A report on textiles Made in Germany (Part 1)
A couple of months ago, TextileFuture did visit some textile, Technical Textile and textile machinery companies betting on Made in Germany. They undertake everything possible to keep a leading position to preserve Made in Germany, either by innovation, modern processing methods and with niche products covering some outstanding market segments. This part one is dedicated to textiles. Part 2 in the next issue of TextileFuture’s Newsletter will focus on textile machinery
The companies in the textile and technical textile area visited are Atelier GARDEUR, Darmstädter, Tuchfabrik Willy Schmitz, and Freudenberg Nonwovens.
Atelier GARDEUR – the absolute and ultimate trouser specialist
When entering the building of Atelier GARDEUR, one immediately feels in touch with the creative world of trouser fashion. There are around 2000 trouser specialists to create with hand crafted details the perfect silhouette. It can be further witnessed in the cutting departments, the own tailoring workshops, as well as in the laundry facilities. The state-of-the-art technologies are applied to support innovations
The stock of fabric is impressive and each single roll is inspected before going into the cutting area. Manufacturing of trousers follow high social standards and Gerhard Kränzle, CEO specifies that the company’s staff and partners are the ingredients that make the brand tick, of course including highest quality trousers.
The range entails trousers and skirts for urban men and women in the prime of their lives. The trousers meet high expectations in terms of quality, perfect fit, innovation and contemporary, elegant style. The design teams are relentlessly looking for new trends to be translated into up-to-date and elegant styles for the benefit of Atelier GARDEUR’s customers.
GARDEUR’s history started in 1920 when a family company for outerwear was founded in Mönchengladbach (D). In 1959 a specialisation in men’s trouser took place. Ten years later GARDEUR became the first trouser brand in Germany. In 1974 the company was among the first clothing manufacturers to manufacture abroad by setting up its own factory in Tunisia. But design and cutting remained in Germany. Each piece of the end product coming from Tunisia is inspected in view to details and quality in Germany before it is shipped to the customers. In 1981 followed the creation of the complementing labels “GARDEUR femme” and GARDEUR home. In 1998 the first shops-in-shops were initiated. A new logistics centre was built in 2000 in Mönchengladbach. 2003 was the fusion of the creative teams for men’s and women’s wear and GARDEUR Service GmbH was founded.
In 2004 GARDEUR focussed on trousers, and at the same time, the lines were focussed and modernised to also become attractive to a younger generation. In parallel the operations in Tunisia were expanded by a new production, administration, logistic and training centre, and in 2006 a state-of-the-art laundry facility was added. Already in 2007 GARDEUR was pioneer in becoming the first German textile producer to offer jeans made from fair traded cotton, today also organic cotton. In 2008 the Roesner and Janssen families withdraw from the company and CAPELLENCE Mittelstandspartner GmbH, Hamburg (D) became the new owner. 2011 was the first time ever, when the company launched its first shape jeans for women. 2012 was earmarked with large investments in quality and fit and the trouser’s atelier was incorporated in the logo Atelier GARDEUR. The atelier produces each item (with all details) after the designing process, it will be inspected again in all detail, before it goes into production in Tunisia.
On September 24, 2013 GARDEUR CEO Gerhard Kränzle has signed on behalf of Kränzle Beteiligungs GmbH, and in presence of representatives of an investment fund of NRW.BANK a memorandum of understanding on the short notice acquisition of all shares of GARDEUR Group (trouser specialist, around 3 milllion pieces annually) from its former shareholders CAPCELLENCE, Hamburg (D)
The three parties agreed to transfer the shares immediately after clearance from the anti- trust board. Kränzle Beteiligungs GmbH will take over a 51 % company stake in the Mönchengladbach (D) based trouser specialist GARDEUR as major shareholder. NRW.BANK investment fund will acquire 49 %. In addition to the purchase price, who is not disclosed publically, the buyers provide the company with equity capital of EUR eight million. Through this transaction the trouser specialist is to continue the strategic re-orientation initiated by Gerhard Kränzle in 2011, including product development verticalisation and in-house production to be further optimised. The existing banking consortium will continue at GARDEUR’s side to secure outside funding.
Maybe you do object that GARDEUR is defending “Made in Germany”, because the trousers and shirts are produced in Tunisia, but without the production in Tunisia the company would not be competitive in the global market place and the German precision spirit is of perfection is also dominating the production in Tunisia. In-house production amounts to around 70 %, and the share of export is around 54 %. Gardeur has around 3000 customers in 50 countries.
At our visit, we were impressed by the excellent spirit you do feel in Mönchengladbach, the creativity and attention to every little detail and most of all, the excellent structured organisation and the highly motivated and experienced staff, all contributing to the fact that the company stands for quality, made in Germany, and with highest efficiency.
