Addressing the Needs of the Industry
Fabric Sources International
Fabric Sources International specializes in woven, nonwoven, composite, and specialty fabric products to provide customers with a one-stop shop for all their sourcing, converting, laminating, and coating needs. Headquartered in Dalton, Georgia, the company is a trusted solutions provider with a long-standing reputation for integrity, and high-quality service.
Fabric Sources International began its life in 2001 by brokering sales for foreign fabric manufacturers who were looking to break into the United States market. Fabric Sources became a sales arm for a number of foreign partners and began to see a lot of success very quickly. Within a few years, the company’s leadership began exploring the possibility of expanding its offerings, and by 2005, it was offering conversion services. In the fabric industry, conversion is the process of taking raw fabric material directly from the manufacturing line and converting it into a usable product.
For example, dryer sheets are made of a non-woven material that comes off the manufacturing line in 126-inch-wide rolled sheets. The manufacturer wants to focus on running their machine as wide and as fast as it can go so that the company can produce as much volume as possible. They do not want to have to slit the material into the four-inch-wide rectangular sheets needed to be a usable consumer product. The process of taking the raw material master rolls and cutting them into the right format is called conversion, and in 2004, Fabric Sources began to perform this service for its customers. This was the company’s first addition to its service offering, but more would follow.
With the success of its conversion service, a few years later, the company decided to expand its capacity further. In 2009, it acquired a larger facility in Dalton, GA to handle the growing business. In late 2013, the building next door was purchased and Fabric Sources made the decision to commission a new wide width (160”) spray lamination line. This new facility was equipped with a coating line, and Fabric Sources planned to bring these new capabilities under its umbrella. With this second building, the company had brought a full suite of services – including sourcing, conversion, hot melt lamination, and coating capabilities – in-house.
By Spring of 2014, the new lines were fully operational. This enabled the company to offer sourcing for woven, non-woven, composite, and specialty materials, conversion services, and the ability to laminate and coat various types of substrate. Today, all of its lines are running consistently, at full speed, and at very high capacities.
According to Director of Product Development Hank Welch, other companies might offer sourcing, converting, coating, or laminating, however, Fabric Sources appears to be the only company that can do it all. “That has positioned us with a very unique opportunity to develop some solutions at a much more cost-effective price, because it doesn’t have to touch two or three different companies, you can come to us as one company, and we can do all of this in one operation.”
Today, the company operates from three facilities in Dalton, Georgia. Dalton has been dubbed the flooring capital of the world because roughly eighty percent of the world’s flooring products are made within fifty miles of that location. The company was initially located in North Carolina, but to break into the flooring market, one of the company’s founders moved the operation to Dalton in 2005. That opened many flooring-related opportunities that just would not have been available from the original location.
Fabric Sources has equipment enabling a wide range of lamination and coating capabilities. This includes a 160 inch wide lamination line, an 80 inch wide coating line, and a 100 foot oven. It can customize coating properties, application weights, and control oven temperatures to ensure a high quality coating application with optimal performance.
In just under a decade, Fabric Sources International has tripled in size, and according to Welch, one of the key reasons for this success has been its solutions-based approach. The front page of the company’s website promises: ‘We listen, innovate, and deliver,’ and that promise represents the real value that the company brings to its customers.
“We are very open and flexible as it relates to our product development work with customers. They tell us all the characteristics of a product, and then we go find it somewhere in the world. We do business with a lot of big billion-dollar orgs, and I think it’s because we have a very good reputation when it comes to being able to deliver solutions, and they trust our integrity,” says Welch.
Because Fabric Sources has focused on bringing so many services in house, the company is able to solve problems that many of its competitors simply cannot. The company has become an important asset to many major clients by working closely with them and developing solutions suited perfectly to their unique needs.
Being a one-stop shop for its customers has enabled Fabric Sources to stand out from the competition, but it has a number of other competitive advantages. One of these is its four-meter-wide, hot-melt, spray adhesive line. Often, a company preparing for a new product launch will not want to extend a ten-million-dollar capital expenditure to bring a lamination line in-house until the product has proven its viability, so it will subcontract the work to a laminator. As it happens, very few laminators have the equipment necessary to work more than three meters wide.
And, the company is very comfortable working with temporary clients during the market testing phase of a project. “Sometimes a company will want to work with us for two or three years, but when their product really goes big, they’ll be able to justify the internal investment and bring it back in-house. We are A-OK with that. People talk to us and tell us what they’re thinking, and we’re able to be flexible and open. I think that’s a big differentiator,” says Welch.
Non-woven materials make up a significant portion of the company’s product offering, and whether or not we realize it, they also make up a great deal of the products we use every day. They are in wipes, makeup removal pads, dryer sheets, coffee filters, tea bags, bandages, or the inside of a basketball. They can even be tufted to make carpet or sports turf. Non-woven fabrics are everywhere.
According to Welch, roughly sixty percent of the goods in the average big-box department store will have a non-woven fabric in them somewhere. It is such a broad and varied product type, that product development teams really do need a specialist to help them find the right fabric at the right price. Fabric Sources has developed a network of manufacturers around the world through which it can find the perfect material for any application. The company is committed to finding the right products and the right solutions.
One example of how the company was able to solve a difficult problem for a customer arose when it was approached about an innovative flooring product. A client had developed a sensor floor that was capable of detecting the positions of anyone walking on it and sending that information as a heatmap to analytics software. The challenge they had come up against was that for the product to function safely, thin strips of aluminum would need to be laminated with a proprietary coating to a very tight tolerance. At first, Fabric Sources was not sure it would be able to find a solution that would work. The engineering team took the project on and eventually came up with a plan.
“They came to us with a product that they just could not commercialize because they couldn’t find anyone that could manufacture the product to meet the specifications necessary to pass safety testing. They challenged us with something we’d never done before. Ultimately, we were able to craft a solution. What that demonstrates is that we listen, we innovate, and we deliver,” says Welch.
In just nineteen years, Fabric Sources International has grown into a choice provider of fabric solutions to clients throughout the United States. Whether it is finding the perfect material or converting that material into a market-ready product, Fabric Sources has the experience and the expertise to be a valuable partner. The company aims to continue its upward trend by working closely with clients to understand their needs, developing innovative solutions, and delivering a product it can stand behind.
Please add a small paragraph stating what each of our lamination lines are capable of….you can get this information off the website under hot melt and coating.