Ron Houle is Founder and President of Pivot Step Consultants, LLC., a consulting practice specializing in market analysis, product development, doing business with the military service branches, and providing strategic reviews of the Defense Budget.
In this new column for BeaverLake6 Report, Mr. Houle provides on insight into the issues and news that affect the US military contractors within the technical textiles industry. To contact Mr. Houle, please email at Ron.Houle76@gmail.com.
Posted July 5, 2019
There has been quite a bit of activity regarding the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), sometimes simply referred to as the Defense Authorization Bill. This legislation contains policy changes, directs studies and investigations, and provides the authorized levels of spending for the Department of Defense (DoD). The House of Representatives passed their version of the NDAA in May.
Last week, the Senate passed their version of the NDAA. There are significant differences between each version. One such difference for our industry would be a proposed rollback of the Simplified Acquisition Threshold to $150,000 for Berry Amendment compliance. In 2018, the threshold had been raised to $250,000 which seriously affected many of the medium military contracts.
From here, the two bills will be brought to a Conference Committee for resolution and concurrence, then the final version will be brought before Congress for final passage and enactment.
Watch this column in the weeks and months ahead for more details and the relevant measures for the industrial fabrics industry.
On a different note, the US Army is now ready to produce and distribute the new Improved Hot Weather Combat Uniform. This uniform has been in development since 2015, when soldiers complained about the performance of the standard Combat Uniform.
There are some exterior changes (such as not having chest pockets, a different shoulder design) that are meant to allow for faster drying times and lighter weight. The hot weather uniform is a 57/43 nylon-cotton blend (the standard combat uniform is a 50/50 nylon-cotton blend). The first shipments will soon arrive to military clothing sales stores in Hawaii and Fort Benning, GA.
The Army expects to have the uniform distributed to military clothing stores worldwide by February, 2020. The price will be approximately $100.00 per set, which is similar to the current combat uniform. The manufacturers for the uniforms are , NIB, Goodwill Industries and Ability One.
Posted February 22, 2019
Welcome once again to the newest service from BeaverLake6 Report. This column will be providing the news and the insights to the US military market.
Perhaps it’s most appropriate to have a set of articles on the defense acquisition reforms that have been put into place in the last year or two. While the department of defense has, for decades, talked about reform, it has been slow in implementation or narrow in practice. I think it is exciting to see some real change. Now, mind you, while some acquisition programs will continue to find their way through the traditional and ponderous Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR), there will be opportunities to participate in programs that, while remaining within the parameters and laws of the FAR, will be implemented in very different ways.
Having said all of that, let us first take a look at the latest commission to provide recommendations to further promote change, and, importantly to change the FAR. Now, before I go into the latest effort, I would first say that so-called Blue-Ribbon Panels have been around for decades and focused on this topic, yet their recommendations have been rarely implemented. Hence sweeping, fundamental changes have been very elusive. Perhaps now things will be different.
You may have heard of the Section 809 Panel. This panel began their work two years ago and have published their final report. By law, this panel will disband on July 15th, so here’s to hoping that their recommendations will live on. In this report, there are 90 recommendations to improve the acquisition system.
In the next issue of BeaverLake6 Report, we will begin to share some of these recommendations. Some may be more strategic in nature, but worth sharing in order for you to have the “big picture.” There are also those that strike closer to the textile industry. Stay tuned, and we will discuss.
Posted February 8, 2019
Welcome to the inaugural edition of the Military News for BeaverLake6 Report. This addition to the publication is based on the facts surrounding the importance of the US and international military markets. These markets can ebb and flow with annual defense budgets, and priorities can change dramatically in these budgets. It is always a challenge to keep up with all this, even for those who may be familiar with the Byzantine processes. For mid-size to smaller companies with limited assets to focus on these issues, it can be impossible to follow. Finally, there are those who just have not been able to become more familiar with where to go for the right documents, or even interpret these documents once (or if) found.
The purpose of this column will be severalfold. I will provide alerts as to the release of key US defense budget documents. Once published, I will provide highlights to what those documents contain and what it could mean to our industry. I will highlight key conferences and shows that may be of interest to our readers. I will provide summaries regarding panels, studies and papers whose content gives us clues on the road ahead for policies affecting standards, procurement, demand levels and subjects of that nature.
Importantly, I seek your input for topics and your feedback on future articles. The staff of BeaverLake6 Report is excited about the addition of this important topic. We are aware that many of you offer products and business to our warfighters. Nothing is more important than providing for the safety and performance of these men and women. I look forward to our partnership.
Ron Houle is Founder and President of Pivot Step Consultants, LLC., a Washington area consulting firm for those in the technicial textiles industry doing business with the US military.
Prior to founding his consulting practice, Ron served for twelve years as Vice President of Washington Operations for HDT Global, which had acquired DHS Systems/DRASH in February, 2015. Ron’s focus was on opportunities and Programs of Record in the defense, homeland security, first responder and community hospitals sectors. He has led company partnerships with federal, state and local emergency response agencies, including strategies supporting military support to civilian agencies.
Since joining HDT Global in 2003, Ron was actively involved with the company’s growth in both the defense and non-defense applications of core products. He was involved in building relationships and programs with the Army National Guard, Philips Healthcare, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics, to name a few. In his last three years, Ron was leading the company’s initiative to develop and deploy technologies that will result in a highly mobile tactical power grid.
