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Andrew Industries


Location: Manchester, U.K.

Sales: $72 MILLION

Description: Plants
South Carolina, Missouri, U.K., China (under construction)

Processes
Needlepunch, thermal bonded

Brand Names
Southern Felt, Slater Felt, Bondex, Andrews, Webron Marling

Major Markets
Filtration


New to this year’s report is Andrews Industries, a Manchester, U.K.-based company that is parent to Southern Felt, Slater Felt and Bondex in the U.S. and Andrew Textile Industries and Webron Marling Ltd in the U.K. Additionally, the company is currently constructing a facility near Shanghai, which will be known as China Felt when it comes online early next year. The decision to enter China comes after the region has seen signficant growth in Andrews’ core market area—filtration.
 
Nonwovens sales in 2003 were $72 million and are expected to reach $78 million this year. The bulk of this growth will occur in the filtration media market where the company tailor makes products to meet individual customer needs.
 
Also influencing the company is consolidation and acquisition, driven by market trends. Last year, one of the company’s U.K. subsidiaries, Webron, purchased another needlepunch producer, Marling, to form the Webron Marling division. Likewise, in early 2004, the company’s Canadian subsidiary, Northern Felt, was closed. Its production was transferred to U.S. facilities.
 
By technology all of the subsidiaries produce strictly needlepunched nonwovens except Bondex, which manufactures thermal bonded materials, also for filtration. This division was created as greenfield division eight years ago to diversify Andrews’ offerings to filtration customers."
Location: Manchester, U.K.

Sales: $89 million

Description: ´╗┐Plants
South Carolina, Missouri, China, U.K.

Processes
Needlepunch, thermal bonded

Brand names
Southern Felt, Slater Felt, Bondex, Andres, Webron Marling

Major Markets
Filtration


Manchester, U.K.-based Andrew Industries was able to increase its sales from $72 million to $89 million last year, thanks to acquisitions as well as higher priced raw materials for filtration media, the company’s largest end use market. The company is parent to Southern Felt, Slater Felt and Bondex in the U.S., Andrew Textile Industries and Webron Marling in the U.K. and most recently China Felt in Shanghai.
 
The bulk of Andrew’s nonwovens ouput centers around needlepunched nonwovens for the filtration media market—only Bondex, also a producer of thermal bonded nonwovens, boasts a diversified product base. So far, growth has come from the company’s pioneering efforts in manufacturing needlepunched nonwovens for industrial applications throughout the world. Up next will be a new state-of-the-art filtration felt line, planned for an undisclosed North American facility.
 
This expansion 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.
 
Other recent growth efforts include the acquisition of needlefelt maker Marling in the U.K., which formed Webron Marling. While executives would not comment on future growth initiatives they did admit that a focus on the markets served and maintaining the best technology possible with be cornerstones to its success in the future."
Location: Manchester, U.K.

Sales: $110 million

Description: Plants
South Carolina, Missouri, China, U.K.

Processes
Needlepunch, thermal bonded and chemical finishes

Brand names
Fiberlox, Microfelt, Checkstatic and Pleatlox   

Major Markets
Filtration, business machine parts and laundry products

The Andrew Group’s total roll goods sales increased from $96 million to $110 million in 2006 as the company increased its marketshare and participated in new filtration projects around the world.  Executives expect this growth to continue as more of its needlepunched nonwovens target filtration media for the power industry and as its sister company BMP (Building Manu­facturing Partnerships) moves into new markets for needle­punched nonwovens.
 
“We feel the main reason we have been so successful in the filtration market is our concentration and devotion to supplying our long-term customers with the best quality and  service available in today’s market,” said Danny Grover, president of subsidiary Southern Felt. We have built this reputation over many years and with our recent expansions and capital investment in state-of-the-art filtration equipment, we will continue this devotion and commitment to the market for years to come.”
 
Andrew Industries, through its subsidiaries in the U.S., China and the U.K., specializes in needlepunch felt largely targeted at the baghouse filter market. Andrew was founded 113 years ago and its U.S. subsidiary, Southern Felt, was established in 1987. Three years ago the company expanded into Asia with the establishment of Andrew Industrial Textile Manufacturing Company (Shanghai) Ltd., its felt manufacturing facility in Shanghai, China.
 
