Martin Doane is looking out over the pool at his hotel in the Hollywood Hills district of Los Angeles — but it’s not the pool or the bathers that grab his attention. It’s the patio furniture — or, more specifically, what’s on it. “It’s what they obviously thought was a great-performing exterior cushion covering — a kind of coated canvas,” says Doane. “But it’s faded, it’s stained, and although it’s supposed to be quick drying, it doesn’t repel water very well.”
In his head, Doane is adding up the hundreds of millions of dollars he estimates patio furniture makers spend every year buying textiles. “It’s a market we could attack in a heartbeat,” he says. “We can manufacture superior furniture coverings that would knock the socks off whatever is out there in the market.”
By we, he means Garmatex Technologies, Inc., the Vancouver-based manufacturer of revolutionary microfiber fabrics that has recently appointed Doane as its Chief Executive Officer. Doane’s challenge is to put his foot down hard on the accelerator and drive Garmatex towards its goal of becoming a major international player in the market for technology-driven textiles.
Doane is the founding partner and CEO of Ubequity Capital Services, with offices in Toronto, Vancouver, New York, Los Angeles and London, U.K. His two decades of experience, first as a lawyer and now as a merchant banker, have honed his skills in the fields of corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, financial services and venture capital. As Ubequity’s director of strategy and business development, he specializes in identifying promising business opportunities and driving them forward through capital infusions, acquisitions and managerial advice.
Before Garmatex, he acted as CEO for technology start-up Silverback Media PLC, which he grew in less than three years from a mere idea to a multi-national mobile solutions group with a revenue base of $25 million and 100-plus employees.
Technology fascinates Doane, in whatever form it comes. And textiles are no exception.
What caught his eye at Garmatex, he says, was its “unique approach” to a technological protocol that over the past 10 years has led to the development of a range of more than 30 performance fabrics, including KottinuTM which can be used wherever inferior cotton products have been the standard –“a huge opportunity in itself”.
“The textile market is fascinating for us,” says Doane. “It dwarfs most of the major consumer markets. And Garmatex has this amazing technology platform that is capable of evolving and expanding to serve a really big market. After successfully completing our capital raise to fully implement our business strategy, Garmatex can be a $1-billion-a- year fabric company.”
Doane is backing his hunch with hard cash. Ubequity is in the process of leading a capital raise of $15 million to accelerate growth at Garmatex and is committing its own capital to the pool. The money will largely be used to secure 100 per cent ownership in Winwave Technology Corp., the Far East entity who has partnered with Garmatex to develop its line of proprietary fabric technologies.
But Garmatex will also invest dollars in building up its sales force and sales methodologies. “It’s both a challenge and an opportunity,” says Doane, who likens the current state of the global textile market to the state of the telecommunications market of the 80s and 90s. “You still have major companies relying on technology that is old — like cotton technology, or wool technology,” he says. “But technical textiles are taking over in a wide range of specialized categories, and also in more conventional consumer markets. We think Garmatex is at the arrowhead of that development, working towards bringing retail companies into the 21st century — demonstrating to them how our product line is so far superior to what they are using right now.”
Garmatex fabrics have already attracted worldwide attention, particularly in such specialized fields as hospitals and nursing homes, in medical devices and rehabilitation aids, and in the automotive and aeronautical industries. “The key is to pick the low-hanging fruit — the markets we can penetrate quickly, the markets that have the greatest need for performance fabrics,” says Doane.
As an example, he cites a pending joint venture deal to supply a major Australian manufacturer of bed linens with “millions of meters” of a Garmatex fabric with performance characteristics Doane says are superior to any other product on the market.
“It kills 99.9 per cent of staph infections in hospital environments through its anti-microbial features. It launders better than anything else in the market — up to 2,000 launderings without any deterioration — and it utilizes our proprietary cotton substitute, KottinuTM, which gives it unbeatable performance aspects, including durability, cooling effect, breathability and anti-pilling.”
Doane believes that eventually 80 to 90 per cent of Garmatex revenues will accrue through the sale of bolts of its fabrics to major manufacturers. A Garmatex subsidiary, Firstar Performance Apparel, has developed a line of men’s and women’s leisure wear that sells direct to consumers. “Firstar is like a store window for us,” says Doane. “We can show our Firstar products to potential buyers of our fabrics and help them to visualize how they might work for them.”
Doane says the range of applications for Garmatex fabrics is “almost infinite” and that the company has established such a technological lead that it would be difficult for any competitor to catch up. “The last 10 years have been a continual period of innovation,” he says. “And we have carefully guarded the trade secrets of the dozens of steps that are necessary to produce our fabrics. “
Doane says that Garmatex Chairman Keith Gracey has coined the phrase ‘fiberithm technology’ — a play on the word algorithm — as an apt description of the protocol involved in developing the company’s fabrics.
“If someone else says, ‘Let’s start building technologies for fabrics’ they will be starting from scratch.” Says Doane. “We have the head start and we can maintain a leadership edge. And frankly, that’s where the financial opportunity is, too. It makes a lot more sense — and I will say this out loud — for a large company that wants to improve its own fabrics to buy a company like ours, or work with a company like ours, than to try to develop its own line of fabrics. They’d spend so much time, so much money, and they would still be behind where we are. It makes a lot more sense to stand on our shoulders and utilize our decades of research and development.
About Garmatex Technologies, Inc.
Garmatex’s performance technologies and fabrics: Kottinu™, T3®, Bact-Out®, Coolskin®, Warmskin®, Coldskin™, Steelskin™, Satinu™, Slimskin™, Camoskin™ and Recoveryskin™ have proven to be superior to any like products available in the market for comfort, fit and performance and are engineered using our proprietary “Moisture System Transference” (MST) process which provides unrivaled moisture management control. Garmatex’s ground-breaking Kottinu™ fabric, with its amazing “cotton-like” comfort and feel, delivers unparalleled performance in moisture management, lasts 6 times longer than cotton, maintains color sharpness with minimal fade and is a viable alternative to cotton in any application where the inferior attributes of cotton have been considered “the standard”. Our patented T3® triple-gusset shirt construction, which allows complete 360 degree mobility of the shoulder without restriction or shirt binding, is the first garment construction design patent granted in decades.
Garmatex Technologies, Inc.
Garmatex Technologies, Inc.
media (at) garmatex (dot) com
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