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Lohmann Gmbh.

Lohmann GmbH Postfach 120110 D-5450, Neuwied 12 Germany 02631-7861 (02631)786-0; Fax (02631)786-467

Worldwide Nonwovens Sales: $37 million (60 million DM) Key Personnel: Dr. Martin Barth, managing partner; Claus Bertrams, sales director-nonwovens Plant: Dierdorf, Germany Processes: Dry Laid, Chemical Bonded, Thermal Bonded, Needlepunched, Print Bonded Brand Names: Paratex, Paratherm, Paramoll, Paraskin, Paradur, Paraprint, Parabond Major Markets: Medical, Coverstock, Filtration, Cosmetics, Flat Roofing, Shoe and Leather Goods

Notes: With sales of $37 million (60 million DM) in 1990, Lohmann has been busy making several important alterations. First and foremost is the planned change in the company's production mix. "We will follow the trend away from the marginal profits achieved in the high volume coverstock market," said Claus Bertrams, sales director-nonwovens. "Although we will continue to make it, we will be placing less emphasis on this area," he said. With a new corporate logo touting "Perspective, Vision, Innovation," however, Lohmann is still going strong in other areas.

Growing in importance at Lohmann will be medical nonwovens, in as much as they seem to be particularly suited for transdermal patch applications. Mr. Bertrams reported that this segment of the business, although currently only in the 5-10% bracket of overall sales, has been extremely successful in the past year and the company expects this to continue.

As a result, a major investment program that will take place through the next several years has begun. A new plant is under construction in Andernach, Germany; the facility is set to be completely finished in three years. Plans are for the Andernach facility to house the entire transdermal patch business, which is being pursued by a subsidiary of Lohmann called LTS, for Lohmann Transdermal Systems. The new company will be operated independently and have its own management in place. High hopes rest upon a nicotine transdermal patch for smokers trying to break the habit.

Because of such proprietary investments, Mr. Bertrams reported that the company has had to step back a little from major investments in its other businesses, such as surgical dressings and related medical supplies, double sided adhesive tapes and nonwovens, but is still optimistic about the future of these businesses.

One way that Lohmann has kept competitive in the medical arena was through its purchase in January, 1991 of Koester, KG, a German company that specializes in refastenable diaper tapes and other pressure sensitive adhesive tapes for industrial uses. The purchase is a complementary arrangement, fitting well with Lohmann's related activities in surgical dressings, medical bandages and double faced adhesive tapes. The Koester unit will continue to operate independently; the newly acquired company also has a facility in Hebron, KY. "The move is to be seen against the backdrop of the emerging single European market that will imply more and stronger competition among international suppliers and more sophisticated consumer expectations," said managing partner Dr. Martin Barth of the acquisition.

As Lohmann expects to slowly move away from its coverstock commitments, which currently accounts for about 30% of its nonwovens business, it will concentrate on heavier nonwovens with higher added value. The company does some of its own converting, including coating, laminating, saturating and powder bonding. It has a 1.2 meter wide powder bonding machine in its lab and Mr. Bertrams reported that it has explored hundreds of new variations and combinations.

"Maybe 50 of them disappear into a drawer. One day you open the drawer and the perfect one comes out," Mr. Bertrams said. Lohmann is planning on looking extensively into powder bonding technology and is also doing work on going one step past roll goods to added value semi-finished products.

Another concentration will be needled materials, where it will broaden its line of products for the roofing and medical industries. "We will increase our capacity for needlepunched nonwovens in flat roofing and we will install a special needlepunched line for medical nonwovens later this year," said Mr. Bertrams. "This will give us more capacity on existing lines for new products." He admitted that nonwovens had been on the back burner for the past few years as other products tied up most of the available investment capital at the company.

Most of Lohmann's medical nonwovens go for in-house needs, primarily in undercast wrappings and neck braces, but it does sell some to the merchant market. That amount is expected to increase as Lohmann works on developing new products in its medical range.

Constantly looking to diversify, Lohmann has done some research into spunlacing, but remains concerned about the current overcapacity problem.

Lohmann continues to concentrate on the European market, keeping its U.S. presence limited to specialty markets. There is no indication that this situation will change dramatically, Mr. Bertrams said, since the U.S. has such a strong home supply situation.

Lohmann is currently not pursuing an East German subsidiary, but rather considers itself an established presence in the market. "We are instituting a sales office and finding a sales staff. A manufacturing facility is not a present goal," he said. "We have not excluded the possibility, however, and if a good opportunity comes along, we would certainly consider it."
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Title Annotation:nonwoven fabrics business
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Article Type:company profile
Date:Sep 1, 1991
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