2018 Nonwovens Sales: $234 million
Jorgen Bech Madsen, CEO; Henrik Kjeldsen, CCO; Lars Bertelsen, COO: Henrik Eigenbrod, CFO; Keld Lauridsen, group R&D director; Bjarne Knudsen, managing director
Denmark, Czech Republic, U.S., France, Turkey, South Africa, Brazil
Needlepunch, spunlace, impregnating, coating
Acoustics, automotives, bedding, building, composites, concrete, construction, filtration, flooring, furniture, geotextiles, home and garden, horticulture, medical, wipes
Fibertex Nonwovens continues to grow through acquisition. In January 2019, the Denmark-based maker of nonwovens for a number of technical markets purchased Mogul’s U.S. operation in Grey Court, SC, providing it with instant access to 14,000 tons of spunlace nonwovens to target growth in the North American market.
“The acquisition brings us closer to our U.S., customers,” says CEO Jorgen Bech Madsen. “We have been sold out in Chicago for a while and have been importing a lot from Europe.”
Fibertex already has a needlepunch site near Chicago, IL, which it acquired from Non Woven Solutions in October 2014 for about $25 million. This operation has largely targeted the automotives market in North America.
In addition to adding to its U.S. manufacturing footprint, the Mogul purchase also gives Fibertex increased capacity of a technology it knows well.
“Mogul is a strategic fit because we have experience in spunlace market in Turkey and Brazil but we have no local production in the U.S.,” Madsen says. “The site also has a lot of land and is in a good location so we will definitely expand.”
The North American line mainly targets wipes as well as some personal care products.
Fibertex’s acquisition of Mogul’s U.S. site is just the latest in a string of expansion efforts that have increased the company’s global footprint. In February 2018, Fibertex acquired DUCI, a Brazilian-owned nonwovens manufacturer with strong potential in the automotives industry. DUCI manufactures spunlaced nonwovens, a technology Fibertex already uses at its sites in France and Turkey.
The incorporation of DUCI builds on existing technologies and market expertise Fibertex already had in Europe, in particular the automotives market, and will allow the company to follow its customers across the Atlantic Ocean.
The acquisition of DUCI also opened doors to the South American market with products for the composite industry as well as high-performance wipes, where Fibertex Nonwovens has a strong position in Europe.
In fact, just eight months after purchase, Fibertex announced plans to expand production at the site by 20% to accommodate growing demand for special-purpose products for the automotive and other industries. At the time of the announcement, executives said that the DUCI integration had by far exceeded expectations.
“We’ve been planning to expand capacity since acquiring DUCI, but the need has arisen faster than we anticipated, and we will begin to upgrade the existing production line immediately,” Madsen says. “We know from previous experience in expanding our other factory sites that an upgrade can increase our output capacity by 20%. In addition, we will accelerate planning for other expansion projects.”
Estimated at close to DKK 15 million, the investment will add capacity that has already been sold extra to the growing Brazilian market, which is the world’s sixth-largest and accounts for more than half of the entire South American market.
In other investment news, Fibertex has added in a nanofiber line at its Aalborg, Denmark, headquarters targeting the filter media market.
In addition to a new production line, which uses a range of polymers and is able to tailor them for a wide range of different applications, Fibertex Nonwovens has also invested in new lab facilities, new converting and post-processing lines for e.g. plasma treatment, giving the products quite unique permanently hydrophobic properties.
According to executives, the filtration market is turning out to be one of the most promising markets for Fibertex Nonwovens. The company’s new filtration media offer higher filtration efficiency with less pressure drop than in conventional filtration products. The greater active surface area of the nanofibers and minute deviations in pore size ensure very high filtration material performance. Potential applications for these nano-based filtration products include liquid and air filtration, to filter out bacteria or pollen, for example. The fibers in the nanoproducts have a thickness of only 100 nanometers, whereas ordinary nonwoven fiber are about 100 times thicker.
“We see a huge potential in the filtration market, and our ambition is to become a leading global player capable of manufacturing filters with a wide range of different properties. In addition, we have the facilities to produce these products under fully controlled and certified production conditions ensuring environmentally-responsible and sustainable production,” Madsen continues.
He adds that all the equipment installed in the new premises is fully compliant with the highest environmental and safety standards.