Nonwovens Industry
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Bonar


(formerly Colbond)
Location: The Netherlands

Sales: $223 million

Description: Key Personnel
Jan van Boldrik, president; Franz Junkermann, vice president marketing and sales; Axel Poscher, manager geosynthetics

Plants
Emmen and Arnhem, The Netherlands; Obernburg, Germany; Asheville, NC

ISO Status
All plants ISO 9001 certified; U.S. Plant QS 9000 certified; European plants QS 9000 in preparation; Obernburg plant ISO 14001 certified; remaining European plants ISO 14001 in preparation

Processes
Chemical bonded, thermal bonded and specialties

Brand Names
Nonwovens—Colback, Coltron, Geosynthetics  Enkamat, Enka­drain, Colbonddrain, Enkagrid, Armater

Major Markets
Flooring, automotives, construction (including roofing), civil and environmental engineering

Colbond Inc.
Sand Hill Road; P.O. Box 1057
Enka, NC 28728
Telephone: 828-665-5000; Fax: 828-665-5065

Key Personnel
Rick Roberson, executive vice president; Rob Noppen, director of marketing and sales industrial nonwovens; Don Brown, director of sales flooring industry, Joe Luna, director of marketing and sales geosynthetics

Plant
Asheville, NC

Processes
Thermal bonded and specialties

Like many of this year’s top companies, Colbond’s performance was, to some degree, affected by adverse market conditions  and the soft global economy. Economic uncertainty ended the company’s tradition of 10% annual growth, but Colbond was still able to end the year on the plus side, according to company president Jan van Boldrik. “This was achieved by continuing the company’s consistent global strategy of focusing on adding value to customer products and activities,” he explained. “The success of our long term strategy also depends on flexibility and the balanced application of short term tactics, allowing for early anticipation and timely adjustments.”
 
With headquarters in Arnhem, The Netherlands and a U.S. subsidiary in Enka, NC, Colbond mainly targets the construction, automotives, flooring and geosynthetics markets. Of the company’s key end use segments, construction was hit particularly hard by the year’s economic problems. Improved sales volumes of Colbond’s Coltron polyester spunlaid product for roofing applications were unable to offset industry price pressures, which were a constant problem affecting the overall bottom line. Also feeling the impact of a recession was the automotives industry, where competition was increased by recent capacity expansions in the market as well as growing volume from Japanese suppliers. On the other hand, in flooring and geosynthetics, particularly in the U.S., Colbond was able to retain its strong position with competitive products.
 
Geosynthetics further benefited from the success of Colbond’s Enkagrid family of engineered, high performance soil reinforcement products that are based on strength. Originally introduced in 1999, the line is comprised of products made from a unique, patented laser-welding technique developed by Colbond. It outperforms thermal and adhesive options and enables proper connection of the strips without losing material properties.
 
Paying further testament to Enkagrid’s success is a company plan to increase the line’s initial capacity—between six and 10 million square meters—by 30% through the construction of a state-of-the-art product line in a yet-to-be-determined location. And capital investment is not the only factor expected to boost Enkagrid. Colbond will also continue to invest heavily in research and development efforts to help Enkagrid garner future success. “Extensive specification work has been done that will result in sales at a later stage,” Mr. van Boldrik explained. “This work will result in Enka­grid finding a range of new application areas that will be realized in due course.”
 
While Enkagrid has been boosting Colbond’s geosynthetics business, the flooring, construction and automotive interior arms of the company have been reaping the fruits of another premium product. The company’s Colback polyester thermal bonded material has found applications in headliners, hood liners, door panels, molded carpets and seating and trunk liners. “The application potential of Colback in each of these markets continuously increases, as a result of the flexibility of the Colback bicomponent technology,” Mr. van Boldrik said. “This proprietary technology provides an excellent balance between the constant factor of the highest quality and the flexibility in product characteristics. This allows us to supply tailor made materials with specifically enhanced properties for specific technical and creative requirements. The applications increasingly include other attractive market niches.”  
 
By region, about half of Colbond’s sales are achieved in Europe, while North American sales represent about 35% of the company’s total business. The remainder of sales are split between the rest of the world. With plants in The Netherlands, Germany and North Carolina, Colbond has no plans to construct manufacturing facilities in other world regions, such as South America and Asia, which have been prime areas for Colbond’s growth. Despite its reluctance to build new facilities, Colbond is not ignoring its existing sites. In fact, the company is currently underway with a capital expansion project in Emmen, The Netherlands. The improvements comprise several subprojects that will be complete in 2005. Included in these subprojects is a 17,000 ton increase to the company’s existing 35,000 ton-per-year capacity as well as  a new Colback spinning line, which came onstream in 2001. The new spinning line has allowed the company to implement new technology, according to Mr. van Boldrik. In its Arnhem site last year Colbond began operating a development and application center, which has allowed the company to develop products in house.
 
“In the past few years, quite a lot has been established,” Mr. van Boldrik said. “Product and process improvement is an integral part of our strategy and as such an ongoing activity.”
 
In the U.S., Colbond bought the Asheville site from BASF, representing an important investment for the company in September 2001. Colbond had operated as partners at the site since 1995 when Colbond began production there. BASF had previously been producing Colback nonwovens at the site since 1989 through a license agreement with Colbond’s former parent Akzo Nobel. In 1999, Colbond doubled the production capacity at the site.
 
The opportunity and potential for growth in the nonwovens and geotextiles markets continues to be encouraging,” Mr. van Boldrik said. “The acquisition of the additional property affords Colbond to meet this challenge.”

In the future, Colbond will continue to focus on product and process improvement and product development based on Colback and Enkagrid technology to continue offering value added products to its customers. For instance, in Colback, currently polyester/polyamide bicomponent filaments are most commonly used for Colback but polyester/copolyester or other combinations could also be used, according to Mr. van Boldrik. “This will further increase the potential for providing added value and tailor-made products and business solutions in increasingly demanding and new application areas,” he explained.
(formerly Colbond)
Location: The Netherlands

Sales: $223 million

Description: Key Personnel
Jan van Boldrik, president; Axel Poscher, manager, geosynthetics

Plants
Emmen and Arnhem, The Netherlands; Obernburg, Germany; Asheville, NC

ISO Status
All plants ISO 9001 certified; U.S. Plant QS 9000 certified; European plants, ISO 9001/2000 certified; European plants QS 9000 in preparation; Obernburg plant, ISO 14001 certified; remaining European plants ISO 14001 in preparation

Processes
Chemical bonded, thermal bonded and specialties

Brand Names
Nonwovens—Colback, Coltron; Geosynthetics: Enkamat, Enkadrain, Colbonddrain, Enkagrid, Armater

Major Markets
Flooring, automotives, construction (including roofing), civil engineering and building and industry

Colbond Inc.
Enka, NC 28728
828-665-5060

Key Personnel
Bart Austin president; Greg Roscoe, director of sales and marketing, nonwovens; Joe Luna, director of sales and marketing, geosynthetics

Plants
Asheville, NC

Processes
Thermal bonded and specialties

Arnhem, The Netherlands-based Colbond’s growth curve, which has hovered in the 10% range in recent years, leveled off in 2002 due to worldwide economic conditions. Despite this negativity, Colbond was able to rely on its global strategy of focusing on value-added customer products and activities to keep its sales flat during the period. “This again proved to be a strong basis to rely on in times of ongoing economic setbacks,” explained company president Jan van Boldrik. “The success of our long-term strategy also depends on flexibility and the balanced application of short-term tactics, allowing for early anticipation and timely adjustments.”
 
With facilities in Emmen and Arnhem, The Netherlands, Obernburg, Germany and Asheville, NC, Colbond’s key markets include construction, automotives, flooring and geosynthetics.
 
In 2002, the construction business reported improved results on the success of its Colback product. Still, the segment was somewhat impacted by pricing pressures of Coltron, Colbond’s spunlaid polyester product for roofing applications.  
 
Also able to report slight growth from 2001-2002 was the automotives business, despite excess capacity increases from U.S.-based and Japanese suppliers, which led to competition particularly in the U.S.
 
The flooring business was characterized by an overall decline in market demand and stagnant building activities. While Colbond was able to hold its position in this market, it did feel the effects of a worldwide setback in flooring markets. In geosynthetics, Colbond was also able to hold its position on the performance of its Enkagrid family of engineered, high performance soil reinforcement products based on strength. Originally announced in 1999, this line is comprised of products made from a unique patented laser-welding technique developed by Colbond. Despite this product line’s success, plans to increase its capacity by 30%, announced in 2001, have been put on hold. The product’s current capacity is between six and 10 million square meters.
 
