Matt Mitchell, Keyston Bros, Supply Chain Analyst
Matt Mitchell is originally from Huntsville, Alabama but now resides in Atlanta, GA. He graduated from Auburn University in the fall of 2015 with a degree in Supply Chain Management. He was first introduced to the fabric industry when he interned with Keyston Bros. during the summer of 2015. After graduation, he came onboard full-time with Keyston Bros. as a Supply Chain Analyst which is the role he currently holds.
Some of his daily responsibilities include inventory management, purchasing, pricing, and more. Matt says that this role has not only helped him further his supply chain skills since college but also has given him immense industry knowledge when it comes to the products and seasonality trends.

Barry Adams
Peach Tree Awnings
Barry Adams is the founder and owner of Peachtree Awnings located in Norcross, GA and Tennessee Awnings located in Smyrna, Tennessee. Barry opened Peachtree Awnings in 2005 which serves the metropolitan Atlanta area and other parts of the southeast. Barry purchased an existing awning company in the Tennessee location in 2012 which serves Nashville and most of middle Tennessee. Prior to getting in the awning business, Barry had 18 years of experience in the electrical distribution industry in sales and sales management. Barry got his undergraduate degree from Tulane University in 1985 and his MBA from Kennesaw State University in 2004. Barry enjoys concerts and live music and resides in Buford, GA.

  • How to Keep Talented Employees Engaged | 9/26/2017 | 3:15 pm – 4 pm


Tim Akes
MPanel Software Solutions
Over more than 25 years of professional experience with CAD (Computer Aided Design) software and systems, Timothy Akes has seen this industry mature from infancy and finally come into its own.  Through his technology company, CAD Effects, LLC based in St. Louis, Missouri, USA he acts as the representative for MPanel Software (Headquarters, Wales, UK) providing sales, service and support for end-users of this premier software all through the Americas.  He also offers consulting and technical training services to a variety of clients, most within the tensile fabric structures, shade sail and marine fabric industries.Tim and his two children together and enjoy spending lots of family time in the outdoors camping, canoeing and fishing in the pristine Ozark Mountain’s of Missouri.

  • Shade Sails 2.0 | 9/26/2017 | 8 am–8:45 am
  • Shade Sail Installation Demonstration | 9/27/2017 | 1:30 – 3 pm


Ron Anstey
State of New Hampshire Department of Safety
Ron Anstey began his career as a call firefighter and retired from the Londonderry NH Fire Department after 33 years as Captain/Fire Marshal.  For the last 10 years Ron has worked as the Section Chief of Engineering and Plans Review for the NH State Fire Marshal’s Office.  He is an ICC Certified Building Official, NFPA Certified Fire Protection Specialist and a NAFI Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator.  Ron currently represents the National Association of State Fire Marshal’s on the ICC’s Northeast Regional Work Group.

  • Codes Session | 9/26/2017 | 9:45 am – noon


Sam Armijos
President, Fabric Architect LLC
Sam Armijos is President of Fabric Architect, LLC a firm which specializes in Custom Fabric Structures. Since 1985, Sam has coordinated the design, engineering and construction of a variety of fabric structures around the world from awnings to dome stadiums.He is a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) and the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI). He has presented AIA approved Continuing Education presentations on Fabric Structures to a number of firms and has spoken at many conferences and symposiums and is author of Fabric Architecture: A resource for creative solutions in Shade, Signage and Shelter.

  • (Campfire) Social Media Madness | 9/27/2017 | 4:30 pm – 5 pm


Paul Armstrong
Independent Code Consultant
Mr. Armstrong has worked for a number of private municipal consulting firms and in that capacity served as the Building Official for the Cities of El Monte, Signal Hill and Whittier.  Prior to working for private firms, he worked for 14 years for the International Code Council and the International Conference of Building Officials ending his time as the initial ICC Vice President of Architectural and Engineering Services.  He also served as the drafting secretariat for the 2000 International Residential Code.  He represented the model code organizations to many federal, state and local agencies and is a recognized lecturer on many code related topics.  Mr. Armstrong graduated from California State University at Long Beach and is a Professional Engineer in the State of California and a Certified Building Official.  He also serves in a contract capacity the City of Anaheim for ARTIC, Anaheim Convention Center Expansion and the Disneyland Resort projects.  He is also an author of the 2013 and 2016 Significant Changes to the CBC and CRC books.

  • Codes Session | 9/26/2017 | 9:45 am – noon


Sara Beatty
President, Whitehaven Trade Advisors

For the last fourteen years, Sara Beatty has worked in government relations advocating on behalf of U.S. manufacturers and the domestic textile industry specifically.  In 2013, she formed Whitehaven Trade Advisors, which provides government consulting services and trade analysis to U.S. manufacturers and associations.  Sara represents the United States Industrial Fabrics Institute and Narrow Fabrics Institute, two divisions of the Industrial Fabrics Association International, and the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO).

