Johnston executive discusses closure

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Though we've heard local officials and employees talk about the impending closure of the Opp Mill, and downsizing of the Micolas Mill, the corporate entity has been relatively quite. However, in a communication with Johnston Industries Executive Vice President, Secretary and Chief Financial Officer James

J. Murray, the plight of the company as a whole was discussed, which prompted the announcements regarding the Opp facilities.

Like so many other textile and textile-related industries, Murray said the biggest factor in the closure of the Opp Mill was international competition.

"It is outrageous that this country let global trade policies and foreign shenanigans ruin our textile industry," Murray said. "If any mill deserves to survive this weak economy, it is Opp Mill. Opp produces the best light weight poly cotton fabric in the world. The Opp work force is tremendous, the product quality and service first rate, the reputation outstanding and the costs about as low as possible in this country."

What Murray is referring too regarding foreign shenanigans is the fact that many developing companies choose to subsidize their nation's textile industry, creating what many deem as unfair business practices.

"The main problem is you cannot price greige fabric low enough to match subsidized imports," Murray said. "It's gotten to the point that not only is the fabric produced offshore, but the people who buy the fabric are moving offshore or are competing against imports themselves. We just ran out of customers.

"The Chinese are willing to do anything, anything to steal our textile industry, and our retailers are helping them while our government looks the other way. With the manufacturing economy so weak and retailers pushing everyone to lower and lower pricing, it seems as if no one cares about where a product is made, they just want it cheaper and cheaper and cheaper - if they place an order at all. Every time you watch a TV commercial with a retailer advertising falling prices, remember those prices are falling because the retailer is willing to put you out of work to save a penny."

Murray also continued to acknowledge the fact that the Opp Mill was the best in the world, and it's people should be proud of the accomplishments they have made through the years.

"We believe Opp Mill is the best greige mill in the world, but a single greige mill cannot stand alone against whole economies, whole nations, bent on pirating away our livelihoods," he said. "Opp outlasted just about every domestic competitor it had. The people of Opp have the right to be proud, and we should all be ashamed that being the best isn't good enough. We hope and pray that is a temporary setback for Covington County. We believe that smart business people should be able to recognize the great work force and move in with new industries. That is the way it ought to end, anyway."