7 questions with Scott Yasgoor of Reid Witlin

Scott Yasgoor, president of California-based textile company Reid Witlin, is set to attend the 20th Hotec Design event, an annual conference presented by Questex Hospitality, the parent company of Hotel Management. At the conference, buyers meet one on one with hospitality-focused suppliers like Reid Witlin to learn about new products and services and to keep up to date on emerging trends. 

Ahead of the event, Yasgoor shared his insights on collaborating with suppliers and maintaining sustainability standards. 

1. How has your segment of the industry changed over the past year? 

In the last year as COVID finally seems to be under control, we have seen our raw materials suppliers able to finally catch up with demand after three years of uncertainty. We have also seen international shipping rates for both air and sea freight shipments begin to come down as a result of the supply chain becoming more robust globally. As COVID made basic goods more scare, shipping rates skyrocketed for those who needed products immediately. We've also seen a tremendous spike in travel, which has resulted in hotel owners and management companies feeling the need to renovate existing properties to compete for the traveling consumer. As a result of this increase, purchasing companies are under intense pressure to get jobs completed as quickly and as cost effectively as possible. The forecast for this summer's travel season is back to levels that were enjoyed pre-pandemic, which is extremely positive for the hospitality industry.

2. Can you share some ways you and your company have adapted to these changes? 

During the pandemic and over the last 12 months, we have have worked diligently with our valued suppliers to insure that raw material levels including fiber and yarn, as well as our finishers, including filament spinners, yarn dyers and weavers, are at levels where they need to be to continue to stay ahead of project demands. Our biggest roadblock in insuring projects go smoothly is time. To address the issue of trying to stay on time, for valued customers who we've enjoyed a longstanding relationship, we have begun to order textiles in with purchase orders only, knowing deposits/monies will flow in. By doing this, and during the purchase order writing phase, we can often save our clients between three days and up to two weeks where every day counts depending upon the job requirements.

3. What are some trends you think will have staying power beyond 2023? 

For the foreseeable future, I feel that the need to have "shipments in time" will continue to be a major trend for all segments and product categories in our industry. I also believe that since Zoom calls have shown companies that office space isn't as crucial as it used to be, the need to create and solidify personal relationships on the selling front will be absolutely crucial to a company's success.

4. What is the biggest challenge you have overcome over the past year? 

As our business began to return to pre-pandemic levels over the last 18 months, given the need to get goods produced, shipped and delivered to insure both new-build and renovation projects stay on track, we felt that by working with our valued suppliers, we have been able to get to the point where we are confident in our ability to deliver on time.

5. How have you incorporated environmental, social and governance efforts into your hospitality operations? 

We continue to work with supplier partners that are held to a higher standard when it comes to their own environmental efforts. We require quarterly updates from our partners to make sure they remain certified for their sustainability in countries where we can require it. We have mandated a company wide policy to weave a minimum of 25 percent of our production with US-based weaving mills. We remain very vigilant regarding the types of products that we bring into California as required by law and sanctioned under Prop. 65. Due to PFAS levels in textiles becoming a hot button for our segment, fabrics that were treated to repel stains and water that contain levels of PFAS and pollute the planet throughout their production use and disposal and are harmful to people and the planet throughout their production, use, and disposal will be eliminated. We are working diligently with finishers globally to eradicate PFAS chemicals in the finishing process and expect to eradicate PFAS chemicals entirely from our production in the next 12 months. We have already created a PFAS-free finish for a large furniture manufacturer we do business with and expect this to become our industry's standard.

6. What are you most excited about accomplishing over the next year? 

Hopefully, a much cleaner and less planet-harming production process. To that point, and as I mentioned, we are only working with factories that will adhere to our strict standards for planet protection and will continue to do so.

7. What is the value of meeting hospitality buyers one on one? 

I think after three years of office closures and most all communication being done virtually, it will be refreshing to be able to meet one on one with our customers. I think customers are craving it and I know suppliers definitely are.

The 2023 Hotec Design conference will take place June 19-22 at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz. Registration is open for both buyers and suppliers.