One plan not on hold is Colbond’s capital expansion project in Emmen. Including several subprojects that will increase the site’s capacity, the plan is on track to be completed by 2005. Already complete is a new Colback spinning line, featuring updated technology, which is reportedly running smoothly.
 
In terms of future investments, Colbond has announced plans to increase its Enkamat production 30% through expansion in both the U.S. and Europe. Enkamat is a line of three-dimensional erosion-control mattings for agricultural applications.
 
While investment is certainly important to Colbond’s business, so is product and process improvement. This is clearly reflected through its development and application center, which was started last year in Arhnem. The center is reportedly playing an important role in developing products in house.
 
“Our proprietary technology provides an excellent balance between the constant factor of the highest quality and the flexibility in product characteristics,” Mr. van Boldrik explained. “This allows for supplying tailor-made materials with specific enhanced properties for specific technical requirements.”
 
One significant technological achievement for Colbond has been its Colback thermal bonded polyester product, which is able to serve higher end markets. In addition to its dominance in construction, where it is primarily used as a specialty carrier in waterproof bituminous roofing membranes for demanding roofing systems, Colback is also used in automotives as backing material for molded car carpets and option mats or as support medium for cabin air filters, and flooring where it is widely used as a primary backing in high-grade (print and tuft construction) patterned broadloom carpeting, carpet tiles and walk-off mats.
 
In fact, Colback is so important to Colbond that much of its research and development efforts center on product and process improvements using the technology. Among these efforts are the use of other polymers, rather than the more common polyester/polyamide, as the key raw material for Colback.
(formerly Colbond)
Location: Arnhem, The Netherlands

Sales: $250 MILLION

Description: Colbond Inc.
Sand Hill Road
P.O. Box 1057
Enka, NC 28728
Telephone: 828-665-5060

Key Personnel
Jan van Boldrik, president; Axel Poscher, vice president marketing and R&D; Bart Austin, president Colbond Inc.; Harry Verbakel, director sales and marketing automotive; Rob Noppen, director sales and marketing construction industry; Joe Luna, director sales and marketing building and industrial applications; Blair Rawes, director sales and marketing civil engineering

Plants
Emmen and Arnhem, The Netherlands; Obernburg, Germany; Asheville, NC

ISO Status
All plants ISO 9001 certified; U.S. Plant QS 9000 certified; European plants ISO 9001/2000 certified; QS 9000 in preparation; Obernburg plant, ISO 14001 certified; remaining European plants ISO 14001 in preparation.

Processes
Chemical bonded, thermal bonded and specialties

Brand Names
Colback, Coltron, Colfors, Enkamat, Enkadrain, Colbonddrain, Enkagrid, Armater

Major Markets
Flooring, automotive, construction, civil engineering and building products and various industrial applications


The big news at Arnhem, The Netherlands-based Colbond is its new-found autonomy. The company was separated from former parent, the Acordis Group, effective January 2004. The spin-off is reportedly in sync with an Acordis plan, announced in 2001, to shift its focus from a central management holding group to a structure of independent businesses.
 
Colbond’s new legal structure allows an autonomous business and financing policy to further strengthen the company’s market position and responsiveness. Because Colbond is no longer a part of a business conglomerate, its policy and strategy are no longer linked to the group and/or the interests of the group but are directly  focused only on Colbond’s business. The result is shorter decision times and greater flexibility.
 
After plateauing for much of 2002 and 2003, Colbond’s business has improved in 2004. For many years, it has pursued a consistent global strategy of focusing on adding value to customer products and activities throughout all of its markets. This global orientation is reflected in the company’s single, global management structure, which has responsibilities across the entire organization.
 
“We focus on safeguarding and expanding our business,” explained president Jan van Boldrik, “by targeted product development, a search for new applications, by optimally utilizing our core competencies and by worldwide coverage and improvement of our efficiency in order to increase our competitiveness.”
 
With facilities in Emmen and Arnhem, The Netherlands, Obernburg, Germany and Asheville, NC, Colbond’s restructuring has led to the definition of five markets which allow the company to focus more clearly on its global business activities. These segments coincide with Colbond’s core markets, including flooring, automotives, construction, building and industrial products and civil engineering.
 
These restructuring efforts, along with recent sales growth, have created a heightened sense of optimism at Colbond. Executives believe additional opportunities can be achieved in the niches of building and construction markets with products including Enka Vent, a three-dimensional Enkamat core bonded to a breathable waterproofing membrane that can be used under any type of metal roof, and Enkasonic, a sound-control matting.
 
Still, challenges remain, and Colbond is dealing with them. Chief among these is the strong Euro, which is affecting many EU-based companies doing business in U.S.-dollar-based markets. Despite this, in 2003, the company generally maintained its position. Colbond did this by initiating major projects in the European civil engineering segment where it explored further differentiation and opportunities in the penetration of adjacent markets with established products including its core technologies.

These include Colback thermal bonded polyester products and Enkamat, a line of three-dimensional erosion-control mattings.
 
During the past few years, the flooring business faced a decline in market demand, mainly caused by stagnant building activities. While Colbond was able to hold its position in this market, it did feel the effects of the worldwide setback. In civil engineering, Colbond was able to hold its position on the performance of its Enkagrid family of engineered, high-performance soil reinforcement products. Originally announced in 1999, this line is comprised of products made from a unique, patented laser-welding technique developed by Colbond.  The company’s current ca­pa­city in this area is be­tween six and 10 million square meters.
 
While investment is certainly im­portant to Col­bond’s business so is product and pro­­cess improvement. This is clearly re­flected through its development and ap­plication center in Arnhem. The center is reportedly playing an im­portant role in developing products in house.
 
“Our proprie­tary technologies provide an excellent balance be­tween the constant factor of the highest quality and the flexibility in product characteristics,” Mr. van Boldrik explained. “This allows for supplying tailor-made materials with specifically enhanced properties for specific technical requirements.”
 
One significant technological achievement for Colbond has been its Colback thermal bonded polyester product. This product primarily serves higher end markets, particularly in flooring where it is widely used as a primary backing in high-grade (print and tuft construction) patterned broadloom carpeting, carpet tiles and walk-off mats. In automotives, Colback finds application as backing material for molded car carpets and option mats or as support medium for cabin air filters.
 
Colbond’s efforts in developing new products, improving technologies and optimizing its commercial and technical service to customers is closely linked with its strategy of taking a stand on environmental issues in its core markets. To achieve this,

Colbond is constantly reviewing its processes and products to ensure minimum impact to the environment and it places an emphasis on energy, emission and waste reduction, the recycling of internal waste streams and raw material reduction through use of non-virgin materials. “Actively exploring the options of increasing sustainable value is one of the key activities of our environmental policy,” said Mr. van Boldrik.
 
Colbond has not strayed from its belief that the nonwovens industry is still relatively young with unlimited growth potential. Company executives said that exploiting this potential to its fullest extent is a matter of providing the right products at the right time at the right price-to-performance ratio. “Customer focus, added value, creativity, high-level service and sustainable product development are not buzz words,” claimed Mr. van Boldrik, “but vehicles for the years to come. Growth will not occur by itself.”
(formerly Colbond)
Location: Arnhem, The Netherlands

Sales: $265 million

Description: Colbond Inc.
Enka, NC

Key Personnel
Jan van Boldrik, CEO; Axel Poscher, vice president; Bart Austin, president Colbond Inc.; Randy Cook, director sales and marketing, flooring; Harry Verbakel, director sales and marketing automotive; Rob Noppen, director sales and marketing, construction industry; Blair Rawes, director sales and marketing, civil engineering; Joe Luna, director sales and marketing, building and industrial applications

Plants
Emmen and Arnhem, The Netherlands; Obernburg, Germany; Asheville, NC

ISO Status
All European plants ISO 9001:2000 certified, US plant QS 9000 certified

Processes
Chemical bonded, thermal bonded and specialties

Brand Names
Colback, Colfors, Enkamat, Enkadrain, Colbonddrain, Enkagrid, Armater, Enka-Spacer, Enka-Vent

Major Markets
Flooring, automotive, construction industry, civil engineering, building and various industrial applications

Thanks to a strong market approach and continued development of new applications and products, 2004 sales increased for Colbond, Arnhem, The Netherlands, despite an economic downturn, fiercer competition, increasing pressure on prices and ongoing raw material price hikes. The company anticipates continued growth, although raw material costs are expected to further increase and a turnaround is not yet expected on oil pricing. “The magnitude of cost inflation forced us to pass on part of the costs to our customers,” commented Jan van Boldrik, CEO, “but the duration and scale of the situation will no doubt negatively impact margins.”
 