Sara’s work focuses heavily on tracking pending trade initiatives and pressing for strong textile rules in U.S. free trade and preference agreements.  She also serves on the Industry Trade Advisory Committee on Textiles and Clothing (ITAC 13) administered by the Commerce Department and United States Trade Representative.

A native of Monroe, North Carolina, Sara graduated with a B.A. degree in English and Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

  • (Campfire) Government Relations Update | 9/27/2017 | 3 pm – 3:30 pm


Meredith Boyd
Corporate Business Development Manager, Unifi Manufacturing, Inc.
Meredith Boyd, Corporate Business Development Manager at Unifi Manufacturing, Inc., drives innovative growth through new product development, process and capability research, as well as strategic cooperative ventures.  She plays a key role in brand-focused technical developments with a key emphasis on the Company’s premier value-added products and flagship Repreve® brand.

Meredith started as the quality chemist at the former DuPont Kinston site during the time that Unifi was operating.  She then moved to the company’s Yadkinville, NC site which houses the extrusion (recycling and melt-spinning) and polyester texturizing assets for Unifi.  In her current role, as Corporate Business Development Manager, Meredith takes a strategic look at both immediate needs that require a keen understanding of the technical aspects of specialty products as well as working on strategic partnership developments with key customers and suppliers.  She spends a considerable amount of time, and covers many global miles, vetting new product and placement opportunities as well as new technology application.

Meredith is a key rPET and melt-processing educator in the industry and has presented at many conferences and consortiums worldwide including Textile Exchange, Techtextil, the Synthetic Yarn and Fiber Association (SYFA), Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) and the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).  Her writing has been featured in publications including Technical Textiles International.  She sits on the board of directors for the Synthetic Yarn and Fiber Association, is a member of the Sustainability Working Group Advisory Council within the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) and the recycled polyester working group in Textile Exchange.

  • Keynote Lunch: Unexpected Paths of Diversification (panel) | 9/26/2017 | noon – 1:30 pm



Thomas Carlson
Manager, Carlson Design
Thomas Carlson has managed Carlson Design for over ten years.  He has sold, built, installed and trained hundreds of users on Carlson Design’s innovative Plotter/Cutter and Digitizing solutions in almost every state and over a dozen countries. His time in cutting rooms around the world makes him an expert to advise and educate on the best layout, CAD, and Automation implantation strategies specific to your shop.  He has a BSBA from Babson College, the #1 entrepreneurial school in world.

  • Optimizing Your Cutting Room for Your Application | 9/26/2017 | 3:15 pm – 4 pm


Alyson Clair
Technical Advisor, ISFD
Alyson Clair is a native Oregonian and graduated from the Art Institute of Portland with a BS in Apparel Design. She spent her first 4 years in the apparel industry working in a domestic factory, where she obtained practical manufacturing experience pattern making, grading, and marking. She has worked for international brands like Nike, Wilson Tennis, and Champion, with technical proficiency in compression, swim, and spandex. Fit is one of her passions, and she has expertise in Women’s Plus sizing. Along with her technical design work, she has had a small women’s dress line made in Portland for the last 10 years, focused on knits. In 2014, she wrote the The Colette Guide to Sewing with Knits and released their first knit sewing pattern range. Alyson currently does pattern for hire work and enjoys the diversity of her freelance clients. In her free time she enjoys volunteering in animal welfare and serves on the board of the Newberg Animal Shelter.

  • Pattern Making Essentials for Apparel with Tips for Stretch Fabrics | 9/26/2017 | 8 am – 9:30 am


Ben Cooper
Managing Director, IoClothes
Ben is a passionate product and business developer driven by the need to find practical solutions to real world problems. He is currently Managing Director of IoClothes, a strategy and project management services company helping bridge the gap between apparel, footwear and textile companies and technology companies. Previously, Ben was a founding member of VF Corporation’s Global Innovation Center. He led the product research and testing initiatives for Timberland, Vans and The North Face innovation, and VF’s wearable tech exploratory group. Before that, Ben co-founded the “”smart”” infant monitoring start-up, Sensible Baby, which gained both national and international recognition for its innovative approach to disrupting the juvenile products space. Prior to that, he was the Lead Footwear Project Engineer for the US Army and successfully led fast-paced multi-million dollar development efforts for the United States Department of Defense.Ben received a B.S. in Biomedical Physics from Northeastern University and M.S. in Biomechanics with high distinction from Boise State University.

  • Keynote Lunch: Unexpected Paths of Diversification (panel) | 9/26/2017 | noon – 1:30 pm


Valerie Cuchna
Materials Liaison, Fabric Images 
Valerie Cuchna has a passion for materials.  Throughout the course of her 12 year tenure with Fabric Images, a manufacturer of tensioned fabric architectural solutions, she has researched and developed an extensive materials resource center, educated staff and customers on the use and personalities of textiles and has developed strong partnerships with numerous fabric mills and material suppliers within the fabric industry. Leveraging her sales background and understanding of brand marketing, Valerie is always looking to match the right materials with the right projects. Currently Valerie is serving as the Chair of the Fabric Graphics division within IFAI and has achieved her Master Fabric Craftsman certification through IFAI.Outside of her work in the fabric market, building stronger communities through workforce development is another focus for Valerie.  Being the mother to three lively boys, Valerie understands the importance of nurturing passions and talents for the next generation of workers.

