More than 100 attendees convened at the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C., May 4–5 for the annual Outlook Conference. This is the premier leadership forum for the specialty textile industry and is the only conference where technical textile executives and decision makers meet to focus on the industry’s business and economic outlook. It is co-developed by the United States Industrial Fabrics Institute (USIFI) and the Narrow Fabrics Institute (NFI), divisions of the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI).
Speakers at this year’s conference included Secretary William S. Cohen, chair and CEO of the Cohen Group, former secretary of defense, U.S. senator and U.S. congressman; Congressman Mark Meadows (R–NC–11); Dr. John E. Connaughton, Babson Capital professor of financial economics and director of the Babson Capital/UNC Charlotte Economic Forecast at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; Alasdair Carmichael, president–Americas of PCI Fibres; Kim Glas, former deputy assistant secretary for textiles and apparel, U.S. Department of Commerce at the International Trade Administration; Gail Strickler, assistant U.S. trade representative for textiles and apparel, Office of the United States Trade Representative in the executive office of the president; and Ron Houle, vice president of government relations at DHS Systems.
New USIFI volunteer leadership and advisory board members and were elected at the annual USIFI meeting held at Outlook. This included: new chair Bret Kelley of Highland Industries; new vice chair Ted Anderson of BondCote Corporation, new advisory board members Peter McKernan of Herculite and Ed Silva of Engineered Polymer Technologies; and re-elected advisory board members Jean Lineberger of Brawer Technical Yarns and Jim Egan of Graniteville Specialty Fabrics. These newly elected leaders joined current advisory board members Patti Bates of Glen Raven Technical Fabrics; Bill Colven of INVISTA; and Ron Houle of DHS Systems. Outgoing chair Ron Houle was thanked for his service on the USIFI Advisory Board and presented with a plaque of appreciation.
The 2015 Outlook Conference will be held May 18–19 at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.