One possible response to soaring raw material costs is replacing or combining raw materials. “This, however, is no short-term action and requires careful and thorough consideration prior to market introduction,” said Blair Rawes, Colbond’s director sales and marketing, civil engineering. He explained that effective January 2005, Colbond increased prices worldwide for its entire product range in the 8-10% range.
 
“Since January 2003, polyester, polyamide and polypropylene chip costs increased by 30%-45% (20% of which happened in 2004) and a turnaround is not yet to be observed,” Mr. Rawes added. “We delayed the price increase for as long as possible; however, the magnitude of cost inflation unfortunately leaves us no other option than to pass on part of the costs in increased sales prices.”
 
On the up side, Colbond has benefited from the strength of its well-defined structure, which includes five key areas—flooring, automotive, construction, civil engineering and building and industrial products. The company has continued to make the most of its core competence, which lies in proven technologies and specialized technological expertise. “In close cooperation with our business partners, Colbond develops tailor-made products to provide value-added solutions to our broad customer base. Operating in this business for several decades, we know the ropes in the fields of extrusion, spinning, fleecing and molding of various synthetic materials,” said Mr. van Boldrik.
 
In the flooring market, conditions are stable, however, companies operating in this market are increasingly being confronted with strong competition, much of it originating from Asia. Colbond reported substantial growth in the European flooring segment, including the increased use of Colback in artificial turf, and the successful introduction of Colback as reinforcement for cushion vinyl. As one of Colbond’s core brands, Colback thermal bonded nonwovens continue be the most important technology for its flooring business. Its uniform structure, high tear resistance and isotropic characteristics make Colback particularly suitable for use as primary backing in patterned broadloom carpeting, carpet tiles and walk-off mats.
 
The portfolio of products offered by Colbond to the automotive industry now includes a new nonwoven backing launched under the brand name Colback Pro. The filaments of the product consist of a polyester core covered with a polypropylene skin. This specific composition allows the nonwoven to be used behind the most complex and deep molded car carpets manufactured at the highest quality standards. With Colback Pro, low molding temperatures allow for short molding cycle times, and the high dimensional stability of the carpet ensures a tight and close fit of the carpet in the car interior.
 
While the growth of the automotive market has been positive, Colbond has seen distinct volume growth in the construction market in Europe and the U.S. Pursuing a strategy to focus on high-grade specialty products, production for Coltron, a spunlaid polyester product was halted in 2004. To widen the assortment of nonwovens for use as carriers in waterproof bituminous roofing membranes (WBM), the company has introduced its Colfors product to a large number of customers in Europe.
 
In the segment of civil engineering, Colbond has enjoyed strong performance in Europe and the U.S. with sales volume of erosion mats exceeding expectations. “As far as Colbond is concerned, we notice growth in the building market segment in the U.S. In Europe, tunneling shows strong growth, while the Eastern European countries have exhibited a substantial increase with Enkagrid in soil stabilization projects,” Mr. Rawes said.
 
In mid-2004 the company introduced its Enkadrain B10 product for both horizontal and vertical structural drainage, which achieved significant success in Europe. Enkadrain B10 is a light and flexible composite matting made up of a drainage core of looped filaments securing a high drainage capacity throughout the service life of the structure. The components are thermally bonded together over the entire contact area.
 
Also in 2004, Enkamat II was introduced in the U.S. Designed as an immediate solution to erosion control problems, Enkamat II is a next generation turf reinforcement mat (TRM) combining the technology of the original Enkamat with cutting edge developments of fiber-reinforced biodegradable materials. Featuring a 95% open structure, the product creates the optimum micro-environment to enhance seed germination and plant emergence.
 
As part of its product range for drainage in civil engineering applications, Colbond offers a wide range of 3-D polymeric drainage products, sold under the trademarks Enkadrain and Colbonddrain.
 
As for building and industrial products, Colbond achieved positive results in both Europe and the U.S.  As a specialist in reinforcements for bituminous membranes in the construction industry, Colbond recently launched Enkaroof Vent 7008 consisting of a nylon entangled ventilation net bonded to a waterproof breathable membrane in the U.S. building market. This new product provides waterproofing and a ventilation airspace to prevent corrosion and rust from developing on the backside of metal roofs. It also controls sound noise by up to 15 db. (A reduction by 10 db represents a felt reduction of 50%.) The membrane by itself will also have applications as a housewrap, window tape and anti-fracture mat for the tile industry.
 
In addition to product innovation, Colbond looks into capacity expansion as a strategy for further growth. At its Emmen facility, the company initiated a capacity increase a few years ago to meet the strong demand for Colback fabrics to safeguard supply continuity to costumers, to allow for continuous development of innovative products and support applications in new markets and to provide the right price/performance ratio. According to Colbond, the results are in line with company expectations. The same was stated regarding its 2003 expansion of the Enkamat lines at its Asheville, NC and Germany facilities, which are in full swing and performing according to expectations as well. Additional product lines allowed the company to further improve its services offered to key customers in both the civil engineering and building market, allowing for even more flexibility to react quickly in line with the demands of these fast changing segments.
 
Looking ahead, Mr. van Boldrik offered a vision for the future of the industry. “We believe that the nonwovens market still has considerable growth potential,” he said. “Exploiting this potential to the full extent is a matter of providing the right products at the right time and the right price/performance ratio. Customer focus, added value solutions, creativity, high-level service and sustainable product development are no buzz words in this respect but vehicles for the years to come. Growth will not occur all by itself.”
(formerly Colbond)
Location: Arnhem, The Netherlands

Sales: $184 million

Description: Key Personnel
Jan van Boldrik, CEO; Axel Poscher, vice president; Bart Austin, president Colbond Inc.; Randy Cook, director sales and marketing flooring; Harry Verbakel, director sales and marketing automotive; Rob Noppen, director sales and marketing construction industry; Blair Rawes, director sales and marketing civil engineering; Joe Luna, director sales and marketing building and industrial applications

Plants
Emmen and Arnhem, The Netherlands; Obernburg, Germany; Asheville, NC

ISO Status
All European plants ISO 9001:2000 certified; U.S. plant QS 9000 certified; ISO 9001 by end of 2006 under preparation

Processes
Chemical bonded, thermal bonded and specialties

Brand Names
Colback, Colfors, Enkamat, Enkadrain, Colbonddrain, Enkagrid, Enka-Spacer, Enka-Vent

Major Markets
Flooring, automotive, construction industry, civil engineering, building and various industrial applications

2005 held mixed blessingS for Colbond, Arnhem, The Netherlands. While the company achieved a double-digit growth rate in nonwovens, raw material costs continued to  impact the company’s results.
 
Although Colbond partially compensated for these price hikes through efficiency increases, higher sales prices were necessary, the most recent of which occurred early this year. Amidst these increases, the company continues to focus on efficiency and is working on a number of solutions aimed at mitigating the impact of rising raw material costs to customers. “We haven’t seen any change so far in this situation other than that raw material price levels are increasingly influenced by a range of short-term factors, several of which are not directly related to our nonwovens business,” commented Jan van Boldrik, Colbond CEO. He predicted that this growing uncertainty of raw material price developments would further increase the volatility of market dynamics.
 
Outside of raw material price woes, another key piece of recent news for Colbond is its sale to London, U.K.-based specialty materials group Low & Bonar. Low & Bonar considers the acquisition a major step forward in its strategy of driving organic and acquisitive growth in its core markets. The firm, which also has operations in China, France and Germany, expects the acquisition to be earnings-enhancing by November 2007.
 
The new owner will offer increased market access for Colbond products through the Chinese sales infrastructure of Low & Bonar while Colbond’s U.S. infrastructure will offer access to new market opportunities. Low & Bonar operates two divisions—yarns and fabrics and floors with Colbond operating within the yarns and fabrics division.
 
