2015 Nonwovens Sales: $700 million
Enno Henze, senior vice president and general manager, engineered products; Patti Rizzo, director of sales and marketing, nonwovens Americas; Stefan Mohr, director of sales, nonwovens, EMEA/APAC; Martin Kleinebrecht, leader, Marketing & Portfolio Management for Nonwovens in Europe & Asia; Brian Sapp, director of global fibers; Christian Hassmann, global filtration and separation business leader.
Tucson, AZ; Defiance, OH; Waterville, OH; Richland, MS; Spartanburg, SC; Etowah, TN; Cleburne, TX; Bobingen, Berlin, Wertheim, Karlstein, Steinach, Germany; Shanghai, Louyang, China; Trnava, Slovakia
Dura-Glass, Delta-Aire, DynaWeb, Micro-Aire; Evalith (EU nonwoven brand); ThermoFlow, MultiStar, DuraCore, MicroStrand (fibers brands)
Reporting continued growth is roofing and construction specialist Johns Manville. The Berkshire-Hathaway owned company attributed growth to customer loyalty as the JM brand, its product and its services continued to be valued. “As a global durable nonwovens leader, we were successful with many innovation programs and continued to heavily invest in our people, technology and assets,” says Martin Kleinebrecht, leader, Marketing & Portfolio Management for Nonwovens in Europe & Asia. “Our four core values – People, Passion, Perform and Protect – are helping us to deliver the JM Experience to customers and employees day by day.”
This growth, Kleinebrecht adds, occurred throughout all three segments. In North America, continued growth overall has been key. When certain regions experience a downturn, like the situation in Western brought on by the decrease in oil prices, other regions’ strong performance typically balance out the underperformance. Meanwhile, stability and varying demand growth patterns continues to be a problem in Europe, where conditions vary by country. “The weak Russian market has been a concern, as well as slow economic development in Italy and France; however, we continued to experience more positive environments in other places – for example, Germany or Poland,” Kleinebrecht says. “Brexit implications are yet to be seen, but we do not expect major negative impacts to our business going forward as a result of Brexit.”
In JM’s main market, roofing and construction, North America continues to experience slow and steady growth while the European market has finally bottomed out, meaning limited growth is expected during the next couple of years, however –re-crisis levels are not expected for a couple of years.
In terms of investment, JM announced in June 2014 it would enhance a glass nonwovens line in Wertheim, Germany. The project will address the increasing needs and demands of local customers and markets and will be complete and in production by the end of 2017.
“Glass fiber nonwoven markets are getting more and more sophisticated in terms of quality requirements, particularly for interior applications. Perfectly re-producible surface aesthetics are necessary in a wide range of applications today.” Kleinebrecht says. “While we can meet these requirements with our existing equipment, this particular line has aged to a point where continued maintenance becomes cost-prohibitive relative to investing in improving the asset. Therefore, it has been a logical decision to upgrade the line with new equipment and the latest technology.”
The upgrade will ensure not only continued supplies in highly demanding applications, but will also open the door for new product developments in the future. JM will initially focus on producing it current product portfolio on the line and will soon shift the focus toward new product development.
JM has also invested in a new state-of-the-art PET spunbond line in Berlin, Germany. The lightweight production line will largely serve the high-end polyester filtration media market. It uses newly developed proprietary spinning technology and will increase the Berlin plant’s spunbond lightweight capacity by more than 40%. Johns Manville invested more than €32 million ($36 million) to build the line.
In addition to filtration, the line will allow JM to make inroads into the roofing underslating market. “Our proprietary technology on this line not only offers unique product properties to our customers, but allows us to produce a wide range of different product specifications,” Kleinebrecht says.
This investment is a response to increased interest in clean air, brought on by tightening regulatory requirements aimed at reducing industrial dust emissions globally. Other filtration-related trends include higher penetration rates of cabin air filtration in Asia and North America as well as the shift from cellulose paper to synthetic media in air intake and fuel and oil filtration.
“The investment in our new line in Berlin is one of the responses to these trends, as is our continued product developments in glass microfiber HVAC media – a product family we offer from Defiance, OH and Wertheim (Germany),” Kleinebrecht says
In recent years, JM has also made upgrades to its glass fiber microber lines in the U.S., which has benefited new and existing customers and allowed the company to further globalize its product portfolio.
“As markets evolve and grow, JM’s strategy is to ensure we grow and support the markets that our customers value,” says TJ Stock, portfolio leader, North American Nonwovens. “We are strategically committed to significant capital spending and resource allocation to achieve this goal over the next several years.”
Another market of interest to JM is composites where its nonwoven materials play a role in windmill blades, automotive headliners, lightweight body panels, forming parts and structural elements and panel board for trucks and trailers. As the outer layer, JM’s surfacing veils provide a smooth finish that can be painted for protection from the elements. Thicker, nonwoven glass mats can be applied as sub-surface layers that cover honeycomb cores. And polyester spunbond or glass fiber nonwoven materials can be used as a compressed core to increase mechanical properties with minimal weight.
“Product innovation is a priority for all of JM. Similarly, as our division’s name implies (Engineered Products), product development is often engineered for customer-specific needs. JM sees a trend toward sustainable products. This translates to, among other things, nonwovens incorporating recycled content, bio-based content and formaldehyde-free binder formulations. JM continues to move its product portfolios in this direction,” Stock says.