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SPESA Speaks: Plans Change

By Michael McDonald

We had big plans for this year.

For those of you who don't know, 2020 marks the 30-year anniversary of SPESA. It was originally established in 1990 — right around the time negotiations began heating up for a little trade agreement known as NAFTA — to protect and promote the interests and image of equipment suppliers to the sewn products industry. With that in mind, we planned to spend a significant part of our efforts and events in 2020 celebrating this milestone, exploring the lessons learned, and looking toward the future of SPESA.

But then everything changed.

Like everyone else, we spent the first half of 2020 dealing with the impact of Covid-19. We postponed events, canceled travel, upended budgets, and watched our plans fly out the window. And all of that, of course, pales in comparison to the tragedy afflicting so many in our industry and our community both personally and professionally.

Some days it feels as if the world just stopped spinning. But, in other ways, it's moving faster than ever. Over the past few months, we have seen our industry quickly pivot to the production of personal protective equipment (PPE). New opportunities for domestic manufacturing have emerged and alliances between different organizations have formed to support the industry and equip frontline workers in the fight against Covid-19. It was a swift change that seemed to happen over night.

Yet it’s not the only change on which we should be focused. That trade deal mentioned above, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), is changing as well. July 1, 2020, marks the official implementation of the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), a deal meant to modernize supply chains and incentivize greater North American manufacturing.

So now here we are, in 2020, on one side facing challenges we never imagined, and on the other dealing with some of the same issues our founders encountered 30 years ago. But we are looking forward.

The SPESA team is thrilled to offer up this first issue of the new Behind the Seams. We don’t want to change what works; in more than 20 years of publication, Dave and Benton Gardner built a strong foundation for this newsletter, making it a leading voice for the sewn product industry. Maintaining that legacy, Behind the Seams will still come to your inbox twice a month and include a roundup of the latest industry news.

You will also notice a few new additions. First, every month will have a theme focusing on specific topics important to the sewn products industry. Second, you will see more original content from SPESA, from our members, and from leading industry experts so that we are not only sharing the news, but adding to it and explaining why we think readers should be paying attention.

We want Behind the Seams to be both for and about the sewn products industry. We encourage our members to recommend topics we should explore, give us feedback on what you think needs to be improved, and let us know when you have news to share.

This month’s theme focuses on the industry’s response to Covid-19 and the future of the sewn product supply chain. It isn’t what we planned, but it's what we need right now. Our supply chains have been drastically impacted by the pandemic, both in terms of trade and domestic production, and it is important to understand what that means long-term for the health of the industry. We are excited to explore this topic with our readers — whether you are new to Behind the Seams or have been here since the beginning — and look forward to many more discussions in the next 30 years.


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