Sales: $60 million
Description: Key Personnel
Poul Mikkelsen, CEO; Peter Stoffel, COO; Michael Steen Lunde, vice president, business development; Jos van Hattum, sales director; Bruno Guyomard, research and development manager
Soultz, France; Mildenau, Germany
Norafin, Lidro, Rough n’ Soft
Cosmetics/hygiene, household, industrial, medical
New to this year’s top company report is roll goods producer Jacob Holm Industries, Jyderup, Denmark. With annual roll goods sales of $60 million, Jacob Holm specializes in hydroentangled and needlepunched nonwovens for wiping applications in a variety of markets. Jacob Holm Industries was founded in 1995 when parent company Jacob Holm & Sons entered the nonwovens industry.
While Jacob Holm’s nonwovens production initially centered around thermal bonded materials for acquisition and distribution layers, the company soon determined that spunlaced was a more viable market. During 1998-1999, Jacob Holm reconfigured its equipment to produce spunlaced nonwovens for baby wipe applications. Jacob Holm expanded its spunlaced production and entered the needlepunched market in 2000 when it purchased Norafin, Mildenau, Germany, a producer of spunlaced and needlepunched nonwovens.
The acquisition of Norafin as well as the addition of a second spunlaced line in early 2001 helped to transform Jacob Holm into one of Europe’s leading suppliers of nonwovens targeting baby wipes as well as other wiping applications and medical products. Last year, the company achieved roll goods sales of approximately $60 million. Currently, 70% of sales are conducted in Western Europe while the remainder are split between North America and Asia. Jacob Holm operates two plants, one in Soultz, France and the other in Mildenau, Germany, which are able to serve its customers globally.
While spunlace capacity in Europe is at an all-time high, Jacob Holm has not felt the ill effects of a weakened economy. “Our perception of the market is that customers are considering wipe products to be something they need to have,” Mr. Lunde said.
“They are buying these products regardless of economic conditions.” To date, the only segment where executives have noticed a decline is in the airline industry, where the company supplies wipes to many of the major carriers in Europe.
While the bulk of Jacob Holm’s wipes business targets baby care applications, the company is seeing strong growth in wipes for household, cosmetic and industrial uses. These emerging markets have been targeted with differentiated products that are able to achieve more than one function per use. “Our customers are showing an increased focus on quality and placing stringent requirements on our products,” Mr. Lunde said. “These products need to do more than just wipe something. They need to offer something else to find a place in more interesting markets.”
Jacob Holm’s focus on new product development has led to the introduction of several new products in recent months. Most recently, the company’s Duplex product, a spunlaced nonwoven laminated to a polyethylene film targeting protective applications in the medical, hygiene and cosmetic segments, was launched in April. Also in April, Jacob Holm introduced Bi-Active, a wipe comprising a soft side and a rough side that is ideal for cleaning and cosmetic applications.
These two products join Jacob Holm’s Rough n’ Soft three layered nonwoven material, a three-layered nonwoven material made entirely from spunlaced nonwovens. Like Bi-Activ, this product also features a rough side and a softer side to target cosmetic and household areas. Additionally, for the cosmetic and household cleaning markets, the company’s Triplex features a three-layer sandwich construction with a layer of film positioned between two spunlaced layers.
Because many of its products are made from composite structures, Jacob Holm has had to form several partnerships with other companies to use their materials. While executives declined to name these companies, they did admit that these collaborations are vital to the business. “Jacob Holm is aggressively pursuing the composites market,” Mr. Lunde explained. “This further strengthens our relationship with key players in the segments where we are active and enables us to present new product solutions to our customers at frequent intervals.”
These new products and collaborations result from a company-wide goal of broadening its product portfolio. “We will keep on working with our current customers to expand our existing products,” Mr. Lunde said. “We will focus on the areas where we think we can make a difference.”