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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First Class Customer Service

National Customer Service week is celebrated the first week of every October, but here at STI, we appreciate our amazing customer service team every day. With over 215 years of combined customer service experience, we couldn't ask for a better group of ladies to take care of our valued customers. "The customer service representatives at STI are a critical part of providing first class service to our customers. Our CSR's are true professionals at communicating the needs of our customers to the rest of the company. We truly appreciate all they do," says John Kay, President of STI.

Pat Rollins, Customer Service Manager, has over 40 years of Customer Service experience and has been at STI for almost 8 years. Below, Pat gives us some personal insight and knowledge about the customer service industry and what it takes to be a stellar service representative:

“Customer service means taking care of our customers’ needs by providing professional, helpful and high quality service. It is our responsibility to ensure that our customers are happy from the time they place their order until the receive it, every single time. It is our goal to answer any questions and provide resolutions as efficiently as possible with a friendly attitude. As a customer service professional, it is very important that you are able to handle a fast pace environment, multi-task and be organized. Most of all, it is important to be a team player, stay motivated, be dependable and have excellent communication skills. A customer service department is the front line to our customers, so it is very important how we handle each call. Our whole team agrees that in order to have a successful business, it takes more than a great product – it takes having the best customer service! At STI, I feel like we have the best customer service group ever!” - Pat Rollins, Customer Service Manager

STI Customer Service Team (named top left to right): Pat Rollins, Sherry Cooke, Donna Martin, Dale Dobbins, Doris Jenkins and Joan Dunn.

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Happy Customer Service Week! We appreciate all you do!

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When your team has over 215 years of combined service experience, Pat Rollins, says "you can kick back, because WE GOT THIS!"

Warp and Weft

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Yarn is the foundation for woven fabrics. It comes in all shapes and sizes: small, large, straight, loopy, fuzzy, etc. Where warp and weft meet, fabric is created. Typically smaller yarns are used in the warp. Beams of the yarn are made on a warper and then taken to the loom. Rapiers take the weft across in the interlacing of fabric. I feel like I am writing poetry. And, to see fabric weaving is like poetry. It is amazing to see the two things when seen separately are kinda boring, but together are magical. 

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Shop Revolution!

Revolution fabrics can be found all over the United States, but we love seeing Revolution in our own backyard in North Carolina! Check out some photos of Revolution at retail shops in the greater Charlotte area.

Thank you to all of our retail customers for supporting Revolution!

Above: Revolution on Rowe furniture at Showplace 28, located in Cornelius, North Carolina

Above: Revolution at Haverty's Furniture in Lake Norman, North Carolina. Anderson posing on the Revolution "Anderson" sofa!

Above: Revolution on custom pieces at Reinvented Charlotte

Happy Labor Day!

Being one of the few domestic textile mills left in the United States, STI has a deep appreciation for the American worker.  We employ over 400 people in Kings Mountain, North Carolina and are looking forward to adding more American workers to our STI family later this year.

"THANK YOU" TO ALL THE HARD WORKING EMPLOYEES OF STI!

HAVE A FUN AND SAFE LABOR DAY WEEKEND.

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History of Labor Day

Labor Day, an annual celebration of workers and their achievements, originated during one of American labor history’s most dismal chapters. In the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks and was barely able to afford basic living needs. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as 5 or 6 worked in mills, factories and mines across the country, earning a fraction of an adult's wages. People of all ages, particularly the very poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions.

As manufacturing increasingly surpassed agriculture as the main means of American employment, labor unions, which had first appeared in the late 18th century, grew more prominent and vocal. They began organizing strikes and rallies to protest poor conditions and compel employers to renegotiate hours and pay. Others gave rise to longstanding traditions: On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history.

The idea of a “workingmen’s holiday,” celebrated on the first Monday in September, caught on in other industrial centers across the country, and many states passed legislation recognizing it. Congress would not legalize the holiday until 12 years later in 1894.

Labor Day is still celebrated in cities and towns across the United States with parades, picnics, barbecues, fireworks displays and other public gatherings. For many Americans, it represents the end of the summer and the start of the back-to-school season.

*Source: History.com, Wikipedia

Marketing Revolution!

Revolution Marketing Team: Jill Harrill and Anderson Gibbons

Revolution Marketing Team: Jill Harrill and Anderson Gibbons

A crucial part of a product's success is how you build the brand that surrounds it. You can have an awesome product all day long, but if nobody knows about it, they can't buy it or tell anyone about it!

