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New capacity to come onstream at Dexter.

Dexter Nonwovens, Windsor Locks, CT, the fifth largest manufacturer of nonwoven roll goods, stands poised on the brink of an array of new product introductions from an g expansion that should be operational by year end. While that means right now the company is quiet about what is happening, under the surface development projects and ongoing research promise exciting innovations in the future.

The expansion, at Dexter's Chirnside, Scotland facility, was initiated in the spring of 1992. Now it is in the commissioning stages, said company president Barry Gettins, with commercial product expected by the end of the year. Target markets, described previously as "medical and industrial," remain the same, said Dr. Gettins, although he did hint that the industry should expect some innovative new products from the line. "We have had a lot of activity with this process," he said, a process that he described as a next generation Hydraspun technology. "We should see a stream of new products from Chirnside by this time next year."

Also continuing on schedule is Dexter's other European facility, Dexter Nonwovens AB, Stalldalen, Sweden, which is now handling all of the company's European medical production. Other markets served by Stalldalen are automotive products, wet wipes, building products and flooring. "At that facility, the wipes business has been strong," said Dr. Gettins. "Industrial and wet wipes have been target markets." He added that the building products market has been soft because of the deep European recession.

Dexter is also involved in electrostatic melt spinning; the company manufactures electret filters for the face mask industry, particularly for medical and industrial applications.

"Growth at Dexter mirrors growth throughout the industry," said Dr. Gettins. "Progress has been greater in Europe than in North America. As for Japan," he said, "the country is facing some economic challenges." Despite this, Dr. Gettins maintains that the Far East continues to offer significant potential for the entire industry and Japan is the largest market for nonwovens in that region. Developments in South America, where Dexter has done business for a long time, are also promising. "There's a great deal of interest in nonwovens there," said Dr. Gettins, "and the market is still in the embryo stage."

Dexter achieved ISO 9001 certification last year at its U.S. facility; the Chirnside plant has been certified since 1988. Also certified is a pulping plant in Manchester, U.K. and the company hopes to have its Stalldalen facility certified by year end. For a company that has been driven by quality through the years, it was logical for Dexter to pursue ISO certification. "It was our own decision," said Dr. Gettins. "There is a growing awareness of the system worldwide and many businesses are demanding it of their suppliers. It was a major--but worthwhile--investment."

In conclusion Dr. Gettins said, 'Our overriding view is that the nonwovens industry remains a good business for good companies. Although the rapid growth days of the 70's are gone, it's still a good business."
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Title Annotation:International Top 30
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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