Specialty Fabrics Review January 2022 - 24

[ PERSPECTIVE ]
growth path
L
New IFAI board chair Amy Bircher focuses
on improvement, innovation.
ike many textile entrepreneurs, Amy Bircher got her start in the industry
in a family business-even as she blazed her own path.
" I got into the textile industry because my family owned a dyeing and
finishing facility of wide fabric, broad-woven fabrics in the Carolinas, " Bircher says.
In 1980, the family bought National Dye Works, founded in Chicago, Ill., in 1942,
Amy Bircher
CEO & FOUNDER
MMI Textiles Inc.
Westlake, Ohio
www.mmitextiles.com
IFAI member since 2001
Most valued benefit
Networking-helping
our industry learn from
each other, collaborate
and build relationships
Written by
Jonathan Sweet
Photography by
© Mark Skalny Photography
eventually moving the company to South Carolina. Bircher spent her high school and
college years working in the family business. When she graduated from West Virginia
University, she moved to the West Coast to sell the family's products there.
That was where, in 1997, she founded MMI- " It stands for me, myself and I " -
as a manufacturer rep company.
" Now all of a sudden I have not just fabric to sell them, but I had hardware and
webbing and other components to sell customers that were making end products, "
she says. " I loved what I was doing and I really wanted to go off on my own and
complement my dad's business in the textile industry. "
Even as she grew MMI into a successful rep company, it turned out she wasn't
done with the family business. Her father had closed the company's dye house
in 2000 as more of that business went to other countries, becoming a converter
and rebranding as NDW Textiles. In 2006, he asked Amy if she wanted to buy
the company-a sale that became official on January 1, 2007.
" Now you're talking about a business that we had purchased ... and they were
bigger than we were, " Bircher says. " So, that opened us up to worldwide selling
because we had and still have customers all over the world now. "
Since 2007, MMI Textiles has quadrupled the business from NDW, while
also adding product lines and continuing the manufacturer rep business.
" That's just been a conduit, if you will, for us to harness our talents of being
very resourceful and finding the right supplier, " she says. " So that portion of
our business got started in the distribution model. From 1997 to 2007 we had a
strong reps business model coupled with a growing product line of distributable
products, of distribution lines where we actually, again, took possession of the
receivable, versus it being a commission sale. "
Most recently, MMI opened a new manufacturing facility in Lenoir, N.C., in
early 2021. The North Carolina factory focuses on manufacturing and printing
narrow fabrics, including a full line of mil-spec webbing and binding tape
products. That focus on innovation and finding new opportunities has helped
MMI to grow even larger than Bircher ever expected.
" I would love to be able to sit here and tell you that I knew in 2021, after 25
years of doing business, that I would be the type of company, the size of company,
24 SPECIALTY FABRICS REVIEW / January 2022
http://www.mmitextiles.com

Specialty Fabrics Review January 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Specialty Fabrics Review January 2022

Specialty Fabrics Review January 2022 - Cover1
Specialty Fabrics Review January 2022 - Cover2
Specialty Fabrics Review January 2022 - 1
Specialty Fabrics Review January 2022 - 2
Specialty Fabrics Review January 2022 - 3
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Specialty Fabrics Review January 2022 - Cover3
Specialty Fabrics Review January 2022 - Cover4
Specialty Fabrics Review January 2022 - Women's Summit 1
Specialty Fabrics Review January 2022 - Women's Summit 2
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