2012 Nonwovens Sales: $155 million
Plants: Green Bay, WI (two facilities)
Processes: Airlaid, carded
Brands: Airtex, Dritex
Major Markets: Baby wipes, industrial and food service wipes, feminine hygiene, absorbent cores, tabletop, medical, moist toilet tissue, meat packaging
After spending 2012 in divestment mode, Georgia-Pacific (GP) is poised to make a pretty significant investment later this year. In April, the company said it would acquire fellow player in the airlaid and pulp segments Buckeye Technologies. In August, the acquisition was approved as a merger by Buckeye shareholders, who will receive $37.50 per share under the terms of the agreement.
“Buckeye Technologies’ competitive assets and capabilities strongly complement Georgia-Pacific’s existing cellulose business and products. The talented employees, innovation capabilities, advanced technologies, and specialty fibers and nonwovens businesses of Buckeye Technologies will provide a significant platform for continued growth and success,” says Jim Hannan, CEO and president, Georgia-Pacific.
On the nonwovens front, Buckeye will add manufacturing capabilities in North Carolina and Germany to G-P’s existing business. Buckeye’s total nonwovens sales were $228 million in 2012.
A maker of airlaid nonwovens for external and internal usage, GP sold its Italian tissue and airlaid buisnesses in January 2012 to the Lucart Group and finalized the sale of its European tissue business to SCA in 2012. Still, GP, which has been owned by Koch Industries since late 2005, continues to operate a sizable business in North America.
While it is certainly best known for its paper and tissue businesses in both the retail and away-from-home sectors, the Atlanta, GA-based company also is one of the world’s most successful users of airlaid technology. Its output targets both its own end product business as well as external businesses in the baby wipes, industrial and food service wipes, feminine hygiene, absorbent core, tabletop, medical, moist toilet tissue and meat packaging segments.
Meanwhile, GP’s nonwovens business, which centers on airlaid technology, has continued to perform well by improving its production and reducing costs despite challenging raw material prices. The company benefi ted from existing contracts, put in place before raw material prices escalated, which kept their impact in check.
Additionally, GP has been successful in unearthing new market segments for its airlaid technology that had been using other materials. These markets were typically using technology that was more expensive than airlaid but the company was able to show how pulp can perform just as well at a lower cost, according to executives. Successful efforts included reduction in emissions, improved wastewater treatment systems and improved energy efficiency.