2018 Nonwovens Sales: $138 million
Tenowo Mittweida GmbH
Tenowo Reichenbach GmbH
Lincolnton NC, USA
Tenowo Huzhou New Materials Ltd.
Huzhou City, PRC
Dr. Harald Stini, managing director; Detlev Käppel, global sales director technical nonwovens and managing director, Tenowo Huzhou; Chris Peart, president, Tenowo Inc. NC/USA
Hof/Saale, Germany; Reichenbach, Germany, Mittweida, Germany; Lincolnton, NC; Huzhou City, PRC
Drylaid, thermal bonded, needlepunched, saturate bonded, stitchbonded, spunlace
Variopoint, Unipoint, Unisoft, Zetafelt, Zetastitch, Zetafil, Zetawatt, Zetaloft, Florbond, Zetabond, Zetajet, Zetatherm, Zetamold, Zetacarb, Zetacoustic, Maliwatt, Malivlies, Kunit, Multiknit, eswegee, Bassopoint
Acoustics, automotive, filtration, roofing, industrial, composites, interlinings, medical
The exit from an Indian-based joint venture meant a decrease in overall sales for Tenowo, but executives at the Germany-based maker of nonwovens for automotives and other technical applications report that existing businesses saw a 6% increase in sales in 2018.
In April 2018, Tenowo announced it was selling its 49% stake in Supreme Nonwovens to its Indian co-shareholders. Tenowo had partnered with Supreme, a family-owned company with several nonwovens operations in India, since 2006.
“Ten years ago there was some optimism that the automotives industry in India would grow quickly but we are still seeing it in the range of two to three million units per year,” says Detlev Käppel, sales director. “We decided that we would rather focus our resources and our money to China and other places in Asia.”
Speaking of Asia after decades of continuous growth, China saw some challenges in late 2018, which have continued into 2019. “Last year we were seeing record production out of China but in November and December we began seeing some signs it wasn’t going to keep up,” Käppel adds. “Some OEMs in north of China shut down their plants for several weeks and some lowered their production significantly.”
With capacity utilization less than 50%, the Chinese market is recovering from a few years of aggressive investment but the market remains the largest market in the world, by far, with 23-24 million cars made there annually. As growth slows in this market, however, Tenowo is looking to other Asia markets like Vietnam, Cambodia and Japan to absorb its Chinese capacity.
Back in Europe, where Tenowo operates four sites in Germany, the company’s stitchbonding business has been performing extremely well thanks to growth of this material in the automotives market. In fact, the strength of stitchbonding led Tenowo to construct site no. 4 in Moschendorf where it houses a new stitchbonding line. This new capacity supplements output from Tenowo’s Mittweida site which was expanded in early 2018 and sold out nearly instantly.
Meanwhile, in Reichenbach and Hof, Tenowo has relatively new spunlace and needlepunch lines, which were added during a company-wide expansion effort a few years ago. While details have not been released, additional capacity is expected to come onstream later this year and target markets outside of medical.
In October, the company made significant steps toward this goal by purchasing Reintex Industriale, a Milan-based nonwovens manufacturing specialized in the medical market. The company is on the smaller side with annual sale around €3.5 million but managing director Harald Stini feels Tenowo’s international distribution network will be able to grow revenues quickly.
“We have been dependent on the cycles of the automotives market for years and we have been trying to establish a presence in new markets,” he says. “We have seen medical as a good fit for us and therefore we are looking for organic growth but also for companies that fit with us.”
Prior to the acquisition, Tenowo had already operated a small medical business in Hof and executives feel the Resintex products fit nicely with its current business.
“We think we can develop the segment further. The idea is to have some organic growth but if we see other companies that could fit into this strategy, we will be interested,” Stini says.
Back in the U.S., Tenowo’s North American operation in Lincolnton, NC, was expanded with the construction of a 70,000 square meter building in 2017. The building houses Tenowo’s Multiknit technology which until then had only been made in Germany. Multiknit technology is primarily used in automotive seating applications.
According to Peart, the U.S. operation enjoyed a successful year despite volatility in the North American automotives market, particularly in passenger vehicles. Increased automobile production in Mexico has created demand for Tenowo’s Zetafelt and Zetabond products in that region. As a result, Tenowo opened a sales and warehousing facility in San Luis Potosí in 2018 in order to facilitate providing customers with localized service.