Company Cameo

Automotive Strength

November 15, 2011

A modern manufacturer of technical nonwovens made from staple fibers, J.H. Ziegler, based in Achern, Germany, diversified its textile business – which had been in operation since 1864 – into nonwovens in 1990 with thermal bonded and needlepunch nonwovens capabilities.

J.H. Ziegler
Fabrikstrasse 2
Achern, Germany 77855

Ten years later, the company decided to rebuild a wadding line to manufacture technical nonwovens, and in 2006 it once again enlarged the Achern site and embarked on its first foreign nonwovens investment, establishinga site in Bablona, Hungary. Earlier this year, the Bablona site got a second line to make its capacity comparable to the Achern headquarters, thus helping the company go after the growing automotives markets of Central and Eastern Europe.

Along the way, Ziegler has invested in converting operations including diecutting and CAD cutting equipment and incorporated laminating into its nonwovens operations. The company diversified into natural fibers through the 2010 acquisition of Quadrant Natural Fiber Composites, a Lambrech, Germany-based nonwovens maker. The acquisition of Quadrant helped broaden synthetic-focused Ziegler’s product portfolio with the creation of J.H. Ziegler Natural Nonwovens. Production and development of natural fiber products has continued at the Lambrecht factory.

“We offer not only roll goods, but want to supply our customer a solution to a problem,” explains Peter Hartwig, managing director. “Therefore, we offer converted materials such as laminated nonwovens, self adhesive products, diecut nonwovens, small rolls – whatever he requires for his business. Our strategy is to remain strong in automotive and other industrial applications.”

Ziegler’s core market is automotives, where it supplies seat padding materials, acoustical nonwovens and a number of other products. But other applications span many durable markets including furniture, plastics, thermal and acoustic insulation and many others. “We consider ourselves as a specialist for resilience and preferably make materials that have some loft. We combine nonwovens with our materials and do some converting.”

The company’s latest investment – at its Hungarian location – now allows it to supply a full range of products from all of its locations. Hungary was chosen as its Eastern European operation because of the potential in the Eastern European market as well as the availability of vacant land there.
Currently, about 45% of Ziegler’s sales in are in Germany while 35% are in Eastern Europe. Sales to Western Europe, outside of Germany, comprise 15% of sales and Asia, Africa and North America represent 10%. “We consider ourselves a company that concentrates on the European market but evaluates opportunities overseas very carefully. Due to the fact hat many of our products are voluminous and therefore relatively expensive to transport, we are currently supplying only real specialties overseas.”

In 2010, total sales were in the €30 million range, up from €21 million the year before and €11 million in 2003. While investment will certainly continue at the company, Hartwig would not be specific. However, he would say that a great deal of vacant land exists adjacent to the Hungary site and the company is also looking at opportunities in other locations.

“Our mission is ‘customized solutions in nonwovens and beyond’,” says Hartwig. “This means we are not in bulk business and we consider other products not as competition, but try to make products which combine properties from both materials.”