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Dexter Nonwovens Div.

Dexter Nonwovens Div.

Two Elm Street Windsor Locks, CT 06096 (203)623-9801; Fax (203)623-5339 Worldwide Nonwovens Sales: $255 million U.S. Nonwovens Sales: $125 million Key Personnel: Dr. R.B. Gettins, president; D.R. Daniels, vice president & general manager, Windsor Locks; S.C. Wimmers, vice president-sales and marketing, North America; A.D. Middleton, senior vice president-European operations; R.R. Davis, director of sales and marketing-Europe Plants: Windsor Locks, CT (wet laid, hydroentanglement); Chirnside, Scotland (wet laid, electrostatic melt spinning); Stalldalen, Sweden (Dexter Nonwovens AB--wet laid); Tokyo, Japan (Dexter Miki joint venture--wet laid) Trade Names: Hydraspun, Stasis, Dextex, Assure Major Markets: Medical, Food Packaging, Industrial Notes: The company making the most significant jump in the Top 10 this year is Dexter Nonwovens, which, through its purchase of Swedish producer Storalene AB last year, moved up in the rankings from number seven to number five. Dexter's new facility (Dexter Nonwovens AB in Stalldalen, Sweden) marks a major move by the Connecticut-based wet laid nonwovens producer. This plant, and an existing facility in Scotland, bring Dexter even further into the expanding European nonwovens market.

"The reception has been excellent," Dexter Nonwovens president R. Barry Gettins said of the Storalene integration. "We couldn't be more pleased with the exchange between our people in Sweden and other locations." Storalene, now officially known as Dexter Nonwovens AB, continues to be operated by Swedish management; the facility's managing director Stellan Andersson reports to A.D. Middleton, senior vice president-European operations. Dexter's European sales and marketing function is based in Brussels, Belgium, with several smaller offices located throughout Europe.

Since the number of markets in which the two companies competed were minimal, the acquisition added new products to Dexter's worldwide mix. Included are wet wipes, headliner materials, other automotive products and building products such as flooring, roofing and wallcovering substrates. These will continue to be manufactured in Sweden.

Dexter also implemented a sizable capital investment project in July to prepare Dexter Nonwovens AB to produce medical grades. The program, according to Dr. Gettins, involves modifications of existing lines with a focus on sterilization wrap production for Europe. Commercialization of resulting products is expected by the end of the year.

Previously, Dexter had sold just about 30% of its total into Europe; with the Storalene purchase this figure jumps to more than 40%. Overall, Dr. Gettins estimates that 50% of the company's business is overseas. Storalene had annual turnover of about $40 million before its acquisition by Dexter.

Dexter's Dexter Miki joint venture in Japan has been successful in expanding sales in the Far East. Dr. Gettins commented that "while total sales by percentage are small, we are experiencing growth in the region and see great future potential there." Dexter Miki's business mirrors Dexter's traditional U.S. and European presence in tea bag filter paper, casing and medical markets.

On the Home Front

Domestically, Dexter continues to concentrate on such core businesses as tea bag and coffee filter paper, fibrous casing base, medical nonwovens and industrial products, which include vacuum bag filter media, wallcovering substrates, alkaline battery separators and porous plug wrap for low tar cigarettes.

Sales have increased significantly in the company's "Hydraspun" line. "We continue to concentrate on very specialized segments of the industry," said Dr. Gettins. "These include cotton scrim replacements in wallcovering applications, durable home furnishing fabrics and industrial products. There has been an increased interest in Hydraspun, particularly in Asia and, to a lesser degree, in Europe," he said.

In the medical market, Dexter Nonwovens continues to manufacture a variety of products, ranging from sterilization wrap and face mask coverstock to drape, gown and apparel fabrics. New medical products feature higher performance at lighter basis weights.

While no new capacity expansions are planned, a sizable converting investment was made at the company's Windsor Locks facility last year. While Dr. Gettins was hesitant to give details, he commented that the new equipment would aid Dexter in offering value added products to its customers.

Additionally, Dexter brought its new cogeneration plant on-stream during April of this past year. The project, which represents a $60 million investment, provides steam and electricity for the company's Windsor Locks operation.

While Dexter has certainly managed to keep busy, Dr. Gettins reports that business was sluggish last year because of the economy. "We are in a broad base of markets and therefore not as much affected by the recession," he said, "but we have definitely noticed changes in sales patterns." He added, though, that business has been much stronger in the last four to six months.

In terms of quality improvement--a term often synonymous with Dexter--all manufacturing locations are concentrating on ISO 9001 quality certification. "Our Scottish facility has already achieved certification and is in the process of being recertified." said Dr. Gettins. "ISO certification presents challenges for the future and gives us a common standard for all of our facilities."

For the future, Dr. Gettins targeted three specific areas of concentration. "First, we will see significant expansion of our Hydraspun technology. Second, in terms of geographic expansion, we are in a strong position in Europe and have major capacity for growth. Finally, Asia will be a key area in the next three to five years."

Dr. Gettins closed on an optimistic note. "I think our business has tremendous potential for the 1990s," he said. "In the global marketing situation of today, the good players will go far. We are positioned to be a strong force in a changing industry."
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Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Article Type:company profile
Date:Sep 1, 1991
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