NAT Names Tom Robinson Chief Operating Officer

08/09/2011 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Thomas C. Robinson, a 27 year veteran of the textiles industry, as our Chief Operating Officer.  Robinson joins us from International Textile Group (ITG), where he was most recently Vice President of Cotton Operations Planning and Technical Support in the company’s apparel division.  Robinson’s appointment coincides with our imminent plan to establish a permanent production facility in Kingstree, S.C. that will replace our testing facility established there in August 2010. Jason Finnis, co-founder and immediate past COO, will become Chief Innovation Officer, responsible for innovation of sustainable bast fibers, cellulose pulp, and their resulting by-products.

“Tom is an excellent organizational fit for NAT whose appointment comes at a strategic time for the company,” said Ken Barker, CEO of NAT. “He will assume leadership of our manufacturing facility currently in development, and brings with him experience launching four international manufacturing platforms.  Tom’s presence will allow us to advance current and future development and purchasing agreements with global partners.”

Robinson began his textiles career in 1984 with Burlington Industries, the leading full service apparel solutions organization for apparel manufacturers and retailers.  From 1984 to 2004 he held a number of leadership roles for the company, culminating in Executive Vice President of Manufacturing and Operations Planning. His experience included greenfield startup manufacturing facilities, as well as oversight of multi-plant operations throughout the U.S., China, Mexico, India, Vietnam and Nicaragua.  ITG later purchased Burlington Industries to become one of its six current companies, and positioned it alongside Cone Mills, one of the premier denim manufacturers and wholesalers in the world.  In 2004, Robinson became Vice President of Operations Planning and Customer Support at Cone, where he was responsible for global denim operations planning, customer service, technical product development and quality control.  He played a key operations role in the integration of Burlington Industries and Cone Mills as they each became part of ITG.

Robinson brings with him deep textile experience with a focus on understanding the performance and customer impact of natural fibers in the spinning, weaving and knitting process.  He will be our senior-most executive permanently located in the Eastern U.S., where we plan to install a fully integrated flax fiber decortication and CRAiLAR enzymatic processing facility with the capacity to produce 650,000 pounds of CRAiLAR Flax fiber per week.  We expect to be ready to commence production in Q1 of 2012, ramping up to full-scale capacity by Q2.

Robinson is a 3rd generation textile industry veteran with a BA in economics and business from North Carolina State University, and an Executive Program Certificate from University of North Carolina.

Finnis, co-founder and now CIO, will increase his focus upon our deep relationships with research partners, including Canada’s National Research Council, United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA – ARS), and partners like HanesBrands. This newly created role will focus on ways to improve NAT’s processing techniques, throughput efficiencies, and yield.

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