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Q&A: American Manufacturer MTC USA Talks Highs, Lows and Woes of Made in USA

Photo credit: MCT USA

RK Industries, a large apparel manufacturer based in India, has opened its first U.S. factory, in Fairmont, N.C.

The company has had long-term relationships with U.S. brands and saw a chance to better serve them by opening a facility in the U.S. amid the Made in USA movement and increased demand for faster order turnarounds taking shape in recent years.

Sourcing Journal caught up with Sanjay Israni, executive vice president of RK Industries subsidiary, MTC USA/Apparel USA, on the endeavor and reasons for making the investment.

Sourcing Journal: So why Made in America? And why now?

Sanjay Israni: The U.S. has always been a prime market for the company and we saw potential, especially over the last few years with the importance of quick turn time. A lot of our companies have said if we have a facility here we can do initial test runs–500 pieces–and do the bulk orders overseas and amortize the cost.

Manufacturing here is not the cheapest thing, but it’s great for turn time and to do test runs. Plus, with a lot of new brands and millennials, we fell Made in America has a niche market and there are people willing to pay that higher price if the garments are made here. The downside is that there’s not enough good fabric available, so what we have to do is import the fabric. So, our garments say Made in America using imported materials.

SJ: Can you give us a bit more insight into the company?

SI: Our parent company, RK Industries, is based in India and was established in 1973, where we employ over 4,000 personnel. We operate about 1,600 sewing machines and have our own fabric mill making 300,000 yards of solid and yarn dyed fabric every month and 4 million garments a year.

We work with the prime U.S. brands–Ralph Lauren, Nordstrom, Dillard’s, J.Crew, Gant–a broad spectrum. Basically, 80 percent of our business is men’s woven shirts. We do some women’s casual blouses, as well as some bottoms. We have an in-house laundry, embroidery and printing facilities.

Our current capacity is between 700 and 800 shirts a week, depending on the style, which we plan to grow to 1,200 pieces per week.

 

SJ: What made the company choose to open a North Carolina factory?

SI: We had been talking about it for about four years and the opportunity came last year. The North Carolina factory was opened in August. It’s a small facility–42 machines to be precise. We have in-house printing, in-house embroidery and in-house basic washers.

We had a six-month training program for our sewers which we completed last month because we don’t want to come out with substandard garments. We have spoken to a lot of our customers and see a large opportunity here. We will be shipping out our first orders in the next couple of weeks for a young brand called Faherty. They have seven stores and an online business.

We are currently doing production for dress shirts and woven shirts. We have all new Juki and JK machines, and finishing equipment.

 

SJ: What sort of investment has been undertaken?

SI: It’s been an investment of more than $1 million over the last eight months in terms of working capital.

 

 

SJ: What’s next for the company?

SI: Our three-year plan is to go up to 120 or 130 machines doing woven shirts, knits and bottoms, so that we are a one-stop shop.

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