Location: Manchester, U.K.
Sales: $130 million
Description: Key Personnel
John Lewis, president, Southern Felt; Mike Konesky, vice president, Southern Felt
South Carolina, China, U.K.
Needlepunch, thermal bonded, chemical finishes
Fiberlox, Microfelt, Checkstatic, Pleatlox
Filtration, technical felts, laundry products
Declines in North America and Europe were offset by gains in Asia during 2009 at bag filter specialist Andrew Industries Group. The Manchester, U.K.-based company, with subsidiaries in the U.S. and China, reported sales were flat at $130 million last year while earnings also remained level, thanks to overhead cost reductions.
“We were successful during the recession and remain successful due to becoming leaner in manufacturing, reducing inventories and aggressively holding onto marketshare,” said John Lewis, president of Southern Felt, Andrew’s U.S. subsidiary. “Andrew Industries has also developed new products and opened up new markets.”
Andrew specializes in needlepunch felts largely targeted at the baghouse filter market. Founded 115 years ago, the company established Southern Felt, based in North Augusta, SC, in 1988 and expanded into Asia earlier this decade with the establishment of Andrew Industrial Textile Manufacturing Company in Shanghai, China.
Last year, Andrew added a second needlepunch line to its Chinese subsidiary, adding about 5.5 million square meters to the operation. According to Mr. Lewis this new investment is responding to 15-20% growth currently being seen in China.
Also on Andrew’s radar are South Africa, South America and India, where it will break ground on a new distribution center in Chennai later this year. This facility will begin as a distribution center for all Andrew Group products and will also manufacture some BMP products. Down the road, this facility could also manufacture felts for filtration and laundry applications.
Back in its existing facilities, Andrew’s latest state-of-the-art needlepunch line, added last year, is operating around the clock, enabling the company to grow its topline and improve its delivery times to the market. Next up on that facility’s investment plan will be a 75,000-square-foot addition, which will house a new needlepunch line starting in 2011.
Southern Felt also installed a new high temperature chemical treatment line in 2009.
Meanwhile, in the U.K.,Andrew Webron Ltd. continues to add capacity for its PTFE felt product line, which is seeing increased demand as lower raw material prices are boosting attractiveness in filtration markets requiring high temperature and chemical resistance performance.
With most of its nonwovens output clearly centered on needlepunch, Andrew’s next step will be exploration and investment in complementary technologies including spunbond, meltblown and hydroentangling. Other goals include distribution of products made in Asia into Europe and North America and increased focus on research and development.
“Our investment in research and development will be increased to broaden our product range especially where our existing products are under threat to alternative products which we do not manufacture at this time but are likely to become the products for the future,” Mr. Lewis concluded.