2005 Sales: $96 million
PlantsSouth Carolina, Missouri, China, U.K.
ProcessesNeedlepunch, thermal bonded
Brand namesSouthern Felt, Slater Felt, Bondex, Andres, Webron Marling
Manchester, U.K.-based Andrew Industries was able to increase its sales from $89 million to $96 million last year, thanks to growth across all of its subsidiaries. Much of the company’s roll goods sales were conducted in the filtration market last year. The company, through its subsidiaries in the U.S., China and the U.K., specializes in needlepunch felt for the baghouse filter markets. Andrew was founded 112 years ago and its U.S. subsidiary, Southern Felt was established in 1987. Two years ago the company expanded into Asia with the establishment of Andrew Industrial Textile Manufacturing Company (Shanghai) Ltd, their felt manufacturing facility in Shanghai, China.
Southern Felt’s growth can be directly attributed to special needlepunch felts converted to filter bags used for new power plants around the world, according to company president Danny Grover. “Southern Felt has emerged as the leader in the industry to supply these specialized felts because of capital dollars spent over recent years installing the very latest state-of-the-art equipment enabling SFC to produce to the quality standards required to meet the OEM specifications and government regulations,” he said. “There is no comparison to the standard of quality required today versus only five years ago.”
Southern Felt has recently begun a $6 million capital improvement project which will add square footage to its South Carolina headquarters as well as a new high speed felt line equipped with special technology to produce high temperature filtration media, particularly the type of needled felts that are going to be needed for the surge of new Power Plants and other high temperature applications for filtration. The new line will be Southern Felt’s seventh, adding an additional 320,000 square yards of needlepunched felt for the filtration market monthly. Mr. Grover said the new capacity is expected to keep Southern Felt competitive in the North American and global filtration markets for several years.
In addition to Southern Felt, Andrew Industries also operates in the U.K. Andrew Textile Industries and Webron Marling, which are currently being consolidated into one company to be known as Andrew Webron Industries. Slater Felt, the Missouri-based operation purchased from Tex Tech Industries five years ago, and the Chinese felt operation, which was established in Shanghai two years ago. Additionally, the Southern Felt division contains the former activities of Northern Felt and Eastern Felt, the company’s Canadian and Rhode Island divisions, which have been consolidated into Southern Felt.
“As new power plants are being built to respond to power shortages throughout the world, we are seeing a great demand for high temperature filtration products,” Mr. Grover said. Either chemicals in the gas stream or the temperature generally determines which type of fiber and felt is used.”
To meet these varied needs, Andrew manufactures needlepunch nonwovens from a range of synthetic fibers including polyester, polypropylene, PPS, P84, Nylon, PTFE and Aramid. Unlike other filtration suppliers who choose to play in a variety of application areas, Andrew Industries has been successful by keeping its focus strong and narrow. This focus, along with its abilities to make highly sophisticated needlepunched felts, has made Andrew Industries a leader in this chosen field. “We are niche-oriented. That’s why we are under the radar compared to some of the larger companies,” Mr. Grover said. “We are in a niche market. It’s large for us but it’s a niche compared to others.”
And, while filtration is its strongest focus, representing the bulk of its business, Andrew Industries also supplies felts for industrial laundry applications as well as the business machine market with felts. Additionally Andrew Industries supplies thermally bonded webs to the business machine industry and other niche markets from their subsidiary Bondex Inc, which is the only Andrew subsidiary diversified beyond needlepunched nonwovens with some thermal bonding capabilities.
So far, growth has come from the company’s pioneering efforts in manufacturing needlepunched nonwovens for industrial applications throughout the world. Expansion
rn in North America follows growth efforts, initiated last year, in Shanghai, China. This operation, known as China Felt, responded to significant growth in the Chinese filtration market. According to executives, the facility is now in the initial process qualification start-up phase and will produce products for business machine products, mechanics and filtration media.