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Management reorganization changing the face of Fiberweb North America.

Management Reorganization Changing The Face of Fiberweb North America

North America roll goods producer making moves to bring decision making lower in organization

Still attempting to find the method to best manage its diverse technology and marketing portfolio, Fiberweb North America, Greenville, SC, is in the midst of a reorganization that drastically shifts decision making and profit and loss responsibilities lower in the organization. While business and planned expansions, including the Greenville spunbond plant and melt blown expansion, will continue as scheduled, there have been some layoffs as a result of the move.

The process, begun in October and planned to be phased in through the end of the year and into 1992, was put in place "to better focus on customers and business needs," according to vice president-strategic development Dennis Tavernetti. "The concept creates strategic business units (SBUs) that are theoretically as self-contained as possible," he told NONWOVENS INDUSTRY. Fiberweb North America is the U.S. arm of the $250 million Swiss Fiberweb Group, which was ranked number six in the world by NONWOVENS INDUSTRY.

Basically, the plan calls for the formation of four SBUs within Fiberweb North America:

* Hygiene--will be headed by Roger Fehrman, who also retains the title of president of FNA. Mr. Fehrman will direct this SBU, which at more than 70% represents the largest single portion of FNA's business, for at least the next year until the concept is established.

* Industrial and Medical--these two separate SBUs will be directed by Jim Posa, former vice president-marketing and sales. These two smaller SBUs are still establishing their market niches and FNA management thought it best to keep their direction under one person.

* Agriculture--this is basically the company's American Agrifabrics subsidiary in Alpharetta, GA. It is headed by Peter Kohm and will continue to market nonwovens provided by FNA and other vendors to the agriculture and landscape segments.

The shift has resulted in the elimination of at least 30 human resources, corporate and engineering jobs at the company. Caught in the move was V.W. (Brink) Brinkerhoff, whose position of vice president-manufacturing was made redundant. However, Ed Thomas, who recently joined FNA from Reemay as director of research and development, remains with the company coordinating corporate R&D efforts. Michael Burge also remains as vice president-finance on the corporate level.

The SBU concept was chosen because of the complex nature of the company's North American business, which includes spunbond, melt blown, spunlaced and thermal bond capabilities. "We have a lot of alternatives and markets," Mr. Tavernetti explained. "We are not like a Scott Nonwovens where you have a hygiene SBU and that's basically it. This is an attempt to make our business less complex."

FNA will now be organized so that each SBU leader has total responsibility for sales, R&D, marketing and manufacturing. Each will continue to report to Mr. Fehrman, but will now have their own resources and P&L responsibilities.

The SBU concept will reportedly not affect the progress of the new S-Tex spunbond line being installed in Greenville or the move of its melt blown operations from New Jersey to South Carolina. It also does not involve in any way the Group's European business units of Fiberweb Sweden, Sodoca (France) and Neuberger (Italy), which retain a sort of hybrid organizational structure that blends independent companies with cross company market segment teams.
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Author:Jacobsen, Michael A.
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Dec 1, 1991
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