“We are very pleased with this acquisition,” stated Mr. van Boldrik. “The strategy of Colbond and the approach of the yarns and fabrics operation of Low & Bonar complement one another to a great extent. Both companies supply specialty products for niche applications and have a clear focus on their core competencies. We expect our current and future customers to benefit from the integration of Colbond in the enlarged group. Most obvious, of course, is the continued focus on high quality products and services and the drive for process development in line with customer demands. But also the now-increased worldwide presence of Colbond as a member of Low & Bonar will represent a major advantage for our customers and partners in our markets.”
 
From a market perspective, Colbond describes growth in high-quality durable nonwovens as positive but somewhat limited during the past several years, but it foresees this trend changing in the medium-term. “Thanks to the unique bicomponent composition of Colback nonwovens and the flexibility of our process, we are able to serve market segments with challenging demands for backing materials and reinforcements,” Mr. van Boldrik said. “We differentiate ourselves from other nonwovens manufacturers by means of high-grade specialty products.”
 
In terms of manufacturing output, plans are in the works to increase capacity for bicomponent filaments and corresponding nonwovens production. This expansion is in line with Colbond’s strategy to further reinforce its position in the worldwide flooring, automotive and construction markets. A new bicomponent nonwovens technology is expected to play a major role in this capacity increase, which will allow Colbond to further improve the value-added features of its products and services.
 
Additionally, Colbond is planning to increase its capacity for 3-D mats and composites, both in the U.S. and Europe through continuous debottlenecking and upgrades to existing production equipment. Colbond’s Asheville, NC site alone will increase its nonwovens capacity by more than 10% in the third quarter of 2006 as a result of these efforts.
 
For Colbond, capital investments are essential to retaining long-term growth and anticipating new market demands in terms of technologies, lead times and volume. The company’s strategy requires that growth be facilitated by capacity increases be backed up by continual customer orientation, a clear focus on the further development of added-value solutions and a company-wide drive for continuous product and process innovation.
 
“To maintain these qualities, Colbond safeguards its dedication to supplying high-grade specialty products,” explained Mr. van Boldrik. “Our in-house technology and extensive manufacturing expertise in the spinning, fleecing and extrusion of various synthetic materials enables us to tailor products in line with specific customer demands and forms the basis for sustained growth.”
 
When it comes to new products, Colbond has had a busy year, rolling out several key innovations across its five core markets—flooring, automotive, construction, civil engineering and building and industrial applications. In the flooring area, Colbond has unveiled a 70 gpsm primary backing, a secondary backing for tiles and post-consumer recycled content nonwovens as well as new composite backing materials. In the automotive market, Colbond is building marketshare for Colback Pro in Europe and Easy Tuft in NAFTA and Asia. In the construction sector, the company has successfully introduced its Colfors product range, which is positioned as a mainstream product that complements its premium Colback brand.
 
In the civil engineering segment, this year Colbond plans to launch a new soil consolidation product, which will replace Colbonddrain, its current prefabricated vertical drain. The composite is based on an innovative extrusion and shaping technology, which allows the use of various types of polymers and nonwoven filters. Consisting of a plastic core fully bonded to a nonwoven filter, the new Colbonddrain product is designed to provide extremely high discharge capacities and result in short settlement times.
 
In the U.S., new types of rain screen drains for use with housewrap products are currently being developed. The unique 3-D monofilament matrix (Enkamat) provides a continuous space for drying, channels for drainage, a thermal break and pressure equalization, allowing moisture to escape quickly before it damages the sidewall materials.
 
Launched last year, Colback Pro (a thermally bonded spunlaid nonwoven made from PET/ PP bicomponent filaments) is performing well in the automotive industry as a backing material for various molded carpet platforms at leading European car manufacturers. “The recently launched SMR product line made with post-consumer recycled materials put us at the forefront in the sustainability race, a position that we intend to keep,” offered Mr. van Boldrik.
 
“Colbond has a powerful portfolio of activities at its disposal. The strategic goals of our company cannot be achieved without the high quality, efforts and teamwork of our individual employees. As sound human resources management assures an appropriate workforce and development of our human capital, it is a major key to the success of our company. I am proud to meet the challenges we will face in the coming years together with this highly motivated workforce,” heconcluded.
(formerly Colbond)
Location: Arnhem, The Netherlands

Sales: $195 million

Description: Key Personnel
Jan van Boldrik, CEO; Axel Poscher, vice president; Bart Austin, president Colbond Inc.; Randy Cook, director sales and marketing flooring; Harry Verbakel, director sales and marketing automotive; Rob Noppen, director sales and marketing construction industry; Blair Rawes, director sales and marketing civil engineering; Joe Luna, director sales and marketing building and industrial applications

Plants
Emmen and Arnhem, The Netherlands; Obernburg, Germany; Asheville, NC

ISO Status
All plants ISO 9001:2000 certified

Processes
Chemical bonded, thermal bonded and specialties

Brand Names
Colback, Colfors, Enkamat, Enkadrain, Colbonddrain, Enkagrid, Enka-Spacer, Enka-Vent

Major Markets
Flooring, automotive, construction industry, civil engineering, building and various industrial applications

Acquired by London, U.K.-based specialty materials group Low & Bonar (L&B) last year, Colbond drove sales of nonwoven roll goods above market growth in 2006. While the company achieved a double-digit growth rate in North America, sales increases in Europe and the rest of the world exceeded market growth levels. The company also improved its product mix and is satisfied with last year’s positive results, which it attributes to the added value provided to its customers.
 
Commenting on its new status as part of L&B, Colbond CEO Jan van Boldrik indicated that the company plays a key role in L&B’s mid- and long-term strategy. “Being owned by an industrial company widens the basis for long-term investment and secures the resources needed for sustainable growth,” he said. “Approval of a substantial investment into the expansion of our production capacity for monofilament mats in North America is an example underlining the commitment of L&B in Colbond.” Mr. van Boldrik went on to describe the first full year after the acquisition as successful, proving, he said, that a joint approach is beneficial for all members of the group. “On the sales side, much focus is on advantages arising from the possibility of offering a comprehensive product package for a wide range of different applications.”
 
As is the case for roll goods producers across the board, raw material costs continue to be hard to predict and represent a certain risk factor for Colbond. Heightened polymer prices forced the company to increase sales prices by year-end 2006 to partially offset this effect. Colbond also realized further efficiency improvements to compensate for increasing raw material costs.
 
“Raw material costs didn’t decrease to the extent foreseen for the first quarter of 2007 and even increased during the second quarter,” he stated. “We are therefore careful in expecting a more favorable situation within the next 18 months.”
 
On the positive side, 2006 has been a successful year for Colbond’s flooring activities in the U.S.; in particular Colback has done well in the carpet tile sector. Main growth drivers include the positive development of the U.S. economy with continued double-digit growth in the commercial carpet tile segments as well as in artificial turf. “Colbond products perfectly comply with the demand for high performance backings in these market segments,” observed Mr. van Boldrik.
 
In the automotive sector, a price-competitive environment for nonwovens in the U.S. and Europe placed OEMs under pressure. Similar price issues have taken their toll in the market for waterproof bituminous membranes, where Colbond’s nonwoven products serve as a reinforcement. Outside of nonwovens, Colbond is pleased with substantial growth in building and industrial applications and is satisfied with the increase in turnover in civil engineering.
 
Although growth in the markets for high-quality durable nonwovens has been positive but somewhat limited in past years, the company foresees this trend changing in the medium-term. “Thanks to the unique bicomponent composition of Colback nonwovens and the flexibility of our processes, we are able to serve market segments with high demands on backing materials and reinforcements,” he said. “We differentiate ourselves from other nonwoven manufacturers by means of high-grade specialty products meeting these demands.” Additionally, the company can tailor features such as basis weight, strength, elongation and color and offers products in custom widths. “We offer varying degrees of post-consumer recycled content nonwovens and are working on other functionalities delivered through our bicomponent technologies.”
 
By way of capital improvements, Colbond has stayed on track with plans to initiate several projects in 2006 and into 2007 at its nonwovens operations at Arnhem and Emmen, The Netherlands and Asheville, NC. These plans targeted further optimization of Colback quality and the de-bottlenecking of existing production capacities. In preparation for the commercial launch of Colback SMR in January 2007, major investments were made during 2006 to fine-tune the technology and modify machines to handle recycled raw material generated from post-consumer bottle scrap. Also, to comply with increasing demand for geogrids in infrastructure projects that call for soil stabilization, Colbond has increased its production capacity for Enkagrid, which is manufactured at Arnhem. This increase is based on the further optimization of its manufacturing process.
 
