2017 Nonwovens Sales: $340 million
Martin Mikkelsen, CEO; Finn Schoning, group vice president, Finance; Roberto Boggio, COO; Christel Dendas, CCO
Asheville, NC; Soultz, France; Old Hickory, TN; Asturias, Spain
Jacob Holm continues to reap the benefits of the past few years of investments, which include the completion of a large-scale production line in Candler, NC, the acquisition of the Sontara assets from DuPont and the subsequent multi-million dollar investment programs on all production sites. These investments have helped expand Jacob Holm’s range in markets both within and beyond wipes.
“Sontara offers an unparalleled breadth of technology and also allowed us to establish a presence on the ground in Asia with a local network in sales, technology and distribution support,” says CEO Martin Mikkelsen.
The acquisition of Sontara seems to have fortified the Jacob Holm spirit of innovation. In 2018, Jacob Holm commercialized several new product platforms. This growth shows no sign of stopping in 2019 the company’s product development team has developed an interesting and diverse pipeline of products expected to launch next year in markets such as automotive, advanced skin care and high performance materials, according to the company.
Jacob Holm’s emphasis on innovation and continuous improvement has earned it the reputation for having a young, entrepreneurial spirit. This makes the company very attractive to talented industry partners, both as customers and employees. In the last four years, the number of Jacob Holm employees has increased nearly 450%.
In addition to giving Jacob Holm access to new technology, the acquisition of Sontara provided the company with manufacturing assets in Old Hickory, TN, and Asturias, Spain. In January, Jacob Holm announced it had invested more than €2 million in its Asturias, Spain, production facility. This new technology has expanded the number of products made at the site, allowing Jacob Holm to pursue increasingly broad technological growth by providing advanced capabilities to tailor the performance of its products with more accuracy within a broader potential specification set. The advancement provides customers with access to a significantly expanded range of customization options and new fabric properties for performance critical applications, Mikkelsen says.
The Sontara business significantly broadened Jacob Holm’s market presence, providing it with new segments in critical cleaning and other high performance wipes applications. It also served to increase the Jacob Holm presence in existing markets, like advanced skin care. Through partnerships with leading brand houses, Jacob Holm’s presence in the advanced skin care market continues to grow in Asia and beyond.
Meanwhile, in North Carolina, Jacob Holm’s new line in Candler, NC, is based on proprietary technology that allows the company to broaden its product range into new categories. One of these areas is dispersible wipes, where Jacob Holm is setting new benchmarks for dispersibility and softness, as evidenced by a marked consumer preference.
“We are happy with our North Carolina investment. It pushes the boundaries of what is possible and we are pleased with the opportunities it gives for differentiation as well as execution beyond the limits of the GD4 (flushability standards) with dispersibility,” Mikkelsen says. “We take wastewater issues very seriously when it comes to dispersibility. We aim to go above and beyond any industry standards.”
Based on one-of-a-kind technology, Jacob Holm’s dispersible products have done well with customers. “It’s very different from competing products so retailers and converters can differentiate. There is softer hand feel and very nice lotion stability in the packaging. Our innovation team continues to upgrade the offering of products, and we are excited to launch new and improved grades in the coming period. We continue to be impressed with the capabilities of our technology, and we have not even seen the best of it yet.”
While wipes continue to be an important market for Jacob Holm, the company continues to work diligently to expand its market position outside of wipes in healthcare and hygiene as well as in durable and technical applications including automotive, filtration and construction. As it pursues these markets, Jacob Holm has no intention to lessen its focus on wipes.
“The wipes market has good underlying fundamental growth prospects driven by strong macro trends,” Mikkelsen says. “We see a lot of specialization in a lot of premium products. Baby care is an excellent fit for our asset configurations and continues to be an important component of our growth. We continue to invest in process optimization to remain strong in the premium side of this business.”
Looking forward, the company will continue to focus on sustainability. While in part a response to growing global concerns and regulations, it is also a trend inherent in the company’s ethos. As a company founded in Northern Europe, respect for and protection of its natural surroundings has always been a part of Jacob Holm. Combined with the pioneering spirit that keeps Jacob Holm continuously learning and adapting to the needs of the marketplace, Jacob Holm will continue to add value to its partnerships, where Magic Meets Fabric.