Cullman, Ala. – Being a domestic manufacturer of home textiles products has always been a defining characteristic – and strength – for Homtex. But during the coronavirus pandemic crisis the company has risen to the challenge and become a key provider of personal protection equipment, including masks.
“This was a real feel good experience for everyone involved,” said Jerry Wootten, CEO of the family owned company. Homtex has been supplying both fabric and finished masks as part of its efforts to fight the pandemic, including working with Supima.
“We were asked to provide Supima fabric to small cut-and-sew operations, especially in the northeast,” he said. “It has worked out great for everyone involved, giving people that didn’t have an inventory of quality fabrics but were able to cut and sew masks the opportunity to help during this crisis.”
Homtex’s efforts haven’t stopped there, he said. “We have converted three plants from our normal products to face mask production with a fourth plant coming on line soon.
“We are producing cotton face masks with BFE95 filter fabric between two pieces of cotton fabric, which are also washable. We have also invested in several automatic machines that should arrive in just a few weeks that can produce surgical face masks.” Wootten said once everything is in place, Homtex will be producing several hundred million masks a year. “Again, we believe in domestic production and we are especially convinced that this is an area of product production that needs to be manufactured in the U.S.A. We are also installing the machines that will produce the elastic loops so that we will have a 100% U.S. produced and FDA certified face mask to help secure the health of our nation.”
For Wootten, this full-steam-ahead approach is typical of how he has built and grown his business since its founding in 1987. While it does operate an apparel division its primary business is in home, including sheets, pillows, protectors, duvets and domestically woven throws, tapestries and towels.
Today Homtex have five plants with about 1 million square feet of manufacturing and warehouse space. “We cut and sew almost 90% of our sheeting products and fill all of our pillows in the U.S.A.,” he said. “We also 100% domestically weave throws and tapestries. We source our fabrics globally for the best quality and cut and sew so that we can maintain the necessary inventory for the retailers by being able to produce the appropriate sku quickly.”
The ability to service its retail customers quickly and efficiently has always been a hallmark of Homtex, he says. “This puts less pressure on the retailer to order large quantities to prevent stock outages. We are the inventory buffer and we also provide innovative products. We package our product in single-case packs to additionally facilitate the needs of our brick-and-mortar and e-commerce customers.”
Homtex’s association with Supima goes way back, he says. “We have been working with Supima for more than 10 or 15 years. We primarily produce sheeting products with Supima. We blend Supima with Tencel and also have sold 100% Supima linens.”
When deciding which premium cotton to use, Wootten said Supima was the obvious choice. “They do a fantastic job insuring the quality of its cotton through its required grading system. We have confidence in the quality of Supima cotton. Supima helps us provide the best sleeping environment possible for our customers. While building our DreamFit brand, it was extremely helpful utilizing the well-established Supima brand.”
Even though it is focused on its mask business and providing fabric for PPEs, Wootten said he looks forward to business starting to return in its core bed and bath categories.
“We believe that due to the particular nature of this crisis, causing people to stay home, that home furnishings, in general, will not see the slow down to the degree that many of the other parts of the economy will unfortunately see.”