NWA Founder Ventures
Establishment of Nonwovens of America broadens
wipe manufacturer’s scope
By Karen Bitz-McIntyre, Editor
According to president Jeff Slosman, National Wiper Al- liance’s recent move into needlepunch nonwovens pro- duction is a matter of happenstance. A few months ago,
the Asheville, NC-based company decided it was time to start
looking into securing more manufacturing space, an effort that
led it to the Owen facility, owned by Charles D. Owen Manufac-
turing. The facility is located in Swannanoa, NC, and occupies 23
acres with 500,000 square feet under roof.
Referred to as the “campus,” this huge manufacturing site in-
cluded 22 textile looms, flocking lines and six needle punch lines.
Content to stick with its core business, wipes converting, Nation-
al Wiper Alliance (NWA) originally planned on selling all of this
equipment but when an opportunity in the needlepunch blan-
ket market came along, Slosman decided to hold on to the site’s
newest needleloom, a 5. 4 meter airlay line, marking not only his
first venture outside of the wipes market but also his entry into
nonwovens manufacturing through the creation of a new com-
pany called Nonwovens of America (NOA).
“It’s really been amazing,” Slosman says. “We’ve never made
nonwovens roll goods before so there has been a lot of education.
We plan to move into many new markets, some where our wipes
are currently used and some where they are not.”
These markets include automotives and geotextiles in addition
to the existing blanket business the facility was known for. Addi-
tionally, Slosman hopes to vertically integrate his two businesses.
“Part of our long-term goal is the vertical integration of Nonwo-
vens of America materials into National Wiper Alliance convert-
ing operations,” Slosman says.“The development of needlepunch
nonwovens into wipes is key long term strategy for the site.”
While Slosman did not speculate on which wipes markets NOA
will target, he did explain that the use of needlepunch material in
the wipes market has been limited by costs. The higher produc-
tion costs of needlepunch make it more attractive for durable ap-
plications than disposable wipes. One area where needlepunch
has made significant inroads in wipes is disposable bath cloths
used in the care of bedridden but this market is already fairly
saturated by Nonwoven Solutions and Sage Products.
In the meantime, NOA and NWA will function independently
of each other but will remain at the same Swannanoa location.
NWA’s two smaller facilities, a production plant in Asheville and
a leased warehouse space in Fletcher, NC, will close, moving all
operations into one area. The new campus with its nine buildings
also allows for the expansion of the converting and distribution
services, which NWA has been growing since 1996.
During the past 17 years, NWA has grown from a maker of
industrial and consumer wipes with only 2,000 square feet of
space and two employees to an internationally recognized manufacturer of wipes for a number of markets including aerospace,
automotive, industrial and manufacturing, food service and hospitality, medical and healthcare, government and military and
janitorial and sanitation as well as retail.
Last year, NWA’s business received a significant boost when
it received its ISO 9001:2008 certification last year from NSF International Strategic Registrations.“The certification validates the
systems in place to assure our customers of consistent products
and services,” says Slosman adding that the certification has already increased NWA’s converting operations exponentially. “It
shows people we are serious about quality and consistency.”
16 • Household & Personal Care Wipes