From a geographical standpoint, current key regions are Western Europe and North America, with Eastern Europe gaining importance for Colbond. In Asia the company is increasing its activities, partly with the support of its new sister company Bonar Yihua as a local key contact and company base. A Chinese manufacturer of wovens and artificial grass yarn, Bonar Yihua has taken Colback on board, a step that is expected to substantially increase the share of Colbond in the Asian market for high performance nonwoven backings
 
Colbond is keeping busy on the Eastern European front as well, where it is benefiting from L&B company locations that form strategically important bases for entering new markets and growing in certain regions.
 
Looking toward the horizon, Colbond’s short- and long-term growth strategy is clear, according to Mr. van Boldrik. “Within L&B, Colbond continues its strategy of targeted organic growth focusing on new products and innovative applications as well as on geographic expansion supported by L&B acquisitions where appropriate.”
(formerly Colbond)
Location: ARNHEM, THE NETHERLANDS

Sales: $195 million

Description: Key Personnel
Jan van Boldrik, CEO; Axel Poscher, Vice President; Bart Austin, President Colbond Inc.; Randy Cook, Director Sales and Marketing Flooring; Harry Verbakel, Director Sales and Marketing Automotive; Rob Noppen, Director Sales and Marketing Construction Industry; Blair Rawes, Director Sales and Marketing Civil Engineering; Joe Luna, Director Sales and Marketing Building and Industrial applications

Plants
Emmen and Arnhem, The Netherlands; Obernburg, Germany; Asheville (NC), USA

ISO Status
Global certification for all plants ISO 9001:2000

Processes
Extruded, spunbond, thermal bonded and specialties

Brand Names
Colback, EasyTuft, Enkamat, Enkadrain, Colbonddrain, Enkagrid, Enka-Spacer, Enka-Vent, EnkaRetain & Drain

Major Markets
Flooring, automotive, construction, civil engineering, building, artificial turf and various industrial applications

The keys to success for Colbond this year have been diversified customer and product portfolios, further improvement of manufacturing efficiencies as well as the successful launch of value-added product innovations. The company’s turnover in 2007 beat expectations, despite a challenging business environment in North America and worldwide volatile raw material prices with an overall upward trend.
 
Last year Colbond strengthened its position in its core markets for bicomponent Colback nonwovens for flooring (primary backings for tufted carpet tiles, artificial turf, broadloom carpet and walk-off mats), automotive (primary and secondary backings for molded carpets and car mats and support media for filters) and construction (reinforcements for waterproof bituminous roofing membranes and other construction products). In fact, to comply with increasing demand and forecasted further growth of Colback nonwovens in its key markets, Colbond approved a substantial investment to increase the capacity for Colback by 25%.
 
Colbond’s performance in worldwide civil engineering markets saw improvement in 2007 and Eastern Europe proved to be a high-potential region. Civil engineering product areas include Enkamat and Enkadrain erosion control and drainage mats, Enkagrid soil reinforcement geogrid and Colbonddrain pre-fabricated vertical drains for soil consolidation. “Since 2006, this business has shown double-digit, year-over-year growth,” reported Colbond CEO Jan van Boldrik. Colbond has improved its presence in the worldwide geosynthetics market through additional specialized industry partners and, in preparation for further growth, extra manpower was added to the civil engineering product management and Benelux sales teams early in 2008.
 
In Asia, Colbond has established a local presence through Chinese sister company Yihua Bonar Yarns & Fabrics Co., Ltd. and has launched versions of its product range developed specifically for the Chinese market. At Domotex Chi­nafloor in Shanghai, Colbond introduced a local version of its Colturf primary turf backing. “Representation by our local sister company is a major strategic advantage facilitating market penetration through a well-developed distribution network,” said Mr. van Boldrik.
 
In its building and industry sector, Colbond achieved strong sales in the composites industry, where Enka-Fusion and Enka-Spacer serve as flow media and spacers in resin infusion and PU molding processes. “Due to the housing crisis in North America, our building business faced a number of challenges,” he commented, “but a balanced product portfolio allowed us to reinforce our position in several niche markets.”
 
Colbond’s building and industry activities in 2007 were also marked by the launch of a sustainable product innovation in the form of Enka-Moss. Special mosses form the core of the new mat and absorb particulate matter from the air. Installed in highway median areas, on green roofs or as noise barriers, the maintenance-free mats not only serve as an efficient alternative to traditional greenery but also provide environmental benefits.  
 
In the automotive sector, Colbond completed a major project early this year to further optimize the performance of Colback Pro. Based on the traditional Colback skin/core composition, the product is designed to meet the high demands made on backings during and after molding of complex car carpet shapes. Colback Pro was specified for a number of new platforms this year and more are in the pipeline for 2009 and beyond.
 
By way of capital improvements, Colbond had an active year on both sides of the ocean, with sustainability remaining a key focus. “Our manufacturing and technology team is dedicated to keeping our technology base state-of-the-art and securing reliable production of added-value solutions for our diversified customer base,” said Mr. van Boldrik. Examples of major accomplishments in 2007 included a major revamp of one of its spinning lines in Emmen, in the Northern part of the Netherlands. The step formed part of an ongoing program for efficiency improvements and the optimization of yarn quality. “With this revamp, the manufacturing process is even smoother and secures the consistantly high quality of Colback, which customers have valued for more than 40 years now.”
 
Another major investment was made as part of an overall effort to achieve sustainable manufacturing. “The flooring industry shows an increasing demand for environmentally friendly components, and Colbond aims to support green production,” he noted. To comply with the increasing demand for Colback SMR, a primary backing using 100% recycled polyester  derived or produced from post-consumer bottle scrap, the company modified two of its spinning lines to process recycled content. Additionally, a major investment was made to equip the Emmen plant with a new docking station to further optimize the  handling of post-consumer recycled polyester.
 
Asheville, NC is home to another product underpinning Colbond’s commitment to sustainability: Enka­Retain & Drain, a drainage mat providing environmental benefits in production and use. Made of post-industrial polypropylene, EnkaRetain & Drain reduces raw material waste and contributes to environmentally sound manufacturing. Once installed, the product forms the basis for sustainable green roofs, which improve air quality, store rain water and save energy. In 2007, Colbond reaped the first fruits of major efforts made in co-operation with industry partners to promote green roofs in North America.  
 
This year an additional Enkamat line came on stream in Asheville. The new line provides the company with even greater flexibility to respond to changing market demands and is aimed at further improving Colbond’s strategic position in building and industrial and civil markets.
 
Wrapping up, Mr. van Boldrik said that Colbond plans to continue its strategy of targeted organic growth focusing on long-term industry partnerships, added-value solutions for customers, new products and innovative applications as well as on geographic expansion. In-house technology and the ability to modify products in line with and often even ahead of market demand remains a key factor in Colbond’s strategic approach, while also sustainable manufacturing processes and products continue to play a key role.
 
Having been incorporated into the Low & Bonar group two years ago, the company sees a good fit with the group’s ambitious growth goals. “Substantial investments made by our parent company prove a long-term commitment and trust in Colbond’s potential.” He added that the degree of co-operation with Low & Bonar Tech­nical Textiles sister companies has been increasing and has materialized synergy potential. “Sharing expertise and best practices has already resulted in a number of major achievements. Product launches outside Colbond’s core markets and the joint exploitation of distribution channels are two prominent examples.”
(formerly Colbond)
Location: ARNHEM, THE NETHERLANDS


Sales: $195 Million


Description: Key Personnel
Jan van Boldrik, CEO; Bart Austin, president Colbond Inc.; Harry Verbakel, director sales and marketing floor coverings; Blair Rawes, director sales and marketing construction; Randy Cook, director sales and marketing NAFTA

Plants
Emmen and Arnhem, The Netherlands; Obernburg, Germany; Asheville, NC

ISO Status
Global certification for all plants ISO 9001:2008

Processes
Extruded, spunbond, thermal bonded and specialties

Brand Names
Colback, Enkamat, Enkadrain, Colbonddrain, Enkagrid, Enka-Spacer, Enka-Channel, EnkaRetain & Drain

Major Markets
Flooring, automotive, construction, civil engineering, building and various industrial applications

Against a background of a difficult overall macroeconomic situation, a key achievement for Colbond in 2008 was holding nonwoven roll good sales steady and bringing in revenues similar to those achieved in 2007. At the end of the first half of the year, 2008 looked promising with Colbond having grown its business in most core markets. However, things took a turn when the North American building industry was hit by the housing crisis fallout. During the remainder of the year, other segments were also impacted on a global scale by what was to become a worldwide economic downturn.

