Last month, I had the pleasure of being invited to speak at the Clemson Nonwovens Forum, which for more than 30 years, has served as an introduction for nonwovens newcomers to the industry, from both a technology and a marketing perspective. While the nonwovens industry offers its members numerous training and education resources—INDA and EDANA training courses and conferences, the Nonwovens Cooperative Research Center at North Carolina State University and TANDEC at the University of Tennessee, to name a few—only Clemson's annual course features an impressive line-up of speakers expert at one particular segment in nonwovens and speaking on that subject. Whatmore, Clemson has always had a real fraternal feel to it, being held at a university and featuring numerous social events like the yearly shrimp boil held at Clemson's Lake Hartwell.
This tradition changed this year, however. Gone was the event's proud papa, Professor Ed Vaughan, who retired from Clemson last year and who had run the event and its speakers much like a camp counselor runs his camp and reigns in his campers. And, the event was not held at Clemson University but instead in a hotel in Greenville, SC, about 60 miles north of Clemson.
Still, the event lived on.
A drop in the number of participants—caused largely by industry cut-backs—coupled with Professor Vaughan's retirement had made the future of this conference uncertain. In recent years, even with Vaughan's tutelage, the event skipped a few installments due to budgets or other logistics, and with his retirement it seemed likely that the event would be no more.
And, while it was different speaking in a hotel conference room rather than a university auditorium, it was nice to continue the tradition of nonwovens veterans welcoming the next class. And, many of the event's traditional speakers, people who have spoken at the event for decades, came out to Greenville to uphold this tradition. Let's hope it continues.