A big portion of the company’s nonwovens output comprises special needlepunch felts converted to filter bags used for various filtration applications around the world. In response to growth in this market, Southern Felt recently completed a $6 million capital improvement project, which added both square footage to its South Carolina headquarters and 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 is Southern Felt’s seventh, adding an additional 375,000 linear yards of needlepunched felt for the filtration market monthly, and Mr. Grover said that additional capital investment plans would be announced in 2008.
 
In addition to Southern Felt, Andrew Industries also operates a U.K. subsidiary, Andrew Webron Industries, which was formed last year through the consolidation of two divisions—Andrew Textile Industries and Webron Marling. These two needlepunch producers operate as one corporate entity but continue to maintain separate manufacturing sites in the greater Manchester area.
 
Also included in the company is Slater Felt, the Missouri-based operation purchased from Tex Tech Industries five years ago, this operation recently benefited from the addition of a new heatsetting calender. This new line allows Slater Felt to process with better uniform heat transfer and produce wider widths to ultimately make higher quality felt, according to Mr. Grover.
 
Three years ago, Andrew expanded into China to chase baghouse filter applications in this region’s growing power plant market, as well as other filtration applications in this part of the world. The original high speed needlefelt line located at Quinpu, Shanghai is already running around the clock at full capacity and a second line is set to be installed in early 2008. Executives attribute this success to increased demand for bag house filters in China, driven by a surge for various filtration applications in the region.
 
To meet the varied needs of its customers, Andrew manufactures needlepunch nonwovens from a range of synthetic fibers including polyester, polypropylene, PPS, P84, nylon, PTFE, acrylic 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 and, while filtration is the 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 its  subsidiary Bondex Inc., which is the only Andrew subsidiary diversified beyond needlepunched nonwovens with specialized thermal bonding capabilities"
Location: MANCHESTER, U.K.


Sales: $130 Million


Description: Plants
South Carolina, China, U.K.

Processes
Needlepunch, thermal bonded and chemical finishes

Brand Names
Fiberlox, Microfelt, Checkstatic and Pleatlox

Major Markets
Filtration, Technical Felts and Laundry products

After reporting a record year in fiscal 2008, Andrew Industries, a maker of needlepunched nonwovens for filtration media, said its sales declined slightly to $130 million for the year ended March 2009, in large part due to the global economic downturn during the second half of the year.

How much the economic downturn impacted its business varies by region, said Danny Grover, president of Southern Felt, Andrew’s U.S. subsidiary. “Our global nonwovens division has experienced a 15% downturn in North America, a 12% downturn in Europe and a 20% upturn in the Asia-Pacific. Overall, year-on-year the division’s sales and earnings have remained much the same.”

Andrew Industries Group, through its subsidiaries in the U.S., China and the U.K., specializes in needlepunched felts largely targeted at the baghouse filter market.  Founded 114 years ago, the company established its U.S. subsidiary, Southern Felt in 1988. Five years ago, it expanded into Asia with the establishment of Andrew Industrial Textile Manufacturing Company in Shanghai, China.

According to Mr. Grover, demand for products in China and the Asia-Pacific region continues to grow overall at 20% with exceptional growth coming from power generation, steel, aluminum, cement and asphalt. Andrew added a second filter felt
production line in China in March this year and plans to install a third line within the next three years.

“This second line, made in Germany, is the most modern filter felt production line anywhere in the world at this time,” Mr. Grover explained.

Despite this growth, earnings were hurt by the global shortage of meta aramid fibers as new Chinese entrants to the meta aramid fiber market destabilized the filter felt marketplace.

Meanwhile, Southern Felt’s $6 million investment in a new German high temperature chemical treatment and thermal stabilization line in South Carolina proved to be well-timed as demand for PPS felts in the power generating sector increased. The expansion added 375,000 linear yards of needlepunch felts for the filtration market monthly.

Another major investment—this time in Europe—in a line that makes felts from PTFE fiber is also planned for the near term. This is led by growing demand for products in the incineration center. Decreasing PTFE pricing has made these fibers more economically viable in segments requiring high temperature and chemically resistant performance.

In terms of regional growth, now that Andrew has conquered China, the next step will be expansion in India with a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. Unlike, China where the company makes filter bag materials, the India site will be run similarly to the Southern Felt operation which manufactures filter felt in roll goods to support the filter bag fabricating industry.

In December 2008, Andrew sold its Canadian filter bag fabricating subsidiary, Filterfab, to the National Filter Media Corporation of Salt Lake City, UT, because as NAFTA developed, Filterfab increasingly came into competition with Southern Felt Company’s filter bag fabricating customers in NAFTA and this conflict of interest needed to be eliminated.

