J.W. Suominen Oy.
Worldwide Nonwovens Sales: $111 million (577 million Finnish marks)
Key Personnel: Heikki Bergholm, managing director; Esa Palttala, production and purchasing director; Margareta Hulden, R&D director; Jouko Penttila, marketing director; Timo Kokkola, marketing director; Kristiina Lilja, finance director
Plant: Nakkila, Finland
ISO Status: ISO 9001 certified
Processes: Thermal bonded, hydroentangled
Brand Names: Novelin, Fibrella
Major Markets: Hygiene, medical (wound care), wipes
Celebrating its 100th anniversary this year is our 17th largest manufacturer J.W. Suominen Oy, Nakkila, Finland, which had 1997 sales of $111 million. In April of 1898, Juho Suominen founded what was then a tannery on the shore of the Tattara River in Nakkila. Today, Suominen's facilities on the river's shore cover 60,000 square meters and the business is still growing, with a good year reported in all business areas. Suominen continues to concentrate on three main markets: hygiene, wipes and medical, with the former remaining the largest segment. In the second area, wipes, markets include industrial and personal care wipes and according to managing director Heikki Bergholm, "Both of these areas did well for as this year."
Geographically, said Mr. Bergholm, "we had nice growth in Europe, as well as Asia and the U.S.," although he did comment that Asian figures were down as a result of the area's economic crisis. "We are still a very European company," said Mr. Bergholm, "with 80% of total sales sold in Europe. However," he said, "it is our intention to gain more of a presence in areas outside Europe."
Capacity remains status quo, with two of its spunlaced lines modernized last year. All four lines are now at capacity, said Mr. Bergholm, but there are no official plans for capacity expansions at this time. In the company's thermal bonding technology, normal debottlenecking is ongoing. Suominen also continues to make its own polypropylene fiber, a business Mr. Bergholm said is doing well.
In terms of market diversification, Mr. Bergholm said Suominen would continue to grow within the markets in which it is involved and it will continue to investigate new segments of those markets, but expansion into other product areas is not in the near future. The company has introduced new products in the hygiene area recently; the new range includes both hydrophilic and hydrophobic materials that can be printed and laminated.
For the future, said Mr. Bergholm, "we have two basic goals. We want to continue to be strong in the business areas in which we are involved today and we want to be more active outside of Europe."
The future also holds new leadership at Suominen, as Mr. Bergholm will leave his position as managing director next month to become president of Suominen's mother company. He will be succeeded by Kari Parviainen, who is currently managing director of the Asko Textil Group.
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|Title Annotation:||The Top 40 International Roll Goods Manufacturers|
|Article Type:||Cover Story|
|Date:||Sep 1, 1998|
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