On both sides of the Atlantic, the company’s 2008 flooring business suffered from weak market demand for floor coverings resulting from the postponed construction of retail and office space. Colback primary backings for tufted carpet tiles, broadloom carpet and walk-off mats all saw declines. “Our leadership in environmentally sustainable backings, along with Colback’s unique performance benefits, were key to limiting the impact of the economic downturn on our turnover in flooring,” stated Jan van Boldrik, CEO.

Meanwhile the economic slowdown and loss of consumer confidence caused a substantial reduction of light vehicle production and negatively affected Colbond’s sales volumes in the automotive industry, where it sells Colback primary and secondary backings for molded car carpets. “However, with Colback Pro, a nonwoven enabling carpet manufacturers to realize cost savings, we managed to significantly increase marketshare,” he said.

In the construction industry, Colbond’s sales of Colback reinforcement for waterproof bituminous roofing membranes were affected to some extent by the overall market trend toward declining demand for carrier materials. In response to trends in its key markets, Colbond has initiated a broad project portfolio to optimize existing manufacturing processes. The company has also further developed its technology base for the production of new products.

Recent product innovations in the flooring area include significant extensions to its range of post-consumer recycled content versions of Colback, which are designed to comply with the industry’s growing demand for environmentally sustainable products. “All standard carpet tile backings are now available with recycled polyester,” Mr. van Boldrik said. “The characteristics and performance of the finished nonwoven are the same as those of virgin raw material products.” He added that the new product range is helping carpet manufacturers gain an additional foothold in sustainable market segments while increasing the efficiency of internal workflows. Development work for a number of other product innovations for tufting end uses is also underway.

In the automotive sector, where cost control is more important than ever all along the supply chain, Colbond has recently invested additional resources to further optimize Colback Pro, a primary backing for tufted car carpet for complex geometries at reduced molding costs. “This investment has started to pay off as we significantly improved our position and gained share in the European automotive market,” he said.

As for Colbond’s efforts in the waning construction industry— where the market for waterproof bituminous roofing membranes has been hit hard by the worldwide economic crisis—lightweight high performance Colback carriers have helped Colbond defend its position in an increasingly price-competitive environment. “The market is shrinking,” he observed, “and no turnaround is expected soon.”

Colbond is seeing positive developments in the civil engineering market, which has been the company’s strongest segment so far in 2009. While all other markets experienced a slow-down as a result of the economic crisis, many geosynthetics players are taking advantage of the governmental funding of infrastructural projects. In particular, sales of Enkagrid geogrids for soil stabilization (for example, in road construction and foundations) are exceeding last year’s performance. In North America the company is increasingly penetrating the geogrid market by partnering with a new distribution partner.

Following in-depth process optimization, Colbond’s new Enkamat line is running smoothly and allows Colbond to offer three-dimensional polymeric monofilament mats in widths up to 2.4 meters. “Civil engineering customers are taking advantage of the wider products as they reduce on-site installation costs,” explained Mr. van Boldrik, adding that testing in new building and industrial applications is underway.

Colbond has also launched several product innovations for civil engineering applications this year. One such roll-out is Enkamat J, an erosion prevention mat specifically designed to protect slopes under extreme erosive risks from rainfall or flooding. According to Colbond, Enkamat J has been well received and the first major order has been secured in France. The product is currently in the tender phase for major erosion control projects across Europe.

Product innovations for industrial applications include a new version of Enka-Channel, a resin flow medium for the production of yachts. Consisting of a monofilament spacer matrix wrapped in a nonwoven fabric, Enka-Channel acts as a feeder speeding up the distribution of resin across glass fiber and is designed to increase the productivity of yacht manufacturing. “Customer feedback has been very positive,” he said, “and we expect sales of Enka-Channel to take off as soon as the overall macroeconomic situation improves.”

Wrapping up, Mr. van Boldrik predicted that environmental sustainability of processes and products will be an increasingly important theme. “The minimization of waste and emission levels, the optimization of energy consumption, the replacement of virgin raw materials with recycled content as well as the development of environmentally friendly products will remain an integral part of our short- and long-term growth strategy,” he concluded.
(formerly Colbond)
Location: Arnhem, The Netherlands

Sales: $163 million

Description: Key Personnel
Jan van Boldrik, CEO; Bart Austin, president Colbond Inc.; Harry Verbakel, director sales and marketing floor coverings; Blair Rawes, director sales and marketing  construction; ; Randy Cook, director sales and marketing, NAFTA

Plants
Emmen and Arnhem, The Netherlands; Obernburg, Germany; Asheville, NC

Processes
Extruded, spunbond, thermal bonded and specialties

Brand Names
Colback, Enkamat, Enkadrain, Colbonddrain, Enkagrid, Enka-Spacer, Enka-Channel, EnkaRetain & Drain

Major Markets
Flooring, automotive, construction, civil engineering, building and various industrial applications

Reporting a 15-20% drop in sales, building and construction specialist Colbond has been able to somewhat steel itself against negative economic conditions by maintaining a significant or leading position, in all of its core markets which include, the flooring, automotives, roofing, building products, industrial products and civil engineering segments and technical textiles.
“Sales declines, coupled with continued increases in all of our key raw materials throughout the past year or more have continued to pressure our margins and have led us to redouble our efforts in manufacturing and cost control in all of our endeavors,” said sales and marketing director, NAFTA, Randy Cook. “Even though we have had good success in these efforts, we have finally had to pass on some of these cost increases in the form of general price increases.”
The good news is that residential building and automotive markets seem to have bottomed out and begun a rally; the bad news is that the impact on the commercial building segment is not over. “Overall our production and sales levels have been increasing but we have enough headroom to take advantage of any new opportunities,” Mr. Cook said.
With manufacturing sites in Emmen and Arhem, The Netherlands, Obernburg, Germany and Asheville, NC, Colbond is active with sales in most regions of the globe. Recent efforts have centered on growing its Asian business through parent company’s Low and Bonar’s joint venture in China, from which the company is warehousing product and growing direct sales in the region. Key markets for the company globally continue to be flooring, automotives, construction, civil engineering and building.
Central to Colbond’s product line is its Colback nonwoven reinforcements for automotives and flooring applications. According to Mr. Cook, all of the areas that use Colback nonwovens have been picking up recently and products continue to perform well in these markets. Colbond has continued to develop and refine its offerings most recently including the launch and transition at several major customers to its unique reversible Face2Face primary backing, which offers numerous advantages to carpet tile manufacturers because one side is grey and the other is black, allowing rapid color change by simply flipping the roll instead of having to wait on a roll of the different color.
Within the automotives segment, Colbond has faced several challenges, brought on mainly by lighter vehicle production and a reduction in consumer confidence. However, the introduction of Colback Pro has helped revitalize this business. Described as a revolutionary carpet backing for molded tufted car carpeting, Colback Pro is a thermal bonded spunlaid nonwoven made from bicomponent filaments with a polyester core and a polypropylene skin. This product has enjoyed tremendous success in the most demanding automotive platforms where customers can take advantages of the special characteristics of this low temperature molding product which meets demanding after-shrinkage requirements. Colbond plans to expand the scope of this technology into the NAFTA region by early 2011 through investments at its Asheville, NC facility.
As the construction market, led by the residential side, continues to regain steam, Colbond is benefiting from an innovative project—implemented before the downturn—to add capacity to its Enkamat product line through the development and installation of a two-meter wide production line. This new line came onstream in 2010 and the company has already begun transitioning key accounts and developing new wider Enkamat-based products to take advantage of this new capability and increased capacity. Colbond has also benefitted from a broad product portfolio to optimize its existing manufacturing processes, which is constantly being expanded.
Meanwhile, Colbond’s civil engineering business continues to be a vital and significant segment for the company, particularly as government stimulus programs in the U.S., increase activity in this market.
As it focuses on rebounding the markets that have been challenged during the past 18 months, Colbond is also working hard to expand its range. “We are constantly scouring the market, trade shows, Academia and jointly working with our customers, partners, representatives and distributors to find adjacent markets and technologies to take advantage of our unique and innovative capabilities and we are having good successes at finding and mining these proprietary opportunities—however, we are quite protective of these efforts and would therefore prefer to keep them under wraps for now,” Mr. Cook said.
Another focus for Colbond is ecofriendliness. In 2009, the company expanded its offerings in this key segment when it extended its Colback range of environmentally sustainable carpet backings. All standard product types now are available as recycled content variants, contributing to the flooring industry’s drive for sustainable manufacturing.
Ecofriendly Colback carpet backings deliver exactly the same cost-effective high performance as Colback nonwovens manufactured from virgin raw material.
In January 2007, after years of intense in-house research and development work, Colbond launched the first Colback nonwoven using 100% post-consumer recycled polyester. Building on the success of this product the company has recently substantially increased its capacity for post-consumer recycled polyester.
“For several years now, we have been offering many, if not most, of our products, with varying and increasing percentages of post industrial and more recently post consumer recycled materials incorporating polypropylene, Nylon6 and polyester,” Mr. Cook explained. “We also have developed activities using bio-based polymers such as Triexta and Saronna. We also have numerous initiatives throughout the organization addressing sustainability and our corporate footprint.”
Colbond is also reportedly preparing to launch recycled content products in other core markets shortly.

