Interview with Michael Elia

Face2Face
Michael Elia
Michael Elia
President and CEO
Gerber Scientific, Inc.
Gerber Scientific, Inc.

Do you also provide technical assistance to your clients? What is kind of support required by them?

With 45 years of experience in the industry, support is the foundation of what we can offer our customers. We provide technical, field service and applications support to companies in 130 countries. Some of our applications experts have nearly three decades of experience helping customers improve their operations. Think about that for a moment. During their time with Gerber, they’ve worked with thousands of customers and have seen, first hand, what practices work best. So, every day, our support professionals work with our customers to identify unique ways to help them improve their business. As a Gerber customer, you get the benefit of all of our experience in every aspect of apparel design and manufacturing to improve the way you do things and improve the health of your bottom line.

Currently, which country has a good textile market but needs more technical advancement?

Through the decades, the apparel industry has migrated into and out of many regions to follow low labor and production costs. Right now, we’re seeing migration from China to countries including Vietnam, Cambodia , Laos, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Bangladesh. In fact, Bangladesh now manufactures one in 10 pairs of jeans in the world. Wherever the industry is less mature, there is greater opportunity for software and hardware automation systems.

How do automation requirements for technical textiles differ from apparel making companies?

The main difference is the way each handles materials. Apparel tends to be stacked up and cut in multiple plies and there are multiple sizes and colors for every style. There is less variation in technical textiles but they tend to be cut one ply at a time using material that can be very challenging to work with. The bottom line is that all of these companies are looking for the same thing – to maximize their material utilization so they can reduce material expenses, to get more productivity out of the existing employees they have, and to produce the highest quality product they can on a consistent basis. Gerber offers solutions across all apparel and technical textiles applications.

How did Gerber perform in the financial year 2012-2013? What are the plans for the year ahead?

Nearly two years ago, Gerber was purchased by Vector Capital, a global private equity firm based in the United States, which specializes in the technology sector. Vector has more than $2 billion of equity capital under its management. Since we are no longer a publicly-held company, we don’t report financials. But, I can tell you that Gerber had a very strong year this past year. We welcomed many new customers across the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific. We also strengthened our position in many developing markets like Vietnam and Cambodia. With Vector’s backing, we are investing, more heavily than ever, in new product development and are busy working to define the next era in innovation to reshape the industry once again.

What are recent software innovations that have a booming demand in the global apparel market?

Because the apparel market is truly global, one of the things we're seeing every day is the need to overcome language and time zone differences. Companies need tools to help them communicate product details. For example, our pattern design software makes it easy to visually communicate with vendors and suppliers by adding annotation to patterns. In fact, it supports translation of annotation into nearly 30 languages - to ensure accurate communication. And information from it can now be integrated into Gerber's YuniquePLM system to eliminate duplicate data entry and minimize errors. We all know that the product development process is dynamic with changes occurring all the time. With our PLM, everyone in the process pulls data from a single source that tracks history, workflows and individual responsibilities to help companies go from concept to finished product in a fraction of the time.
Published on: 16/04/2013

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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