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Hollingsworth & Vose.

Hollingsworth & Vose

112 Washington Street East Walpole, MA 02032 (508)668-0295; Fax (508)668-6526

Worldwide Nonwovens Sales: $60 million U.S. Nonwovens Sales: $40 million Key Personnel: Gordon Moran, president and chief executive officer; James Laurino, executive vice president, Industrial Products Div.; Frank Fry, executive vice president, Filtration Products Div.; Geoffrey Taylor, director of sales and marketing, nonwovens, Industrial Products Div. Plants: East Walpole, MA (gasketing material); West Groton, MA (high efficiency glass media, battery separators, automotive filtration); Fall River, MA (melt blown, converting); Easton, NY (wet process nonwovens); Greenwich, NY (filtration); Floyd, VA (dry laid nonwovens); Hawkinsville, GA (filtration); Winchcombe, England (battery separators, general specialties, filtration); Apizaco, Mexico (filtration and general specialties); Bagnasco, Italy (gaskets) Processes: Parallel and Random Dry Laid, Chemical Bonded, Point Bonded, Flat Bonded, Heat Bonded, Wet Laid, Melt Blown Major Markets: Industrial Specialties, Apparel, Home Furnishings, Filtration Media, Electronics Specialties, Gasketing Materials Notes: When a nonwovens converter or customer has a strange request for a fabric, more and more often they are turning to Hollingsworth & Vose, a newcomer to the Top Companies survey whose specialty is specialties.

"We are the company that customers come to with unusual requests," Geoffrey Taylor, director of sales and marketing, nonwovens, Industrial Products Div., told NONWOVENS INDUSTRY. "When someone does a marketing survey, we're the one that goes under 'other.' That's our real strength."

Hollingsworth & Vose is a closely held company with a 149 year specialty paper history and an involvement in nonwovens since the mid-1960s. It counts its nonwovens sales as $60 million, which encompasses all of its glass filtration, melt blown, battery separator, wet laid and dry laid nonwovens turnover. (H&V was not included in the Top Companies survey last year because all of these categories were not included in its nonwovens sales.)

In the last five years it has added three production facilities in Italy, Georgia and Massachusetts and in January H&V embarked on four major programs that have drastically changed the way it operates its-business. "The changes we have made don't necessarily make a better nonwoven," Mr. Taylor said. "But they make for better decisions, which makes for a better nonwovens business."

Four New H&V Programs

The most visible of the four new programs was the splitting of the business into two divisions--Industrial Products (approximately 40% of the business) and Filtration Products (60%)--both of which manufacture nonwoven fabrics. "The divisionalization of the company was thought to be necessary to bring decision making closer to the customer," according to Gordon Moran, president and chief executive officer.

Added Mr. Taylor: "It was simple arithmetic. The company's biggest core business is auto filtration and the second is gaskets. Where do all the rest fit? So by dividing the company in two everyone gets twice as much attention as before."

The "divisionalization" has also allowed for a more streamlined management structure. "Before we had all sorts of levels for all markets, a ponderous set-up," Mr. Taylor continued. "As it went up the pyramid the decision making process got too far removed from real life."

At the same time the two divisions were being formed in early 1991 the company instituted 19 "cross functional business" teams to manage all major product groupings. An example of these new teams is the one for dry apparel, which includes an R&D representative, the head of mill engineering, a merchandising manager, the head of quality control, the mill superintendent, the mill controller and a process and marketing person, who happens to be Mr. Taylor. He is also leader of the team, but pointed out that it is not mandatory to have a sales/marketing person as team leader; the head of the gasketing team is the divisional vice president for R&D and an industrial specialties team is actually headed by a mill manager.

The third spoke in the four-pronged attack was a comprehensive quality management program, which at H&V is called Total Quality Improvement (TQI). It, too, was initiated early this year, with formal task and functional quality teams now operating at five of its 10 locations. The company expects to have 90 quality teams functioning by 1995.

The final program is something labeled "a participative management program that works," according to Mr. Taylor. As part of the effort, time clocks at some of the plants have been removed, the organizational structure has been flattened and natural work teams have been empowered to make day-to-day decisions.

"We sell to a lot of different areas and for us to respond quickly we have to push down decision making so we don't spend weeks going down through the traditional chain of command," he said. "We are not a job shop, but if you look at some of the products that description isn't far off. Participative management is a result of the business environment we are in that demands you respond quickly."

H&V now has operations in Mexico, Italy and the U.K. in addition to the U.S., with almost half of its sales force overseas. That search for international niches is also a function of the type of producer H&V is. "If you make a specialty product in the U.S., which is the largest single market, then you stand a good chance to be one of the leading suppliers anywhere in the world," Mr. Taylor pointed out.

The company's melt blown operations are located in Fall River, MA. H&V remains a relatively smaller force in this market. That, too, is acceptable for now. "If you are a small supplier you can be very happy with a small slice of the business," he said. H&V is exploring the use of its dry and wet laid nonwovens in composites with the melt blowns.

"We are a low key company, no doubt about it," Mr. Taylor explained. "If you are in the niche business like we are and people say we're too fragmented, I tell them that they don't know what we're doing. And that is okay." That proprietary work being done is partially the reason H&V executives do not want to talk about specific new products.

"It is pretty clear that our program is for not only this year but for many years," he concluded. "That program will be to focus on the customer, improve service, improve lead times and just make the products boring, no excitement, because that's how our customers like it."
COPYRIGHT 1991 Rodman Publications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:nonwoven fabrics business
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Article Type:company profile
Date:Sep 1, 1991
Words:1069
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