Supply Chain Outlook 2021

HBD has unique insight to the factors shaping the American manufacturing as the economy recovers from the pandemic.  We would like to share our observations and recommendations.

Over the years, various factors including exchange rates, shipping costs, oil prices, the labor market, Chinese government policy, and US-Chinese relations have affected prices to a greater or less degree. Right now, the effects are greater.

The major factors include:

                –  The value of the US dollar has dropped nearly 10% in recent months, reflecting our weak dollar policy (which helps exporters but hurts importers and consumers) and the huge amount of dollars printed to keep interest rates low. This impacts the cost of raw materials imported by American mills and manufacturers.

                – High demand and tight Chinese labor markets have driven up labor costs relentlessly, impacting prices of finished goods.

                – US-China relations remain contentious. Tariffs continue to keep costs higher on imported finished goods, and particularly on raw materials and components.

                – Oil prices have doubled since their lows, greatly affecting the price of anything made from petroleum. Materials we use such as vinyl and nylon included.

                – And of course, the corona virus has added a layer of misery to shipping. Supply chains have been disrupted, shipping prices have spiked, ports are seeing weeks long backups, and shipping service has become erratic. Price increases for freight (both overseas and domestic) seem steady and here to stay.

                So what do we look for and recommend?

In short, prices are going up. Count on it.  We do not see any of these forces subsiding in the short to medium term.

This news does have one solution: plan ahead. Planning will save you money, as waiting will only increase the risk of higher costs. Planning will also reduce the risk of supply chain disruption.

Our aim is to continue to maintain stock items and provide short lead times. But we can only do so with your help.

We ask that all our customers and partners be as forward thinking as possible when it comes to ordering and anticipating needs.

Please call us at HBD to discuss any of this, and to help reduce disruptions as much as possible.

Coronavirus: Impact and Preparation

HBD has been producing items in China for over 25 years. Combined with our US-design and manufacturing, this has given HBD enormous flexibility. 

The current environment is obviously challenging and stressful. Much is beyond our control.  However, by monitoring both Chinese and expatriate blogs and talking daily to our Chinese partners, we have worked hard to minimize the coronavirus impact.

Specifically, we have done the following:

  • HBD, as always, increased its shipments before the Lunar New Year. We received four containers in February.
  • HBD has moved some production to Taiwan.
  • HBD has moved production of less labor-intensive items back to our US factory.
  • HBD was able to ramp up production oversees quickly as our manufacturing partners were some of the first to resume production after the quarantine period. 

We have most items in stock, and we expect shipments to resume from oversees in the next week. The size of our inventory plus our US capacity enables us to minimize disruptions to our supply chain.

We have one import request of our valued customers. In order to continue as smoothly as possible, and to mitigate further disruptions from the coronavirus, we ask that you give us an idea of your needs as far in advance as you are able. The more we know and are able to plan, the greater our chance to satisfy your needs without disruption. 

What lessons have we learned? It’s still too early to tell. We’ll leave the health aspects to the experts. We suspect, though, it may be years before they really know the coronavirus’s seriousness, characteristics, and whether it is seasonal. 

One important thing we think we HAVE learned: China is not nearly a first-world country, and much of the disease’s severity stems from, not despite, China’s form of government. Corruption, secrecy, lack of basic preparedness, and buck-passing have characterized the Chinese response. Their authoritarian form of government encourages these responses. 

Democracy is often messy. In the end, though, it gets the best results. 

Thanks for your loyal support. We will keep you posted as we have more information to share. 

Our History of Hospital Bags



Hospital bags are bags with a protective flap that inhibits the spread of microbes. They were invented and patented in the 1960’s by the Hartford Self-Closing Bag Co. (HARCO). HARCO’s president, Peggy Baviar, known to everyone as “Peggy B”, was a constant fixture at shows, sticking embroidered bees on every bag she sewed.

Peggy B. sold the company in the late 1970’s, and that company sold it to HBD in 1981, which is when Beline Products started. Beline has since become the leading independent provider of hospital bags.

Hospital bags were originally made of bias cotton or poly/cotton used mainly by the tire industry for tire belting until radial tires changed tire design. Then the VA pioneered synthetics by specing heavy spun/filament. Competitors began reducing pricing by using solid poly/cotton or 200 denier bags. Then the developers of polyester barrier fabrics began using fabric that did not test high enough for garment manufacturing for bags.

Today cotton is no longer used and poly/cotton is not widely used because cotton absorbs moisture, odors and germs, and because it stains. Now, 200/210 denier fabrics are the most commonly used fabrics, though polyester is generally used for hospitals bags instead of nylon. Many hospitals use 70 denier barrier fabrics. These breathe and repel liquids.

About two- thirds of hospitals do not use re-usable bags. Instead they use poly bags. Those are much cheaper, of course, but do not inhibit germs, and they clog up landfills. One would expect these to be outlawed, which is already happening in some areas. People are realizing now that germs in hospitals present a serious and often lethal challenge. It would not be surprising to see lawsuits against hospitals that do not use bags with flaps, since these are much safer than bags with cords.