  • Outdoor Graphics – Design to Installation | 9/26/2017 | 8:45 am – 9:30 am


Elissa Decker
Senior Manager of Materials, MOSS
Elissa Decker is the Senior Manager of Materials for Moss Inc located in Chicago, Illinois.   She has a Bachelor of Science in Textile Design from the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science (now Philadelphia University). Before joining Moss, Elissa worked as a textile designer for a fabric mill in North Carolina. She brings years of textile experience to Moss and has a strong understanding of all textile processes from yarn manufacturing and fabric construction, to dyeing and finishing, to fabric testing and analysis.  Elissa has been part of the Moss team since October of 2008.

  • (Campfire) Textiles 101 | 9/28/2017| noon – 12:30 pm


Ann Duncan
Keyston Bros

  • Internships–Keyston | 9/26/2017 | 10:30 am – 11:15 am


Dee Duncan
CEO, Keyston Bros
Dee Duncan is President and CEO of Keyston Bros. and KB Contract, one of the largest and most respected textile suppliers, and innovators, in the country.Mr. Duncan purchased Keyston Bros. in 2001, having worked in the industry, in numerous capacities, for more than 20 years. In addition to providing customers, across many market segments, with innovative and well-produced products, a cornerstone of Keyston Bros. is the unparalleled customer service the company provides to its customers. It was a key tenet of the business when it opened in 1868, and continues to be a priority today.A graduate of Auburn University, with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing, Mr. Duncan is a fervent supporter of Auburn University and is a member of the Auburn University School Board and the Harbert College of Business Advisory Council for Auburn University. He frequently extends internship opportunities to Auburn business students at Keyston Bros./KB Contract, headquartered in Roswell, Georgia.

Mr. Duncan and his wife Ann, also an Auburn University graduate, can regularly be found tailgating and attending Auburn football games during football season. They reside in Atlanta.

  • Internships–Keyston | 9/26/2017 | 10:30 am – 11:15 am


Mike Erickson
Canvas Designers

  • Marine Case Study | 9/26/2017 | 4:00 pm – 4:45 pm
  • (Campfire) Rigid Enclosures | 9/29/2017 | 10 am – 10:30 am


Traci Evling
President, JTE Machine Systems, Inc.
Traci is the majority owner and President of JTE Machine Systems, an engineering based company dedicated to providing advanced automated welding, cutting, and sewing solutions to the industrial fabrics industry and beyond. Involved in the industry for over 18 years, Traci has been a catalyst for introducing higher standards for safety, consistency, and efficiency in North America.
Throughout her career, Traci has focused on harmonizing customers’ needs within a more complete solution. Together with her partner in life and in business (Jens Evling), they are dedicated to designing machines for specific applications, by utilizing various technologies such as RF, Ultrasonic, Hot Melt, Impulse, Hot Air and Laser for automatic cutting. As a result, JTE has been awarded and recognized as a leading second stage Growth Company in the State of FL.Traci is very involved in the industry. She has participated as an expert panelist in a welding workshop at Texprocess /Techtextil N.A. and conducted numerous welding workshops and training seminars for Industrial Fabric Association International. Serving as an Equipment Division Board member of IFAI for the last two years, Traci was elected as Vice Chairperson as of January 1, 2016, and is the incoming Equipment Division Chair for 2017. Other organization involvements include MD&M, NIBA, ISA, and SGIA.Traci earned her MBA while working for several Fortune 10 Companies prior to creating JTE, and left corporate America to join her husband in expanding the propensity of efficient machine solutions in North and South America. They have two college age children, and enjoy traveling, autocross racing, cooking, and music together as a family. Traci is a member of many organizations supporting economic, educational, and cultural growth throughout the community, such as Rotary International and the Economic Development division of the Clay County Chamber of Commerce. As part of the Jacksonville Workforce Enhancement efforts, she mentored and led group of highly educated unemployed professionals through a 10-week program that promotes entrepreneurial development of new technologies, called Start-Up Quest.

  • Selecting a welding machine for your application | 9/26/2017 | 4:00 pm – 4:45 pm
  • (Campfire) Preventative Maintenance for your Welding Machine | 9/28/2017 | 4:30 pm – 5 pm


Bruce Fetter
President, Fetter Enterprises Inc. d/b/a Debrovy’s

  • (Campfire) Build Your Online Shopping Cart | 9/28/2017 | 4 pm – 4:30 pm


Mario Gauna
Henderson Sewing Machine
Mario Gauna works in Capital Sales at Henderson Sewing Machine Co. He started working for Henderson Sewing Machine Co in April 2014. Mario Has been in the industry for 3 years and is continuously advancing his knowledge of the industrial sewing machine industry.

