Joking that the biggest challenge has been schooling customers on how to say their new company’s name, Karen Castle and Larry Kinn talked about the challenges and opportunities that lie in store for Suominen in the wake of its acquisition of Ahlstrom’s Home and Personal business. The acquisition, which was finalized in November, basically quadrupled the size of Suominen in terms of sales and transformed it from a one-site manufacturing company to an international conglomerate with production lines across the globe.
“The acquisition was a unique one and there have been a number of challenges to becoming one business,” Castle explained recalling how Suominen had to create a U.S. presence, virtually overnight, in the midst of a freak Northeast snowstorm that created a power outage at Suominen’s Connecticut headquarters in early November. This meant establishing e-mail addresses, bank accounts and healthcare plans and even creating a legal entity.
Despite these challenges, Castle and Kinn, who both worked for Ahlstrom before the acquisition, reported no operational problems and a 100% retention of employees during the transition. “We are completely stable. We have really exceeded expectations,” Kinn added.
With its Ahlstrom acquisition, Suominen now operates eight sites in the U.S., Brazil and Europe and has a broad range of nonwovens technologies for the wipes market. These include spunlace, thermal bonded, SPC, airlace, Genesis composite, resin bonded and Hydrospun, a flushable wetlaid substrate.
“We have really been able to keep momentum, expand it and even offer a streamlined structure,” Castle said. “These are good things for the wipes business.”