Location: Schwarzenbach/Saale, Germany
Sales: $119 million
Description: Key Personnel
Dipl. Kfm. Christian Heinrich Sandler, Dr. Christian Heinrich Sandler, Dieter Magiera, members of the management board
DIN EN ISO 9001:2000, DIN ISO 14001 certified
Drylaid, resin bonded, thermal bonded, mechanically bonded, meltblown, parallel and crosslapped carded, air through bonded, spunlaced, laminated
sawafill, sawabond, sawaloom, sawavlies, sawaloft, sawaflor, sawatex, sawascreen, sawagrow, sandler sports, sawacomp, sawaflock, sawaform, sawalux, sawaflex, sawasoft, sawasorb, sandler-fibercomfort, sandler-fiberskin, Purina, sandler-unico, Thincontinent, sawadur, sawadry
apparel, upholstery, technical nonwovens, civil engineering, hygiene, medical and industrial filtration, automotive, horticulture
With sales holding steady at E126 million, Sandler Nonwovens, Schwarzenbach/Saale, Germany, was pleased with its 2002 performance. “In this economy, when you look at the market, the turnover is all right,” stated C.H. Sandler. The company has relied on a range of innovative products, a strong export level and a clear strategic plan to fend off negative economic conditions and other problems affecting the nonwovens industry.
Currently 60% of Sandler’s nonwovens output is exported, mainly to European nations and the U.S. Key growth areas include the Far East and South America. Despite this dependence on foreign markets, Sandler operates facilities only in Germany and has no plans to expand beyond these borders in the near term.
While growth into new regions is an important part of Sandler’s growth strategy, so is proliferation into new markets. One area blazing brightly on Sandler’s radar screen is the wipes market. The company has recently installed its first-ever spunlace line, which will allow the company to produce a range of wipes as well as medical fabrics and hygiene products. Even though this new production line went onstream just a few weeks ago, it is already moving towards fully industrial production by September 2003. “Spunlace is a growing market in Europe and all over the world“, Mr. Sandler said. “There are still new applications appearing that will boost growth.”
Mr. Sandler explained that it would produce high-quality fabrics in multiple shapes and sizes with the ability to handle special treatments to differentiate themselves from other spunlaced materials. “Product differentiation is the key to success, and you have to keep working to remain differentiated. The specialty of today will be the commodity product of the future, “Mr. Sandler predicted. “It is a market with a very interesting future.”
Spunlaced will join other nonwovens technologies including dry laid, resin bonded, mechanical and thermal bonded, parallel and crosslapped carded, needlepunched, laminated and meltblown, already in Sandler’s staple of offerings.
These technologies target the apparel, upholstery, technical, civil engineering, hygiene, medical and industrial filtration as well as automotive industries. Of particular importance to Sandler’s strategic plan is the automotive industry. This effort began 10 years ago when Sandler introduced a 100% needle-punched polyester media allowing thermal moulding into new products for example headliners. This innovation earned the company both an INDEX Award and a Techtextil Award. Sales of this product are just now beginning to take off rapidly as European automotive suppliers prepare the industry’s conversion to recyclable cars, as mandated by European authorities.
As Sandler’s headliner business continues to gain momentum, acoustical applications are another segment of the automotives industry of interest to the industry. As the automotives industry demands less weight (to reduce energy costs), it will rely more on lighter, nonwoven fabrics. In fact, penetration into the acoustical areas is so important to Sandler’s growth that the company plans to start up a production line in the next five years that will be dedicated solely to this area. Products developed on the line will mainly be interior trim parts featuring lower weights and higher acoustics. This new investment will add another asset to the Schwarzenbach production site and moreover will create about 50 new qualified jobs.
In the filtration segment, Sandler products continue to garner interest. One noteworthy product, sawascreen a polypropylene meltblown received one of two innovation awards granted to Sandler at INDEX 2002. This product, made from 100% polypropylene, is a pleatable media for air filtration applications. Introduced last year, the product joined a range of nonwoven products in Sandler’s filtration business.
“Filtration is another interesting market because synthetic fiber media are becoming more important to companies as they are destined to replace glass fiber products,” Mr. Sandler explained.
Sandler credits its success in a wide range of markets to a focus on market research and product development. In fact, sawascreen was not the only Sandler product to be recognized at last year’s INDEX exhibition. Sawasoft 8000, a multifunctional composite material combines the distribution properties of an acquisition/distribution layer while retaining the function of core material. It is distinguished by extraordinary low rewet with a surface that dries up within a few seconds.
“The result of our efforts has been that market needs are coinciding nicely with products offered by Sandler,“ Dr. Sandler explained. “These products are developed with consumer needs in mind.”
Looking ahead, Sandler will continue to focus on innovation to achieve success in the future, Fully aware of how quickly a new idea can become blasé, the company sponsors an employee-recognition program whereby employees are given monetary compensation for creative ideas that contribute to the bottom line. “One of the main points in our strategy of innovation is to train our employees to continue our tradition on their own,” Dr. Sandler explained.