  • Selecting a Sewing Machine for Your Application | 9/26/2017 | 2:15 pm –3 pm


Mary Gilmore
Architect / Interior Design, John T. Campo & Associates, Inc.
Mary is both a licensed Architect and licensed Interior Designer at Campo Architects in New Orleans. Mary specializes in hospitality design, historic renovation, adaptive re-use, and historic tax credit projects.  Mary is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati where she earned Bachelor Degrees in both Architecture and Interior Design, and a Master’s Degree in Architecture. As part of her Master of Architecture thesis project, she moved to southeast India following the 2004 tsunami to research post-disaster recovery and stayed on to lead the construction of a new community center. After graduating, Mary joined the Peace Corps in Mali, West Africa and led a community through the design and construction of two new school buildings. Mary enjoys working on projects that provide opportunities for empowerment of communities and individuals.  She is an active member of the AIA New Orleans Chapter and also serves on the board of the non-profit New Orleans Architecture Foundation.

  • How to Build Relationships with Architects | 9/26/2017 | 2:15 pm – 3 pm
  • (Campfire) Working with Engineers | 9/28/2017 | 1:30 pm – 2 pm


Nic Goldsmith
Owner, FTL Design Engineering Studio
Nicholas Goldsmith is senior principal at FTL Design Engineering Studio.  Mr. Goldsmith has been in charge of design on major FTL projects including: Capitol Concerts Pavilion in DC, the Rosa Parks Transit Center in Detroit, and the Sun Valley Pavilion to name a few.
Mr. Goldsmith is a registered architect in several states, a member of the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects, a former chairman of the Lightweight Structures Association and a member of International Association of Shell and Spatial Structures. He has been featured in innumerable publications including: FTL: Softness, Movement & Light and his upcoming book, Mass to Membrane.

  • Mass to Membrane | 9/26/2017 | 4 pm – 4:45 pm


Steven Kaplan
President, Kaplan Sewing Machine
Steven Kaplan is the owner of Kaplan Sewing Machine Company and has over thirty years of experience in the industrial sewing equipment industry. After earning his BA from Lafayette College, he began working for his father and uncle, and served a variety of roles in the business before joining the company full time in 1980. He specializes in problem solving and technical sewing machine solutions and has consulted with NASA, the Department of Defense, FEMA, other federal and government agencies as well as numerous private contractors.  Steve currently serves as the Chairman of the Equipment Division board for IFAI.

  • Selecting a Sewing Machine for Your Application | 9/26/2017 | 2:15 pm – 3 pm


Kevin Kelly
Independent Consultant
For over 30 years Kevin owned and operated Globe Canvas Products Company – a wholesale manufacturer of industrial fabric end products including awnings, athletic pads, tents and special purpose items – just outside Philadelphia. His career with Globe followed his graduation from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelors Degree in Economics.Kevin has earned all 3 IFAI professional certifications, is “Certified for Life” as both Master Fabric Craftsman and Industrial Fabrics Manager, frequently judged applicants and authored many of the certification program’s judging criteria. He served on the Board of Directors of the Professional Awning Manufacturers Association from 1989 through 2000, serving as Chairman from 1999-2000, and served on the IFAI Board of Directors from 1999-2001. Under his leadership, programs including the Awning & Canopy Fabric Specifier’s Guide, Student Design Challenge and Awnings & Architecture were created.Over the past 30 years Kevin has often presented at IFAI EXPO’s, Zone meetings & conventions, and other industry workshops. New Orleans is his 34th consecutive EXPO!

  • (Campfire) Improving Profitability Through Better Financial Management | 9/27/2017| 2:30 pm – 3 pm


Addie Kilbride
Keyston Bros
Addie Kilbride graduated from Auburn University in May with a degree in Marketing and a minor in Supply Chain. While in college, she had 2 internships, one for a restaurant franchiser in Prague and one for a retail boutique in Auburn. She started working for Keyston Bros at the end of June as a Marketing Assistant. Some of her day to day responsibilities range from keeping the website current to social media coordination to assisting with development on new products.

  • Internships–Keyston | 9/26/2017 | 10:30 am – 11:15 am


Tim Koehler
Customer Solutions, Lawrence Fabric & Metal Structures Inc.
Tim Koehler joined the Lawrence Fabric & Metal Structures team in 2006 as a Project Manager.  Like most in the industry, he started at a very early age sweeping the floors and helping around the shop during summer break from school. He proved to be very instrumental in helping the company grow all market segments including awnings and canopies, exhibit components, experiential displays and industrial fabrication.  In 2008, he was promoted into Sales and is now the National Sales Account Director, handling small interior projects as well as $1,000,000 exterior builds.Tim is a 2001 graduate of Fontbonne University and received a Bachelor degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. He enjoys spending time in the great outdoors and is a frequent hunter and fisherman.

