Location: Gatineau, Quebec, Canada
Sales: $132 million
Description: Key Personnel
Corporate: Pierre McNeil, acting president and chief executive officer; Rolf Hövelmann, senior vice president and COO;Don Habbick, chief financial officer. European Operations: Rolf Hövelmann, managing director of Concert Europe GmbH and AAT Systems GmbH ; Jorg Schlautmann, managing director, sales, R&D and quality; Torsten Gartner, managing director, manufacturing & business systems. Canadian Operations: Barry Downing, vice president and general manager; Ken Squires, director of sales; Alain Mercier, director of operations
Airlaid capability for thermal, latex, multi- and hydrogen-bonded. Festooner capacity for finishing and packaging.
Feminine hygiene, home care, food pads and premium wipes.
Airlaid capability for thermal, latex, multi and hydrogen-bonded. Festooner capacity for finishing and packaging
Feminine hygiene, premium wipes, food pads, home care, table top, adult incontinence and cosmetic towels.
Nearly three years after its purchase by Brascan Asset Management’s Tricap Partners Ltd., Gatineau, Quebec, Canada-based Concert Industries is continuing its evolution into a leader in the global specialty airlaid market. Thanks to a successful turnaround of its Gatineau operations and consistent top performance from its German facility in Falkenhagen, Concert has mastered operational excellence and is well positioned for growth opportunities, according to executives. In 2006, the company’s sales were approximately CDN150 million and this figure is set to increase further as Concert’s Gatineau operation continues to increase its capacity.
The bulk of Concert’s airlaid output targets the feminine hygiene market but other applications include specialty wipe products, food pads, adult incontinence, tabletop and a number of other niche areas, according to the director of sales of the Canadian operations, Ken Squires. “Concert is putting more emphasis on new niche markets that we think could represent significant value,” he said. As it increases its focus on new markets, Concert has also made the strategic decision to exit markets—such as commodity consumer wipes—that have proven unprofitable, instead putting more resources behind markets where it has a proven track record such as feminine hygiene.
“The feminine hygiene segment is our largest end use market. We will maintain and strengthen our preferred supplier status to the largest global airlaid customers by continuing to offer the industry’s highest level of technical expertise,” said acting president and CEO Pierre McNeil. Mr. McNeil, a Tricap veteran, was named acting CEO earlier this year following the sudden death of CEO Tony Molluso, the man credited with much of Concert’s turnaround.
“(The impact of Tony’s death) was hard but we did not lose any momentum because the team under him was so strong,” Mr. McNeil said. “Though this facilitated my transition into the CEO role, Tony’s presence and positive attitude is still missed. He had a very good network in the industry and a really good sense of how to grow the business.”
Since taking over Concert, TriCap has focused on returning the company, which had been severely hit by overcapacity issues affecting the global airlaid market, to profitability. Efforts included the shutdown of a smaller operation in Thurso, Canada as well as a turnaround at Concert’s Gatineau facility where two large airlaid lines were added in 2001. According to Mr. McNeil, at one point one of these lines was barely operational as the company shifted its production cycle to meet market demand. Recently, however, production has been increasing steadily at the facility as Concert enjoys gains in its existing market and taps new areas for growth.
“In Gatineau, our challenge in the last two years has been to make the operation viable for the future,” Mr. McNeil said. “These changes have meant a significant reduction in the workforce and running machines more efficiently and effectively. Under these circumstances the team has done a great job to improve quality, drive costs down, properly define the product segments, increase capacity utilization, reduce waste and rebuild credibility with key customers. Today, we are pleased to announce that Gatineau is increasing employment levels and we have the lines running at high levels of capacity utilization.”
Recent investments in Gatineau include a newly upgraded festooner, which is delivering strong results, running at high levels of utilization. Concert is reportedly considering additional festooner improvements to drive further sales from existing and future customers interested in our leading-edge finishing and packaging technology.
Meanwhile, Concert’s European facility, located in Falkenhagen, Germany, has been operating at full capacity thanks to strong demand from the company’s European customers.
“Few companies can rival Germany’s reliable and complementary team,” said Mr. McNeil. “They are in control of the key operational processes and are always looking ahead in terms of improving the process and the products to match the needs of our customers. Specialty airlaid is a technically demanding market area due to the complex qualification process and the need for close product development relationships with our customers. Falkenhagen is at the forefront in this market. With such strengths we consider the Germany operations well-positioned for further rapid growth.”
In fact, the Falkenhagen operation is performing so well that Concert executives have admitted that expansion is definitely a possibility in the near term. “Concert’s primary focus is to maximize the capacity of our current operations and consider expansion where we see market growth, including Europe, Asia, the U.S. and the Middle East,” Mr. McNeil said. “We are also considering other regions such as South America where Brookfield has a strong presence.”
Moving forward, Mr. McNeil’s main goal is to continue the momentum started by Mr. Molluso and maintain the success Concert has seen since its acquisition by TriCap.
“With the turnaround of Concert complete, my assignment to the role of acting CEO is in essence to keep the momentum and to continue growing the company. My focus has been on the future strategic direction of the business—how we grow this business from its current base—and I am very pleased with the way it’s turning out,” he said. “The results I have seen so far are very much in line with the goals we set for the company: to focus on product development, to meet our key customers’ needs and to reassure them that Concert is here for the long term.”