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The State of Our Union

Updated: Apr 6, 2022


Below is SPESA's 4th Annual State of the Union address to its members.

Dear SPESA Members,

Earlier this month, President Biden delivered his first State of the Union Address before a joint session of Congress. We didn’t watch. While the President of the United States spoke to the nation, the President of SPESA was on a conference call discussing workforce development and U.S. manufacturing, and the rest of our team was on a plane to San Juan to finalize plans for the 2022 SPESA Executive Conference.

That’s not to say we don’t appreciate hearing from our commander in chief, or a good hour-long speech, but more so we are thrilled to be traveling again and making plans for the future of our association. In the last month, we attended an industry conference, met with our Texprocess Americas partners in person, and hosted a happy hour for our members. All things that seemed impossible not that long ago but are now very much back within our grasp.

Upcoming Events

This year, we are excited to plan three major in-person events for our members and the sewn products industry. The first, and most important, is Texprocess Americas — co-located with Techtextil North America, it is the largest and best technical textiles, non-wovens, machinery, sewn products, and equipment trade show in the Americas. As you all know, Covid-19 threw us for a loop in 2020 and we have had some ups and downs bringing the next edition of this show to fruition. But we are thrilled to share that as of writing this, the Texprocess Americas floor space is 95% sold! Furthermore, 50+ SPESA members will be exhibiting in 2022, and we know many others will take full advantage of the event by walking the show floor and participating in Symposium sessions.

  • If you have not yet secured your booth space for 2022, please contact asap.

  • Advanced registration is now available for attendees at a discounted rate through April 15th here. Use this link as well to register for the Texprocess Americas Symposium and the May 18th reception at Der Biergarten.

  • Tickets for the famed SPESA Opening Night Reception at World of Coca-Cola (May 17th) are available here.

The finish line is finally in sight and we will spend the next month and half preparing for the show that made SPESA what it is. Get ready for an onslaught of emails and social media posts as we help our members promote their products and make this the best show yet!

After Texprocess Americas in May, we will focus our energy on SPESA’s two key networking events. The Advancements in Manufacturing Technologies Conference will be held in Detroit in September 2022, taking full advantage of the proximity to the Detroit Auto Show and the burgeoning sewn products industry in the area. Then, in November, we head South to San Juan for the 2022 SPESA Executive Conference. SPESA has a well-earned reputation for providing excellent industry education and networking at our events. We promise that tradition will continue this year, even if we do it with a piña colada in hand.

Registration for both the Advancements and Executive Conference will be open to members soon.

SPESA Activities & Goals for 2022

Beyond our events, we are hoping to undertake several new initiatives in 2022 — some delayed because of Covid, others many years in the making.

First, SPESA will be conducting internal and external research to shape a strategic plan that will lead our association into its next chapter. SPESA has been a vital resource to its members throughout its history, but we want to do more. We want to be invaluable to our members and the sewn products industry and ensure we are providing the benefits you most need to further your business. To help us do so, we will ask a few current SPESA members (as well as past members, prospective members, and others in the industry) to share their insights and opinions with us in the coming months by way of a third-party interview. That being said, SPESA members are welcome to reach out to our team at any time if you have a suggestion on how the association can be of more value to you.

In the next few months, you will also see a new SPESA website that will better highlight our members and SPESA’s role in the sewn products industry. We will also share a new, transparent plan for the priority points system that grants SPESA members premier access to booth space during Texprocess Americas.

In 2022, we will continue to seek out new content for the Behind the Seams newsletter, sharing not only the latest industry news, but exclusive insight into the industry, our members, and the individual leaders you have come to know and love. In case you missed it, we recently began a series of interviews with our new SPESA Chairman, Ed Gribbin, exploring his history in the industry, outlook for the future, trade show evolution, and the importance of trade associations. We love including personal content in Behind the Seams and encourage members to reach out if you have a suggestion on who we should interview next. And as always, please send us your company news and press releases to be highlighted in the newsletter.

Focus on Membership

Finally, a key focus for the SPESA team and Board of Directors this year will be membership. Membership engagement and retainment are always important to us, and will hopefully be aided by the results of our strategic planning process as we hone in on the benefits that matter most to our current members. But we will also devote significant energy this year to membership recruitment. There are hundreds of industry suppliers out there that we believe would benefit from SPESA membership and we want to talk to them. Our Membership Committee, led by Eric Schlossman of Consew, is actively working to identify these companies and their interests, as we also ramp up our association marketing and outreach.

This is not an easy undertaking and will be a long-term endeavor for SPESA (one that may involve bringing on another staff member), but we believe it will better our association and make it more valuable for the entire membership.

We are already off to a great start on this front and want to take a moment to acknowledge and welcome the new members who have joined us recently: Clothing Tech, DXM, Inc., Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center (ISAIC), Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA), and a returning member, Apparel Machinery & Supply Co.

New Leadership

In October, we announced the induction of two new members to our Board of Directors: Jill Coleman, Vice President for Global Sales and Business Development for MOTIF, and Charlie Merrow, CEO of Merrow Group Companies, which now includes both Merrow Sewing Machine Company and Superior Sewing Machine & Supply, LLC. Jill and Charlie both bring enthusiasm and unlimited ideas for the association to their new roles, and we are excited to work with them in the future.

Also in October, the SPESA membership elected a new slate of SPESA Officers: Daniella Ambrogi, Global Marketing Director of CGS, as Secretary/Treasurer of the Board; Mark Hatton, Managing Director of Threads Americas at American & Efird, as Vice Chairman of the Board; and Ed Gribbin, Chief Executive Officer of Gribbin Strategic, as Chairman of the Board.

While we loved every minute of Nina McCormack’s extended tenure as Chairwoman, we are thrilled to see where Ed will lead us next. Ed is our strategic lens. A veteran in the industry, he offers a unique perspective that we’re confident will allow us to see continued growth for the association. With all we want to accomplish in 2022, we could not think of a more perfect person to be our guiding light.

Looking Ahead

While we may have missed the live broadcast, we did take a peek at President Biden’s State of the Union remarks after the fact. And many of the topics the president touched on in his address are likely to have a major influence on the sewn products industry over the next year: the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, competition with China, and continued supply chain delays and challenges.

We know things are not getting any easier for our members and we will do everything we can over the next year to help you succeed. Again, please feel free to reach out to our team if you need assistance or have any suggestions on how we can better serve you.

Thank you for your continued membership and support. We look forward to seeing you soon!


Your SPESA Team

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