  • Shade Sails 2.0 | 9/26/2017 | 8 am–8:45 am


Mary-Lynn Landgraf
Senior International Trade Specialist, US Department of Commerce/OTEXA
Mary Lynn Landgraf has served as a Senior International Trade Specialist with the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA), since September 2002.  Ms. Landgraf has been involved in opening and cultivating new markets in Russia, Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East for contract/hospitality and specialty/technical textiles to include military textiles.  She brings 20 years of private sector experience to the position, spanning the spectrum from fiber extrusion to yarn spinning, fabrics and finished products.Ms. Landgraf worked with the United States Industrial Fabrics Institute (USIFI) and supported, co-developed and co-lead a trade mission to Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Abu Dhabi and Dubai in October 2007.Ms Landgraf establishes US pavilions and Sample Booths at trade shows around the world to assist small- and medium- size businesses with export promotion and sales with target markets: textiles, finished goods in all facets of technical textiles with an emphasis on military textiles and hospitality textiles. Most recently she has focused on foreign technology introduction and potential transfer of vital innovative technology to our US military.

From 2006 to 2012 Ms. Landgraf was on special assignment to the Afghanistan & Iraq Investment and Reconstruction Task Force of the US Department of Commerce. In this role Ms. Landgraf helped orchestrate visits and training for Afghan hand-woven carpet manufacturers and spearheaded the Afghan Rug & Cultural event at the January 07 Atlanta Rug Market and the January 08 Las Vegas Carpet show.  Ms Landgraf traveled to Afghanistan in preparation for the Atlanta January ‘07event and the Las Vegas January 08 carpet.  She worked with the Afghan Task Force on marketing and branding Afghan carpets and instructing best business practices to the Afghan carpet business community. Afghan Carpets were featured in a two-page spread in the October 2012 issue of ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST.

Most recently Ms. Landgraf served on the RFT-MII selection committee for the establishment of the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA) institute at MIT.  She was also part of the International Trade Administration’s liaison to the Global Markets project for Hannover Messe 2016, where the USA was recognized as the Partner Country. Ms. Landgraf was part of the team that was awarded the Timothy Hauser Award 2016 for their distinguished contributions to the Hannover Messe international trade show.

Ms. Landgraf is the US Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration’s 2011 recipient of the Lawrence M. Payne Memorial award.  The award recognizes the employee who did the most during the past year to create and facilitate cooperative efforts between the public and private sectors to promote international trade.

Ms. Landgraf served on 4 different DECs (District Export Councils), to include North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland/District of Columbia, for 19 years, as well as serving on various other international committees such as ETAC (Exporters Textile Advisory Committee).


Ms. Landgraf completed her undergraduate studies in political science and history at East Carolina University.  She received a Master’s of Science in Linguistics & German from Georgetown University and did post-graduate work at the University of Innsbruck (Austria).

  • Government Contracting: Contacts for Contracts | 9/26/2017 | 9:45 am – 10:45 am


Christina Lefebvre
Area Sales Manager, MATIC
Christina Lefebvre is Area Sales Manager for North America at Matic S.A.  Matic is a manufacturer of finishing equipment, specifically providing automated solutions for sewing, welding and cutting.  Christina has a strong business background having graduated from HEC Montreal with a BBA in Marketing and International Commerce.  In the past 15 years, she has evolved in the Sign and Graphics industry, selling printing and finishing equipment throughout Canada.  She has built an expertise in textile printing and finishing and has since then broadened her range of business to include the sun protection industry.  Christina has been working with Matic for the past 6 years in Canada, and more recently started growing the market throughout North America.

  • Selecting a welding machine for your application |9/26/2017 | 4 pm – 4:45 pm


Daniel W. McElmurray
Landscape Architect, City of New Orleans Department of Parks & Parkways
Living and working in a variety of settings for over two decades, Daniel has most often been creating environments in which people can do what they like to do best in public places: watch other people. He is an unapologetic generalist, having worked in both the public and private sectors, providing leadership in design and planning efforts at the macro and micro-scale in both urban and rural settings. Daniel has Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Master of City and Regional Planning from Clemson University; once he decided to focus on the design aspect of his career, he completed his Master of Landscape Architecture degree at Louisiana State University. Daniel currently lives in the Broadmoor neighborhood of New Orleans, and takes twice daily walks with his dog on the Napoleon Avenue trail he designed.