In recent years, other divestments have included the closure of Eastern Felt and Northern Felt in Rhode Island and Canada, respectively, and the consolidation of Slater Felt in Missouri into its South Carolina operation.  Andrew also consolidated its two U.K. business units into one operation.

According to Mr. Grover, the company’s size is fine as it is. “For the time being we have more manufacturing capacity than demand for our products, but one benefit of this temporary situation is that our manufacturing efficiencies are improved which helps maintain margins,” he said, adding that he is confident that Andrew will easily weather the economic downturn.

“Our nonwovens division is very focused on the filtration sector and the three economic regions of North America, Europe and Asia Pacific in which we operate give us a good model to ensure that we come out of this global economic downturn
in good shape and ready to respond to an upturn.”

Location: Manchester, U.K.

Sales: $130 million

Description: Key Personnel
John Lewis, president, Southern Felt;  Mike Konesky, vice president, Southern Felt

Plants
South Carolina, China, U.K.

Processes
Needlepunch, thermal bonded, chemical finishes

Brand Names
Fiberlox, Microfelt, Checkstatic, Pleatlox

Major Markets
Filtration, technical felts, laundry products

Declines in North America and Europe were offset by gains in Asia during 2009 at bag filter specialist Andrew Industries Group. The Manchester, U.K.-based company, with subsidiaries in the U.S. and China, reported sales were flat at $130 million last year while earnings also remained level, thanks to overhead cost reductions.
“We were successful during the recession and remain successful due to becoming leaner in manufacturing, reducing inventories and aggressively holding onto marketshare,” said John Lewis, president of Southern Felt, Andrew’s U.S. subsidiary. “Andrew Industries has also developed new products and opened up new markets.”
Andrew specializes in needlepunch felts largely targeted at the baghouse filter market. Founded 115 years ago, the company established Southern Felt, based in North Augusta, SC, in 1988 and expanded into Asia earlier this decade with the establishment of Andrew Industrial Textile Manufacturing Company in Shanghai, China.
Last year, Andrew added a second needlepunch line to its Chinese subsidiary, adding about 5.5 million square meters to the operation. According to Mr. Lewis this new investment is responding to 15-20% growth currently being seen in China.
Also on Andrew’s radar are South Africa, South America and India, where it will break ground on a new distribution center in Chennai later this year. This facility will begin as a distribution center for all Andrew Group products and will also manufacture some BMP products. Down the road, this facility could also manufacture felts for filtration and laundry applications.
Back in its existing facilities, Andrew’s latest state-of-the-art needlepunch line, added last year, is operating around the clock, enabling the company to grow its topline and improve its delivery times to the market. Next up on that facility’s investment plan will be a 75,000-square-foot addition, which will house a new needlepunch line starting in 2011.
Southern Felt also installed a new high temperature chemical treatment line in 2009.
Meanwhile, in the U.K.,Andrew Webron Ltd. continues to add capacity for its PTFE felt product line, which is seeing increased demand as lower raw material prices are boosting attractiveness in filtration markets requiring high temperature and chemical resistance performance.
With most of its nonwovens output clearly centered on needlepunch, Andrew’s next step will be exploration and investment in complementary technologies including spunbond, meltblown and hydroentangling. Other goals include distribution of products made in Asia into Europe and North America and increased focus on research and development.
“Our investment in research and development will be increased to broaden our product range especially where our existing products are under threat to alternative products which we do not manufacture at this time but are likely to become the products for the future,” Mr. Lewis concluded.


Manchester, U.K.
www.andrewindustries.com
2011 Nonwovens Sales: $150 million

Key Personnel: John Lewis, president, Southern Felt; Mike Konesky, vice president, Sales & Marketing, Southern Felt

Plants: South Carolina, China, U.K., India

Processes: Needlepunch, thermal bond, chemical finishes

Brands: Fiberlox, Microfelt, Checkstatic, Powertech, Powerlox, Pleatlox

Major Markets: Filtration, technical felts, laundry products

Global economic conditions were blamed for stagnant sales at U.K.-based filtration media maker Andrew Industries last year. Despite modest growth in new products around the company, sales were reported flat at $150 million.

“The baghouse market remains highly competitive and some areas have rebounded nicely since the recession of 2008,” says John Lewis, president of Southern Felt, Andrew’s U.S. arm. “The asphalt market remains slower than normal due to the lack of spending on highway infrastructure. Other high temperature markets such as PPS will become more active as utility companies upgrade facilities to meet new air standards put fort by the EPA.”

