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Lydall, Inc.

Lydall, Inc.

One Colonial Road, P.O. Box 161 Manchester, CT 06040 (203)646-1233; Fax (203)646-4917 Worldwide Nonwovens Sales: $90 million U.S. Nonwovens Sales: $76 million Key Personnel: Leonard Jaskol, president and chief executive officer; John Hanley, comptroller and treasurer; James Carolan, president-Lydall International; Carole Butanas, corporate secretary and manager of corporate relations.

Manning Nonwovens Div. P.O. Box 328 Troy NY 12181 (518)273-6320; Fax(518)273-6361 Key Personnel: Alan Gnann, president; Ray Dugan, vice president-marketing/sales; David Butler, director of manufacturing; Bryan Thomas, technical director; Arthur Kazanjian, comptroller Plant: Green Island, NY Process: Wet laid Trade Names: Cryotherm cryogenic insulation; Manniweb synthetic fiber nonwovens; Manniglas glass fiber nonwovens; Mannitemp high temperature nonwoven insulating products; Mannitherm thermal barrier products; Sep-R-Max separator barrier; Ultradur high strength nonwoven substrates; Acupore battery separator materials; Voltex high temperature electrical insulation; Formoweb thermoformable nonwoven; Syntra nonwovens for thermal dielectric and sonic sealing Major Markets: Filtration, Flame and Thermal Barriers, Battery Separators, Electrical Insulation, Structural and Composite Materials

Technical Papers Div. P.O. Box 1960, Chestnut Hill Rd. Rochester, NH 03867 (603)332-4600; Fax (603)332-9602 Key Personnel: Elliott Whitely, president; Anthony Hall, vice president, marketing and sales; Norman Labrecque, comptroller; Lester Wilson, manufacturing manager Plant: Rochester, NH Process: Wet Laid Brand Names: Lydair high efficiency air filtering media; Lypore industrialliquid filtering media; Lytherm high temperature insulation media; Actipure activated carbon purifying and filtering media; Technimat carbon fiber-based mats Major Markets: Air and Liquid Filtration, High Temperature Insulation, Advanced Composites, Medical Diagnostics

Westex Div. Brooks Crossroads, P.O. Box 109 Hamptonville, NC 27020 (919)468-8522; Fax (919)468-8555 Key Personnel: Chris Skomorowski, president; Paul Ritchie, manufacturing manager; Lisa Krallis-Nixon, medical marketing manager; J. David Jones, automotive marketing manager; John Martin, specialty products marketing manager; Donna Gordin, comptroller; John Hiers, technical director Plant: Hamptonville, NC Process: Needlepunched Brand Names: Lytherm thermal barrier materials; Lypore medical depth filtering media; Lyclad laminated nonwovens; Filtra gas and liquid filtration media Major Markets: Thermal Barriers (intermediate range), Filtration--air, gas and liquid

Axohm Div. Saint Rivalain en Melrand 56310 Bubry, France 33 97 28 5300; Fax 33 97 39 5890 Key Personnel: Herve Nicolle, president and general manager; Yves Manjarret, comptroller; Steve Gerts, director-sales and marketing Plant: Saint Rivalain en Melrand, France Process: Wet Laid Major Markets: Battery Separators Notes: Lydall is an example of a company that puts its mind to something and then set the wheels in motion to achieve it.

Last year, company president Leonard Jaskol spoke with NONWOVENS INDUSTRY about Lydall's growing percentage of exports and said that long term," making here and selling there is not a defensible strategy." This year Lydall puts its money where its mouth was by purchasing Sopatex, S.A., the holding company of Axohm Industries, a nonwovens manufacturer in Saint-Rivalain en Melrand, France.

The acquisition, which was completed at the end of June, realizes a long term goal at Lydall to have a manufacturing facility in Europe directly complementing its U.S. operations. The Axohm acquisition will add some $13 million in annual sales to Lydall's coffers. (This year's ranking does not reflect the Axohm purchase, which took place during 1991. Axohm's annual turnover will be included in the 1992 feature.)

Under terms of the purchase agreement, the new company will continue to be run by current management, with Herve Nicolle remaining as division president and general manager. The name will be changed to Lydall Inc., Axohm Div.

"The addition of Axohm to Lydall will afford us both new product opportunities and increased capacity for our existing products," said Mr. Jaskol. "Since Axohm's technology and equipment so closely parallel Lydall's we will be able to meet increased demand in Europe for certain of our filtration, electrical and thermal barrier products with European manufactured goods."

The purchase increases Lydall's international business from 15% to 24% of total sales. "Ultimately, we hope to have half of our business sales emanate from overseas," said Mr. Jaskol, "but we're not there yet."

Lydall already had a sales office in Geneva, Switzerland and one in Tokyo, Japan, but, as Mr. Jaskol pointed out, "it wasn't the same as having bricks and mortar." This also reflects the customer driven philosophy of the company. "We want to be able to serve our customers around the world. This acquisition reinforces our commitment to our overseas customers." Most of Lydall's foreign sales come from the company's Technical Papers Div. in New Hampshire--more than 40% of that division's sales are exported--but Manning Nonwovens, Troy, NY, is also a significant exporter to Europe and Japan as well as Mexico and, to some degree, South America.

