2018 Nonwovens Sales: $380 million
Dr. Christian Heinrich Sandler, president & CEO; Wolfgang Höflich, board member & chief production officer; Dr. Ulrich Hornfeck, board member & chief commercial officer; Tobias Baumgärtel, president, Sandler Nonwoven Corporation
Sandler AG, Schwarzenbach/Saale, Germany
Sandler Nonwoven Corporation, Perry, GA, U.S.
Carded, waddings and drylaid nonwovens, thermally bonded, meltblown, needlepunched, air-through bonded, spunlaced, coating, embossing and aperturing, composites
Sawabond, sawaloom, sawaloft, sawaflor, sawatex, sawascreen, sawaform, sawasoft, sawasorb, fibercomfort, bio textile by sandler, enAIRsave
Thanks to investments on both sides of the Atlantic, German nonwovens specialist Sandler reported sales increased to €322 million ($380 million) in 2018. “It was our best year ever,” says Ulrich Hornfeck, board member and CCO. “There was no big jump in sales, our capacity is booked but we were still glad to see growth.”
In May, during celebrations for its 140th anniversary, Sandler announced it would invest a total of €80 million in new nonwovens capacity at its German headquarters in Schwarzenbach/Saale and at its U.S. site in Perry, GA, during the next two years. While executives would not elaborate on the specifics of the new investments, president and CEO Christian Heinrich Sandler they would expand the company’s manufacturing capacity and create room for innovations.
Sandler added the U.S. site in 2016, creating its first manufacturing site away from its Bavaria, Germany, home base. The investment has allowed Sandler to expand its business relations with customers in North America by optimizing onsite services. The plant serves as a direct point of entry into the North American market and a basis for establishing new contacts.
For now, Perry is primarily serving the hygiene market but future investments should span the whole gamut of Sandler’s technological expertise, step by step developing the site into a mini-Schwarzenbach, Hornfeck says.
The Perry investment was the latest of a number of ambitious investments Sandler has made during the past 10 years which have totaled nearly €140 million and resulted in a near doubling of staff members.
Hornfeck says that future efforts, both in Germany and the U.S., are focusing on improving processes and adding more capabilities to allow Sandler to be a full-service provider of products to its customers.
“We have a commodity, and everyone needs that but the switch to specialty is becoming a more important part of our business,” he says. “We are focusing on doing things that not everyone can do.”
Within the hygiene market, Sandler has been working on products that combine discretion and safety in use, supporting an active lifestyle at every age. A new multi-layer nonwoven offers a structured and perforated alternative for topsheets: The embossing pattern dubbed “canyon” renders the topsheet bulkier, while increasing stability and creating an individual look. The structure forms grooves on the topsheet’s surface, which help quickly transport fluid away from the body. In this way, the nonwovens contribute to preventing skin irritation and support a sense of safety during use.
Meanwhile, in the acoustics segment, Sandler has created materials with open pore structures that decrease soundwaves’ energy and reduce noise levels.
Sandler is applying its own acoustic materials in a renovation of its administrative buildings in Schwarzenbach/Saale. These nonwovens are made from 100% polyester and are applied in wall and ceiling systems, partition walls, furniture and as wall decorations.
Other efforts at Sandler are focusing on the development of more bio-based products featuring natural materials like PLA, viscose and bamboo. Hornfeck says this is mostly important in disposable segments like hygiene and wipes but Sandler is seeing interest in materials for transportation application using 100% recycled polyester and in other areas in advance of single-use plastics regulations being proposed in the EU and in several U.S. states. “Already today, about 30% of the raw materials used at Sandler are based on renewable or recycled resources and 42% of our finished nonwovens contain or are entirely made of raw materials from natural sources or recycled fibers,” he says. “Plastics regulations are making a big impact on the whole industry. We are all together in the same boat, the whole industry, sitting in it together.”