Sales: $133 MILLION
Description: Key Personnel
Yukio Kawasaki, general manager, spunbond division of Toyobo; Hidemichi Mukunashi, managing director of Kureha
Plants: Tsuruga, Iwakuni and Shiga
Spunbond, needlepunch, resin bonded, spunlaced, stitch bonded
Volans, Ecule, Bonden, Kurelock, Kurehalock, Dynac
Geotextiles, roofing sheets, carpet backings, automotive interiors, automotive filters, needlepunched carpets, hot melt bonding sheets, plaster bases
Among the nonwovens producers in the Toyobo Group are Kureha and Yuho. Kureha produces resin bonded, needlepunched and spunbonded nonwovens, while Yuho produces needlepunched, spunlaced and stitch bonded nonwovens. Toyobo also produces needlepunched nonwovens.
Because many of its products contain added-value properties, sales of Toyobo are considerably higher than they would be at a nonwovens producer of a similar size. Despite these added benefits, Toyobo was not able to maintain its higher price points in 2003 and sales were unable to move upward. Polyester spunbonded nonwovens proved immune to these struggles, however. Production capacity is 24,000 tons per year.
Markets showing considerable promise include the automotive interior and engine filtration markets, which are largely targeted by Kureha. Kureha produces nonwovens for air cleaners in Japan, the U.S. and Thailand. Production capacity for this market is believed to be 7.2 million square meters a year in Japan, 4.3 million square meters in the U.S. and 3 million square meters in Thailand.
The demand for Kureha-made materials in automotive filtration systems has been strong in Japan. This product has outpaced the growth of the automotives market in the U.S. and Southeast Asia. As for the interior materials of the car, needlepunched nonwovens have been supplied for the carpet in the cabin and trunk areas.
Meanwhile, at Toyobo’s Yuho division, key products include spunlaced nonwovens, which are mainly custom-made to customer demands, and needlepunched nonwovens made from glass, carbon and other synthetic fibers. This falls in sync with Toyobo’s core growth strategy—producing unique products not offered by other companies.