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East meets West; Hof expands in both directions.

A new name on an old face marks the major difference at our 28th largest nonwovens manufacturer, Hof Textil and Design, Hof, Germany. The company, formerly known as Textil-gruppe Hof, has also undergone a corporate reorganization to better reflect the company's strategic direction. The nonwovens activities of Hof Textil and Design have been split into an Interlinings division (called Eswegee) and an Industrial division (Techno Textiles). "Techno Textiles manufactures both woven and nonwoven materials while Eswegee manufactures woven and nonwoven interlinings," explained Manfred Knieling, business manager-Eswegee Interlinings. This restructuring was completed at the end of 1992; with the new organization comes a new logo and a new approach to the nonwovens industry, he added.

Part of this new approach includes a new acquisition. At the beginning of this year the company purchased Techtex, which is located in Mittweida in the former East Germany. The site, which will produce stitchbonded Maliwatt and Malivlies nonwovens for markets including backings for artificial leather, automotive trim, shoe interlinings, acoustic interlinings and medical products, will be the headquarters for the Techno Textiles Division's technical nonwovens production. The Eswegee Division will remain in Hof, Germany, as will woven technical fabrics. The technical division's move to Mittweida is scheduled to be completed by the end of 1995.

Moving from east to west, the major North American news from the company involved the start-up and expansion of Hof Textiles in Lincolnton, NC. Initial production began in September of 1992 with one thermal bonded line for interlinings; the plant was officially opened and dedicated in a ceremony last month. For 1993, Hof Textiles has forecast 10 million DM in sales and has made the decision to install a second thermal bonded line next year. Once again, the line, expected onstream at the end of 1994, targets the interlinings market. Hof Textil and Design, however, will retain its distributor network in North America.

Nonwoven exports at Eswegee account for 50% of all sales. By contrast, however, in the technical nonwovens area, only 20% of production is exported.

Total 1992 worldwide sales for the nonwovens producer, which specializes in dry laid staple fiber nonwovens, were $57.6 million. Of this, $19.2 million comes from the technical nonwovens sector, including automotive, coating and filtration applications, while the remainder is accounted for by interlinings. The nonwovens operations as a whole accounted for roughly 10% of the total sales for the Neue Baumwoll-Spinnerei Und Weberei Hof parent company.

Interlinings are the central market of nonwovens production at Hof with automotive, filtration and coatings applications accounting for a smaller share of the market. On the interlinings front--and due to a focus on the environment--the company has developed 100% polyester interlinings to improve the potential for recyclability.

In automotives, the recent downturn in the German auto industry has slowed sales; however, Hof Textil and Design has shown recent increases in automotive exports, offsetting the decline.

Forecasting sales for 1993, Mr. Knieling predicted no increase in Germany due to the tough economy. The company also lost some German exports to the U.S. site with the new line, he said, but total sales should stay at or just above 1992 level.

In the quality arena, the company is moving forward with ISO 9001 certification; the projected final audit and certification is set for the end of 1993. For technical nonwovens in particular, this is an important goal. "ISO certification is a must in the future, especially in the automotive sector," explained Norbert Eisele, manager Techno Textiles, adding that ISO also helps the company internally as it is a positive influence on the total quality of the group.

Hof Textil and Design Postfach 1529, Fabrikzeile 21, D-8670 Hof/Salle 11, Germany 09281-490; Fax: 09281-49216

Hof Textiles Indian Creek Industrial Park, P.O. Box 816, Lincolnton, NC 28093 704-732-3525; Fax: 704-732-4123

Worldwide Nonwoven Sales: $57.6 million

Key Personnel: Dr. Jesko Yon Steynitz, chairman of the board; Tom Graf, member of the board; Manfred Knieling, business manager-Eswegee

Interlinings; Norbert Eisele, manager business-Techno Textiles; Frank Burschik, export manager-Eswegee; Dieter Gronwald, technical and development manager-nonwovens; Gene Satterthwaite, chief operating officer-Hof Textiles

Plants: Hof, Germany; Lincolnton, NC

Processes: Dry Laid, Thermal Bonded, Needled, Saturate Bonded

Brand Names: Eswegee, Variopoint, Unipoint, Unisoft, Zetafelt, Zetafil, Zetawatt, Florbond, Zetabond, Zetatherm, Maliwatt, Malivlies

Major Markets: Interlinings, Filtration, Coating Substrates, Automotive, Noise Reducing Barriers
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Title Annotation:International Top 30; Hof Textil and Design, Hof Textiles
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Sep 1, 1993
Previous Article:Hollingsworth & Vose: specialists in specialties.
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