Textile Insight

May / June 2019

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MADE IN USA | BIXBY INTERNATIONAL Future Focused 28 • Textile Insight ~ May/June 2019 textileinsight.com Expertise & Equipment Keeps a 145 Year Old Firm on the Cutting Edge. By Emily Walzer t's easy to be misled by the building and the capabili- ties inside Bixby International. Located in a quiet industrial park on the edge of marsh- land adjacent to the New England town of Newburyport, with wild turkeys, owls, and deer milling around the property, this fifth generation family business is in fact building a multi-million dollar lab filled with high perfor- mance equipment and led by a world class R&D team. A current wave of investment in machinery and workforce — including young talent keen on the deluxe espresso machine destined for the new employee cafeteria — shows off a quick turn prototyping space and a Gravure laminating machine — a rare find in the U.S. A belt lami- nator is due to arrive soon. Three extrusion lines run around the clock five days a week. The renovation and aggressive growth plans will provide support for Bixby's latest venture: an innovative collection of functional fab- rications for active apparel. "We think there is a niche to fill in an area where we have expertise and the equipment. That is what the per- formance apparel market is looking for and not finding in the U.S. currently," explains Dan Rocconi, president & CEO, Bixby International. Founded 145 years ago in nearby Haverhill, MA, Bixby specialized in making heel counters and toe supports for footwear. So popular were these components they were commonly known as "Bixbys." The company decamped from Haverhill as the footwear industry left the U.S., set- tling in Newburyport 30 years ago. Rather than chasing the shoe business, Bixby execs made the decision to combine assets and knowledge base and forge ahead into new markets, including industrial conveyor belts, solar panels, orthopedics, and dental. These days, footwear remains steady at eight percent of corporate revenue, with brand partners focused on domestic production of high-end styles. Now Bixby looks to leverage its roots in engineering and plastics with the launch of BIXWEAR. "The develop- ment side is very important," says Rocconi, who came aboard Bixby from DuPont, from the plastic packaging industrial polymer side of the business. "We understand the resins, the plastics, at a very high-level – and the converting of those. We understand multi-layer lamina- tion and have a lot of experience. And now we are taking that expertise with the idea of driving customization in apparel." Tunable TPU to Enhance Function & Fashion Apparel is not brand new to Bixby, but the approach to BIXWEAR is. The market-facing unit is project oriented to create and supply new construction concepts using films and lamination to advance function and fashion in the activewear arena. "We bring our broad depth of chem- istry in polymers and material science within the supply chain to offer performance stretch and recovery prod- ucts with aesthetic value that is cost effective compared to other sewn products," states Dennis Lauzon, chief rev- enue officer. "We think this meets the consumer appetite for something new, that can be achieved with a shorter supply chain here in the U.S." Bixby brought in Phyllis Freedman as global industry manager to help the company define the marketplace and drive BIXWEAR business. "We're developing appli- cations to improve stretch and recovery in new ways. For example, it could be an insert on the leg of a yoga pant to prevent bagging in the knees or in any area of I Samples can be made on the spot at Bixby's in-house pilot lab. "We think there is a niche to fill in an area where we have expertise and the equipment." Dan Rocconi, president & CEO, Bixby International

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