China, Where Are You?

By Karen Bitz McIntyre | September 10, 2008

The 2008 Summer Olympics has been described by some newscasters as China's coming out party to the world. That is an accurate statement if you consider the impressive scenes of the opening ceremony, the fact that at press time China is leading in the gold medal race (by a lot) and the breathtaking cityscapes of Beijing being broadcast practically around the clock on NBC.

In the nonwovens industry, China has been increasing its presence for some time with more and more Chinese-based companies popping up in the pages of this very magazine every month. Not only have more Chinese companies opened their doors in recent years, more Western companies have been investing more of their dollars (or euros) in an effort to cash in on the spectacular growth being predicted for this huge country.

That said, our annual Top Company report (see page 30), does not contain a Chinese company. Sure, many of the companies profiled in this year's report have a Chinese facility, but none of them are based in China or run by Chinese executives.

While we know of several Chinese nonwovens producers whose sales we think qualify them for inclusion in this survey, we have faced several obstacles in getting them into the report. Language barriers and a tradition of privacy have kept these companies from responding to our repeated requests for information about their businesses. We'll keep trying, however, and maybe next year we will finally have our first Chinese company in this report.

Beyond China, this year's survey includes manufacturers from the U.S., Brazil, Canada, Europe, Israel and Korea, showcasing that nonwovens' growth is truly global. Despite angst over rising raw material prices, most of the world's leading nonwovens producers are reporting growth and investing in their businesses to continue growth for the future.

As always, we appreciate your comments.

Karen Bitz McIntyre