For more than twenty-five years, Brian Rosenstein, CEO of TSG Finishing, has been involved in every aspect of the company and its applications. Now as the fifth-generation family ownership, his commitment to the world of textile finishing is more than evident. Rosenstein, born in Hickory North Carolina, had a childhood filled with visits to the family company. He attended Syracuse University, finishing with a BS in Economics. Rosenstein is regularly active in NCTO’s Upholstery Fabrics Committee and is also a member of the FTWG, Flouro Technology Working Group. Brian speaks at various industry gatherings, most recent years at the AHFA Summit and ACT conference. Rosenstein is a Vistage member, has published a few industry editorials, and is actively in progress of other articles and editorials. Outside of the textile industry he enjoys golfing and skiing. Rosenstein shares his time between Hickory, North Carolina and the western suburbs of Philadelphia where he resides with his wife and two children.
What is your area of expertise?
Since TSG was founded in 1901 by my great-great grandfather, I think it’s safe to say that I was quite literally born into the business. I am proud to say that during my school years, I spent many summers and spring vacations on the plant floor learning the critical jobs within the company. Prior to the inception of my training upon college graduation, I was exposed to everything. But my formal education in textiles and finishing began in 1995 when I started my full-time position for TSG. That is when my regular vocabulary usage consisted of bow/skew, warp, tight selvedge, back coating, pocket weave, polypropylene vs polyester, chenille vs boucle, and all things water repellency. I was fortunate to have had multiple years of experience in all key areas of the company including sales, plant-management, quality, and R&D. The culmination of these positions provided me with a well-rounded knowledge in all aspects of textile finishing and application methods. Without that background and experience, I would not feel comfortable in the position I am today.
What advice helped to accelerate your career?
Protect the customer from themselves. This is not a knock or lack of confidence of my customers. Being in a service providing industry, a critical portion of our job must include making sure that our customer is making the right choice. For example, if a customer asks for a flame-retardant treatment, it doesn’t mean they actually need it. I do not need to look at data to know that I have lost business opportunities because I have been too transparent with a customer. But honesty and integrity are very important to me. That is why I can sleep at night. I will not put a finish on someone’s fabric that I know is wrong, just because they may ask for the finish. My customers know more about yarn, fabric and weaving then I ever will. But when it comes to protecting that fabric, that is where we come in. One of my pet peeves, is when one of my customers will work so diligently in designing a new fabric, creating tons of new SKU’s, yet then expect the finishing to ‘come later’. Finishing is no longer an afterthought. It is just as important as the fiber content of the yarn being considered. It is too much of an investment in time, creation, and money, not to be a priority. And until we reach the point where every designer will check with their finisher before finalizing their project, I will continue to do everything in my power to protect them from making the wrong decision.
What do you wish you’d known earlier?
This is easy. Knowing the difference between working ON the business instead of IN the business. Not as much of an issue when running a plant and having to deal with a grievance from an employee or address a quality complaint. But when I started taking over the entire company, I still allowed myself to get bogged down in those same items. I would spend just as much time addressing a quality complaint on one roll of fabric as I would on projecting sales forecasts for the following year. That is wrong. Even to this day, I still must ask myself if I’m making the best use of my time by working on a specific project. There is no magical formula for determining if someone is wasting time or not. Conventional wisdom will tell you that everything I am doing and attempting to do (even focusing on one small quality complaint) helps the company’s bottom line, and therefore must be important. But losing the forest for the trees is a reality and will hurt a company in the long run. So, it is an ongoing battle on any given issue, having to weigh in on whether or not I am needed.
How did you cope with 2020?
From a business standpoint, we did a lot of scrambling in the beginning. Like most of the world, we had to establish covid procedures/guidelines for all our facilities. We have been very fortunate that we have been able to continue running uninterrupted during the pandemic. Being deemed an essential business, we were also heavily involved in finishing goods for PPE gowns which required turn times that were measured in hours, not days. Personally, my personality leans towards the introverted side. While I do miss travelling, I am okay not having face to face meetings, attending social events, etc. I am perfectly content to stay home with my family. The biggest exception to this would be our operations in North Carolina. Having a usual calendar of seeing them at least once a month, to not seeing them in over a year, has been a strain. Much like being away from family. While the new norm may be more virtual in meetings and such, I am very much looking forward to my first trip back to NC to see my ‘family’.