Location: Hof/Saale, Germany
Sales: $67 Million
Description: Key Personnel
Manfred Knieling, managing director; Rudolf Schlotter, managing director; Detlev Käppel, managing director-Techtex, sales director, technical nonwovens; Gunther Hoffman, president-Hof Textiles, Inc.
Hof, Germany; Mittweida, Germany, Lincolnton, NC
ISO 9001, ISO 14001, VDA 6.1
Dry laid, thermal bonded, needlepunched, saturate bonded, stitchbonded
Variopoint, Unipoint, Unisoft, Zetafelt, Zetafil, Zetawatt, Florbond, Zetabond, Zetatherm, Maliwatt, Malivlies, Kunit, Multiknit, eswegee 2000 series
Interlinings, automotives, filtration, coating substrates, filtration, substrates, noise reduction barriers, secondary carpet backings, electrical insulation
With end use markets split evenly between interlinings and technical applications, Textilgruppe Hof, Hof/
Saale, Germany, experienced an 8% sales increase in its roll goods business in 2001. This sales increase was achieved despite a slowdown in the European economy during the fourth quarter last year that has continued into 2002. After failing to grow in 2000, Hof’s sales in the interlinings segment also remained flat in 2001 due to a combination to an overall weak economy and lower demand for interlinings. This situation, however, has begun to look up and the company expects to see improved performance for the remainder of 2002.
The company’s interlinings market remained stable throughout 2001 and has since begun to pick up again. “We are already seeing progress,” said Manfred Knieling, managing director at eswegee. “During the first half of 2002, we went back to what we consider ‘normal’ business because we managed to increase our marketshare, despite the automotive industry’s manufacturing being on a lower level.” The company’s major market for interlinings is in Europe, primarily throughout Romania and Poland.
As for technical industries, this segment is seeing double digit growth with an increase of about 10% since last year, according to Mr. Knieling. Technical applications are responsible for 50% of the company’s sales, while the remaining 50% are derived from the interlinings market. Within its technical applications segment, 90% of Textilgruppe Hof’s sales are derived from the automotive industry, while the remaining 10% come from other markets such as filtration and composite structures.
The company’s U.S. subsidiary, Hof Textiles, Lincolnton, NC, had an approximate 20% increase in sales to technical applications because of new products and customers. As a result of exports, however, technical application sales in Europe have recently declined, due to weakened demand in the automotives industry. “Our growth in the technical nonwovens business was more than 10% for most of 2001,” Mr. Knieling explained. “But during the last two months of 2001, the business slowed down, especially in the automotives industry, due to less demand from the consumers.”
To keep up with the economy, Hof will rely on new investments slated to be complete during the next two years. “We are looking to improve our quality, productivity and capacity,” Mr. Knieling said. The company has already begun to add new investments onto its older lines. So far, five million dollars has already been invested into improvements for eswegee’s older lines. “It is more important for us to offer higher quality, improved productivity and increased capacity to generate more competition,” Mr. Kneiling explained. Aside from updating its older equipment, the company is planning on investing in new nonwovens production with finishing machines but won’t give any specific details.
Last year, the company completed the last part of a DM 30 million, three-year investment program for its production facilities in Hof/Saale, Germany, Mittweida, Germany and Lincolnton, NC. This initiative included new finishing equipment, wider lines and other capacity improvements at the eswegee plant for interlinings and technical applications, as well as a new line for technical applications. With this large scale capital investment plan now officially complete, company executives are seeing positive results. “This latest investment program has helped us increase our capacity and productivity and has delivered improved product quality and profit,” said Mr. Kneiling. “In other words, it has made us more competitive in this industry.”