2012 Nonwovens Sales: $1.25 billion (estimated)
Partnership Products and
K-C Professional Headquarters
Key Personnel: Thomas Falk, chairman and CEO; Elane B. Stock, president, K-C Professional; Richard Thorne, vice president, K-C Professional North America; Bob Stargel, vice president, K-C Global Nonwovens; Tony Fedel, business leader, K-C Professional Partnership Products
Plants:Corinth, MS; Balfour and Hendersonville, NC; Lexington, NC; LaGrange, GA; Neenah, WI; Barton-upon-Humber, U.K.; Jaromer, Czech Republic
ISO Status:Certification achieved in Berkeley, NC, Lexington, NC, LaGrange, GA, and Barton (U.K.); other facilities in progress
Processes: Spunbond, meltblown, SMS, BCW, hydroentangled, film lamination, elastic lamination and Coform
Brands: Kimberly-Clark Professional; Protective Fabrics: Block-It, Dustop, Evolution, and Noah; Filtration Media: Intrepid, Powerloft, Cyclean
Major Markets: Filtration, acoustics, consumer hygiene, industrial, medical, packaging, protective, sorbents, textile linings and wet wipes
One of the world’s largest users of nonwovens, Kimberly-Clark is also one of the biggest producers of nonwovens in the world. While much of this company’s output fuels its enormous consumer products business, including Huggies Disposable diapers, Depend adult incontinence and Kotex feminine hygiene products, Kimberly-Clark’s Partnership Products business sells nonwoven substrates within a total of six categories— filtration, protective fabrics, acoustics, absorbents, advanced personal care and wet wipe delivery systems.
While the major brands are what K-C is known best for, executives say developing the external nonwovens business, which represent about 15% of total output, is just as important to the company as the nonwovens used internally.
“The Partnership Products team leverages various, and often proprietary, nonwovens technologies manufactured by Kimberly-Clark,” says Michele Neher, business development manager, Kimberly-Clark Professional Partnership Products. “We partner with outside companies that purchase these materials and convert them into end-use products. Our nonwovens are used as components of products you may use every day.
“We focus our attention on markets where we can provide differentiated technology and performance and where we can be a strategic, long-term partner with our customers,” says Neher. “We sell our nonwoven roll goods to both converters and branded product manufacturers. These customers value getting the same product performance people associate with Kimberly-Clark’s billion dollar brands.”
At the core of K-C Professional Partnership Products is the Exceptional Products initiative. All of the business unit’s products and activities center around the goal of making people’s lives healthier, safer and more productive whether it be an air filtration product that improves indoor air quality, protective fabrics to safeguard high value property or wiping substrates used in medical, industrial and consumer products.
“Our success lies in the depth of our capability and experience in delivering value-added, innovative nonwoven solutions to our customers that enable them to win by bringing exceptional products to market,” says Tony Fedel, business leader of K-C Professional Partnership Products.
Products being sold by Partnership Products include fine fiber metlblown applications used in high performance wipes areas, dual texture meltblown applications for industrial wipes areas, Hydroknit Material, Ultrasoft spunbond, SMS nonwovens and Coform. These products are made at sites in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Arkansas and Mississippi.
In terms of corporate sales, K-C reported a 1% increase to $21.1 billion last year and sales are expected to grow 2-3% by volume in 2013. These volumes account for lower sales in Europe where K-C announced in late 2012 it would exit the disposable diaper business. K-C said it would exit the European diaper market, except for Italy, and would divest some lower margin businesses in the consumer tissue market. At the time of the announcement, CEO Thomas Falk said the move would facilitate growth in other parts of the world.
The closures reportedly affected five diaper plants, which in total employed 1200-1500 employees.
Amidst this change, K-C continues to focus on building its global brands by providing products that improve the lives of its consumers. Within U by Kotex, a feminine hygiene brand targeting younger women, K-C introduced U by Kotex Extra pads—a new, super premium maxi pad designed to keep girls feeling clean and fresh while providing maximum, heavy duty protection. The brand’s most absorbent pad yet, U by Kotex Extra pads provide such outstanding protection that the U by Kotex brand invites girls to put it to the test in their own “real life product demos” and experience firsthand how it performs and looks like no other.
“The U by Kotex brand knows girls are too smart to believe the absurd, unrealistic demos that some feminine care brands use to prove their products work,” says Kanchan Patkar, U by Kotex senior brand manager, Kimberly-Clark. “When it comes to protection, real life is the only test that matters; so we encourage girls to try and see for themselves how the U by Kotex Extra pad protects against their heaviest flows.”
With the launch of U by Kotex Extra pads, the U by Kotex brand, which was established in 2010, offers a full spectrum of coverage absorbency including U by Kotex Click and Sleek tampons, U by Kotex CleanWear pads and U by Kotex BarelyThere and Curves liners. The new U by Kotex Extra pads have a soft dual cover that keeps wearers clean and dry, an ultra-flexible four-layer absorbency system and Tru-Fit wings that help prevent bunching and scrunching and keep the pad in place. Like all U by Kotex brand products, U by Kotex Extra pads feature a bold, edgy aesthetic and fun colors that continue to challenge the boring and institutional look of feminine care.
Within the baby and family care segment, K-C has expanded its GoodNites disposable underwear with a new design that fits more like real underwear. New GoodNites Underwear can help kids boost their self-esteem by empowering them to participate without drawing unwanted attention to their condition.
“Many parents are unaware that bedwetting is a developmental condition that cannot be overcome through training, and it affects one out of every six kids between the ages of 4-12 years old,” says Jen Wilder, GoodNites brand director for Kimberly-Clark Corp. “We want to provide effective bedwetting solutions and also educate parents on how to best support their child. This new Undercover Mission will help make the journey easier for their children.”
Providing solutions for its customers also led to the creation of Depend Guards and Shields, two products specifically designed for men with light bladder leakage. Depend Guards and Shields are made to fi t a man’s body and can be worn securely in a man’s own underwear. Depend Guards for Men fit like an athletic cup so they stay close to the body and feature maximum absorbency for larger surges. Depend Shields for Men are ultra-thin and offer light absorbency for drips and dribbles.
On the professional side of its business, K-C this year developed a suite of wipes, under its Kimtech brand, to address the unique needs of the aviation industry and help workers perform more productively and efficiently. This aviation-certified wiping solutions meet the requirements of Aerospace Material Specification(AMS) 3819C (Aerospace industry requirement) and Boeing Material Specification (BMS) 15-5F (Boeing).
Kimtech Wipes for aviation are specifically engineered to perform in all areas of Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM) and Maintenance Repair Operations (MRO) operations — including paint surface prep, engine maintenance and general-purpose cleaning. These application-driven solutions are designed to deliver superior cleaning, improve operational efficiencies, reduce turn-around time, and maximize productivity while meeting the precision standards and requirements of the aviation industry.
“Aviation industry workers must have the best wiping tools available to make sure every job is done right the first time,” says Marianne Santangelo, go-to-market leader, Manufacturing, Kimberly-Clark Professional. “Our goal is to provide them with a comprehensive range of customized tools that reduce waste and costs and increase efficiency. This supports our vision of creating Exceptional Workplaces that help keep workers healthier, safer and more productive.”
Kimtech Wipes for aviation are available in four categories: Abrasive Wipes, Surface Preparation Wipes, Cleaning Wipes and a Wet Wipe System. The products also feature an intuitive, alpha-numeric, performance-tier identification system with visual cues that make it easier for technicians to identify the right product for the task.