Darmstädter – a specialised and expierenced player in Technical Textiles
Darmstädter is headquartered in Wesel (D). The company was founded 60 years ago and offers an experience of over 50 years in Technical Textiles.
Initially, the assembly of protective clothing was in the foreground, primarily for the steel industry. Later, the core business was concentrated on finishing broadcloth for a wide range of application. Today, the scope of finishing ranges from coating, lamination to impregnation of textile materials. The products made an inroad into many areas of application. The products are made of non-combustible and flame-retardant materials for the insulation of heat dissipating components, as well as flexible gas and oil-proof materials for the manufacture of expansion joints. The materials are used as flame-retardant fire and smoke protection fabrics, and in building for fire prevention. The materials cater to industries, power plant construction, petrochemicals, pipe line construction, shipbuilding, and automotives and aircraft construction.
The company’s area of activity in finishing: Coatings single and double sided coatings with silicone (incld. transfer processing), polyurethane, polyacrylics, polyvinyl acetate, fluoropolymer and vermiculite.
Flexible laminations with metal foils, plastic sheet PET aluminised, PTFE, PFA, polyamide, transfer aluminising, continuous heat resistance of adhesives up to 250°C.
Impregnation to reach the following characteristics: non-slip/firm, high temperature resistant, no smoke, gas and water resistant, colourful, flame retardant, resistant to chemicals.
The raw material value amounts to around EUR 7 million of sheet goods for insulation. The company works as a contract supplier but offers technical solutions by evaluation and knowhow. The main area of activity is the finishing of Technical Textiles for high temperature application, where Darmstädter develops and produces in close cooperation with its customers’ application specific finishing for the most diverse areas of production, such as aluminium filtration (fabrics for filtering liquid metals), plastic reinforcement (fabrics for use with resin for plastic reinforcement), power industry (turbine and pipe insulation, compensator construction), automotives (motor and cable insulation, engine room muffling, acoustic insulation, metal industry (insulation in foundries, splash protection for liquid metals, welding protection), glass industry (insulation, surface protection for hot tools and materials), shipbuilding (motor and cable insulation, acoustic insulation, flue gas protection, flue gas shirting, fire blankets), aircraft construction (cable insulation, welding protection), building (fire and smoke curtains), oven manufacture (surface sealants, insulation of heating element, cable ducting, etc.).
The basic material for Darmstädter is aramid made of recycled fibres (Para-Aramid, Meta-Aramid and Pre-ox), polyester, viscose and cotton, primarily a fibre glass fabric which was used as an asbestos substitute in the 1970s and where the company founder, Hans-Peter Darmstädter played a leading role in the worldwide development. In finishing the company has chosen Monforts machinery. Darmstädter is ISO 9001 : 2008 certified.
In a discussion session Volker Hombach, Technical Director and Lars Kischa, Commercial Director, both qualified engineers, explained that because of the close cooperation and development most of the projects are subjected to strict confidentiality and highest standards. They also explained that it is very difficult to get qualified personnel with experience and also junior technicians. Because the company is involved in the creation of added value, it bets on Made in Germany and it seems to have found the competitive edge in serving a broad field of industries with tailor made high quality finishing, coating and laminating.
Tuchfabrik Willy Schmitz – the high quality fabric specialist
Tuchfabrik Willy Schmitz is a privately owned company with a long tradition in weaving, dyeing and finishing fabrics applying the-state-of-the art technology, and in two factories
The range of products include fashion fabrics for both ladies’ and men’s wear, with a focus on high quality yarns of wool, wool/silk, wool/linen, wool/cashmere, as well as functional textiles. The customers are owners of renowned brands and specialty leaders, both delivering best quality clothing.
Thanks to a network of international joint venture partners, a worldwide network exists with partners engaged in the same product ranges and qualified representatives guarantee relevant services in all locations necessary.
The business unit Technical Textiles caters to the automotive sector with highly specialised fabrics of highest quality for seats, doors, roofs and coverings. The company is active in this sector for over half a century.
The traditional Tuchfabrik Willy Schmitz (around 250 employees) has an interesting historic background. The company was founded in 1897 under the name “Gebrüder (Brothers) Aschaffenburg” weaving mill with 20 looms in rented premises, and not far from the present location of Willy Schmitz Tuchfabrik.
A re-launch of the company took place in 1932 under a new management. Willy Schmitz, his name was given to the company, was one of these forward looking entrepreneurs who knew to propel a traditional company to new shores. Today, Willi Schmitz Tuchfabrik combines the reputation of a long standing family firm with modern production facilities and a customer oriented product palette.
In 1946 Friedhelm Schmitz joined the company. He launched new production sites in Germany to give the sectors clothing textiles and textiles for the car industry a distinctive profile.
In 1995 the third generation of the Schmitz family assumed their responsibilities: Markus Schmitz, a graduate in textiles engineering, and Andreas Schmitz, a business graduate, jointly took over the management of the company.
