For Hope Global, operating around the world with facilities in Rhode Island, China, Mexico and the Czech Republic requires precise planning.
The 131-year-old company has come a long way since it started business as the Hope Webbing Company in Pawtucket, R.I., supporting the narrow fabrics industry. It has since morphed into a business offering numerous product lines largely aimed at the automotive industry. Hope Global “Engineered Textile Solutions” provides market-leading components used in automotive door and trunk seals, automotive seat tie-down systems and a variety of braiding and weaving applications for various industries.
“In the auto industry, the goal is to provide value-added solutions that reduce weight and cost,” says Mark Bates, vice president of global supply chain. “Hope Global buys wire rod and draws it down to a very thin wire, as thin as 20 thousandths of an inch (.020) and knits it with yarn to produce a product that mimics a flat piece of steel with a fraction of the weight and less cost. It performs just as well or better as the traditional heavier, flat steel alternative that is used as a reinforcement in automotive door and trunk seals.”
Hope evolved over the years, entering the automotive arena with the production of the first mesh map pocket for General Motors. The growth of the assembly and wire divisions eventually led to an expansion in 1997, when the company opened facilities in Mexico and France to better serve markets in North America and Europe.
The strategic growth into multiple locations led to a name change in 2000, with the company now known as Hope Global “Engineered Textile Solutions.”
Headquartered in Cumberland, R.I., since 1994, Hope Global operates production facilities in the United States, Mexico, Czech Republic, and most recently China. “Today, our customers enjoy the same superior quality, service, reassurance and experience of a long-standing supplier,” the company says.
In addition to its automobile supply business, the company serves other sectors.
“We have a big presence in the auto industry,” Bates says, “But we also have a large braiding operation that produces boot laces, parachute cord and a variety of cords for apparel and fashion.”
Hope supplies the construction market with weather strip and carpet strip as well as braided products for military and marine applications.
Needless to say, with such a large global footprint and so many different product lines, supply chain organization is critical to Hope Global’s success.
To facilitate Hope’s growth, the company is implementing a robust MRP system globally. Hope believes this will allow each of its facilities to order autonomously and facilitate local purchasing.
“We want to get those supply chains localized to reduce lead-time, and overall inventory cost while maintaining our high service level,” Bates explains. “The new MRP implementation included testing that lasted more than a year because the system had to be customized for so many different product lines. No two product lines function the same way. So we modified it to meet our unique needs.”
Hope started the implementation in Mexico and is now rolling it out across the rest of the organization.
Operating on releases from Hope’s customers “the MRP system consolidates the total demand, determines the raw materials needed and the time frame in which they are needed to support that demand,” Bates continues. “It then generates the purchase order to the appropriate supplier. This way we can better track our entire supply chain and ensure our customers get their products on time – every time.”
What sets Hope Global “Engineered Textile Solutions” apart? “Our customer focus,” Bates says. “We focus on the customer relentlessly to ensure we fully understand their needs. It is this very important two-way communication that allows Hope to deliver the appropriate solution.”
With more than 1,500 braiders, Hope Global processes orders from start to finish with capabilities in twisting, winding, braiding, tip/fuse/cut to length and spooling.
The company has four divisions: braid, wire carrier, weaving and components.
The braid division manufactures shoelaces, bootlaces, parachute cord, military and apparel cords, shock cords, and industrial braids. The wire division knits a wire and yarn combination, supplying extruders with the wire carrier used in trunk and door seals. The weaving division produce automotive pile fabric found in the window channels of cars, carpet strip for the construction industry and weather-stripping for doors and windows that protecting homes from the elements. This division also manufactures loop knits, mesh, Tunnel Tie, and beaded profiles used in automotive and office furniture seating. In the components division finished products range from marine kill switch lanyards to map pockets for automotive storage options.
“Our cut-and-sew expertise is demonstrated with vehicle interior parts such as consoles, headrests and the innovative wind deflectors in a car’s sunroof,” Hope Global explains. “We offer low-cost alternatives from our TS16949 Mexico facility.”
The company is customer-centric, working hard to build relationships with both customers and the supply base.
“Supplier relationships are also critical to our success,” Bates explains. “The relationships that we have built with our suppliers are very much a personal relationship. Our company will continue to foster and grow these relationships with our customers and suppliers as we build our supply chain for success.”