Kurt Cavano’s Insights About Sri Lanka Actually Apply To You Too

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Sri Lanka hosted their initial South Asian Apparel Leadership Forum in 2010. Sue and I from AAPN, Fernando and Anibal Capellan of Grupo M in the DR and Juan Zighelboim and David Ha of TexOps in El Salvador attended this inaugural conference, which included factory tours. In 2011 and 2012 I was invited to moderate their conferences.

It was in 2010 that we met AAPN member Hirdaramani, which is referenced below. In fact in 2012, Nikhil Hirdaramani and I were live on Sri Lanka’s morning version of the TODAY show for 45 minutes! We also got to know MAS and Brandix both of whom have since invested very heavily in Haiti and Honduras.

Kurt has been a staple on Sri Lanka’s industry programs. As he grew his original company TradeCard, his Colombo Sri Lanka office grew to become his largest worldwide, as it supported all of South Asia. Kurt has a strong affection for Sri Lanka and is perfectly positioned to be quoted as he is in the following article.

Sri Lanka itself is a classic case study in how to carve out and then take over niches in our industry. They got their start, as I recall, in sewing lingerie. We saw bra production and were amazed not just at how extremely small some of the piece goods were but the color matching required from up to 16 different component suppliers.

Their commitment to sustainability and social responsibility was world class. We marveled at their partnership with Mark & Spencer who maintained an online ‘Plan A Because There is No Plan B’ program of 100 goals. THIS is a good article:

‘Sri Lanka’s willingness to adapt will define its future’
fiber2fashion, Dec 19, 2018

The willingness of Sri Lanka apparel industry to adapt and advance will define its future, said Kurt Cavano founder of GT Nexus—an Infor company. The Sri Lanka apparel industry has been at the forefront of embracing transformation and applying it everywhere from facilities, fabrics, production processes and strategic co-innovation programs with brands.   

Change and innovation should be embraced, instigated and steered as Sri Lanka must continue pressing forward, said Cavano at the ninth annual South Asian Apparel Leadership Forum held in Colombo, Sri Lanka.  

“Most industries, fear change. Some anticipate it and prepare for it by strategizing and mitigating risk — which is good. But, Sri Lanka’s apparel industry not only prepares but charges towards change — which I think is fantastic. And we should all applaud this,” said Cavano encouraging the industry to continue this trait, and highlighted it as the quality that will define the future of Sri Lanka Apparel, setting them apart from the rest.

Years ago, the apparel industry began sourcing as a way to capture low costs. Cheap labor and materials were the primary draws to places like Sri Lanka. Today, that dynamic has shifted. Brands and retailers are all about improving customer service and finding new ways to delight consumers. They turn to the Sri Lanka community for ideas, innovation and opportunities. They tap companies like MAS, Hirdaramani and Brandix to produce and deliver new products to differentiate their brands. It’s important to keep asking, “What’s next? What new products or services can we create that will deliver value to brands and consumers?”

Cavano, founded GT Nexus—now an Infor company—which went on to become the best known cloud-based global supply chain management system with clients spread across all continents, making it the largest cloud platform of its kind. With a BS in Bioscience from Penn State University and an MBA from New York University, Cavano serves on the board of the Americas Apparel Producers’ Network (AAPN). He travels the world speaking and writing on topics concerning technology, international trade and global supply chain management. 

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