Nonwovens Industry
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Propex Fabrics



Published January 1, 2006
Related Searches: nonwovens Transportation fiber composite
Location: Ringgold, GA

Sales: $200 million

Description: Key Personnel
Joe Dana, president and CEO; W. Michael Coffin, executive vice president and COO; Phil Barnes, vice president, CFO and treasurer; Lee McCarter, executive vice president and CFO; Hugh McClain, vice president of U.S. sales; John Stover vice president and general counsel

Nonwovens Plants
Ringgold GA, Hazlehurst GA, Seneca SC

ISO Status
ISO 9002 Certified
ISO 14001 Certified

Process
Needlepunch

Brand Names
Geotex, Petromat, Proguard, Petrotac, Duon, Synfab Actionbac, Polybac, Earthscape, Matrix, RFX, Xtinguish

Major Nonwovens Markets
Geosynthetics, flooring, furniture and bedding, automotive, agriculture, laminates, vinyl substrates, sorbents

FOLLowing Its acquisition in January 2006 of SI Corporation, Propex Fabrics changed its name to Propex Inc. In the face of strong competition and varying dynamics in all of its end use markets, nonwovens sales volumes at the combined SI and Propex in 2005 were relatively flat compared to the prior year at over 500 million square yards.
 
With nonwovens representing approximately 20% of Propex’s overall business, the combined entity is a leading producer of polypropylene-based fabrics and fibers for geosynthetics, furniture and bedding, automotive, concrete reinforcement, carpet backing and a variety of other industrial end uses. SI Concrete Systems, SI Performance Technology and SI Geosolutions are now combined with the previous Propex Fabrics divisions, forming four Propex business reporting segments—Geosynthetics, Furnishings, Industrial Products and Concrete Systems.

“The acquisition creates a streamlined organization that is stronger and better equipped to drive success and secure a stable, profitable future for customers, employees, shareholders and suppliers,” offered Bob Tlumak, director of marketing. “The combined entity is market-driven and dedicated to innovation, service excellence and proactive market development.”
 
Other benefits expected to result from the acquisition are increased diversification and a broader range of products and services. “As a leading supplier of needlepunched nonwovens in North America, the company has unparalleled capabilities for product development with an array of commercial technologies and conversion capabilities.” Dr. Tlumak added that he also expects the business to benefit from the consolidation of the combined product offerings and cost structure.
 
In terms of manufacturing capabilities, Propex currently operates three needlepunch nonwoven plants, with lines at Hazlehurst GA, Seneca SC and Ringgold GA, but plans are underway to shut down the Seneca site and transfer its manufacturing assets to Ringgold. The transfer will make the Ringgold site the largest needlepunch operation in North America, according to the company.  “We have been investing capital in our nonwovens business to continue to improve our cost structure, upgrade operations to maintain leading quality and support the commercial production of new products,” remarked Dr. Tlumak.
 
Turning to the subject of the economy and its impact on Propex’s core markets, Dr. Tlumak pointed to the upholstered furniture sector, where manufacturing continues to migrate to the Far East, attracted by low labor costs and capital availability. “We see this trend continuing, a trend that is reducing the demand for our products in North America.” He added that automotive manufacturing in the U.S. is down slightly from last year. On the positive side, Dr. Tlumak indicated that the geosynthetics market is enjoying growth from continued investment in civil construction for both site development and transportation markets.
 
When it comes to product differentiation, a key strategy for Propex has been making the most of its varied capabilities, which span from weaving, embossing and fiber spinning to film coating and laminating. These processes can be combined with needlepunched fabrics to offer an innovative range of products including Matrix carpet backing, a proprietary differentiated system designed for artificial turf requiring high tuft bind and made from a woven/nonwoven composite structure.
 
“Propex looks to set ourselves apart from the competition by creating advantages for our customers by offering consistent and reliable high quality products and services with proven performance,” said Dr. Tlumak. “We are committed to growing the markets we participate in and bringing business to our customers with focused marketing efforts. We also offer consultation and expertise in our markets with technically trained sales personnel and support staff as well as collaboration with our customers to bring innovative solutions to the market that enhance their offerings and improve their profitability. In this way we are focused on driving sustainable, profitable growth for both our customers and ourselves by delivering value to the marketplace.”