Sponsored by George Fox University
Home Back Issues June 2011 NAT uses enzymes to break down flax into soft, cheap material

NAT uses enzymes to break down flax into soft, cheap material

| Print |  Email
Articles - June 2011
Wednesday, May 18, 2011

 

0611_Flax
Barker's company will remain Canadian but will be run out of Portland by a small but growing team with experience at Nike, Under Armour and Adidas. // Photo by Teresa Meier

Midway between signing a 10-year purchasing agreement with Hanesbrands and closing a development deal with Levi’s, a very pumped up and busy Ken Barker stopped into a downtown café recently to talk flax.

During the previous chapter of Barker’s career he was head of apparel of Adidas North America in Portland. Now he is CEO of Naturally Advanced Technologies, a small company with global aspirations. When Barker first got involved in NAT as an investor it was a hemp company based in Vancouver, B.C., using enzymes to break down fibers into fine strands. Now it is using the same technology on flax to make a patented material softer than linen and cheaper than cotton.

That’s right — cheaper than cotton. A spike in cotton prices has propelled Barker’s small company into a strong position. The deal between NAT and Hanesbrands brought coverage from the Wall Street Journal and Marketplace radio and sent stocks soaring for both businesses.

“We are talking to leaders in denim, sportswear, bed and bath, disposable drapes, and gowns for the medical industry,” Barker said. “There isn’t a category out there we’re not engaged in. Because everyone is faced with the same dilemma" of rising cotton prices.

Barker expects to produce 400,000 pounds of CRAiLAR flax per week at facilities in South Carolina and Manitoba, Canada, by the end of 2011. His plan involves growing flax in South Carolina, buying it from farmers in North Dakota and potentially planting new crops in the Willamette Valley. Barker’s strategy is to build CRAiLAR into a brand as ubiquitous as Lycra or Gore-Tex, and to introduce it into a global system he knows well.

“The supply chain for us to ship fiber into manufacturing regions around the world exists currently,” he said. “All the major brands we’re working with are saying, fine, ship it to Karachi, ship it to India, ship it to China. It’s exactly the same process.”

BEN JACKLET
 

More Articles

Trends in business succession

News
Thursday, July 03, 2014
TrendsBY TED AUSTIN & MIKE BAELE | GUEST CONTRIBUTORS

The Office of Economic Analysis announced that Oregon is currently enjoying the strongest job growth since 2006. While this resurgence has been welcome, the lingering effects of the 2008 “Great Recession” continues to affect Oregon businesses, especially with regard to estate planning and business succession.


Read more...

Risks & rewards of owning triple net investments

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, July 24, 2014
NNNinvestmentBY CLIFF HOCKLEY | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

With the increasing retirements of Baby Boomers, a massive real estate shift has created a significant increase in demand for NNN properties. The result? Increased demand has triggered higher prices and lower yields.


Read more...

South Waterfront's revenge

News
Thursday, July 24, 2014
MoodyAveBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Remember the naysayers?  Those who called the South Waterfront aerial tram a boondoggle?  Those who rejoiced at the massive sell off of luxury condos at the John Ross and Atwater Place?


Read more...

Attack of the Robin Sages

Contributed Blogs
Monday, July 07, 2014
070714 thumb linkedinfakesBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

Named after the 2010 experiment by Thomas Ryan, "Robin Sages" are fake social media profiles designed to encourage linking and divulging valuable information.


Read more...

Why I became an Oregon angel investor

Guest Blog
Monday, July 14, 2014
AngelInvestBY TERRY "STARBUCKER" ST. MARIE

I really didn’t know that much about angel investing, but I did know a lot about the entrepreneurial spirit.


Read more...

EPA Standards: A breath of fresh air for the region

News
Thursday, June 12, 2014
EPABY ANDREA DURBIN | OB GUEST BLOGGER

Last week, the Obama administration took an important and welcomed step in the effort to protect the health and well-being of all Oregonians by limiting carbon pollution from existing power plants.


Read more...

The Scott Kveton affair

News
Wednesday, July 09, 2014
ScottKvetonBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Scott Kveton, the CEO of Urban Airship is taking a leave of absence from the company. As the story continues to unfold, here’s our perspective on a few of the key players.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS