Glen Raven’s Allen E. Gant Jr. receives the IFAI Chairman’s Award at IFAI Expo 2012

The award capped the festivities and member recognition at IFAI’s annual meeting in Boston, Nov. 8.

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At IFAI’s annual meeting on Thursday, Nov. 8th, celebrating the association’s 100th anniversary, wine, cheese, dessert and fellowship marked the end of IFAI Expo’s second day. After a short report on the year’s accomplishments, changes and innovations, the festivities turned to recognizing the outstanding efforts and service of many long-term IFAI members.

To cap the event, Allen E. Gant Jr., president and CEO of Glen Raven Inc., received the IFAI Chairman’s Award for his leadership and unique contributions to the specialty fabrics industry. (Mr. Gant also was named an Honored Life Member of IFAI earlier in the evening.)

The IFAI Chairman’s Award was first presented in 1983, and has been presented only 10 times over the years. In recognizing the innovations of Glen Raven Inc. (founded in 1880) and the leadership of Allen Gant Jr., Kevin Yonce, current chairman of the association, noted: “We are celebrating leadership. The kind of leadership that is not only laser-focused on profits, but sees the importance of giving time and talent to strengthen and improve the industry. And we are celebrating responsibility. The kind of responsibility that inspires someone who might have chosen to live a life of relative ease to instead choose to commit himself to building a business-a business that sustains his workers, their families, his community, his customers and our industry.” The audience rose to a standing ovation.

Mr. Gant’s heartfelt comments as he accepted the award credited the commitment of Glen Raven’s employees in the company’s ongoing success, and congratulated in turn the other members of IFAI for showing the same commitment to ensuring the future of the industry.

“On behalf of 3,000 Glen Raven associates all around the world, it is an honor to accept this year’s IFAI Chairman’s Award. With a commitment to innovation in partnership with our customers, Glen Raven is humbled and inspired in accepting this recognition,” Gant said. In a statement issued the following week, he commented further:

“Everywhere we look within Glen Raven today we see new ideas bubbling up. Machine operators are finding more efficient ways to maintain equipment and increase quality. Designers are applying weaving and finishing technology to create fabrics undreamed of only a few years ago. Market managers are discovering ways in which we can modify existing products for new applications. Specialists in information technology are making it easier for customers to access our products and services quickly and efficiently.

The recent IFAI Expo was thrilling for us because it offered three days of intense interaction with our customers and an opportunity to showcase some of the latest thinking at Glen Raven. Awning fabrics with recycled content, growing lines of colorful upholstery fabric, ecommerce fashioned after best practices in online ordering, rededication to taking materials ordering off of our customers’ plates and continuing advances in awning design software are just a few of the results of our broad and deep commitment to innovation in partnership with customers. The willingness of our customers to share their candid feedback on new products and on new ways of doing business is invaluable as we refine everything we do based on their experience and wisdom.

How did Glen Raven become a company focused on innovation for the benefit of the awning, marine and furniture industries? You could say it’s part of our DNA, going all the way back to our founding in 1880 and clearly exemplified by the launch of the Sunbrella® brand more than 50 years ago. Perhaps most important of all is the recognition that the success of our company is dependent on the success of our customers. A rising tide does indeed lift all boats, and we never want to forget that there is nothing more important than the vibrancy of the awning, marine and furniture marketplaces.

Three years ago a team of Glen Raven associates from the U.S., France and China formed a small task force to formulate a new vision for our company. This vision had to be inspirational, customer focused and based on the reality of who we are as a company today. The vision statement drafted by this group - Let Endless Possibilities Begin - was exactly what we needed to remind everyone at Glen Raven that we are who we are because of a dedication to working with our customers and trade partners in a shared spirit of collaboration and innovation.

We would like to thank IFAI for granting us this recognition in the form of the Chairman’s Award. Most of all, we want to thank our customers for your commitment to working with us to explore endless possibilities wherever they may take us in the New Year and beyond.”

Galynn Nordstrom is senior editor of Specialty Fabrics Review magazine.

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