Which bag you use depends upon your control and needs. No sense to buy an expensive bag, for example, if you will lose them before they wear out. HBD’s hospital bags come in one main size, 30×40, but also several others, such as 24×36, 36×40 and 40×40. They come in white or colors, and with several options.

Our team here at Beline will ask questions to help you determine which bag is best for you. Bags are a major business for us, so we have to do it better than other companies!


Each month we’re giving you an opportunity to get to know our team. This month our feature employee is Allen Forrest.

HBD is a small company that operates with integrity and reliability. We are a team that works hard to meet and exceed our customer’s expectations. We hope that by getting to know our team better we can strengthen our relationships.




Allen Forrest,  Shipping & Receiving Manager


How did you first learn about HBD?

From a friend who worked here years ago.

How long have you worked at HBD?

Over 23 years.

What is your role at HBD?

Shipping & Receiving manager.

What is your favorite part about working at HBD?

The people I work with. Some of them are more than co-workers, they are my life long friends.

What are your three most overused words/phrases?

“Well, well, well”, “Yes dear”, “This is disastrous”

What’s one thing you couldn’t live without?

My wife, Darlene.

Where is your favorite place to be?

Home with my family and my dogs. Love my dogs!

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

All animals seem to like me….kids too!


Each month we’re giving you an opportunity to get to know our team. This month our feature employee is Jesse Lynn.

HBD is a small company that operates with integrity and reliability. We are a team that works hard to meet and exceed our customer’s expectations. We hope that by getting to know our team better we can strengthen our relationships.




Jesse Lynn, Customer Service & Special Projects


How did you first learn about HBD?
I worked for HBD’s sister company Buckhead Betties several years ago. After that I opened my own business making my own line of jewelry.

How long have you worked at HBD?
I still have my own business, but came to work for HBD in March 2015.

What is your role at HBD?
Customer service and Special projects manager.

What is your favorite part about working at HBD?
We are like a family.

What are your three most overused words/phrases?
“Know what I mean?”, “Seriously?”, “Holy Cow”

What’s one thing you couldn’t live without?

Where is your favorite place to be?
In the mountains where the only sound is nature!

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
I was in a dance group in high school with girls from church. We danced to MC Hammer type music!

Thoughts on Election 2016

RichardThe current US Presidential election looks to be the wildest in a long while.

I have no interest in giving you my preference – your opinions are as good as mine. But I do want to point out some issues that our various pundits do not seem to be addressing.

 – There is a widespread feeling that globalism is not working for everyone.

In the aggregate,  globalism is good. It creates jobs and expands opportunities for millions. But not uniformly, or for everyone. By creating more competition from lower-wage countries, for example, it hurts US manufacturing and costs manufacturing jobs.

– Government has not been honest about the uneven effects of globalization.

Neither party has told the truth: that there are winners and losers in globalization. Neither party has told US workers that increased productivity is necessary for the US to keep up, and this demands greater education and skills. Neither party has told US citizens that being better off than your parents is not a guarantee.  It demands skills and hard work.

 – Elites in Washington, New York, and California have lost touch with working class Americans.

Educated members of economic and political elites have come to assume what is good for them is good for America. While their world has expanded, they have failed to notice it has shrunk for many less-well-off American families.

 – While our urban dwellers are used to multiculturalism, our rural citizens are not.

People who live in cities see all kinds of differences around them and take those differences as an interesting part of life. To many rural folks, those differences are strange and often threatening to the comfort of their way of life. Yet many urbanites seem oblivious or even condescending to their rural brethren.

 – Globalism has important social implications that are revolutionary in nature.

Globalism implies a free, easy movement across borders that suggest people are not American, British, German, etc., but are only in a particular place because they need to be. National differences are viewed as superficial or even quaint.

But many citizens of a particular country do not see it that way. To them, immigrants and multiculturalism are seen as fundamental threats with few benefits. Great to help others but what about us?

Any move beyond the nation-state, upon which our political system has long been based, is bound to be controversial and contentious.

– These differences cannot be swept under the rug.

Hopefully, this is the one thing about Campaign 2016 that has become obvious. We cannot move forward without a lot of conversation and a real attempt to understand each other.

This country was built on the idea that we are all in it together. Everyone needs to feel that the American dream is alive and well.


Richard Levy, HBD’s President, was actively involved in politics in a past life.



Starting this month we’re giving you an opportunity to get to know our team and will be featuring a new person each month. We are a dynamic group!

HBD is a small company that operates with integrity and  reliability.  We are a team that works hard to meet and exceed our customer’s expectations.  We hope that by getting to know our team better we can strengthen our          relationships.




How did you first learn about HBD?

I became aware of HBD through a friend who was a seamstress. That was 25 years ago and I remain happily employed today!

What is your role at HBD?

I am the Production Manager. I am responsible for the scheduling and production of our domestic items. This process begins with our awesome cutting department and ends with our invaluable shipping department.

Before working at HBD, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?

The most interesting job I had before working at HBD was in retail sales during holiday months. I sold hand-made wooden rocking horses and toys from the North Carolina Mountains, in the malls of Long Island, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

What are your three most overused words/phrases?