Lydall continues to concentrate its marketing focus on current strategic business units (SBU's), with the recession only "a momentary lull," according to Mr. Jaskol. "We have a stronger balance sheet than ever before and we have not lost sight of what's important." Lydall has been, even in good times, a conservatively run company. "We don't overdo things, we pay strict attention to detail and we keep our strategic objectives in mind. And above all," he said, "we remember the customer."

Air and liquid filtration remains the largest business unit at the company, with 28% of sales. Air filtration has been on the flat side in 1990, but that was coming off several record years. Liquid filtration, on the other hand, has been doing very well.

The medical filtration market has also remained strong at Lydall, but it is market Mr. Jaskol describes as "recession resistant." Hydraulic and lubrication oils have also done reasonably well; this is attributed to increased market penetration.

In the automotive thermal barrier business, Lydall is doing well on the extreme ends of the spectrum--very cold and very hot applications. The middle range has flattened a bit, but that is primarily due to the overall slowness of the automotive market. "We are specified in more vehicles than ever before and in more applications within the vehicle," said Mr. Jaskol. "Thus, when the automotive business turns around, Lydall's business should increase at a greater rate."

Two Lydall businesses that have been adversely affected by the economy are its gasketing and electrical insulation. "Consumer electronic and appliance sales, two primary markets for electrical insulation products, are down. Likewise, sales of small engines and heavy duty equipment are also slow, which affects sales of gasketing materials."

In terms of percentages, air and liquid filtration remained even with last year's figure at 28% and thermal barriers accounted for 18% of total sales, up from 13% in 1989. Materials handling commanded 16% of sales, while electrical insulation had 10%. Gasketing accounted for 6%, while a host of other, smaller businesses comprised the remainder.

Lydall remains committed to its roll goods orientation without looking at forward integration. While the company did purchase a small converter, a fabricating division of SPI, in Rockwell, NC (see Westex Div. section), this is the exception rather than the rule. "We are not looking at forward integration across the board," said Mr. Jaskol. "This was just the right acquisition at the right time for the right reasons."

Mr. Jaskol said many have questioned how the company can maintain significant growth in a limited number of markets. "We can continue," he said. "because our markets start out in one application and, through product modification and technology advances, expand into additional applications, often within the same end product. For example," he added, "we originally developed a thermal barrier for a specific area in a sport-utility vehicle. We now have 35 grades that shield and protect throughout the vehicle. We are in trucks, vans and cars as well as four-wheel drive vehicles."

Manning Nonwovens Div.

At Lydall's Manning Nonwovens Div., three SBU's--advanced filtration materials, advanced thermal materials and electrical and specialty materials--account for more than 90% of the business. There are also a few products that fall under the industrial category, but, president Alan Gnann told Nonwovens Industry, "we like to concentrate technical and market research on a few technologies of a similar nature."

One of the newest markets at the company is the battery separator category, which falls under the electrical and specialty materials SBU. Manning makes several types of battery separators, including sealed lead acid (SLA), alkaline and advanced technology separators directed towards critical battery applications. The company has introduced more than a dozen different grades of its "Acupore" battery separator material in the last year.

The acquisition of Axohm will prove complementary in this area, said Mr. Gnann, since the French company predominantly makes SLA automotive battery separators. "We will work closely with Axohm in terms of marketing," said Mr. Gnann. "Now we will be able to supply any European battery manufacturer with SLA battery separators from our French plant."

Also included in the electrical and specialty materials business unit is electrical insulation for magnet wire insulation and wire and cable insulation.

Manning Nonwovens services a variety of applications--all of which are differentiated from products manufactured by the Technical Papers Div.--in the filtration area, primarily in liquid filtration. Among these are pool and spa filtration media, metalworking--coolant oil filtration media as well as a variety of metallurgical industrial products and specialty automotive filter applications. In air filtration, Manning manufactures high temperature air filtration media as well as reinforcements for air filtration media, among other end uses.

In the thermal barrier segment, Manning concentrates on very low and very high temperature insulation, preventing heat from getting into cold substances and vice versa. In the low-temperature insulation field, Manning has been servicing the cryogenic industry for more than 20 years with its "Cryotherm" insulating material; the company was recently approved by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority for a $500,000 grant for research into low temperature insulation. The money, said Mr. Gnann, will be directed primarily into cryogenic and super-conductivity research.

Also important to the company's low temperature business is a new federal mandate requiring that refrigeration and freezer manufacturers reduce energy consumption by 25% by 1993. In addition, the 1987 Montreal Treaty (by 27 industrial nations) mandated that the use of CFC's worldwide should be cut in half by 1988 with the goal of elimination thereafter. Mr. Gnann reports great potential in this area once these changes are enforced.

Flame and thermal barrier materials are also included in the thermal insulation category. These include building products, flame barriers for UL specified systems, transfer devices for fluids and thermal insulators in the chemical industry.

