Nonwovens Industry
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Foss Manufacturing



Published January 1, 2008
Related Searches: nonwovens roll goods nonwoven Automotive
Location: HAMPTON, NH

Sales: $108 million

Description: Key Personnel
A.J. Nassar, CEO

Plants
Hampton, NH

ISO Status
All businesses are QS 9000, ISO 9001, and ISO 17025 certified and are close to ISO 14,000 (environmental registration based on efforts to reduce emissions, solid waste and waste water)

Processes
Polyester, polypropylene and specialty fiber spinning; needlepunch, extrusion; flame lamination, calendering, latex coating, saturation, die cutting, embossing

Brand Names
Eco-fi, Fosscloth, Fosshield, FossFibre, Ozite, TopGuard, Kunin Felt, Kreative Kanvas,

Major Markets
Specialty synthetic fiber (solution dyed PET, bicomponent fibers, antimicrobial fibers, fire-retardant fibers, acrylic fiber); automotive (headliners, package trays, floor carpets, interior trim fabrics); Ozite decorative (wall coverings, marine, RV, speaker coverings); retail (Kunin craft felt, auto-aftermarket, indoor/outdoor carpeting, construction); technical (vinyl substrate, filtration, footwear, healthcare and car wash.)

After achieving 8% growth in 2007, Foss Manufacturing is a roll goods producer feeling bullish about its future prospects. The company has added 185 new employees to its roster and in April started up a state-of-the-art needlepunch line at its Hampton, NH headquarters.
 
Designed and built by Erko-Trützschler, the turnkey machinery is expected to increase the company’s productivity and efficiencies. “The superior quality from the new line will catapult us into the future via the use of finer denier fiber and lighter weight fabrics,” commented David Rowell, executive vice president of sales. “It will also allow us to maximize the exciting potential of our two key technologies, Eco-fi fibers and Fosshield antimicrobial fabrics.” Foss’ Eco-fi fibers and fabrics are made from 100% recycled plastic PET bottles.
 
Are other capital expansion projects being considered? According to the company, it is looking closely at future growth and has developed a business plan to analyze market needs and direct these efforts. “Plans for substantial capital expansion are being formulated as we speak,” stated Mr. Rowell. “ We expect to add an amount that is equal to, if not more than, we added this year.” He said that additional capacities will touch on a variety of processes, including post-finishing, not strictly needlepunch. “We are looking at growing our capacity levels from a forward-thinking standpoint—above and beyond the basic needlepunch mentality.”
 
Now representing 70% of Foss’ overall fiber sales, Eco-fi continues to gain momentum. The recycled polyester fiber’s benefits include sustainability, eco-friendliness, decreased landfill impact and lack of harmful emissions.
 
The company’s Fosshield product line continues to target both woven and nonwoven applications. Foss reports increasing interest for different market areas such as towels, mattress pads, mattress ticking, apparel, blankets, hospital cubicle curtains, upholstery for medical offices and wallcoverings. The company has also partnered with a major U.S. carpet manufacturer, which has launched a line of carpet incorporating Fosshield technology. “Fosshield is doing quite well,” reported Mr. Rowell. “There are a number of other market areas now in the testing phase.”
 
One area primed for growth is the medical field, where Fosshield fabrics are gaining ground as hospital-acquired infections become a major issue in the U.S. In response to recent, much-publicized outbreaks of Staph, Legionella and other infections, upcoming state and federal legislation is expected to seriously impact hospitals. “Medicare is no longer going to pay hospitals with high infection rates; patients will not want to be admitted there; and doctors won’t want to work there. There will be a revolution in the hospital industry and the technologies we are working on will be part of the solution,” Mr. Rowell predicted.
 
In the retail sector, Foss is seeing the effects of a slow retail market, although the company did introduce an increased number of retail products last year. The company attributes much of the slow growth to an industry-wide 20% decline in retail and a sluggish economy. “We have held our own because of the placements of more SKUs, but it’s been slower than expected with single-digit growth projected.”
 
In the automotive market sector, which continues to represent approximately one third of sales for Foss, both Fosshield and Eco-fi have seen activity. Thanks to a range of new moldable products, Foss reports solid performance despite the recent problems plaguing automakers and suppliers. “In a market that is off by 10-12%, our sales have grown. Things are really going well for us. We’re increasing sales and aren’t in a funk like many suppliers.”
 
While the footwear market has been slow for Foss for the last five years or so, looking forward, the company is anticipating a major boost in this sector. “We were recently approved by the military for business with two major domestic footwear companies that will bump up our activities by millions of dollars. This is exciting because this is Foss’ heritage.” He added that footwear sales are expected to grow from zero last year to more than two million dollars in the near future.
continue to be successful, particularly in the personal care market.
 
Back to nonwovens, this segment will continue to focus on improving efficiency and enhanching its product quality while reducing waste. Most recently, this goal was carried out through the investment in new water treatments facilities for its spunlace lines that allow a more varied usage of raw materials.