2012 Nonwovens Sales: $171 million
Key Personnel: Poul Mikkelsen, chairman; Stephen Landon, president and COO; Finn Schoning, group controller; Alexis Porcher, global commercial manager; Richard Knowlson, vice president product development; Ginny Casstevens, vice president, sales and new business development, Americas; Jeff Sellers, vice president, operations and procurement, USA
Plants: Asheville, NC, U.S., and Soultz, France
Brands: Lidro, Rough N Soft, TAU
Major Markets: Personal care, home care, hygiene, medical, packaging, specialty and technical industrial applications
Sales decreased at Jacob Holm Industries in 2012. The reduction reflects lower raw material costs, changes in product mix and varying exchange rates, according to president and COO, Steve Landon.
“Margins in key segments were broadly in line with the prior year and lines remained full in 2012, operating on a 24/7 basis throughout the full year,” he says.
Currently about 60-65% of Jacob Holm’s overall capacity is sold into the global wipes market while the balance is primarily sold into the hygiene market for diaper components and feminine hygiene applications. While efforts to diversify beyond wipes have been strong in recent years, Holm continues to develop new products in its core wipes business. These include 100% synthetic wipes with an aperture or smooth surface for disinfecting applications, a variety of premium lightweight wipes that range from 30-40 gsm using specialty fibers and a new range of 100% cellulosic/sustainable products.
Variety in raw materials has helped Jacob Holm in the global wipes market, which is still a growth market, albeit one with very pressurized margins, particularly in developed markets. Here, Jacob Holm’s efforts have been recognized by wipes converter Rockline Industries, who honored the spunlace maker with its Supplier Innovation Award in 2011 and again in 2012.
While wipes undoubtedly remain a priority, Jacob Holm has expanded its processing capabilities beyond lightweight hygiene applications to develop mid- to heavyweight fabrics for industrial applications such as automotives, apparel and furniture, areas that have traditionally used needlepunch fabrics. In the lightweight hygiene category, Jacob Holm continues to push the lowest basis weight limits that spunlace can supply, continuing to target 20 gsm and lower, in order to compete with alternate nonwovens technologies while providing the same performance as heavier spunlace nonwovens.
Efforts like these have helped Jacob Holm continue to grow during the past several years without adding new capacity, Landon says. The company’s most recent investment, a large line in North Carolina was added in 2006 and has been running at sold-out status for several years but to date the company has announced no final plans for a second line at the site.