceFabrics best nine photos of 2017

@RevolutionPerformanceFabrics best nine photos of 2017

Below: Some of our favorite 2017 Instagram photos!

Below: Some of our favorite Facebook posts of 2017!

Sabra Cactus Moroccan Silk

You learn something new every day.

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At Showtime, I got into a conversation with one of our favorite customers about “cactus” cloth. I hate to admit it, but I was at a loss. I thought to myself, "surely they’re not talking about a cactus motif!"

It turns out I have seen what they were talking about in my research, but I had not paid attention to what it was called.

This fabric is made in Moroccan villages. Local villagers harvest the leaves of the Sabra cactus plant for the filaments within, and loom the textural canvas into patterns of ancient motifs. The yarn-dyed palette comes from all-natural botanical pigments, and each pillow cover gets its unique, burnished character from washing and drying under the Moroccan sun. These authentic cactus silks are beautiful. We are looking for inspiration from them to create our own signature cactus motif. Obviously,  they will not have the beauty of the original… but they will have the beauty of the inspiration.

As I started, you learn something new every day!

The start of Brentwood's cactus motif pattern!

The start of Brentwood's cactus motif pattern!

STI Showtime 2017

It was another whirlwind Showtime for the STI team! Our new fabric line was well received by our customers... they loved our new eye catching, on-trend jacquards and our classic, durable and beautiful base cloths. In addition to our new fabrics, our customers were highly interested in our new PoP materials and learning more about the Revolution story to educate their own customers. 

Check out photos below of December 2017's Showtime! 

Above: New STI and Revolution jacquards!

Above: Some beautiful Brentwood Textiles Revolution patterns!

Cheryl Luckett, interior designer and owner Dwell by Cheryl, is the newest addition to the Revolution team. Cheryl is shown here putting together some correlates of Revolution fabrics to show our interior design customers!

Cheryl Luckett, interior designer and owner Dwell by Cheryl, is the newest addition to the Revolution team. Cheryl is shown here putting together some correlates of Revolution fabrics to show our interior design customers!

Welcome to STI! 

Welcome to STI! 

Above: Revolution debuted a new PoP item at Showtime, our new "Revolution Promotional Flags". These eye-catching flags can be draped over a sofa or chair and can be used for cleaning demonstrations as well, because of course - it's Revolution!

Above: Photos of our recent full page ads in Furniture Today magazine and Revolution PoP materials.

Above: Photos of our recent full page ads in Furniture Today magazine and Revolution PoP materials.

Above: New Revolution tote bags designed by Kathy Dotterer and Glen Read! Our customers and STI Showroom visitors loved their fun new bags!

Above: New Revolution tote bags designed by Kathy Dotterer and Glen Read! Our customers and STI Showroom visitors loved their fun new bags!

Above: Phoenix Trimworks displaying and showing their beautiful tapes and trims!

Above: Phoenix Trimworks displaying and showing their beautiful tapes and trims!

Above: Ashley Hovis, Katherine Shoaf and Jill Harrill at the ITA Young Textile Professionals Showtime event.

Above: Ashley Hovis, Katherine Shoaf and Jill Harrill at the ITA Young Textile Professionals Showtime event.

Quality Testing

Quality testing is a huge part of our overall manufacturing and service process at STI. It is important that our customers can rely on us for fabrics that have a long life-cycle and live up to our high standards of quality and durability. There are many different tests that our fabrics go through before they ever leave our shipping dock.

At STI, we have our own testing lab where we can test our fabrics. Below are a few of the tests we perform in-house: 

Seam Slippage: This test method is used to determine the resistance to slippage of filling yarns over warp yarns , or warp yarns over filling yarns, using a standard seam.

Tensile Strength: Tensile strength typically refers to the strength and elongation properties of the material. Most textile fabric tensile testing is performed as either a grab test, to eliminate edge effects, or a strip test, including edge effects.  For a grab test, the grips of a testing machine clamp a fabric sample in the center using jaws smaller than the sample width. For a strip test, the grips clamp a strip of fabric using jaws wider than the sample width.

Tearing Strength: Tear strength is the resistance of the fabric against tearing or force required to propagate the tear once it is initiated. High tear strength of textiles make sure that the punctures in the fabrics doesn't propagates easily.

Wyzenbeek Abrasion: A Wyzenbeek machine is used for this test. Individual test specimens cut from the warp and weft direction are then rubbed back and forth using an approved fabric as the abradant. The number of double rub cycles achieved before two yarn breaks occur or noticeable wear is observed is recorded as the fabric’s abrasion rating.

Dynamic Seam Fatigue: Dynamic Seam Fatigue Tester, to determine the strength of upholstery seam constructions covering a standard foam composite cushion by imposing a cyclic, impact and penetrating load.

Martindale Pilling: The Martindale pilling test is an international standard and widely accepted throughout the world as a reliable means of determining a fabric’s ability to withstand pilling. Fabric samples are mounted flat and rubbed in a figure eight like motion using a piece of worsted wool cloth as the abradant. The number of cycles that the fabric can endure before fabric shows objectionable change in appearance (yarn breaks, piling, and holes) is counted. Number of cycles determines pilling rating.

If we do not have the equipment to perform certain tests, we will have the tests performed at and outside lab. One of the main labs we use is Manufacturing Solutions Center (MSC) located in Conover, North Carolina. We have had the MSC test our fabrics for California TB117-2013 (flammability test), fiber migration, seating durability testing, and many other tests that we are unable to perform.  We will also use the people at the MSC as a source to contact if we have any questions regarding new test methods.

California TB-117-2013: TB 117-2013 is a flammability standard for upholstered furniture. TB 117-2013 mandates that all filling materials, including flexible polyurethane foam (FPF), that can reasonably be expected to be used in or as an article of furniture, or as a mattress pad without a covering, must meet the smolder-resistant requirements of the TB 117-2013 Resilient Filling Material Test.

Seating Durability: (see video below!) This test method drops a bag with a weight of 125 pounds on the cushion for 100,000 cycles. 

The Manufacturing Solutions Center is a non-profit organization located in Conover,  NC and is a division of Catawba Valley Community College. Their mission is to improve, develop and create. Manufacturing Solutions is a multi-faceted center offering several different services centered around testing, engineering and training.

The test in the video above is the BIFMA X 5.4-2012 Seating Durability Test. This test method drops a bag with a weight of 125 pounds on the cushion for 100,000 cycles. For this test we are having the cushion evaluated every 25,000 cycles for any type of seam or yarn separation.

The End and The Beginning

"Every new beginning comes from another beginning's end"

The origins of this quote are attributed to the first-century Roman philosopher, Lusius Annaeus Seneca. You may also recognize this quote as a lyric in the popular 1990's hit, "Closing Time" by Semisonic (click the video to listen!). This quote and song came to mind when I was turning in the last patterns for December 2017 Showtime.  With the design, marketing, merchandising and sales teams currently working together to finalize the line presentation for Showtime, it marks the end of this furniture line in terms of design;  however, it’s just the beginning for a new line!  Artwork vendors are presenting their new collections, while we are also researching new trends and analyzing previous successes.  In a philosophical sense, it is the end and the beginning of the circular nature of our business.

Preparing for Showtime!

Preparing for Showtime!

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