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Based in Gronau, Germany, ALTEX group’s roots go back to 1936 when its founder, Bernhard Stienemann Sr., started a business by trading old metal, coats and other types of waste. His son Günter Stienemann joined the business in 1951 and, along with his wife Helga, refined and specialized the business, which began collecting, sorting and processing the materials to bring them back into the industry as new raw materials.
In 1975, Günter founded ALTEX Gronauer Filz GmbH & Co. KG. Bernhard Stienemann Jr., the son of Günter and Helga, became the managing director later. Under his direction the company dedicated its product portfolio towards the manufacturing of nonwovens and developed products like carpets, geotextiles and other special nonwovens, for example, for the automotive industry.
According to Dirk Tunney, managing director for ALTEX Gronauer Filz, the steadily growing demand for new textile fabrics in conjunction with new and recycled raw material applications has become the mainspring of ALTEX’s activities and is why the group entered the nonwovens market over four decades ago.
ALTEX produces nonwovens in a weight range from 40 to 3000 g/sqm - in widths up to 6200 mm - with a capacity of about 15,000 tons per year. Its technologies include drylaid, carded, cross-lapped, needled, heat set, and/or chemical binder-consolidated, fiber-based nonwovens. The state-of-the-art used production technology comes from Western Europe, currently with a focus on German suppliers. The company’s raw materials include all organic and inorganic staple fibers; virgin, regenerate and recycled till fiber shoddy and pulp.
Its most recent major investment, which came on-stream last year, is a new needlepunching and thermobonding nonwoven line with a working width of 5500 mm for light nonwovens up to 40 g/sqm for applications in the automotive and filtration industry.
ALTEX’s key industries are served with the unit’s mobiltech, buildtech, geotech, indutech and hometech, which supply Greater Europe with an export share of more than 60% per year. “Based on our technologies and current market position, we expect further growth for the current fiscal year as well as for our unit mobiltech in the European automotive industry,” Tunney predicts.
Currently, ALTEX is finalizing plans on an extension of the chemical finishing possibilities of its textile surface structures which will be achieved at a new location. The company expects the implementation of the project to be finalized by the end of 2021. Several million euros will be invested to realize the project, Tunney adds.
The content of high quality and the speed of response, flexibility of technologies, partial integration of raw material supply (own production of recycled fibers), flat structures and lean overhead are what makes ALTEX stand out in the markets it serves, according to Tunney. And, he believes nonwovens continues to be an important growing industry.
“Our industry has only been growing for the last 30 years globally and also in Europe,” Tunney says.
In the period between 2008 and 2018 the worldwide production of nonwovens increased by 5.7% (EDANA). “Now, for the first time (2018), we have a slight negative trend compared to the previous year (German nonwovens industry - decline in sales 2018 vs. 2017),” he says. “ALTEX Gronauer Filz GmbH & Co. KG expects across all units a growth of more than 5% over the previous year in 2019 and more than 3% for 2020. We are looking positively at the future of our company.”