Broadwoven Fabric Mills, Wool

SIC 2231

Companies in this industry

Industry report:

Establishments primarily engaged in weaving or tufting wool carpets and rugs are classified in SIC 2273: Carpets and Rugs. Production of broadwoven fabrics with content wholly or primarily by weight of cotton is included in SIC 2211: Broadwoven Fabric Mills, Cotton. Production of broadwoven fabrics with content wholly or chiefly by weight of manmade fiber and silk is included in SIC 2221: Broadwoven Fabric Mills, Manmade Fiber and Silk. Production of narrow fabric, generally 12 inches or less in width, of cotton, wool, silk, and manufactured fiber is included in SIC 2241: Narrow Fabric and Other Smallwares Mills: Cotton, Wool, Silk, and Manufactured Fiber.

Industry Snapshot

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2007, approximately 618 establishments employed 17,849 workers in the broadwoven fabric finishing mills segment of the industry, which saw total shipment values reach $6.8 billion. About 16,491 people were employed in 446 establishments in the textile and fabric finishing mills (excluding broadwoven) segment, which had total shipment values of $2.7 billion. Establishments in the industry tended to be small, with the majority employing fewer than 20 employees. Due to substantial losses, further decreases in employment were projected for the overall fabric finishing mills manufacturing industry by 2016, with an accompanying decrease in industry output.

In 2009, wool fabric mills employed 18,376 workers in 351 establishments. Total sales reached $440.2 million, with Florida leading the nation in revenues with $102 million, followed by South Carolina with $72.1 million and California with $57.7 million. Tennessee, New Jersey, and New York held the other spots in the top five. States that employed the most people in the industry were South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Florida.

Strides in technology, along with international competition, consolidations, and increasing productivity, contributed to the downward trend in this industry. By the mid-2000s, manufacturers hoped for higher quota limits on imported goods. Instead, the lifting of import quotas in 2005 contributed to the decline of the textile and apparel industries during these years as imports, primarily from Asia, had enormous increases. However, in November 2005, the United States came to terms with China on a three-year limit of imports of Chinese-produced textiles, which contributed to a bump in domestic production.

Organization and Structure

Producing woolen broadwoven fabrics is similar in principle to making broadwoven fabrics in the cotton and manufactured sectors. However, wool and other animal fibers must be scoured before being processed into yarn to remove animal greases and other debris that become entangled in the wool before shearing.

The processes required to make yarns, which include opening, carding, drafting, roving, and spinning, use machines that are larger and designed to process long-staple fibers. These fibers are 4 to 8 inches long, compared to 7/8 to 1 3/8 inches for cotton. Most manufactured fiber is cut to process on the cotton system of yarn manufacturing and is thus approximately the same length as the cotton fibers. Some manufactured fibers are designed to go into products that replace woolen fabrics, such as suitings and blankets, that will be blended with wool fibers (polyester-wool blends, which are cut to process on woolen machinery).

Like makers of broadwoven cotton and manufactured fabrics, producers of woolen fabrics generally are fully integrated. They produce, weave, and dye the yarn before finishing the woven fabric. Some companies maintain yarn manufacturing and weaving operations in one manufacturing plant and dyeing and finishing in another. Frequently, however, producers of woolen yarn and fabrics buy wool that has already been scoured. The scoured wool purchased by producers of woolen fabrics is generally known as "woolen tops."

The three categories of manufacturing machinery for production of wool yarns are woolen, worsted, and semiworsted. The category used is determined by the fabric's intended end use. Mohair and other animal fibers were processed on standard woolen, worsted, and semiworsted yarn manufacturing machines with occasional modifications to adjust for variations in fiber length.

Most woolen and other animal fiber broadwoven fabrics were produced on projectile, rigid, and flexible rapier weaving machines. Air-jet weaving machines were not suitable for production of heavyweight woolen fabrics but were used occasionally if the woolen fabric was a very lightweight worsted product. Water-jet weaving machines could not be used to produce broadwoven fabrics of wool and similar animal fibers.

In the early 1990s, only Japan's Tsudakoma Corp. and Toyoda Automatic Loom Works Ltd. manufactured air-jet weaving machines for making worsted fabrics. Sulzer Ruti of Switzerland manufactured projectile machines that were widely used to produce broadwoven fabrics of wool and similar animal fibers. A number of weaving machine manufacturers produced flexible and rigid rapier looms that were used for weaving broadwoven fabrics from woolen and other animal fiber yarns. Flexible rapier weaving machines were available from a small number of Italian and Belgian companies. Rigid rapier weaving machines were available through several European woolen broadwoven fabric makers.

Dyeing and finishing of woolen fabrics was performed on machinery similar to that found in the processing of cotton and manufactured fibers. However, chemicals designed specifically for woolen and other animal fibers were used. Frequently, and more often in woolen fabrics than in other types, dyeing was done prior to the manufacture of the fabric. The raw wool was dyed after scouring or after being made into wool yarn. Dyeing the wool before it was made into fabric was necessary if the finished product was going to contain a plaid, stripe, or any multicolored pattern (unless the fabric was going to be printed with the design). Since many of the wool fabrics that were woven would be printed with multicolored patterns, stripes, or plaids, pre-dyeing of the raw material or yarn was more common in woolen operations than in those processing cotton or manufactured fiber.