Manning Nonwovens also has a business development unit for product and commercial development. This unit is targeting structural and composite materials that are thermoformable and moldable. The newest product in this area is "FormoWeb," a unique thermoformable nonwoven that offers the office and home furnishings industry an interesting combination of benefits. FormoWeb can be used as a facer, scrim or encapsulant and provides lightweight structural reinforcement for a variety of substrates, including fiberglass, fabrics, carpeting, foam, wood fibers and vinyl. It offers uniform surface characteristics and is non-apertured to prevent loose substrate fibers from escaping.

"We are using a complex synthetic fiber system and working on a variety of end uses, especially in the automotive field," said Mr. Gnann of the new product. "Most of the line is currently commercial and on the threshold of becoming a new, stand-alone SBU."

Another new product is "Syntra," a material made in part of a proprietary bicomponent fiber system. The Syntra line is capable of being thermally, sonically or dielectrically sealed and, according to Mr. Gnann, Manning is one of the first wet laid producers to use this fiber successfully. "It has the ability to be converted by a number of bonding methods," he said, "and we see a number of applications evolving." Among these are packaging materials, household applications, tapes, liquid filtration media and personal protection devices.

Technical Papers Div.

At Lydall's Technical Papers Div., one of the major changes has been the installation of a dot matrix hot melt laminator, which gives it the ability to put dissimilar materials together. "We can strengthen nonwoven glass products by adding a nonwoven scrim," said division president Elliott Whitely, adding that many of these composites are used for high pressure applications.

Air filtration continues to be the most important product line at Technical Papers, with about 50% of the total business. Liquid filtration has increased substantially in the past year, however; it now holds about 15% of sales. Mr. Whitely reports that there are a great many "very different products in the developmental stages in the liquid filtration area. We are definitely in the growth mode," he said.

About 40% of the division's sales are exported and Mr. Whitely said that he foresees a lot more European activity with the acquisition of Axohm. "We will work very closely with Axohm in a coordinated effort," he said. "There's a great deal of synergy between the product lines and expertise at Axohm, Technical Papers Div. and Manning (Nonwovens)."

Another important market at TPD is its high temperature insulation materials. The division concentrates primarily on the 1000-3000 degree range and sells most of its product through a major distributor network.

Overall, no major changes are planned for the future. "We are pretty well focused," said Mr. Whitely. "We will stay with our current strategy. We feel there is much growth to be had in air and liquid filtration; this is our primary target and will continue to be."

Westex Div.

Lydall's Westex Div. has undergone several changes in the past year. The first was the appointment of Christopher Skomorowski as president. Mr. Skomorowski was previously "Lytherm" business unit manager; he replaced James Carolan, who has moved over to head Lydall's International Div. Under Mr. Skomorowski, who has been at the helm since April 1, things are moving smoothly, with division sales expected to be up about 4%.

The biggest news at the Westex Div. has been the acquisition in April of a fabricating division of SPI, a Rockwell, NC company that had been the largest fabricator for the division's Lytherm business. The Rockwell operation is now considered part of the Westex Div. and handles laminating, die cutting, edge coating and sealing of Westex's roll goods. "This moves us up a tier in the supply chain," said Mr. Skomorowski.

The Westex Div., the only needlepunching unit at Lydall, continues to concentrate on two primary markets--blood filtration and thermal barrier materials for the automotive industry. In the medical area, sales grew 20% in the last year; Mr. Skomorowski said that this business has not slowed at all during the recession. The strongest applications are auto transfusion filters and cardiotomy filters. The company has also entered its second year as sole supplier to Baxter Healthcare.

The division is also doing work in the area of blood component separation through filtration. "This is a new area for us," said Mr. Skomorowski," and we are very enthusiastic about its potential."

The automotive thermal barrier industry has been somewhat off in the past year, as the recession is felt nationwide. "The auto industry has bottomed out," said Mr. Skomorowski, "but the economy is recovering slowly. We do, however, see our automotive business starting to pick back up."

Several new applications are in the works for 1992 model cars. Among these are insulation materials for vehicle trunks, including Chrysler's New Yorker, Imperial and Dodge Dynasty. Lydall materials have also been accepted in the passenger compartment for all Chrysler trucks--1992 Dodge Dakotas and Ram pick-ups as well as for insulation in GM Suburban, Blazer and Crew Cab.

Westex also deals with foreign car manufacturers, providing materials for mostly high end automobiles such as Rolls Royce, Bentley and Range Rover models. In Europe, Westex materials can be found in the Land Rover Ltd. Discovery and in several other commercial vehicles. Exports in this category make up less than 5% of total Westex sales, although this figure doubles if Canada is included.

On the medical side, the company is just starting to export products, with Europe as the primary target market. The division also exports to a Baxter Healthcare plant in Puerto Rico.

Westex is currently running two lines and recently added a Dilo needle loom, which was operational in May. The loom increases efficiency and speed and will be replacing older Fiberwoven looms.

The division is also looking at adding a new card to its first line, said Mr. Skomorowski, but that would be a 1992 capital expenditure. In terms of the future, he said that the division may be looking at some expansion plans, probably in the medical field, but added that that is two to three years down the road. "We need to digest this acquisition before taking a step further," he said.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Rodman Publications, Inc.
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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
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