Concept Industries, Inc.
4950 Kraft Ave SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49512
Headquartered in Grand Rapids, MI, Concept Industries began operations in 1984 as a supplier of returnable packaging systems. In 1998 the company entered the nonwovens arena when it purchased the nonwovens division of Johnson Controls.
“Our initial product offerings were 100% synthetic, vertically lapped mats for use in automotive headliners,” says David Ellis, vice president and COO. “Since that time we have added cross-lapped needle punch technology as well as diversifying into natural fibers including jute, kenaf, cotton, and wool, as well as multiple types of synthetic fibers.”
Concept’s facilities are contained on one campus serving the North American market. The company’s vertically lapped nonwoven provides high compression resistance without high mass. In addition, by carefully selecting the fiber types and sizes in the blend, superior acoustical performance can be achieved. In addition, cross lapped and needle punched mats utilizing kenaf and polypropylene fibers offer improved strength and lighter weight than injection-molded plastics.
Ellis says the company continues to find additional ways to add value to its product offerings through additional processes. “We have flatbed lamination capability to produce multi-layer composites while multiple oven and press lines allow for 3D molding of fiber-based substrates,” he says. “Waterjet, CNC Router and die trimming capabilities for finished shapes are also available.”
Concept was initially a tier 2 automotive supplier. Beginning with Chrysler in 2006, Concept became a tier 1 supplier. Concept now supplies Chrysler, GM and Toyota as a tier 1 supplier. In addition, the company still maintains tier 2 supply relationships with multiple customers, according to Ellis.
For its excellence on the automotive front, Concept was awarded Toyota’s 2011 Global Technology and Development Award for its work on the Lexus RX350 rear load floor. More recently, Concept was awarded the 2013 General Motors Supplier Quality Excellence Award.
In addition to automotive applications—automotive NVH (sound) and automotive molded fiber products—Concept Industries offers nonwovens for office furniture substrates. Together with HON Office Furniture, Concept developed Nature Core, an industry first flame retardant natural fiberboard for panel systems.
Moving forward Ellis says Concept is pursuing an aggressive growth strategy and plans for the addition of capacity during the next 2 years.
“Continued growth in the vertically lapped and cross-lapped materials we supply is our focus,” he says. “Concept intends to be the market leader in developing and producing engineered nonwoven composites to meet our customer’s needs.”
In terms of challenges, it is raw material supply base consolidation placing upward pressure on material prices that is causing the biggest problems says Ellis.
Addressing trends for the future, Ellis says, “Increasing demand for green and recycled raw materials in nonwoven materials will gain momentum. Also, natural fiber materials as molded structural components will experience growth as will lightweight materials and composites.”