The United States uses the Spinning Count (Bradford) system for classifying wool, which defines the wool based on fiber diameter and how many "hanks" (one hank is 560 yards long) of yarn can be spun from one pound of clean wool. For example, a 62s wool would yield 34,720 (560 yards x 62) yards of yarn.

Most wool is produced in Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, which increases its cost to textile plants in the United States where wool production is insignificant. The additional cost of scouring added to the increased cost of wool processing machinery further increases the price of woolen products. Mohair is even more expensive than wool. Subsequently, wool, mohair, and similar animal fibers used to produce broadwoven fabrics have been more expensive as raw materials than cotton and most manufactured fibers. For this reason, apparel, blankets, and other common applications for wool and animal fibers are often considered luxury items. The most expensive fibers used in textile applications include certain manufactured fibers and those with special applications for high strength or resistance to heat.

Background and Development

Wool consumption continued to decrease as retail sales of wool apparel declined in the late 1990s. Weaker mill demand was a direct result of the drop in wool consumption in 1997 and 1998. U.S. mill use in 1996 was 164.4 million pounds, a figure that remained fairly steady before dropping substantially in 1998 to 123.6 million pounds. With U.S. mills producing 132.2 million square yards of broadwoven gray, chiefly wool fabric in 1998, the wool segment of this industry continued to produce just a fraction of the quantities of cotton and manufactured/silk broadwoven fabrics produced.

In 1999, mill consumption of raw wool was nearly 30 million pounds less than in 1998. During the first nine months of 1999, apparel wool consumption was 36 percent less than the previous year. In the same period, nearly 25 million pounds were used in the woolen system and 27 million in the worsted system. Top production of wool was 25 million pounds, compared with 39 million in 1998.

At the end of the century, slower economic activity abroad, importation of low-priced wool coats, and weak retail sales of wool apparel contributed to reduced mill use, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Reductions also were attributed to the weather, as milder winter conditions prevailed, and casual attire became more acceptable in the workplace.

Manufacturers began to address the problems caused by consumer perception of wool as old-fashioned and problematic. Creating comfortable, easy-care fabrics to gain consumers' attention became a priority. Manufacturers hoped that investment in technology, innovation, research, and advertising would increase output.

From 1996 to 2000, U.S. consumption of worsted wool fabrics declined 42 percent. U.S. producers of wool fabrics decreased output 51 percent, and during the same time, imports rose 24 percent, resulting in the import share of U.S. consumption rising from 19 to 40 percent. Although much wool production takes place in Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain, Italy was the major foreign supplier of worsted wool fabrics by value. Because U.S. neighbors Canada and Mexico both had lower import tariffs on Italy's wool fabric, U.S. textile manufacturers were at a price disadvantage. U.S. mills had to purchase wool from Australia and New Zealand to meet their needs because U.S. wool producers lagged well behind world leaders in wool quality as well as quantity. China bought the most wool worldwide, and Italy was the second largest global buyer.

As indicated in the industrial report of the broadwoven fabrics industry by the U.S. Census Bureau, production of wool fabrics fluctuated during 2004, starting at 5 million square yards in the first quarter and ending at 4.4 million in the fourth quarter, for a total of more than 19 million square yards. This was down from the industry total in 2003 of nearly 23,000 square yards.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service reported that 2005 U.S. mill use of wool was 40 million pounds and per capita mill use was 0.1 pounds. Per capita domestic held steady at 1.4 pounds. The report further showed that production of clean U.S. wool was 19.7 million pounds in 2005, down slightly from 19.9 million pounds in 2004. Imports to the market decreased to 18.4 million pounds in 2005 from 22.7 million pounds in 2004, and exports were up from 11.2 million pounds in 2004 to 12.4 million pounds in 2005.

In terms of clean raw wool imported for mill use, the 2005 amount of nearly 18.4 million pounds was down from nearly 22.7 million pounds in 2004. Overall, prices for clean, mill-delivered territory raw wool dropped in 2005 as finer grades were reduced about 50 cents from the previous year and fell in the range of $1.73 (for 62s) to $1.85 (for 64s) while coarser grades declined by 20 percent from 2004 to $1.46 (for 60s) and $1.39 (for 58s).

Current Conditions

In 2007, U.S. raw wool imports dropped 17 percent to 14.3 million pounds clean. Fine wool accounted for 5.2 million pounds, or 37 percent of the total, whereas the majority was unimproved or grades not finer than 46s. Of the fine wool imported into the United States, 70 percent came from Australia, and 80 percent of the coarser grades were shipped from New Zealand. Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture no longer formerly gathers the data, wool mill consumption was estimated at 30 million pounds clean in 2007.

U.S. exports of raw wool dropped in 2007 from the 50-year record levels experienced in 2006. Of the 17.1 million pounds exported, 60 percent went to China. India and Germany held a distant second and third place as destinations for U.S. wool.