  • New Market Opportunities for Shade | 9/26/2017 | 3:15 pm – 4 pm


Chad Miller
American National Mfg
Chad Miller is the Director of Contract Manufacturing at American National Manufacturing.Having grown up in a family manufacturing business since the 1970’s, Chad has been exposed to manufacturing, industrial materials and fabrics literally all of his life.At a young age Chad worked alongside his parents, Craig and Evedean, and older brother, Craig Jr., in all aspects of the business.  Chad started out with drilling holes is polyester fiber for water mattresses.  He worked in production, inventory, shipping and receiving, then as he continued to grow in his education through high school and eventually college.  After gaining first-hand knowledge of manufacturing operations, Chad began working in areas of administration.  Chad’s parents rotated his work load to include the credit department, account payable, accounts receivable and eventually marketing and sales.

Chad’s mother and brother focused on growing American National’s sleep surfaces business in the consumer and medical fields, which grew to over 80 employees.

Chad’s father found a need in the contract medical manufacturing area.  He had an opportunity to open a Contract Manufacturing business, but needed Chad’s help.  Chad, now armed with years of college education and his 15 years of experience in manufacturing under his belt, opened a contract manufacturing business in 1997.  The company, Plas-Tech Sealing Technologies, LLC. offered manufacturing services of RF/Dielectric Sealing and Commercial Sewing, mainly to the medical, safety and consumer products industries.

Starting out with just 2 employees, Chad and his father grew the business to have over 45 employees and $3 million in sales over a 13-year period. Then in June of 2010, the family decided to merge the 2 companies together and now share an 76,000 sq. ft. building in Corona, CA and have over 120 employees and multiple manufacturing locations, including California and Texas.  This merger allowed both companies to become more efficient, to have greater capabilities and offered a much better buying power through their supply chain.

Chad has helped the company to grow the Contract Manufacturing Division to new sales records. American National has won numerous awards including, Manufacturer of the Quarter in 2013, Runner up for The Spirit of the Entrepreneur Award 2016, recognition by the California State Senate, California State Assembly and from the City of Corona.

In addition to Chad’s successes for the company, Chad is also an inventor and has filed 2 patents.  He has expertise in assisting his customers in the filing of their own patents to protect their Intellectual Property as well.

Chad currently serves on the Legislative Action Committee for his local Chamber of Commerce and has been a voting member for over 9 years. He also serves on the Industrial Fabrics Association’s Exhibitor Advisory Board.

Chad and his wife, Janette, live in Corona, CA and have 4 children.  They enjoy serving in various ministries at their church, boating, traveling, camping and sports.

  • (Campfire) Navigating the First Contract Sewing Conversation | 9/28/2017 | 1 pm – 1:30 pm
  • (Campfire) Prototyping | 9/29/2017 | 11 – 11:30am


Matt Mitchell
Supply Chain Analyst, Keyston Bros
Matt Mitchell is originally from Huntsville, Alabama but now resides in Atlanta, GA. He graduated from Auburn University in the fall of 2015 with a degree in Supply Chain Management. He was first introduced to the fabric industry when he interned with Keyston Bros. during the summer of 2015. After graduation, he came onboard full-time with Keyston Bros. as a Supply Chain Analyst which is the role he currently holds.
Some of his daily responsibilities include inventory management, purchasing, pricing, and more. Matt says that this role has not only helped him further his supply chain skills since college but also has given him immense industry knowledge when it comes to the products and seasonality trends.

  • Internships–Keyston | 9/26/2017 | 10:30 am – 11:15 am

Larry Oxenham
Author, Senior Advisor, American Society for Asset Protection

  • Author of several books including: Protect Your Assets and The Asset Protection Bible.
  • Has presented at hundreds of conventions, conferences, and seminars across the country with excellent reviews.
  • Over two decades of experience as a senior advisor with clients in all fifty states.
  • His career has been credited with helping thousands of clients save millions of dollars.
  • Don’t Kill Your Golden Goose –Succession Strategies to Protect & Perpetuate Your Business | 9/26/2017 | 8 am – 9:30 am


Jonathan Palmer
CTO/Owner, Autometrix Inc
Jonathan Palmer is the 2nd generation owner of Autometrix, Inc. and actively manages the engineering of new cutting solutions for the textile world.  His first employment at Autometrix was in his teens, counting parts and crating them for new equipment installations.  In the years that followed, Jonathan has gained experience in every area of the business and earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering.  As the father of two young girls and the owner of a family-oriented business, Jonathan is familiar with the unique struggles faced by many family-owned manufacturers in the US, and works each day to brings a practical, problem-solving approach to the world of modern cutting rooms – from pattern layout software to cut parts coming off the table.

  • Optimizing Your Cutting Room for Your Application | 9/26/2017 | 3:15 pm – 4 pm
  • (Campfire) Automation MythBusters | 9/28/2017 | 3 pm – 3:30 pm


Tom Ponthieux
General Manager, C. Bel for Awnings Inc.
Tom is a civil Engineer who has had a long career in building products and construction and how it comes perfectly together in the Awning Business. He has the skill set to design specialty awnings for the home or commercial ventures. Were the only awning company in the state of Louisiana licensed as a general contractor to perform projects over $50,000. The latest shade products to hit the local market are shade sails. Designing shade sails that will stand the test of time and New Orleans weather, takes the skill of an engineer. Until the last few years most shade sails were from out of state, but with Tom’s years of experience in engineering and design C. Bel for Awnings is getting a great reputation for some beautifully designed shade sails in both the commercial and residential arenas. Tom works with Architects, Engineers and GMs to design the right awning for their project and to provide the exact specs for the project.