(formerly Colbond)
Arnhem, The Netherlands
www.colbond.com
2011 Nonwovens Sales: $210 million

Key Personnel: Orwig Speltdoorn, managing director; Bart Austin, deputy managing director; Mike Holt, interim CFO; Marc Krauth, global business director, Floor Coverings and Building & Industry; Steven van Herreweghe, director sales and marketing, Civil Engineering; Joop Klaasse, director human resources; Paul Desmet, director HSE

Plants: Emmen and Arnhem, the Netherlands; Obernburg, Germany; Asheville, NC

Processes: Extruded, spunbond, thermal bonded and specialties

Brands: Colback, Enkamat, Enkadrain, Colbonddrain, Enkagrid, Enka-Spacer, Enka-Channel, EnkaRetain & Drain

Major Markets: Flooring, automotive, filtration, roofing, civil engineering, building and various industrial applications

While Colbond executives do not release their annual nonwovens sales, they would say that 2011 sales showed healthy double digit growth compared to 2010. This was particularly true during the first half of the year when demand was at a high level across virtually all its key markets. In the second half, Colbond witnessed some slow-down, but shipments and sales were still at a very satisfactory level—a trend that has continued this year, according to managing director Orwig Speltdoorn. “We are facing a number of macroeconomic challenges in Europe, but benefit from the recovery of the North American housing market,” he says. “Also, strong demand in Asia-Pacific, especially during the first months of 2012, has contributed to Colbond’s sales growth.”

Also contributing to this sales growth are product leadership as well as innovation in processes, services and products, which add value to existing and new customers, Speltdoorn continues. Sales growth came from new products like Colback Green, which reached full commercial scale last year, as well as Colbond’s ability to tailor products to suit specific process requirements.

Moving forward, Colbond’s merger with Bonar Technical Fabrics, another company owned by Low & Bonar, is expected to influence earnings positively by exploiting synergies existing in both businesses. The new company will create a more global organization with the scale and capabilities required to grow in emerging markets and reinforce the group’s positions in Europe and North America. “Synergies in our organization and approach to market will create opportunities to react even quicker on changing market demands,” Speltdoorn says. “In the short run, our sales are expected to take advantage of cross-selling potential. Also, our new business development programs will benefit from the enriched technology base and expertise available in the joint business.”

Announced in March, the merger has not impacted the day-to-day operation of Colbond’s industrial nonwovens business in existing markets. However, examples of expected synergies have already been seen. In civil engineering, Colbond has already started to take advantage of one sales and customer support network, offering a full package of high performance geotechnical products. Meanwhile, in industrial markets, the wider global reach has provided the company with a stronger platform for the generation of market knowledge to prepare the next phase of the global expansion of the group.

Getting back to Colbond’s existing business, the strongest growth was seen in flooring and building, where the company has been able to exploit the benefits of its product leadership position, particularly in carpet tiles, which continue to be the strongest growing segment.

Launched at Domotex 2011, Colback Green has completed its full commercial year and executives report that demand for this backing, which is made of 100% recycled content, has stabilized at a high level. “Colback Green has become a strategically important product for an increasing part of our customer base. Building on the success of Colback Green, environmental sustainability has remained a key driver in our innovation programs in North America and Europe,” Speltdoorn says.

Colbond is hoping to build on this success with Colback Profloor, a new backing that delivers benefits during carpet manufacture and service life alike. Based on a new polymer composition, Colback Profloor facilitates softer tufting, improved stitch holding and optimum dimensional stability of the finished carpet. After extensive testing by several key customers, the product was introduced for the first time to a wider public at Domotex this last January and is now running on full commercial scale. Colbond is already planning its next flooring innovation to be launched at next year’s Domotex show.

Colbond’s North American flooring buisnes is also benefitting from additional yarn spinning capacity in Asheville, NC, which was completed as planned in the first quarter of 2012. According to Speltdoorn, the investment not only increased capacity but also created new manufacturing capabilities, including the processing of new polymers and recycled raw materials.

Speltdoorn describes growth in automotives as satisfactory, but he admits this growth has slowed somewhat due to the shift of demand for car brands in Asia. In North America, Colbond was able to benefit from the recovery of the local automotive market while business has remained stable in Europe.

According to Speltdoorn, Colback offers many benefits to automotive makers when it comes to maximizing product performance. Colback Pro is a backing for molded tufted car carpet designed to facilitate the manufacture of complex geometries at minimal molding cycles and still delivers excellent stability for the finished carpet.  As a lightweight, yet high performance carrier it contributes to a reduction of the total cost and delivers environmental benefits.

Also strong has been demand for Colback and Colfors in roofing, underpinning product leadership value proposition. Here, Colbond supplies high performance reinforcements for waterproof bituminous roofing membranes, which has benefited most from the new capacity that has come on-stream in the Netherlands in the first quarter of last year.

Colbond’s civil engineering business has grown despite the somewhat sluggish European construction market. According to executives, soil reinforcement and consolidation businesses have developed satisfactorily, especially in structural drainage. In North America, the company was able to secure major erosion control projects with reinforced variants of its Enkamat erosion prevention mat.

The most important activity in Colbond’s building segment  recently was the acquisition of the Germany-based Xeroflor International in March 2012. The company, which will continue its operation as Xeroflor Green Solutions, is a pioneer in the development of pre-vegetated green roof systems, which are distributed through a network of exclusive license holders. “By bringing together the product development and technology expertise of Xeroflor with the organizational resources and worldwide sales network of Colbond, Xeroflor Green Solutions is expected to grow substantially during the coming years,” Speltdoorn says. “Key drivers will be product differentiation and diversification targeted at new market segments as well as geographic expansion.”

The Colback filtration business has also developed steadily as leading filter media manufacturers confirm the specific properties of Colback make it particularly suitable for use as a filter medium support layer and pre-filter. “In close cooperation with a number of key customers we have optimized our product and service offering for this market. The share of Colback in the filtration market is growing underpinning the success of these efforts,” Speltdoorn explains.
Arnhem, The Netherlands
www.bonar.com
2012 Nonwovens Sales: $379 million
 
Key Personnel: Orwig Speltdoorn, managing director EMEA; Bart Austin, managing director NAFTA; Gareth Kaminski-Cook, managing director APAC; Marc Krauth, global business director, Interior & Transportation; Clark Halladay, Global Business Director Building & Industry; Orwig Speltdoorn, Global Business Director Civil Engineering; Wayne Currie, Group HSE Director.
 
Plants: Belgium (Lokeren and Zele); Germany (Gross Ippener and Obernburg); Hungary (Tiszaújváros); the Netherlands (Arnhem and Emmen); USA (Asheville NC); joint ventures in China (Jiangsu) and Saudi Arabia (Yanbu).
 
Processes: Extruded, spunbond, thermal bonded and specialties, needlepunched staplefiber, woven, 3-dimensional polymeric mats
 
Brands: Adfil; Bontec; BonarAgro, Colback; Enka Solutions (a.o. Enkamat, Enkadrain, Enkagrid, Enka-Spacer, Enka-Channel, EnkaRetain & Drain); Tipptex; Xeroflor.
 
Major Markets: Agro; Building; Civil Engineering; Construction; Flooring; Filtration; Industry; Interior; Roofing; Transportation.
 
During 2012 Low & Bonar, a multinational group of producers and suppliers of performance technical textiles operating worldwide merged its two major businesses within its Performance Technical Textiles division: Colbond and Bonar Technical Fabrics.
 