In 2007 the company was celebrating its 75th anniversary.
Of course also Willy Schmitz Tuchfabrik has to affront new challenges, but it can build on the company’s tradition of the past, by further optimising manufacturing processes, and to strengthen and expand its excellent market position through innovation and quality. The design team transfers ideas into products. Every step of production is monitored by quality inspection. The entire production, including its individual processing stages is supported by an audited QS Quality System and certified by DIN ISO 9001 : 2000 and DIN EN 14001 (environment) as an additional seal of quality for the end product.
The manufacturing steps at Willy Schmitz Tuchfabrik entail dyeing, doubling/twisting, warping, weaving, straightening/darning and finishing (including special forms, such as “super wash”, Teflon® and anti-bacterial protection).
In the discussion session, Markus Schmitz, stated that it becomes more and more difficult to defend Made in Germany, because of a changing framework such as rising energy costs, taxes, feesm, increasing administrational tasks , and all in a general stiff competitive world. In addition, also this company underlines the difficulty to hire qualified personnel. Markus Schmitz however appreciates the nearness to textile educational bodies and technical schools and university. He and his brother undertake a lot to allow a profitable business, but they consider the challenges to affront as ever more demanding to meet. Anyhow, the two brothers believe that Made in Germany has to be defended as a mark of quality to their products.
During the factory tour, TextileFuture was impressed how structured the production is organised and how well the maintenance of machinery is executed, but of course, well running machines make a tremendous contribution to the success of the company and the quality of its products.
Freudenberg Nonwovens – a family owned worldwide company
Freudenberg Nonwovens, belonging to the Freudenberg Group founded in 1849 and employing 37000 persons in 57 countries and activities in 16 Business Groups in various markets and industry sectors, is best known to TextileFuture’s readers since we are reporting frequently on the company’s latest activities.
However, we wish to give you an overview on Freudenberg Nonwovens. Its range of activities in Technical Textiles comprises Solution Engineers; Brands in Apparel, Automotive, Building Interiors, Energy, Geo-Textiles, Hygiene, Medical and Specialties.
In the Apparel sector there are solutions such as Adsorptive Layer for CBRN Suits, meaning adsorbent materials for the protection and long term comfort of personnel in the sectors of Chemical, Biological, Radiological or Nuclear activity. We do find Evolon® Microfibre for Bathrobes for sports and travelling, compact, very absorbent and fast drying. On offer are also Evolon® printed labels, workwear, hobby tailoring (jackets, dresses, blouses, blazers, trousers, pants, skirts with interfacing Vilene® for perfect fit, nonwoven interlinings, shirt interlinings, woven and weft interlinings.
But the ranges continue with nonwoven for mobility, acoustic nonwovens, automotive carpets, headliner facings, tuft backings. In the area of building: Broadloom carpet backing, carpet tiles, dust control mats, Evolon® advanced wall coverings, Window Treatment, SoundText® acoustic nonwoven and wall preparation.
Further we find solutions for the energy sector, such as battery separators, cable industry, electrical industry; in the Geo-Textiles solutions are for earlier harvest, frost protection and winter coverings and horticulture applications, lawn covering und prefabricated vertical drain and the brands of Lutrasil® Plus and Lutradur® PVD Filter.
In the area of personal hygiene, we find baby diapers, Evolon® cosmetic wipes, Evolon® incontinence pads, feminine hygiene products, and incontinence products.
In the Medical area the solutions offered are advanced wound care, Evolon® – Anti Allergy Encasings, filters for ostomy applications and trans-dermal solutions.
In the sector of Specialities the offering is for creative hobbies, Evolon® automated printing cleaning, bakery pads, bath and sports towels, duvet covers, filtration and high tech micro-fibre wipes and microfilament cleaning cloths.
There is also a selection of multi-talented nonwovens, such as artificial turf, Celestia FR (flame retardant nonwovens for mattresses), components for shoes and leather goods.
Of course, all of these product ranges have a lot more to offer, but the list proves the broad ranges of activities of Freudenberg Nonwovens.
Freudenberg Group offers tailor made innovative technological products and services, it develops and manufactures seals, vibration control technology components, filters, nonwovens, surface treatment products, release agents and specialty lubricants, medical technology and mechatronic products. It further develops software solutions and IT services primarily for SMEs. Consumers are benefitting of Freudenberg’s state-of-the-art household products marketed under the brand of vileda®, for instance wipes.
Most of the product R&D activities are located in Germany, where also core production is located at Freudenberg’s headquarters in Weinheim (D).
We have given you a report on different German companies, all at the forefront of technological development and custom oriented products in the sectors of textile and Technical Textile. The companies’ structures are from SME to large company. Each company has a USP Unique Selling Point and is conquering the world with products Made in Germany and willing to defend and preserve – with appropriate measures – these characteristics by all means.