2015 Nonwovens Sales: $1.2 billion
Marco Levi, president and CEO; Sakari Ahdekivi, CFO; Ulla Bono, EVP, Legal and General Counsel; Paivi Leskinen, EVP, Human Resources; Fulvio Capussotti, EVP Filtration and Performance: Omar Hoek, EVP, Specialties; Jari Kokkalainen, EVP, Procurement & Commercial Excellence
Belgium: Malmedy; Brazil: Louveira; China: Binzhou, Longkou; Finland: Karhula, Mikkeli, Tampere; France: Bousbecque, Brignoud, Orleans, Pont-Audemer, Saint-Severin; India: Mundra; Italy: Turin; Fabriano, Russia: Tver; South Korea: Hyon Poong; U.K.: Chirnside, Radcliffe; U.S.: Bethune, SC; Madisonville, KY; Mt. Holly Springs, PA; Taylorville, IL; Windsor Locks, CT; Germany: Osnabrück, Bärenstein; Sweden: Ställdalen and Falun
Wetlaid (Trinitex), microglass, nanotechnology (Disruptor), composites, creping/micrexing, spunmelt/spunbond, parchmentizing, coating, calendaring
Transportation filtration, diagnostic filtration, water filtration, wall coverings, building, automotive, food packaging, beverage, medical, flooring and masking tape
Operating under a new business structure is Ahlstrom. In January 2016, the company reorganized itself into two business areas—Filtration & Performance and Specialties. The Filtration & Performance business includes the engine and industrial filtration, industrial nonwovens, wallcoverings, building and wind businesses. The Specialties business area consists of food packaging, masking tape, medical and advanced filtration businesses. The business areas have responsibility for sales and market development, technical and customer service, product development and operations.
“The changes in operational and management structure will bring further focus in serving our customers and markets. I am confident that the streamlined business model will bring further efficiency and clarity to all of our operations,” states Marco Levi, president & CEO.
Prior to the restructuring, Ahlstrom operated through three segments–Building and Energy, Food and Medical and Filtration.
In 2015 Ahlstrom reported sales growth of 7.4% to reach €1.07 billion thanks to higher selling prices and improved product mix on the up side and low volumes in the filtration, food and medical businesses on the down side. Growth markets include single-serve coffee filters and water filtration media in the specialties business and glass fiber products and wallcovering in the filtration and performance segment.
By segment, filtration sales rose 7.2% to €431.6 million thanks to higher selling prices, an improved product mix through the sale of more advanced filtration materials and favorable currency effects. However, lower volumes of heavy-duty filtration products had a negative impact on sales.
Within the filtration segment important growth areas include single-serve coffee materials and water filtration media in the specialties business areas and glass fiber products and wall coverings in the filtration and performance business.
In new product news, Ahlstrom offers a large portfolio of filtration media for industrial applications. “Our air intake filter media range of gas turbine market is constantly growing with new products to coverall stages of filtration,” says Noora Blasi, marketing communications manager, Filtration and Advanced Liquid Technologies. “This covers pre-filtration and final stage HEPA filtration including pulse jet filtration.”
For example Ahlstrom TrinitexGT technology offers filter media with excellent mechanical filtration efficiency and low pressure drop thanks to its unique three-layer structure. Each layer can be customized to deliver specific properties and the optimal combination of strength, mechanical particle removal efficiency even at small particle sizes and pressure drop. Other technologies include Micrgolass GT filter media, SafePulse, XAir GT And NanoPulse.
In water filtration, Ahlstrom’s patented Disruptor technology offers the water filtration market a new type of product. Based on electroadsorption, not mechanical filtration, this technology can reduce pathogens, trace pharmaceuticals, heavy metals and many colloidal contaminants from drinking water.
For transportation filtration Ahlstrom has designed many novel solutions that match today’s stringent performances. As an example, Ahlstrom Captimax is a synthetic solution for fuel filtration with higher efficiency and dirt holding capacity.
Turning toward the building and energy segment, net sales increased 7% to €308.5 million due to increased volumes and higher selling prices of flooring, glassfiber reinforcements and specialty nonwoven applications as well as the ramp-up of wallcovering production in Asia. Lower sales of wallcovering materials in Europe had a negative impact on net sales.
Ahlstrom showed its commitment to the wall coverings market in 2014 when it invested €40 million in a new production line in Binzhou, China. At the time, executives call the investment as major step forward in the execution of its Asian strategy. In late 2015, Ahlstrom announced it was increasing the flexibility of this new line to also be able to make filtration products. This line is now able to make about 20,000 metric tons of wallcovering or filtration products. “This investment reinforces our commitment to our customers in the filtration and wallcovering materials markets in China and elsewhere in the region,” says Fulvio Capussotti, executive vice president, Building and Energy business area. “It’s also vital for us to make the Binzhou line more versatile to ensure business agility.”
The Binzhou site already made products for the filtration market.
In corporate news, in July Ahlstrom and Owens Corning terminated the agreement regarding the planned divestiture of Ahlstrom’s Building & Wind business unit to Owens Corning following challenges associated with obtaining regulatory clearance in Germany for the transaction. Ahlstrom will continue to operate and develop the Building & Wind business unit as before and it will be reported as part of the Filtration & Performance segment. In 2015, net sales of the Building & Wind business unit was €83.5 million.
“In 2015 we were approached by Owens Corning to acquire the Building & Wind business unit and engaged in exclusive negotiations with them. Following the unexpected challenges with the German competition authorities, and after careful consideration, we have decided to keep the business intact as part of the Ahlstrom portfolio of innovative fiber-based materials.
The performance of the Building & Wind business unit, as that of the entire Ahlstrom Group, has clearly improved since negotiations were initiated and the business is today contributing positively to our profitability and cash flow,” says Levi. “We are fully committed to serving our customers and reinforcing the unit’s competitive position.”
Throughout all of its business, Ahlstrom remains committed to growing and creating stakeholder value by providing the best performing sustainable fiber-based materials. “We are in the business of creating value for people and the environment and we act with integrity and respect in all that we do,” says Juho Erkheeiki, financial communications manager. “We feel that being responsible is in the heart of our business and our products are designed to offer a function in everyday life.
“Economic responsibility means that we ensure the profitability of our business, while acting in an ethical manner,” he adds. “Social responsibility means safety, employee well-being, respecting human rights and making Ahlstrom a great and inspiring place to work. Environmental responsibility means minimizing the environmental impacts of both our operations and products and also helping our customers to solve their sustainability challenges.”