Wednesday 19 September 2012

Suominen Nonwovens Now

Karen Castle VP NA Sales for Suominen Nonwovens shared the stage with Larry Kin (both ex Ahlstrom) to give an effective Q&A session on the recently expanded company:

  • ·         Who bought whom? Suominen bought Ahlstrom’s Home and Personal Care business unit.
  • ·         Why did Ahlstrom sell Wipes?  Because the business model to succeed in wipes diverged from Ahlstrom’s new business model.  Wipes has a few large customers:  Ahlstrom has a big Sales network.
  • ·         Was it easy?  No. Suominen  had no US business and is having to create one.  There are still problems in transferring Ahlstrom’s  South American plant due to governmental issues.
  • ·         New culture?  If we think pre-Ahlstrom, Suominen is now a combination of cultures from their Nakkila plant in Finland, the Dexter Windsor Locks operation, Green Bay Nonwovens, BBA Fiberweb’s Bethune, Alicante and Mozzate plants, Orlandi, and Ahlstrom’s Paulina plant.  The Suominen guiding principles of Trust, Partnership and Expertise are seamlessly retained.
  • ·         Effect on employees?  Suominen has quadrupled in size with a new Board and CEO and 8 sites instead of one Finnish plant.  Everyone has to accept change but is excited about the future.
  • ·         Windsor Locks Arrangement?  Suominen owns the Genesis and Hydraspun lines, Ahlstrom provide the services. Seamless coexistence occurred from Day 1.
  • ·         Codi?  We’re talking the Suominen Nonwovens Business unit here: Codi Wipes and Flexible Packaging are separate business units in the Suominen Group.
  • ·         Brands?  Suominen now have Fiberlla™ spunlace, Novelin™ thermal bond, Novonette™ thermal bond, Biolace® Webril, SPC™ Nonwoven, Airlace™ Nonwoven, Genesis™ composite, Hydraspun® and Hydraspun® Dispersible.
  • ·         Pilot Plants? Fiber Spinning, Carding, Thermal Bonding, Spunlacing, Wet-Laid and Composites.
  • ·         What next? Focus on customers, efficiency, expanding market, heath safety and environmental responsibility, sustainability.  Managing microbial risk was specifically mentioned.
  • ·         And finally: Suominen rhymes with You Owe Me None
Asked about microbial risks, Ms Castle observed that these had been managed at the converter level, but Suominen will now address it at the roll-goods stage because there have been incidents of contamination.  They are recruiting new microbiologists and Margaretha Holden will head up the new team and ensure implementation of best practice throughout the division.

(from a paper given at the INDA WOW Conference, Chicago, June 2012)

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