In the U.S., Southern Felt has operations in North Augusta, SC, while in China, Andrew operates as China Felt and has recently acquired a business in Wuxi. Andrew’s U.K. operations are known as Andrew Webron. Nearly all of its business targets the baghouse filtration market, however, in 2011 the company diversified its business through the acquisition of Ahlstrom’s dust and automotive filtration business in Bethune, SC, and Wuxi, China. According to Lewis, the acquisition has also given Andrew a strong foothold in the liquid filtration market, specifically automotive transmission filter media.

Meanwhile, in its core needlepunch business, Andrew is adding a state-of-the-art needlepunch line at its Southern Felt site in North Augusta. This $5.5 million investment is part of a continued effort to add capacity as well as invest in the latest equipment innovations. Also in North Augusta, Andrew’s Bondex business has broken ground and will expand its facility to include a coating and laminating line for electrical insulation and specialist packaging products that complement its thermal bonded products. Meanwhile, in the U.K., Andrew Webron invested in ePTFE laminating equipment last fall, giving it the ability to offer high quality ePTFE membrane laminated felts and fabrics in Europe.

In China, Andrew continues to operate two manufacturing plants: China Felt, which it established in Qingpu seven years ago; and Andrew Wuxi, which was purchased from Ahlstrom. Since buying the Wuxi site in March 2011, Andrew has invested heavily in the site where improvements include a state-of-the-art needlepunch line specifically for PTFE filter media. “This was a very significant investment that enables us to be the leader in the fast growing PTFE filter media market in China,” Lewis says. “We have also diversified into the liquid filtration market in Wuxi where we made felts for automotive transmissions.”

While the Chinese market has cooled significantly, Andrew still expects to see growth of 5-8% annually (compared to 10-15% previously).

Beyond China, the next spot on Andrew’s radar is India, where it intends to open a converting operation. This facility will produce filter bags, made from both felt and fiberglass, for the growing India market, which is strategically important to Andrew due to demand for high quality filter bags as well as huge market growth potential.

In terms of technology, Andrew has been seeking ways to diversify its business and plans are now underway to expand into hydroentangling. The company’s first 3-meter-wide hydroentangling line will likely come on-stream in mid-2014, allowing Andrew to bring innovative filtration products to the global market. “We will certainly focus on niche markets where we can excel and our filtration expertise can be fully utilized,” Lewis adds.
Manchester, U.K.
www.andrewindustries.com
2012 Nonwovens Sales: $150 million
 
Key Personnel: John Lewis, president, Southern Felt; Mike Konesky, vice president, sales and marketing, Southern Felt
 
Plants: South Carolina, U.K., China, India
 
Processes: Needlepunch, thermal bond, chemical finishes
 
Major Markets: Filtration, technical felts, laundry products
 
Sales remained flat for Andrew Industries as falling raw material prices have lowered prices even as volumes have increased. At the same time, earnings met expectations but executives say it is becoming increasingly important to purchase wisely, lower manufacturing expenses and reduce waste.
 
“We are facing more and more competition from cheap imports that threaten our market and we must be diligent controlling costs,” says John Lewis, president of Andrew’s Southern Felt division.
 
Andrew’s core market, the industrial air filtration market strengthened in 2012 compared to the prior two to three years as improvements in the domestic housing market drove demand for bag filters in the cement and asphalt industry, Lewis says. Additionally, strong demand for automobiles has given life to the steel and aluminum industries, driving demand for filtration.
 
According to Lewis, filtration continues to be important to his company.
 
“Southern Felt actively participates in other markets but we are focusing resources on new markets such as fi re blocking and protective apparel,” he says. “We feel these markets offer the opportunity for niche products that we are capable of designing and manufacturing. Our core is filtration and will remain so while we diversify into other nonwoven fabrics for technical applications.”
 
Andrew’s U.S. division, Southern Felt, based in North Augusta, SC, commissioned a needlepunch line in September 2012, giving the division the ability to produce a full range of technical filtration needlefelts as well as other industrial felts. The new line has added six million square yards of capacity annually.
 
In other investment news, Southern Felt is actively pursuing specialized finished equipment needed for its Pleatloxx product line. This equipment will allow the company to penetrate the pleatable cartridge market with niche products.
 
