Location: Hof/Saale, Germany
Sales: $90 Million
Description: Key Personnel
Harald Stini, managing director; Rudolf Schlotter, managing director; Detlev Käppel, managing director—Techtex and Global sales director eswegee, technical nonwovens; Lothar Hackler, president—Hof Textiles, Inc.
Hof/Saale, Germany; Mittweida, Germany; Lincolnton, NC
ISO 9001, ISO 14001, VDA 6.1
Drylaid, thermal bonded, needlepunched, saturate bonded, stitchbonded, spunlace
Variopoint, Unipoint, Unisoft, Zetafelt, Zetastitch, Zetafil, Zetawatt, Florbond, Zetabond, Zetajet, Zetatherm, Zetamold, Maliwatt, Malivlies, Kunit, Multiknit eswegee 2000 series, Bassopoint
Launching a brand new nonwovens technology, unveiling a joint venture in India and building a new production facility has kept eswegee Vliesstoff Group, Hof/Saale, Germany, quite busy this year. The company’s initial foray in the spunlace market brings the debut of a new brand of spunlace nonwovens, Zetajet, which will be produced on a new line in Reichenbach, Germany. Located between the company's Hof/Saale and Mittweida plants in the state of Saxony, the 12,000 square meter greenfield plant, which came onstream in January, is part of the company's eswegee business and employs about 30 people.
The new facility represents an investment of €25 million and capacity on the new line will be several thousand tons. The company describes the spunlace configuration as a new set-up for this technology. “Our understanding is this kind of machinery is totally new,” said managing director Harald Stini, who has taken over the company’s reigns following the retirement of Manfred Knieling. “We will use our expertise in technical markets to further expand our product range,"" he said. Materials made on the new spunlace line will target automotive, filtration and other specialty end uses. As the plant itself uses only one-quarter of the available land, there is plenty of room for expansion, an issue eswegee plans to address as the need arises.
The company expects the new line, which has not yet reached full utilization levels, to be running full-swing by mid-2007. “We want to move forward in a synchronized fashion and are in the process of setting up three shifts,“ explained Techtex managing director Detlev Käppel. He referred to the highly flexible new line as a multifunctional system that can achieve a variety of different technical properties in terms of tensile strengths, elongations and additional finishing/coating treatments.
For eswegee, sales outside of the shrinking apparel/interlinings market remain the driving force for the company. Currently, non-apparel sales generate more than half compared to the total revenue of Hof’s nonwoven group.
Stemming from its intensified focus on technical nonwovens, another strategic initiative underway at eswegee is building an Asian platform. “Suppliers need strategic platforms all around the world, particularly in the automotive market. That’s why we must have production in Asia,” opined Mr. Käppel. “Automotive production is increasingly shifting to Asia. Last year China produced 7.2 million cars but over the next two years, China’s goal is 14 million cars. Compare that with Germany, which manufactured 5.8 million cars in 2006. Every major car company is setting up production in Asia,” he said.
As a result of this strategy, in June 2006 eswegee teamed up with Indian nonwovens manufacturer Supreme Nonwovens in a joint venture to supply both interlinings and industrial products in Asia. The Mumbai-based company runs a plethora of nonwovens facilities throughout India and has reportedly enjoyed double-digit growth every year. “Supreme Nonwovens is a family-owned company, so we have a similar way of thinking,” commented Mr. Stini. “They have their specific market and culture and we would like to leverage that. If we can gain from it, we will,” he said.