Glen Raven - Market-Driven To The Core
James M. Borneman, Editor In Chief
len Raven has earned the 2005
Innovation Award through empowering its associates to be innovators, fostering a culture
of market-driven innovation and carefully building a global approach to business.
Many talk about innovation, but few companies can respond to the changes innovation demands — Glen Raven is one of those few.
The company celebrates 125 years in business this year, and a family legacy that spans four generations back to John Q. Gant and the 1880 partnership that began as Altamahaw Mills. With that in mind, it would be easy for the following pages to be a celebration of Glen Raven’s past success. Consider the following:
• Zebra Stripes — black-and-white striped awning fabrics that were Glen Raven’s first trademarked product;
• panty hose, invented by Allen E. Gant Sr. in 1953;
• the 1960 launch of Sunbrella®, a 100-percent acrylic outdoor fabric that has become an industry standard and brand model for textiles;
• the 1969 use of Glen Raven fabric to make the flag placed on the moon;
• the 1997-98 acquisition of France-based Dickson S.A., a widely recognized leader in branded acrylic fabrics and the catalyst for Glen Raven’s international business;
• the 2003 divisional reorganization of the company based on markets served, which has led to the Custom Fabrics and the new Technical Fabrics subsidiaries structure; and
• the 2005 expansion of Glen Raven’s global footprint, with a commitment to build a 250,000-square-foot facility one hour west of Shanghai.
This year has been, and will most likely continue to be, a difficult year for US textile companies. Uncertainty abounds. The story inside Glen Raven is about adopting a strategy that fits turbulent times and hinges on each of Glen Raven’s 2,500 associates being heard unfiltered, and being key to innovation.
Marketing plays a significant role at Glen Raven, not just in supporting successful brands, but in understanding markets and guiding Glen Raven’s investment path. Few textile companies understand and act on market data the way Glen Raven does to continually reposition assets and make tough decisions on entering and exiting markets.
Global business strategy is often confused with selling globally. Although Glen Raven has no shortage of global sales — selling product in 127 countries, the acquisition of Dickson changed everything. The addition of four French plants, the well-known European Dickson® branded acrylic fabric not unlike Sunbrella, and technical fabric capability broadened the company’s understanding of being global and changed its culture by incorporating bright minds with different perspectives from other parts of the world. This process continues with the building of a facility in China to serve a growing Chinese market for Sunbrella products.
Congratulations to the 2,500 associates worldwide who are the heart of Glen Raven innovation. And special thanks to all those interviewed in this process — although not every name is quoted, your input has made telling these stories possible.