Meanwhile, Bondex, Andrew’s thermal bond business, has added new laminating and coating capabilities, giving the division better exposure in the electrical insulation market.
 
Looking eastward, China continues to be a rapidly growing market but also a competitive one. For success, Andrew, which is known in China as China Felt, has differentiated itself through innovative products, high quality felts and excellent customer service.
 
“Our high technical and commercial integrity also separates us from some of our domestic competitors and is required by multinational and large OEM and end user customers in China,” Lewis says. “Yes, there is still growth potential in China as tighter environmental standards are put in action, thus creating more demand for industrial filter felts. We project growth being 5-6% annually for the next few years.”
 
In India, Andrew India, where the company began a converting operation in 2012, is now operational, producing a full range of filter bags from both needlepunch felts and woven fiberglass. Lamination equipment has also been commissioned giving Andrew India the capability to offer ePTFE laminated felts, wovens, and spunbonds.
 
“There are tremendous growth opportunities in India due to massive growth in infrastructure throughout the country,” Lewis says. “This internal growth, along with tighter emission standards, demand a high quality, reputable filter bag producer such as Andrew.”
 
In the next two to three years, Andrew intends to add needlepunch manufacturing equipment in India but until then the site will be supplied by the Chinese operation.
 
Meanwhile, in China, Andrew expects its new spunlace line at its Wuxi facility to be operational in early 2014 when it will enable the company to offer new innovative high efficiency media.
Manchester, UK
www.andrewindustries.com
2013 Nonwovens Sales: $127 million  

Key Personnel
John Lewis, president, Southern Felt; Mike Konesky, vice president, sales and marketing, Southern Felt  

Plants
South Carolina, U.S., UK, China, India  

Processes
Needlepunch, thermal bond, chemical finishes  

Major Markets
Filtration, technical felts, laundry products  

This will be the last time Andrew Industries appears in Nonwoven Industry’s Top Companies Report. In February 2014, the company was sold to Lydall, a Manchester, CT-based nonwovens producer, in a deal valued at $83 million. At the time of this purchase, Andrew reported its 2013 sales at $127 million.

For now, Lydall is keeping Andrew in tact, creating a third division, known as the industrial filtration division, to its business. Executives say the acquisition strengthens its position as an industry-leading global provider of filtration and engineered material products and diversifies the company’s end markets and geographic revenue base.

Prior to the acquisition Andrew was a leading global manufacturer and supplier of nonwoven filtration felt media and filter bags for industrial air filtration applications. In the U.S., these products were sold under brands Southern Felt while in Europe they are known as Andrew Webron and in Asia as China Felt Company.

The acquired business consists of operations in the U.S., the UK and China along with approximately 500 employees.

“The acquisition of Andrew Filtration expands our global footprint, adds complementary and new technologies as well as substantial scale that provides a platform for long-term growth and better positions us to deliver meaningful shareholder value,” says Lydall CEO Dale Barnhart.

Andrew’s core market, the industrial air filtration market has been strong compared to prior years as improvements in the domestic housing market drove demand for bag filters in the cement and asphalt industry. Additionally, strong demand for automobiles has given life to the steel and aluminum industries, driving demand for filtration.  

Recent investments at the company include a new needlepunch line in September 2012. This new line gave the U.S. division—known as Southern Felt and based in Augusta, GA—the ability to produce a full range of technical filtration needlefelts as well as industrial felts. The new line has added six million square yards annually.

Meanwhile, Bondex, Andrew’s thermal bond business, has added new laminating and coating capabilities, giving the division better exposure in the electrical insulation market.  

Looking eastward, Andrew’s Chinese arm was known as as China Felt, which comprises two manufacturing sites. Its first, located in Qingpu, was established nine years ago and enlarged with a second needlepunch line in 2011; the second site, in Wuxi, was acquired from Ahlstrom in 2011 and soon after upgraded with a state-of-the-art needlepunch line specifically for PTFE filter media.

Throughout Asia, the company has differentiated itself through innovative products, high quality felts and excellent customer service. Growth has also come from tighter environmental standards, which have created demand for filter felts.

Elsewhere in Asia, Andrew India, a converting operation begun in 2012, is now operational, producing a full range of filter bags from both needlepunch felts and woven fiberglass. Lamination equipment has also been commissioned giving Andrew India the capability to offer ePTFE laminated felts, wovens and spunbonds. Before being acquired, the company had announced a long-range plan to add a needlepunch manufacturing line there.