Why are you better than your competitors? Why should a consumer spend their hard earned money on what you're selling? How is this product going to make their life better? These are all questions that a company's marketing team has to answer in a way that isn't overwhelming, pushy or worst of all... BORING.

There are so many ways to advertise and promote a brand in the 21st century. Consumers can research and compare products from anywhere in the world at the touch of a button... literally. A key part to marketing is knowing WHO your customer is and WHERE they spend their time. These days, people are flooded with information and to say it is tough to make yourself stand out is an understatement!

Revolution Performance Fabrics hit the marketplace three years ago and the response was unbelievable and continues to grow at a rapid pace! One of the many reasons Revolution has seen so much success, is the branding and story behind the product. Anderson Gibbons and Jill Harrill are the two man (woman) marketing team behind Revolution and are going to share some inside scoop on how they build the Revolution brand every day.

 

What inspired you to start an education and/or career in marketing? And what has your marketing experience been thus far?

J: I have a sister that is four years older than me and I have always really looked up to her. She graduated with a degree in Mass Communications from the University of Georgia and would tell me about all the cool marketing projects she was working on... and of course, all the fun SEC football games she was going to! She encouraged me to go to the University of South Carolina, where I graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor's degree in Marketing & Public Relations. After graduating, I moved to Charlotte, NC and worked on a marketing team for almost six years at a large international construction firm. I had the opportunity to work on projects for customers like NASCAR, Bank of America, Facebook and Google. It was a very "corporate" side of marketing, but I learned a ton and was fortunate to have some amazing mentors that taught me how to handle tough business situations. I started at STI in February 2017 and it has been an awesome experience and a huge breath of fresh air!

A: Honestly, I went to college at Montana State University not knowing what I wanted to study. All I knew was that I wanted to ski, hunt and fish. After realizing that you don't need a degree to ski (duh...), I quickly switched my degree from Snow Science to Business. Marketing was a natural fit for me and my personality. I became obsessed with the field. I took extra classes and even started my own company my senior year; the company was called Finding Bluebird Days. I took a 1980 Bluebird bus and converted it into a mobile cabin that traveled around Montana. The bus company took off quickly and I actually dropped all of my classes except one my senior year. It became a huge hit around Bozeman for parties and trips. The bus was booked every weekend in the Summer. It was fun, but it was a lot of work. I ran the company for a year and a half before selling it to a buddy... I was ready for something new.

I learned everything I know from starting Bluebird Days. I learned about an elevator pitch and sales because I had to pitch the Dean of Business Students on why I couldn't learn the skills I needed in her classes and how I would be successful in my 60 credit independent study. I learned accounting, finance, social media and marketing. Most of all, I started learning about how to start a business and how to manage my personal time and employees.  Kids today do not learn this in school.

I fell into my current position at STI because they were about to launch Revolution Performance Fabrics. Sean and the rest of the team needed a website and marketing materials. STI was about to outsource everything to a digital marketing company. I was living in my truck at the time and submitted a quote for the website way below the digital marketing company… my bid was a $100. I was hired the next day.

What is a day in the life of the Revolution Marketing team?

J: Every single day is different! And I think that's what keeps us on our toes. We do so many different things... managing our online store, working with our furniture manufacturers to create innovative sales materials, sharing content on our social media pages, creating ads for industry magazines... the list goes on. Managing our social media pages and sharing fun news about our company, employees and customers is probably my favorite thing to do.

A: As Jill said, every day is different on the Revolution marketing team. We have to wear multiple hats. The day usually starts with customer service for the online store and moves quickly to designing new POP materials and videos. We usually add products to the web store around lunch and the afternoon is spent exploring and brainstorming new marketing opportunities. Once we leave King's Mountain, our day does not end. Our nights are filled with answering online customer service inquiries and communicating with social media influencers.

The Revolution online store, revolutionfabricbytheyard.com, started in January 2017. What has the response been?

J: CRAZY! But, good crazy. The e-commerce world is highly competitive and it takes a lot of strategic thinking and even more hustle to be successful. We've had to do some trial and error to see what works, but we are really hitting our stride. I'm really proud of what we've done and can't wait to see what the future holds. It has taken a whole village to get the online store going so the marketing team definitely can't take all the credit!

A: The response to the online store has been very positive. It is really the next step in promoting the Revolution brand to the high end and interior designer markets. The store allows us to have a direct relationship with the customers who buy from our primary customers - the furniture manufacturers. It really cuts down on the game of telephone, "the he said, she said." It's great to get insight into what the end consumer looks for in their fabric and furniture choices. All of this information can translate back to making a better experience for our furniture manufacturing customers.