Prior to joining HDT Global, Ron served as the Director for Legislative Affairs and later as the Chief of Staff at the National Headquarters of the American Red Cross. Prior to the American Red Cross, Ron served on the staff of the Secretary of the Army as the Director of the Programs Division, Office of Legislative Liaison, the Pentagon. Other experience includes an assignment as Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematics, United States Military Academy; Congressional Fellow in the office Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN); various command positions in the U.S. Army and service in Desert Storm. In addition to two assignments in Washington, DC, he served nearly six years in Germany, and assignments in Kentucky, Georgia, and Kansas.
Ron is a retired Army Colonel with over 24 years of Active Duty service, and a graduate of the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY. He holds a Master of Science degree in Applied Mathematics, and a Master of Science Degree in Industrial Engineering, both from Stanford University. Additionally, he holds a Master of Science Degree in National Security Studies from the National Defense University and completed a curriculum in Foreign Policy Studies at the School of Advanced International Studies, the Johns Hopkins University. He also studied National Security Policy in one-year executive seminar with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a past Chairman of the Corporate Advisory Panel of the National Guard Association, and Past Chairman of the Board for the US Industrial Fabrics Institute, and the founder and a past Chairman of the Berry Amendment Textile Coalition.
Click here to view the complete technical textiles events calendar that includes show information links.
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NCTO Members Testifying at US International Trade Commission. Surprisingly, there appears to be a little worry the announced new US tariffs on China (Section 301) may be reaching too far with its scope. The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), which has been firmly behind most of the textile-tariffs against China over the last year, is expressing concern the new Tranche Four retaliatory tariffs may affect US imports on products needed by the US domestic textile industry.
[Read the rest of my editorial that takes NCTO to task for its hypocritical "moral" argument supporting the proposed additional products but excluding its industry's suppliers by clicking here.]
Posted June 17, 2019
Despite the increasingly complex industry demands, the Chinese technical textiles market was relatively stable. Nonwovens output increased over last year. Key specific markets such as tire cord also increased in 2018 over 2017. Overall operating income for industrial textiles used in China reached $34 billion. Click here to read the complete summary provided to BeaverLake6 Report by China Textile magazine through our exclusive relationship. Posted February 15, 2019
INDA, the Association of the Nonwovens Fabrics Industry, has issued its final report on IDEA19. The event held March 25-27, 2019 in Miami Beach, Fla., USA, attracted 6,500+ participants and 509 exhibiting companies from 75 countries. Show floor space was a record 168,600 square feet, a 9% increase over the previous show.
Surprisingly, the people and exhibitor participation figures are not record numbers. The IDEA16 show in Boston, Mass., USA, attracted 7000+ and 555 exhibitors.
So, why was participation down this year from IDEA16? I think an explanation for the decline is the South Florida location of IDEA19. Click here to read more.
BeaverLake6 Report is pleased to provide an exclusive interview with Li Lingshen, Ph.D., Vice President of the China National Textile and Apparel Council, and President of the China Nonwovens & Industrial Textiles Association, the overseeing organization for the technical textiles industry in China. Click here to read the interview.
IFAI Expo 2018 was the first show under IFAI's new CEO/President Steve Schiffman. In a quick conversation on the first day, Mr. Schiffman thought event attendance was on target with the expectation of a 500 increase over the 4500 total participants (counting both exhibitors and visitors) they had in 2017 in New Orleans. Similarly, a conversation with one of the managers of ACMA, a partner in CAMX, said their pre-registration had already topped the 6500 they had last year in Orlando. (Keep in mind, though, the 2017 CAMX show had to be rescheduled from September to December because of Hurricane Irma.) Click here to read more about the shows.
Positive Reviews but Still Uncertainty. On November 16, 2018, two of the US textile industry associations testified before the US International Trade Commission (ITC) in a special hearing to determine the economic impact of the proposed United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The leaders of the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) and the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) provided statements on how they feel the new agreement will affect their member companies.
The two organizations clearly have different biases; however, in looking over the AAFA and NCTO statements, it appears to me that while the organizations both clearly said they were not offering an endorsement yet of the agreement, they gave general overall approval for USMCA, acknowledging the 1992 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) needed updating. Both organizations are taking a wait-and-see attitude to more fully look at how the agreement impacts the complex supply chain of textiles and apparel. Click here to read more.
NAFTA Replacement Agreement Negotiated. On October 1, President Donald Trump announced the US, Mexico and Canada had reached an agreement whichreplaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that went into effect in 1994. The new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) contains provisions and language that has an impact on the technical textiles industry; the most important are 1) a special section covering textiles and apparel and 2) rules of origin that will require 75% of automotive content (under NAFTA 62.5%) be made in North America. Mexico and Canada are the two largest importers of US made technical textiles and the automotive industry is the largest intended end market of these technical textiles. Click here to go to the United States Trade Representative's website and read the "Textiles and Apparel Goods" chapter. Posted October 3, 2018
Are you looking for a quick understanding of the China technical textiles industry? Through our special relationship with China Nonwovens & Industrial Textiles Association (CNITA) and their China Textile publication, BeaverLake6 Report is pleased to post the English-translation of the recently issued "Status Quo of China's Nonwovens and Industrial Textiles Industry, 2017." The report covers the different levels of the industry, geographic export demographics, and forecast the needs in the major end market applications. Click here to read the report in our China Textile website section.
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