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Oil sorbent producer starts melt blown line.

Oil Sorbent Producer Starts Melt Blown Line

a former converter of nonwovens for oil sorbent applications has made the step backwards into roll goods production; melt blown line up and running at Sorbent Products

The company started 14 years ago marketing sorbent materials to the oil spill market. About eight years ago it vertically integrated to do its own converting. Now, Sorbent Products, Somerset, NJ, has taken a further step backwards to produce its own roll goods for oil sorbent applications.

The small nonwovens producer started up a melt blown polypropylene line last March and is currently running at full capacity, manufacturing more than 12 different oil sorbent products, including booms, pads, sweeps, anti-static materials and surfactant treated melt blowns for chemical absorbents. At a recent interview at the company's Somerset headquarters, president Michael Hobin told NONWOVENS INDUSTRY, "We made the decision to start up a melt blown line because we wanted to be more in control of our destiny. The company was prospering and growing rapidly and we didn't want to be at the mercy of suppliers."

Oil sorbents remains the company's primary focus right now, Mr. Hobin said, adding that he wants to concentrate on efficient running of the line before looking to diversify into other markets, although this is certainly a future possibility. "Diversification will come in time," he said. "We want to be well prepared and research into new markets will take time." The company is also investigating thermal bonding as a possible complement to its current capabilities.

The company's only manufacturing facility is at its Somerset headquarters, although it also has a distribution warehouse in Reno, Nevada and distributors throughout Canada. Sorbent Products also has a European sister company, SPC International, Mol, Belgium, that imports material and does some of its own converting.

"The majority of our business is in the U.S.," said Mr. Hobin, "although we do ship to Canada, Europe, the Mid East and Australia." He estimated that Sorbent Products exported about 15% of total sales.

Despite the recession, Mr. Hobin is very encouraged about the future. "Yes, the recession has affected our business," he said. "Businesses are moving less oil; in the industrial market, the automotive and steel industries are also down. But because of our vertical integration, we have more control of the product and we are becoming more aggressive to be positioned to take advantage of the market when the economy turns around."

Sorbent Products is also in the midst of introducing a new product to the nonwovens industry. Its "Tuff Sorb" material will have application as an oil sorbent for industrial applications, which is a market Mr. Hobin feels has been neglected. "Up until now, sorbents were primarily designed to remove oil from water," he said. "We feel the industrial market is where the market growth potential is." Tuff Sorb, which will be introduced this month, is made of a finer fiber web for spill work and maintenance; it is designed for use in and around machinery, replacing clay particulate sorbents.

"Our primary objective," concluded Mr. Hobin, "is to be one of the best manufacturers of oil sorbent materials. We are not gearing to be the biggest, we want to make our reputation on reliability and quality."

PHOTO : Sorbent Products oil sorbent pads being deployed to absorb oil from a spill in a small creek
COPYRIGHT 1992 Rodman Publications, Inc.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sorbent Products, Somerset, New Jersey
Author:Noonan, Ellen
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Feb 1, 1992
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