AAFA Names New Chairman, International Trade Policy

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AAFA LogoArlington, VA— American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) announced Thursday that Rick Helfenbein, president of TellaS Ltd, Luen Thai USA, has been named its new chairman.

Helfenbein takes over from Philip Williamson, chairman/president/ ceo of Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing Co., as part of the Association’s annual officer rotation process.

‘Robust Trade Agenda’

“As our new chairman, Rick will bring an unparalleled understanding of the political process and the challenges our industry faces each day in Washington,” said AAFA executive vice president Steve Lamar. “In the years I’ve worked with him, Rick has always been a passionate and tireless advocate for the US apparel and footwear industry. We look forward to his significant industry expertise as we seek out new and expanded opportunities for 4 million U.S. industry workers.”

Helfenbein, a strong advocate for a robust U.S. trade agenda, often lectures on the subject of supply chain and international trade at prestigious universities around the country. He participates annually in the Consortium for Operational Excellence in Retailing at Harvard University and the Wharton School of Business.

“The U.S. apparel and footwear industry moves at rapid pace, so it’s essential our trade association stay ahead of the immense challenges before us,” he said. “We must encourage Capitol Hill to rise above partisan gridlock and work to help us maintain our competitive edge in the global marketplace. We will continue to educate Congress on the merits of new trade legislation, and remind them of the havoc and loss of trust that ensues when they fail to renew existing legislation.”

Other executive changes see Rob DeMartini, president/ceo of New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc., moved in to the vice chairman position; Paula Zusi, executive vice president and chief supply chain officer of Ann Inc, becoming treasurer, and Thomas Glaser, vice president and president, global supply chain, of VF Corporation, joining the board as secretary.

Advocates Elimination of Trade Barriers

By a recent vote by the AAFA membership, 15 Board members were re-elected and three new Board members were elected to the Board of Directors to serve three-year terms through 2016. New to the AAFA Board of Directors are Harold L. Stone Jr., Sr. vice president corporate marketing of Renfro Corp., Jim Hardy, Chief Supply Chain Officer of Under Armour, Inc., and Kevin Toomey, president/ceo of Kayser-Roth Corp.

In other action this week, AAFA has implemented an updated international trade policy to support its legislative agenda and guide day-to-day advocacy efforts.

At its semi-annual meeting of the board this week, the AAFA said the changes had been put in place to reflect the rapid pace of change in the U.S. apparel and footwear industry.

The policy comprises four main principles: securing access to global markets and supply chains through the elimination or reduction of duties and other trade barriers; promoting best practices to ensure goods are produced in a socially responsible, safe, and sustainable manner; ensuring governments take the necessary steps to protect and enforce intellectual property rights; and fostering trade facilitation policies that support transparency, predictability, and harmonization.

The AAFA also provided an update on the search for a new president and chief executive officer following the departure of Kevin Burke in January. The association said it had enlisted executive search firm Spencer Stuart to assist the board in vetting qualified candidates.

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