“Call extension 109”, “oh me”, and “honey”.

What’s one thing you couldn’t live without?

My Family

Where is your favorite place to be?

North Carolina or Virginia Mountains. I must have streams or rivers!

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

I don’t like to cook!


RFID“There’s an app for that,” “big data,” “predictive analytics,” and “artificial intelligence.”  These are all phrases that have us at HBD thinking hard about the future of the industries we serve, and we are always working to help our customers evolve and adapt.

In the last year, HBD has had the privilege to partner with hospitals and industrial laundries that are using RFID technology to become more efficient, data-driven businesses. In working with them to implement RFID we have learned about the benefits they see in adapting the technology.


Replacing manual counting, sorting and packaging with computerized inventory management has many benefits. RFID systems will confirm the exact number of linens in a bundle/bag, tell you how many of a given item are on hand, or where they are in the operations cycle. Having this information will save time, reduce errors, and make you a better service provider.


RFID tags will make you a data driven business.  Knowing exactly how linens or uniforms move through your system will help you hone your operations. How many washes can a specific item take? How many uses per week? Are there variations in throughput rate? How often are repairs happening and how long do they take? Digging into this data will improve purchasing decisions, allow you to better understand your customers, and identify inefficiencies in your business.


Want to know where and when items are going missing? RFID adds accountability and has been shown to reduce shrinkage. If an item does go missing, you should know who is responsible. In turn, you can reduce the cost of replacement by billing the appropriate party/individual.
When customers face challenges or seek new solutions, our production team likes to joke, “There’s a bag for that.” While we are not the Apple app store, we are dedicated to solving unique problems for our customers.

Brexit – Waters Uncharted




Brexit waters are uncharted, so the first thought is that no one can possibly know the final outcome.

Some further thoughts:

  • The effects on the US should not be major or sustained.
  • UK itself will probably have a short recession, but not a big long-term dip.
  • Europe will have to re-think its non-economic integration.
  • Russia and China, while emboldened, will likely see few gains.
  • Markets, while initially down, will likely recover within six months or so.
  • London, as a financial center and as a repository for foreign money, may well face the biggest upcoming tests.

This last point, while not crucially important to anyone else, may be the most significant. Not because London’s role as a center of finance or money laundering is crucial to the world economy — it is not.  Rather, because the Brexit vote reflected similar patterns elsewhere that could have a continuing major impact.

These include:

  • A rural-urban divide.
  • A generational divide.
  • Rebellion by working-class folks who feel government, financiers and globalization have failed them.
  • Anti-immigration sentiment — or at least heightened debate over who and how many immigrants to let in.
  • A threat to the direction public and private elites have been headed.

These issues are major.  Centrifugal forces are pulling Western countries apart.  Things that have been taken for granted, like expansion of individual autonomy, or multiculturalism versus the traditional concept of the melting pot, and free trade, will have to be faced squarely.

Indeed, the question of “national character,” or even of whether countries like the UK, Spain, Belgium and Italy should each be split into two or even three smaller countries, will need to be dealt with.  Scotland’s pro-EU vote is a leading indicator.

These are amazing days.  Unfortunately, many of the emerging actors will be demagogues or even Fascists, whose shrillness will make rational discussion of  these vital issues very difficult.

“May you live in interesting times” goes the old Chinese proverb.  We do.  Let’s just hope the Brexit vote doesn’t herald an era of “too-interesting times.”

Richard Levy, HBD’s President, travels to the UK several times annually.

“Above and Beyond”


A recent nightmare experience with an airline got us thinking about our approach to customer service. It’s not just airlines; many companies come up short on something we believe is extremely important.

There is nothing more frustrating than poor customer service (trying to speak to someone at a cable company) and nothing more satisfying than having your expectations exceeded (American Express is always impressive). Whether you are a Fortune 500 company or a small business, customer service is an extension of who you are.  It is a relationship between you and your customers, and the first impression on a potential new partner.

Customers are not just purchasing products, they are purchasing every interaction with your company.  Every point of communication produces trust, loyalty and strength. Whether communication is in person, by email, or on the phone, each customer wants to know that the person on the other line genuinely cares about their issues or needs.

At HBD, we understand what it takes to provide excellent customer service:

We Respect.  We respect our customers and know that their time is valuable.  We know their businesses depend on our ability to deliver. During business hours we will always be there to answer your calls, to provide updates, and to solve your problems.

We Listen. HBD is a solutions business. With more than 40 years of industry experience, we can apply our knowledge and expertise to the challenges you face. Our team listens carefully to the needs of our customers. Our customers are why we are here. It is our pleasure to help you find what you need.

We exceed expectations.  It is our goal to go above and beyond the call of duty.  We strive to develop products that best meet your needs and to find solutions when emergencies arise.  We will always do our best to exceed your expectations.

As our daily lives and travels provide us many reminders of how not to treat           customers, we are confident you will be impressed by the way HBD attends to your business.

Michelle Hewitt, Sales Manager & Customer Relations