Sales: $96 million
Description: Key Personnel
A. J. Nassar, CEO, Mike DeGrace, president
Eco-fi, Fosscloth, Fosshield, FossFibre, Ozite, TopGuard, Kunin Felt, Kreative Kanvas
Specialty syntehtic fiber (solution dyed PET, bicomponent fibers, antimicrobial fibers, fire retardant fibers, acrylic fibers); automotives (headliners, package trays, floor carpets, interior trim fabrics); Oziete 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)
“Sales are up in the double-digits, almost 20%,” said David Rowell, Foss Manufacturing’s executive vice president of sales,” so we have been on a real excellent roll.” Based in Hampton, NH, needlepunch specialist Foss credits its success to gains in automotives and indoor/outdoor carpeting. With most of its raw material supply based on recycled polyester bottles, the company continues to offer value to its customers.
In the automotives market, Foss’s performance is well ahead of car builds as it has successfully taken marketshare, particularly in the area of interior carpeting where nonwovens are becoming the material of choice for many car companies both in North America and beyond.
This success is being attributed to strong customer relationships as well as high quality products made possible through Foss’ most recent investment, a state-of-the-art needlepunch line, which is offering “dramatic improvements” in both quality and output. Designed and built by Erko-Trutzschler, the turnkey machinery, which was added in early 2009—uses finer denier fiber and produces lighter weight fabrics than previous generation machines.
“In order to penetrate the interior of the car, the quality has to be significantly better than it was five years ago and the equipment has to be able to achieve this,” Mr. Rowell said. The new line is dramatically different and we are really firing on all cylinders.”
Foss will add another state-of-the-art needlepunch line in early 2011.
Meanwhile, in the indoor/outdoor carpeting market, Foss is reporting booming success with big box retailers such as Home Depot, Nenards and Costco where it is selling peel-and-stick carpet tiles made from recycled polyester bottles. “These big box stores just love to promote products that are sustainable and green so it’s ust been a home run for us,” Mr. Rowell reported predicting that the company will sell a couple of million dollars worth of these tiles this year.
The tiles sold at Costco warehouse stores incorporate Foss’ proprietary Fosshield antimicrobial technology to keep carpeting in mold- or mildew-prone areas—like a basement or garage—from attracting bacteria growth.
Beyond these two blockbuster areas, other markets for Foss, like technical products or craft felt products, have been more or less flat, Mr. Rowell said, a situation he is fine with given the state of the economy.
In fact, Foss, amidst its success in automotives and carpeting, has made some efforts to reduce its expenses without curtailing services to its customers. These include closing some of its U.S. warehouses and instead using bonded warehouses and a general streamlining of many of its logistical operations.
For instance, Foss recently forged an alliance with Lock Fast, an Australian distribution company that was once one of its main competitors in the exhibiting and display market. Lock Fast is now Foss’ sales agent for its display business Down Under. “We are forming alliances with people we used to butt heads with,” Mr. Rowell said.
As it waits for its next line to come onstream, Foss will continue to keep its eye on the market, educating itself on the needs of its customers and technologies. “We are staring to understand the market more and more,” Mr. Rowell said. “We are making sure we are comfortable with what we are doing.”