  • Shade Sail Installation Demonstration | 9/27/2017 | 1:30 – 2:30 pm


Margueritte Ramos
President, Shade Florida
Margueritte Ramos graduated from George Washington University with a degree in Political Science. She devoted her career to working on political campaigns for over 20 years. As a native Miami resident and an active member of the community, Margueritte decided to start her own business in 2005 when she noticed a gap in the market for shade structures that were both functional and visually appealing. Margueritte has been recognized by the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund (HBIF) and was awarded the Entrepreneurial Excellence Award in 2016. ShadeFLA has also been recognized by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and the City of Miami Beach.

  • New Market Opportunities for Shade | 9/26/2017 | 3:15 pm – 4 pm


Clay Rives
Emergency Operations Specialist, Louisiana Business Emergency Operations Center (LABEOC)
Clay Rives is the Emergency Operations Specialist at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, National Incident Management Systems and Advanced Technologies (NIMSAT) Institute.  Rives provides executive administration and project management for research, development, and outreach at the local, state and national level.  He also serves as the Director of Operations for the Louisiana Business Emergency Operations Center (LABEOC).  The LABEOC is an annex to the State’s Emergency Operations Center and enhances Louisiana’s emergency management efforts and the coordination of private-sector involvement and support during a time of crisis.Rives has 27 years of experience in public safety and led the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office Task Force during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.  Later, as the Deputy Director of Homeland Security for the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, provided operational guidance to the Governor and the State Unified Command Group during emergencies such as Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008, H1N1 Flu Pandemic in 2009, the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in 2010, the Mississippi River Flooding in 2011, and Bayou Corne Sinkhole and Hurricane Isaac in 2012. Rives joined the NIMSAT Institute in November 2012, and provided assistance to FEMA and Google’s Crisis Action Team to support mapping critical infrastructure status, as well as power outages in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.  The LABEOC was activated for the 2016 historical flooding throughout Louisiana.Rives has established himself as a state leader in the first responder community with experience in areas of homeland security, emergency management, and criminal justice.  Rives holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from Southeastern Louisiana University and a Master of Public Administration from Louisiana State University. He is a graduate of the 122nd LSU Police Training Academy and the 2005 LSU Command College.

  • Disaster Prevention/Preparation | 9/26/2017 | 11:15 am–noon


Warren Shannon
Mitsubishi Electric Automation
Warren is the Sales and Operations Manager for Mitsubishi Electric Automation, Inc. Industrial Sewing Equipment Group. Warren has been the Sales and Operations Manager since 2014. His current responsibilities include sales, marketing, and overseeing the overall operation of the division. Prior to that he spent 3 years as Sales and Marketing Manager and 21 years as a Technical Sales Representative for Mitsubishi. Warren started in the industry in 1980 as a technical representative and later Regional Sales Manager for the Reece Corporation in Baltimore, MD and Chicago, IL. He also spent 3 years with Sewing Machine Exchange in Chicago for a total of 37 years’ experience in the sewn products industry.

  • Selecting a Sewing Machine for Your Application | 9/26/2017 | 2:15 pm – 3 pm


Marc Shellshear, IFM, MFC
Director of Sales, Structure Fabrics, Value Vinyls, Inc.

Professional Experience:
Value Vinyls, Director of Sales, Structure Fabrics, July 2016 – Current
Gale Pacific Inc.: Vice President Commercial Sales, January 2015 – July 2016
USA Shade & Fabric Structures: Senior Vice President Sales, Administration, 2009 – May 2014
Hendee Enterprises, Inc., Vice President Sales & Marketing, 1992-2008

Professional Projects:
Nissan North America, Smyrna, TN
Nissan North America, Canton, MS
Tucson International Airport
Sirius XM Radio
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
Martha Stewart / Kmart
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (over 2000 Garden Centers Nationwide)
Kmart Stores, Inc. (over 1000 Garden Centers Nationwide)
PlayPower (Miracle Recreation Equipment Company, Little Tikes Commercial, Soft Play, LLC, EX Dock, Inc., HAGS Play, AB)
NEXCOM (Military Projects – Norfolk, VA, Bethesda,MD, Oceana – Virginia Beach, VA, NAS – Pensacola, FL)
Texas Rangers Baseball Club Ballpark
The University of Tulsa – Michael D Case Tennis Center
MD Anderson Hospital Entrance and Walkway Canopies
Texas Motor Speedway
Parking Spot, George Bush International Airport
NASA Entrance Canopy
Sun Dome, Orlando, FL
Volkswagen North America, Chattanooga, TN
DFW International Airport, Dallas, TX