A new trend that was making impressions on the industry in the late 2000s was the creation of washable wool. AgResearch Textiles, in association with Australian Wool Innovation, developed a merino wool fabric that could be machine-washed and tumbled dry. Traditionally, wool has been a "dry clean only" fabric, which has limited its appeal to consumers. Surinder Tandon, lead scientist of the team that developed the so-called Natural Easy Care (NEC) fabric, told just-style.com, "The specially designed device used to create the yarn can be easily retro-fitted to an existing wool spinning frame, and the technology is robust in terms of application and performance." Vermont Organic Fiber Company (VTOF) of Middlebury, Vermont, went one better in 2009 when it introduced washable organic wool products. VTOF had been offering items made from certified organic wool--or O-Wool[R]--since 2000, then came out with a washable organic wool fabric that did not contain chlorine or synthetic resins.

Industry Leaders

One of the leaders in the industry in the late 2000s was Beaulieu of America, based in Dalton, Georgia, with 6,000 employees in 30 facilities. By 2009, Beaulieu was the third largest carpet manufacturer in the world. Founded in 1830, Woolrich Corp., of Woolrich, Pennsylvania, was the nation's oldest continuously operating clothing manufacturer and woolen mill and continued to be an industry leader into the late 2000s.

© COPYRIGHT 2018 The Gale Group, Inc. This material is published under license from the publisher through the Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan. All inquiries regarding rights should be directed to the Gale Group. For permission to reuse this article, contact the Copyright Clearance Center.

News and information about Broadwoven Fabric Mills, Wool

Research and Markets Adds Report: Broadwoven Fabric Finishing Mills Industry in the U.S. and its International Trade [Q3 2009 Edition
Manufacturing Close-Up; September 22, 2009; 700+ words
...Mills Subsector (313), and the Manufacturing Sector (31-33). Its SIC equivalent codes are: 2231 - Broadwoven Fabric Mills, Wool (wool broadwoven fabric finishing without weaving fabric); 2261 - Finishers of Broadwoven Fabrics of Cotton...
Research and Markets Adds Report: Broadwoven Fabric Finishing Mills Industry in the U.S. and its International Trade [Q3 2009 Edition.(Report)
Manufacturing Close-Up; September 22, 2009; 700+ words
...Mills Subsector (313), and the Manufacturing Sector (31-33). Its SIC equivalent codes are: 2231 - Broadwoven Fabric Mills, Wool (wool broadwoven fabric finishing without weaving fabric); 2261 - Finishers of Broadwoven Fabrics of Cotton...
Research and Markets Adds Report: Broadwoven Fabric Finishing Mills Industry in the U.S. and its International Trade [Q3 2009 Edition
Manufacturing Close-Up; September 22, 2009; 700+ words
...Fabric Finishing Mills Industry (31331...Finishing and Fabric Coating Mills...Broadwoven Fabric Mills, Wool (wool broadwoven fabric finishing without...of Broadwoven Fabrics of Cotton; 2262 - Finishers of Broadwoven ...
Research and Markets Adds Report: Broadwoven Fabric Finishing Mills Industry in the U.S. and its International Trade [Q3 2009 Edition.(Report)
Manufacturing Close-Up; September 22, 2009; 700+ words
...Fabric Finishing Mills Industry (31331...Finishing and Fabric Coating Mills...Broadwoven Fabric Mills, Wool (wool broadwoven fabric finishing without...of Broadwoven Fabrics of Cotton; 2262 - Finishers of Broadwoven ...
Research and Markets Offers Report: U.S. Broadwoven Fabric Market - Analysis and Forecast to 2025
Entertainment Close-up; February 25, 2017; 695 words
...of the U.S. broadwoven fabric market. It presents...Product coverage: -Broadwoven fabrics, cotton, plain...gray goods -Broadwoven fabrics, cotton...finished in weaving mills -Fabricated textile...yarns (excluding wool blends), gray...
Research and Markets Adds Report: U.S. Broadwoven Fabric Market
Manufacturing Close-Up; February 24, 2017; 642 words
...of the U.S. broadwoven fabric market. It presents...Product coverage:-Broadwoven fabrics, cotton, plain...gray goods-Broadwoven fabrics, cotton...finished in weaving mills-Fabricated textile...yarns (excluding wool blends), gray...
Research and Markets Offers Report: U.S. Textile and Fabric Finish Market
Entertainment Close-up; February 25, 2017; 547 words
...finished in finishing mills -Broadwoven fabrics, cotton...commission finishing -Broadwoven fabrics, manmade...excluding cotton and wool), finished in finishing mills -Broadwoven fabrics, job or...mills -Finished fabrics (excluding ...
Research and Markets Adds Report: U.S. Textile and Fabric Finish Market
Manufacturing Close-Up; February 24, 2017; 503 words
...finished in finishing mills-Broadwoven fabrics, cotton...commission finishing-Broadwoven fabrics, manmade...excluding cotton and wool), finished in finishing mills-Broadwoven fabrics, job or...mills-Finished fabrics (excluding ...

Search all articles about Broadwoven Fabric Mills, Wool