The Dog Days of Summer

By Karen McIntyre | September 15, 2009

For most people, the dog days of summer mean long, lazy days at the pool, battling the heat and humidity; others use the last weeks of August to prepare for the start of school. At Nonwovens Industry, we use the slow news time to finish up our annual ranking of the world's leading producers of nonwoven fabrics.

Thanks to a three-way tie for number 40, this year's report actually included 42 companies with annual sales ranging from $80 million to $1.45 billion. These companies literally span the globe with headquarters and plants located on six continents; they focus on virtually every type of nonwovens technology available and target an infinite number of markets for their goods. This year, we welcome two new companies, Spuntech and Shalag Industries, both of Israel, and say goodbye to two others. Former top company veteran Western Nonwovens was sold piecemeal in a bankruptcy last year and no longer exists; Italy's Albis, a player in the hygiene market, has faced some financial troubles in its German operations, and chose not to participate in this year's report. Hopefully, that company will turnaround and find itself in our pages again in the near future.

Of course, these two companies are not the only ones to face financial hardship, during the past year or before. Propex Fabrics, the world's largest needlepunch maker, was purchased out of bankruptcy (and renamed Propex Holdings) earlier this year and is hopefully now stronger than ever. And, don't forget that some of the industry's most successful companies—PGI, Precision Custom Coatings and Concert Industries—filed for bankruptcy and emerged healthier than ever before.

Due to the state of the global economy, many of this year's leading companies are reported some troubles, News of new investment and expansion (that has peppered previous years' reports) has been replaced with talk of cost-savings efforts and realignment strategies, but we were still surprised to see that the nonwovens industry continues to be growth mode with new lines in development and new markets being uncovered. This investment, combined with some serious belt tightening, will make the nonwovens industry stronger than ever when the economy recovers.

Speaking of changes, this month you might notice something different about Nonwovens Industry. Thanks to the talents of our art department, Michael Del Purgatorio and Jessica Carlin, we have updated our look. Believe it or not, it had been more than five years since we upgraded our design!

In other changes, this month, we welcome associate editor Sandra Levy to our team. With a long history in magazine publishing, most recently with Drug Topics, Sandra will certainly bring valuable expertise to our team.

Karen McIntyre

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