What are some of the ways Revolution differentiates themselves from a marketing standpoint?

J: Well, Revolution is a different story to begin with so it's really just getting that story out there to a relevant audience in an impactful way. I think we really capture people's attention by being PFC free and 100% made in the USA. I also think customers can tell that we genuinely care and want them to be satisfied with our product. With the online store, it never seizes to amaze me how many people are truly shocked when a real person calls them or directly emails them with an inquiry response... they are so used to an automated service or sitting on hold for 20 minutes or forever. I'd say that our people, product and story is what sets us apart.

A: What I can add that hasn't been said yet... Jill and I take the marketing and customer service very personal. I think we both truly love what we do and we love to help people out. I truly want to provide a performance fabric for everyone who wants and needs one... A performance fabric without PFCs, that is made in the USA and doesn't cost a fortune. I'm excited for the marketing team and to be a part of the next generation of STI.

*Snapshot of revolutionfabricbytheyard.com

*Snapshot of revolutionfabricbytheyard.com

*Revolution sample swatches

*Revolution sample swatches

Revolution Online Store: RevolutionFabricByTheYard.com has over 200+ Revolution and Revolution Plus SKU's. Customers can purchase swatches for $2 with free shipping and of course, yardage! We are excited to share that we now are selling Phoenix Trimworks trims and tapes on the site as well!

*POP provide all the important information about Revolution: PFC Free, 100% Made in the USA, Easy to Clean, Stain Resistant for Life, Smallest Carbon Footprint, Resists Fading in Sunlight.

*POP provide all the important information about Revolution: PFC Free, 100% Made in the USA, Easy to Clean, Stain Resistant for Life, Smallest Carbon Footprint, Resists Fading in Sunlight.

*Oftentimes, we will customize POP materials with our customer's logo on it as well. See above Bassett Furniture and Revolution hang tag.

*Oftentimes, we will customize POP materials with our customer's logo on it as well. See above Bassett Furniture and Revolution hang tag.

Revolution POP Materials: Providing our customers with Revolution point-of-purchase materials is crucial to raising Revolution brand awareness. Many of our POP materials include detailed cleaning instructions and information about why our product is different... and of course, LILY!

*A recent Revolution ad in Furniture Today

*A recent Revolution ad in Furniture Today

*The Revolution truck making its rounds at High Point market!

*The Revolution truck making its rounds at High Point market!

Revolution Advertising: Colorful photos, bold headlines and quick, direct information are important factors to having a successful ad. Revolution ads can often be seen in Furniture Today and Showtime Magazine.

*Two Revolution pillows being sent to an Instagram give away winner!

*Two Revolution pillows being sent to an Instagram give away winner!

Revolution Social Media: Social media is a HUGE sales and marketing tool. It is a powerful platform that reaches an infinite customer base for a minimal amount of dollars. We heighten our following and engagement by doing fun give-aways on Instagram (such as Revolution pillows, totes, etc) and partnering with industry bloggers and influencers to talk about Revolution. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and of course, the Revolution blog!

PETS ON REVOLUTION

Revolution Performance Fabrics are the perfect fabrics for pet owners! Over 68% of people in the United States own a pet and almost all of them (78%) allow their pets to live on their furniture. Since Revolution fabrics are virtually unstainable, you don't have to worry when your beloved, but possibly dirty, pet takes a nap on your favorite sofa or chair. If your pet does have an accident or jumps on your white sofa after rolling in the mud, Revolution can easily be cleaned with any household cleaner... even bleach! More importantly, Revolution contains NO PFC chemicals, making your furniture a safe place for your pets and family to live on. Check out the photo gallery below of some pets loving Revolution!

Interesting Facts About Pets & Home Decor:

  • 99% of pet owners feel that their pet is part of the family
  • 68% of Americans own a pet, with the largest segment of pet owners being Millennials
  • 52% of pet parents have undertaken home improvement projects to accommodate their pet. The most popular pet-related projects include: building a fenced in yard (23%), adding a dog door (12%) and installing laminate flooring (10%)
  • In the United States, 78% of cats and 48% of dogs are freely allowed on furniture. Only 2% of cats and 21% of dogs are not allowed on the furniture at all
  • In 2017, the pet industry is projected to take in $69.4 billion, a 43% increase from 2010.
  • 22% of dog parents spent more than $1,000 on pet items for the home in the lsat two years. The most popular purchases are pet beds and food/water dishes

*Source: National Association of Realtors (NAR), American Pet Products Association (APPA), Houzz and Furniture Today

