2011 Nonwovens Sales: $100 million
Key Personnel: J.C. Tai, chairman and owner; Vicki Tai, president; George Wang, general manager, China operations; Alvin Hu, technical vice president; Kevin Chen, assistant vice president of business development
Plants: Taipei, Taiwan, Shanghai and Chengdu, China
Processes: Air-through bonding, thermal bonding, meltblown, airlaid, needlepunch, spunlace
Brands: Carnation brand for hygiene; Co-Fiber for industrial specialty products
Major Markets: Hygiene, industrial, agriculture, geotextiles
Sales continue to rise for KNH Enterprises. The Taiwan-based maker of nonwovens and converted products for the hygiene market credits growth to the ramping up of a third spunlace line as well as investment in Western China. In 2011, nonwovens sales reached $100 million, up from $90 million the year before.
“A lot of the growth is because of our new spunlace line and we have gotten some new customers,” says Kevin Chen, assistant vice president of business development. “North America is also becoming a big market for us.”
Within the spunlace business, the majority of KNH’s sales revolve around wipes and medical applications but the company is making efforts into new areas like feminine hygiene. Entry into this market, while difficult, is being helped by the advancements line number three can offer. These include patterning, which can make the spunlace, resemble a fabric more closely, as well as the addition of pulp, lessening KNH’s dependence on the volatile rayon market.
While KNH is holding off on adding any additional spunlace capacity, it has been working on broadening its global footprint through a new facility in Western China, which could be followed by a facility in the middle region of China. The initial focus on these expansions will be carding technologies, which will allow KNH greater expansion in China.
Beyond disposables, filtration is emerging as an important market for KNH where facial masks, water treatment facilities and semiconductor applications are emerging as important areas.
“The challenge with filtration is it can be a problem to penetrate the big markets so we must really keep looking at a new product,” Chen says.
As it continues to focus on new markets like filtration, medical or home care, KNH has the advantage of being a truly global company with roots in Asia. This will allow the company to capitalize on growth in Asia as an experienced local producer, a strategy that will not be without its challenges.
“There are definitely a lot of new players—more competition—but we have our niche as a provider of nonwovens but also a converter of end products,” Chen says. “We are not just selling nonwovens, we are offering proven solutions with our expertise.”