IFAI, Industrial Fabrics Association International
FSA, Fabric Structures Association

Business Achievements:
Lifetime Industrial Fabric Manager Certification
Lifetime Master Fabric Craftsman Certification
California Contractors License, License# 989458, Class B General Building Contractor
Industrial Fabrics Association International (Education Committee Chairman, International Achievement Awards Judge, Certification Judge, IFF Judge)
Fabric Structures Association (Current Board of Directors)
Lightweight Structures Association (Past Board of Directors)
Professional Awning Manufacturers Association (Past Member)
Association of General Contractors (Past Member)

  • How to Build Relationships with Architects | 9/26/2017 | 2:15 pm – 3 pm


Jeff Sponseller
Director of Sales, Miller Weldmaster
Jeff Sponseller has been in the industrial fabrics and graphics business for over seventeen years. As an Executive for Miller Weldmaster, he has worked with numerous industrial fabrics manufacturers, government contractors, sign industry leaders, and has consulted on numerous projects requiring thermoplastic welding and fabric handling.  Jeff is a past member of the Board of Directors for the Industrial Fabrics Industry and past Chairman of the Equipment Division of the Industrial Fabrics Industry.Prior to the industrial fabrics industry, Jeff worked as a biomedical engineer and as a sales representative in the pharmaceutical industry. He has degrees in Engineering and Management.

  • Selecting a welding machine for your application | 9/26/2017 | 4 pm – 4:45 pm


Trevor Stevenson
Vice President, Eastman Machine Co.
R. Trevor Stevenson is Vice President of Eastman Machine Company, a family-owned and operated business since 1888. Born in Buffalo and raised in Columbus, Georgia, Mr. Stevenson is a 1998 B.A. graduate of the University of Vermont and 2013 M.B.A. graduate from the University of Buffalo. Upon graduation and prior to joining the Eastman team, he worked in Europe for an internet company as well as a manufacturing firm in Colorado. He currently works closely with all departments at Eastman and is major influencer on product design and offerings.In addition to his career at Eastman, Mr. Stevenson is on the board of directors for Child and Family Services in Buffalo, NY and the World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara.Mr. Stevenson is married with young twins and a teenage daughter.  He enjoys spending time with his family and being outside doing any type of sport or activity.  He is excited about the growth Buffalo is experiencing and is proud to support programs that encourage talented young professionals to live and work in Western New York.

  • (Campfire) Preventative Maintenance for your Cutting Machine | 9/28/2017 | 2:30 pm – 3 pm


Michael Varga  
Canvas Experts Inc.

  • (Campfire) Rigid Enclosures | 9/29/2017 | 10 am – 10:30 am


Mike VonWachenfeldt
Technical Service Manager, Glen Raven Custom Fabrics
Technical Service Manager – Glen Raven Custom Fabrics, Glen Raven NC; Immediate past chair on the Fabric Graphics Association Advisory Board; have been in the marine, awning, graphics industry since 1983.

  • Outdoor Graphics – Design to Installation | 9/26/2017 | 8:45 am – 9:30 am


Mikael Wallin
VP Sales & Marketing, FORSSTROM High Frequency AB
Mikael Wallin has been in different positions in the industrial fabrics industry for more than 20 years. As the VP Marketing & Sales of Forsstrom High Frequency, he has worked with numerous industrial fabrics manufacturers, and has consulted on numerous projects requiring High Frequency Welding and fabric handling around the world.

  • Selecting a welding machine for your application | 9/26/2017 | 4 pm – 4:45 pm


Steven Wayne
Southern Stitch Canvas & Upholstery
Steven has been in the industry for 10.5 years. Southern Stitch was established Aug 2013. Steven is an avid boater, high school basketball official, and enjoys traveling.

  • Advanced Upholstery | 9/26/2017 | 9:45 am – 10:30 am


Brian H. Whitaker P.E., CPESC
Principal Engineer, Berry Global Inc

  • Keynote Lunch: Unexpected Paths of Diversification (panel) | 9/26/2017 | noon – 1:30 pm


Lloyd Wood
President, Lloyd Wood Group
President, LLOYD WOOD GROUP:   Lloyd has more than two decades of Washington experience in public relations and government affairs.  He represents the U.S. Industrial Fabrics Institute (USIFI) and Narrow Fabrics Institute (NFI) divisions of the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) as well as the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO).  Of note, Lloyd coordinates activities of the Berry Amendment Textile Coalition, an informal coalition of trade associations and companies dedicated to preserving and expanding the Berry Amendment, a law requiring the Department of Defense to buy textiles and clothing made with 100 percent U.S. content and labor.  Other experience includes working on textile issues for a decade at the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition.  Lloyd holds a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law and a B.A. in Political Science and History from the University of Kansas.

  • (Campfire) Government Relations Update | 9/27/2017 | 3 pm – 3:30 pm