Sales: $112 Million
Description: Key Personnel
Dipl. Kfm. Christian Heinrich Sandler, Dr. Christian Heinrich Sandler, Dieter Magier, managing directors
ISO 9001, ISO 14001 certified
Dry laid, resin bonded, thermal bonded, mechanically bonded, melt blown, parallel and crosslapped carded, air through bonded, spunlaced, laminated
sawafill, sawabond, sawaloom, sawavlies, sawaloft, sawaflor, sawatex, sawascreen, sawagrow, sandler sports, sawacomp, sawaflock, sawaform, sawalux, sawaflex, sawasoft, sawasorb, sandler-fibercomfort, sandler-fiberskin, Purina, sandler-unico, Thincontinent, sawadur, sawadry
Apparel, upholstery, technical nonwovens, civil engineering, hygiene, medical filtration, automotive
For Sandler, Schwarzenbach/Saale, Germany, 2001 can be classified as “the best ever” in terms of turnover. The company’s sales increased to E126 million compared to E119 million in 2000, on the heels of strong product innovation and increased exportation levels. “The basis of being successful is a good percentage of exports—especially if you are developing a lot of new products,” explained managing director C.H. Sandler. “You want to sell as much as possible of your newly developed products because they have a better chance in the market than more standard, commodity-type products.”
A focus on innovation has certainly paid off for Sandler. The company was awarded two innovation awards at the INDEX Exposition, held in Geneva, Switzerland in April, making it only the second company to ever win dual awards in the history of the INDEX show. One of the awards recognized sawasoft 8000, a multifunctional composite material that combines the distribution properties of an acquisition/distribution layer while retaining the function of a core material. It is distinguished by extraordinarily low rewet with a surface that dries up within a few seconds. The other product recognized was Sandler’s patented sawascreen air filtration material, made from 100% polypropylene. The interest in the product focuses around sawascreen pleatable media’s usage in filter classes G4-H10 air filtration.
In terms of end use markets, Sandler products target a range of applications including apparel, upholstery, filtration, automotives and hygiene. The apparel segment has thrived on the introduction of outdoor garments for skiing and other sporting activities that use sandler sports, functional nonwovens, to provide warmth and humidity transport. This area once again reinforces Sandler’s commitment to creating niche areas to grow its nonwovens business.
In the upholstery segment, where Sandler has its roots, the company remains a leader in the European market. Currently, most of the growth in this segment is being generated in Poland, an area that Sandler is geographically near, giving it easy access to this burgeoning market.
In the automotives segment, Sandler continues to focus its attention on creating recyclable components for interior applications in anticipation of a pending EED law that will require the automotive industry to produce a recyclable car by 2005. “We noticed a trend toward recyclable materials in the automotive industry several years ago and predicted that this would be necessary,” Dr. Sandler explained. “This idea was the right one and we continue to make breakthroughs in this area.”
In terms of niche areas, one market where Sandler is paying a great deal of attention is horticulture, where its sawagrow product is used in irrigation projects to lower salt concentrations and eliminate bacteria problems while maintaining water levels. Sawagrow is a blend of polyester fibers that provides an air through bonded nonwoven capillary function.
“An innovative company is always looking after new niches,” Dr. Sandler explained. “It’s a continuous process.”
In addition to innovation, Sandler has maintained its success by not being too dependent on its domestic market. More than 50% of its sales are conducted outside of Germany, chiefly in North America and Europe but also in the Far East and South America. Currently, the bulk of the company’s sales growth is being achieved in the U.S., particularly in the technical and hygiene markets. Despite this dependence on foreign business, Sandler continues to only operate facilities in Germany and has no plans to expand its manufacturing base outside of its native country. “I would never say never,” Dr. Sandler said. “But, in our current situation, basing all of our activity in one location is okay.”
Sandler produces 44,800 tons of dry laid, resin bonded, mechanically and thermally bonded, parallel and crosslapped carded, needlepunched, laminated and melt blown nonwovens, and this output has been increasing slightly during the past three years due to production modifications. The company has not made a significant capacity investment since December 1999 when it opened a centralized, 16,000 square meter facility in Schwarzenbach, but the steady growth of the company’s sales levels is expected to sooner or later make further expansion necessary. “Our target is to grow and, in the past five years, things have been very good,” Dr. Sandler predicted.
One of the areas prime for growth is the spunlaced market. Sandler is currently in the final phase of planning the installation of a spunlaced production line and company executives expect that a move into the spunlaced wipes market should be helped by Sandler’s vast experience in carded thermal bonded materials, which is also broadly used in wipes.
In fact, Sandler’s entry into spunlacing is such an important step into the future, that the company already displayed its sawatex spunlaced nonwovens at INDEX. These engineered fabrics will not only be available for wet and dry wiper applications but will also help solve problems in other hygiene-related and technical areas. Sawatex will feature customized fiber blends and material structures, opening a wide field of uses as well as precise solutions, according to Dr. Sandler.
In terms of current business conditions, 2002 has so far been satisfactory for Sandler despite the difficult world economy. For the future, the company will continue to achieve growth through innovation as well as new emerging and growing markets. “I cannot say what these growing markets will be for sure,” Dr. Sandler said. “When you think about it, three or four years ago, there were no wet wipes and now they are everywhere. No one could have predicted that definitely. Some markets can disappear where others will thrive.”