2019 Nonwovens Sales: $725 million
John Vasuta, senior vice president and general manager, engineered products; Patti Rizzo, director of sales and marketing, nonwovens Americas; Stefan Mohr, director of sales and marketing, EMEA/APAC; Martin Kleinebrecht, marketing and portfolio management leader nonwovens, EMEA/APAC
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)
As it faces unprecedented disruption in several of its key markets—particularly construction—Johns Manville has responded swiftly to the Coronavirus pandemic through investment and new product development.
“It’s really an all-hands-on-deck situation that we have managed very well so far,” says Martin Kleinebrecht, marketing and portfolio management leader nonwovens, EMEA/APAC. “Despite physical distancing and other safety protocols, the crisis has brought us closer together —within JM and with our customers. JM has weathered many storms in its 162 years of existence.”
Earlier this year, JM started production of meltblown filtration media in Richland, MS. The output on this new line is verified by an FDA-registered U.S. laboratory to meet or exceed Level 1 BFEW 95% (bacterial filtration efficiency) requirements for face masks. Meanwhile, in Spartanburg, SC, the company launched a coated PET spunbond that can be used for the production of disposable medical gowns.
“Both nonwoven products can improve the safety of people in potential direct contact with the Covid-19 virus,” Kleinebrecht says. “We also launched several new products in our microfiber portfolio to allow better performance for our customers.”
As it has shifted some of its resources toward face mask and other PPE, JM is reporting a slowdown in its key market, construction, where some economists are predicting a 5-10% drop in both Europe and the U.S. Meanwhile, industrial production is forecasted to drop more severely, by 10-13% in the U.S. and by 7-10% in the EU for the year 2020. “We do see an improving demand lately, but the pandemic crisis is certainly not over yet,” Kleinebrecht says. “The diversified nature of our business in their wetlaid filtration processes.”
JM’s latest major line investment is a bicomponent spunbond line featuring proprietary spinning technology located in Berlin, Germany. This technology has allowed JM to expand its offerings into complete filter media. The product made on the line features a spunbond back topped with a spin glass layer, requiring no electrostatic charge. It has achieved considerable success in the HVAC market and helped the company grow in the filtration market in general. Meanwhile, in Wertheim, Germany, JM upgraded a glass nonwovens mat line in 2017 allowing it to produce products with smoother surfaces. Kleinebrecht calls this investment a success.
“The requirements for specialty glass mat products have increased strongly over the last decade, which requires up-to-date production technology,” he says.
JM has made similar enhancements to its glass mat line in Waterville, OH, and will continue to work on several planned upgrades in the years to come.