Many U.S. textile firms have relocated manufacturing operations offshore to adapt and compete leaving sections of North Americaâ€™s workforce unemployed and local economies that once relied on textiles struggling as the global textile industry has changed. But one U.S. textile company, Aurora Specialty Textiles group Inc., is making attempts to reverse that trend, and in the process has begun tapping both new and established markets in the U.S. and abroad while saving U.S. jobs.
Aurora Specialty Textiles Group Inc., which is based in the Chicago metro area, just invested in a new, streamlined, state-of-the-art U.S. manufacturing plant. Scanning the ever-evolving textile industry landscape, leadership at ASTG determined about five years ago that they would have to change and adapt to take full advantage of new emerging textile markets.
This meant opening a new manufacturing plant and significant investments in new equipment and systems. But rather than move from their long-standing base near Chicago, they stayed local and this year opened a new, multi-million dollar plant in Yorkville, Illinois, located a short drive from their old plant in Aurora. In the process they saved over 75 jobs, added five more, and preserved a thriving enterprise that helps support local economies. They also better positioned the company to continue to be a strong supplier to the rapidly-growing U.S. and global markets for print media, including wide-format.
Dan LaTurno, president of ASTG said that they never considered going anywhere else because of their employee base. They have a great team with little turnover, and many of their employees have been here 20 years plus. The company recognized that solid team work and low turnover were key ingredients of their success, plus would be needed to make a smooth transition to the new operation. In the 1990â€™s Aurora began investing in team building and the result was a highly skilled, stable and workforce.
When they decided to move, they roughly drew a circle 16 to 18 miles in radius from the existing plant, LaTurno explained, and soon found an unoccupied, former manufacturing plant in nearby Yorkville. In April of this year, ASTG began moving from their Aurora plant to the new 124,000 square foot state-of-the-art manufacturing operation in Yorkville.
A highlight of the plant is the companyâ€™s new fully automated EHWHA ultra wide width coating and finishing line, which works easily with a broad range of woven and non-woven materials up to 134â€ wide. The EHWHA enhances Auroraâ€™s ability to serve both current and new customers, including those in the print media industry.
The equipment and plant represent a significant, multi-million dollar investment. But staying in the U.S.A. turned out to be a smart decision.
Marcia Ayala, Vice President at ASTG said that there are very few finishers left in the U.S. and they are the only one in North America with wide width capabilities who can do what they can do. The U.S. location also reduces transportation time, eliminates customs costs and makes it possible for their customers to buy fabric in small batches, as opposed to having to buy an entire ship container load of fabric.
ASTGâ€™s investment in a new U.S. manufacturing operation also reflects the commitment of Meridian Industries, Inc., ASTGâ€™s parent company, to bringing business back to the United States. Aurora Specialty Textiles Group is one of five Meridian subsidiaries, and all are proud to be America-based manufacturers.
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