Pinot and Mellow relaxing on their Revolution dog bed and Woof pillow! Owned by Jill Harrill

Pinot and Mellow relaxing on their Revolution dog bed and Woof pillow! Owned by Jill Harrill

Rosie getting a lift in a Revolution Colorblock tote by her Mom, Heather Plummer

Rosie getting a lift in a Revolution Colorblock tote by her Mom, Heather Plummer

Scout taking a snooze on his Revolution sofa (pattern Shadowfax). Owned by Katherine Shoaf

Scout taking a snooze on his Revolution sofa (pattern Shadowfax). Owned by Katherine Shoaf

Tally taking a stretch on Revolution (pattern Hyphen)  Owned by Kathy Dotterer

Tally taking a stretch on Revolution (pattern Hyphen)  Owned by Kathy Dotterer

Frannie enjoying her plush Colorblock pillow! Owned by Kathy Dotterer

Frannie enjoying her plush Colorblock pillow! Owned by Kathy Dotterer

Penny saying 'Hello' from her Join the Revolution tote! Owned by Chris Howard

Penny saying 'Hello' from her Join the Revolution tote! Owned by Chris Howard

Biscuit hanging out on a Revolution dog bed and pillow! Owned by Gina Grantt

Biscuit hanging out on a Revolution dog bed and pillow! Owned by Gina Grantt

Cash is ready to jump for Revolution! Owned by Patty Sprouse

Cash is ready to jump for Revolution! Owned by Patty Sprouse

Maddie, Boots and Zoey going for a ride with Revolution! Owned by Anderson Gibbons

Maddie, Boots and Zoey going for a ride with Revolution! Owned by Anderson Gibbons

Brody is loving his Revolution dog bed! Owned by Karen Porter

Brody is loving his Revolution dog bed! Owned by Karen Porter

Revolution pattern "Whiskers"

Revolution pattern "Whiskers"

Revolution pattern "Woof"

Revolution pattern "Woof"

Generation to generation

Five days a week, over 300 people walk through the doors of STI in Kings Mountain, North Carolina to start their day of work. As it is with life, every one of those 300 people has a different story and a different start to their career in textiles. Some of us have grown up in North Carolina and have families who have worked in textile and furniture factories since the early 1900's; others have found themselves in the industry after a career change or graduating from a higher education program.

As STI continues to grow, there are many fresh faces around our office and mill, but there are many faces that have been at the company for over 25 years. There is also a fair amount of employees whose very first job was at STI. Out of our 300+ mill and office employees, approximately 150 are under the age of 40 years old - almost an equal split! 

The balance of ages at STI creates a culture of mentorship, learning and a lot of laughs... and maybe just a little confusion when it comes to the latest iPhone app or hit song :)

Below are a few of the "Under 40" faces at STI that we hope will be with us "After 40"!

Above (left to right): Jessica Dalton, Planning Logistics Manager; Sonya Aguilar, Purchasing Coordinator; Colleen McGovern, Production Planner ; Abigail Hall, Accounts Payable Specialist;

Above (left to right): Jessica Dalton, Planning Logistics Manager; Sonya Aguilar, Purchasing Coordinator; Colleen McGovern, Production Planner ; Abigail Hall, Accounts Payable Specialist;

Above (left to right): Anderson Gibbons, VP of Marketing and E-Commerce; Jill Harrill, Social Media & Marketing Strategist

Above (left to right): Anderson Gibbons, VP of Marketing and E-Commerce; Jill Harrill, Social Media & Marketing Strategist

Above (left to right): Heather Plummel, IT Data Entry Clerk; Bobbie Daggerhart, IT; Richard Gursslin, IT

Above (left to right): Heather Plummel, IT Data Entry Clerk; Bobbie Daggerhart, IT; Richard Gursslin, IT

Above: Matt Maples, Process Technician

Above: Matt Maples, Process Technician

Above: Jacob Englert, Operations

Above: Jacob Englert, Operations

Above (left to right): Brentwood Textiles employees: Sabrina White, Customer Service; Emily Bump, Customer Service; Taylor Dobbins, Sampling; Amanda Boone, Sampling

Above (left to right): Brentwood Textiles employees: Sabrina White, Customer Service; Emily Bump, Customer Service; Taylor Dobbins, Sampling; Amanda Boone, Sampling

Above: Katherine Shoaf, Director of Design & Merchandising

Above: Katherine Shoaf, Director of Design & Merchandising

*Not pictured: Chris Dodds, Operations & Production Engineer; Josh Roemmich, International Sales for Source Asia.