In January 2013, the merged business was rebranded ‘Bonar’. Bonar’s goal is to leverage its successful European business and expertise in other regions and this organizational change is designed to accelerate this development and put it on a clear path to globalization.
 
During the year the division increased its capabilities, particularly in sales and marketing, and the company says this will also be a feature of the coming year as it invests in resources to build a more effective, globally present business.
 
Bonar serves the agro, building, civil engineering, construction, flooring, filtration, interior, industrial, roofing and transportation sectors through five companies: Bonar, with operations in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the U.K. and the U.S.; Bonar Geosynthetics in Hungary; Bonar Xerofl or in Germany; Yihua Bonar in China; and Bonar Natpet in Saudi Arabia.
 
The company’s production facilities are based in Belgium, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, UK, U.S. and through joint ventures in China and Saudi Arabia.
 
Total turnover of Bonar in 2012 was $379 million. Results were in line with the company’s expectations and growth was achieved in all segments.
 
Underlying sales to the building products, flooring and industrial sectors, which together represent more than 50% of sales, all grew strongly. Building products advanced 15%, including a maiden contribution from the Xerofl or acquisition, which contributed approximately half of this improvement. Growth in the U.S. was reported strong, supported by a modest recovery in the residential housing market and new product introductions, while sales in Europe were mixed.
 
Bonar reported that a strong performance in niche sectors, notably green roofing, more than offset a softening in demand for more traditional commercial building roofing products. The flooring sector had another good year, advancing 8%. Sales in the U.S. and Asia grew strongly with European sales stable. The company says sales also continue to benefit from the increasing preference for tiles in commercial flooring installations, with the business also enjoying some success in penetrating new application areas of the flooring market. Sales in the industrial sector improved by 9%, with agrotextile applications the strongest performers. New products were launched in both the screens and groundcover niches and the initiative to build sales outside of the dominant Dutch market was successful.
 
The civil engineering sector had a mixed year. Underlying sales were at the same level as a strong 2011, which delivered 20% growth. Sales of geotextiles and construction fiber products grew well; however, a reduction in tunneling projects adversely impacted sales of other geosynthetic products. Sales improved markedly from a small base in the U.S. and the company says it is reviewing options to be a more significant player in this region. The European market was tougher, particularly in the second half of the year when demand softened in some construction sectors.
 
The commissioning, in the coming year, of our geotextile joint venture plant in Saudi Arabia will be a catalyst for accelerating growth in this attractive region. Transportation sales were below target. The recovery in the US market was largely in low- to-midend platforms where our products are not specified and, in Europe, sales suffered from some destocking and premium brand platform transitions.
 
Bonar seeks to accelerate its expansion into markets, which have the opportunity to grow faster than the global average and build a global business. Geographically these include Asia, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent and South America, where industrialization, urbanization, and high infrastructure expenditure are driving growth.
 
In 2012 Bonar completed its investment in a joint venture, Bonar Natpet, with National Petrochemical Industrial Company (NATPET) in Saudi Arabia. The joint venture will supply geotextiles to the fast growing Middle East and Indian subcontinent civil engineering markets.
 
The acquisition of Xerofl or in March 2012 has improved the company’s access to the fast growing green roofing market, complementing the range of products that Bonar sells into that market.
 
Also in terms of future expansion, Asia Pacific is one of the regions high on Bonar’s radar. It opened a sales office in June in Shanghai as well as a distribution warehouse in July.
 
On the new product front, the Bonar Research, Development & Innovation (RD&I) team has developed a range of flame retardant screens, under the PhormiTex name, to counter the
risk of greenhouse fi res caused by the increased use of electrical equipment to control heating and lighting in greenhouse horticulture. PhormiTex screens combine the proven qualities of Bonar screens with a certified fire performance under German and European standards.
 
Colback Profloor, an innovative extension to the Colback range, was launched at the 2012 Domotex international flooring trade show in Hanover. Colback Profloor is based on a new polymer composition that eases the creation of complex tuft constructions, thereby improving the appearance of carpets and giving superior dimensional stability to the finished carpet tiles. The product is the result of a significant RD&I program carried out in cooperation with leading carpet tile producers.
Arnhem, The Netherlands
www.bonar.com
2013 Nonwovens Sales: $407 million  

Key Personnel
Orwig Speltdoorn, managing director EMEA; Bart Austin, managing director NAFTA; Gareth Kaminski-Cook, managing director APAC; Marc Krauth, global business director, Interior & Transportation; Clark Halladay, Global Business Director Building & Industry; Orwig Speltdoorn, Global Business Director Civil Engineering; Wayne Currie, Group HSE Director.  

Plants
Belgium (Lokeren and Zele); Germany (Gross Ippener and Obernburg); Hungary (Tiszaújváros); the Netherlands (Arnhem and Emmen); USA (Asheville NC); joint ventures in China (Jiangsu) and Saudi Arabia (Yanbu).  

Processes
Extruded, spunbond, thermal bonded and specialties, needlepunched staplefiber, woven, 3-dimensional polymeric mats  

Brands
Adfil; Bontec; BonarAgro, Colback; Enka Solutions (a.o. Enkamat, Enkadrain, Enkagrid, Enka-Spacer, Enka-Channel, EnkaRetain & Drain); Tipptex; Xeroflor.  

Major Markets
Agro, building, civil engineering, construction, flooring, filtration, industry, interior, roofing, transportation

Sales continued to rise at Bonar, clocking in at $407 million in 2013, driven by increases in building products and agriculture sales due to abnormal weather patterns in Europe.

The company is a combination of the former Colbond business and Bonar Technical Fabrics, two companies owned by Low & Bonar, which merged under one brand name, Bonar, in January 2013. The merger, according to executives, leverages the company’s successful European business and expertise in other regions and this organizational change is designed to accelerate this development and put it on a clear path to globalization. Bonar serves the agro, building, civil engineering, construction, flooring, filtration, interior, industrial, roofing and transportation sectors through five companies: Bonar, with operations in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the U.K. and the U.S.; Bonar Geosynthetics in Hungary; Bonar Xerofl in Germany; Yihua Bonar in China; and Bonar Natpet in Saudi Arabia.

The company’s production facilities are based in Belgium, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, UK, the U.S. and through joint ventures in China and Saudi Arabia.

In June, Low & Bonar announced it would expand Bonar’s global footprint with the establishment of a new factory in Changzhou, China dedicated to making the company’s Colback technology, which will serve the growing carpet tile backing and automotive backing markets in Asia. The investment was reported at $26 million, spread over the next two years

“China is the fastest growing of our target markets within the interior and transportation business unit, accounting for one-third of the global demand for floor covering,” explain Jos Waltmans, manager communications. “It is also a high-growth market for car filtration and, with a huge investment in infrastructure, an important potential market for our civil engineering products.”

Changzhou was chosen as the hub of the company’s Asian business because several of its major flooring customers already have manufacturing facilities in the region and are already producing products tailored to local requirements, which will be key to building market share, Waltmans adds.

In addition to Asia, North America continues to be an area of interest for Bonar and the company continues to operate a U.S. facility in Enka, NC. Additionally, its joint venture in Saudi Arabia, Bonar Natpet with the National Petrochemical Industrial Company (NATPET) was completed in late 2013. This joint venture supplies geotextiles to the fast growing Middle East and Indian subcontinent civil engineering markets and has expanded the company’s scope in this region.

In new product news in late 2013, Bonar introduced its latest Colback innovation—Colback ProFloor. It uses bicomponent fiber technology for producing a primary backing material with improved stitch holding for tufted commercial carpets. Carpet backing materials currently account for about 19% of Bonar’s total sales.

The same fiber technology, combined with its bonding process, delivers improved stability in commercial tile processes. The resulting tiles show lower up curl results and improved dimensional stability.

Bonar says Colback ProFloor delivers even greater benefits during carpet manufacture and service life. Its stable filament network is based on a new polymer composition that delivers softer tufting, improved stitch holding and optimum dimensional stability of the finished carpet.

Also benefitting its business is its strong commitment to being green including its Colback Green, a carpet backing material made of 100% sustainable raw materials. It contains post-consumer recycled polyester and polyamide-6 generated from carpet waste.

Waltmans says that many of his company’s products have an environmentally friendly profile.

“Some of our customers in the buildings and industry sector need to build homes that are more energy efficient and our roofing products can help them do that,” he says. “Our products are important for sustainability in our end markets, for example reducing energy usage in food production, supporting land reclamation for housing expansion, or filtration to improve water and air quality.”