Spotlight on Italy: a nonwoven manufacturer becomes essential in the fight against the pandemic
Editor’s note: Miami-based Italy-South America Chamber of Commerce publishes monthly interview highlighting members of its new Georgia chapter, which seeks to enhance and develop commercial ties between the country and the state which is already home to more than 60 Italian companies.
Learn more about the new chapter here or find more stories on our Italy channel at globalatlanta.com/italie. Subscribe to monthly newsletters from Italy here.
The room has caught up Luca Di Benedetto, CEO of Atex inc., to discuss the growing demand for manufacturing nonwoven materials during COVID-19, as they produce more face masks, PPE materials and more. The interview has been edited for length and clarity and reposted with permission.
IACCSE: Tell us a bit about Atex Inc.
Mr. Di Benedetto: ATEX is a leader manufacturer of polypropylene spunbond, melt-blown and composite nonwovens for a variety of markets and applications. Founded in 1993 in Italy, the ATEX group has a management team with extensive experience in nonwoven technology and specialized performance fabrics.
Atex Inc. USA was incorporated in 1999 and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Atex Holding in Milan, Italy.
The ATEX group has manufacturing plants in Europe (Milan) and North America (Georgia).
IACCSE: Who are your main competitors and what makes you unique?
Mr. Di Benedetto: ATEX offers a variety of nonwovens and composite nonwovens to a wide range of converters and manufacturers. We use unique equipment technology developed in-house by our engineers over years of manufacturing experience. We are very customer-oriented and are able to constantly offer our partners new products and often unexplored solutions to their needs.
Nonwovens is a capital intensive industry and our competitors are mainly large multinational companies. We are in competition with American producers of nonwovens but also with foreign producers, mainly Asian.
We are now in a unique historical phase. With the Covid-19 crisis, demand for nonwovens has exploded around the world and many country governments have stopped their exports of nonwovens. Global demand for nonwovens now exceeds global capacity – a unique situation for our industry, generally a mature and highly competitive industry.
IACCSE: How did the business start and when did you come to Georgia?
Mr. Di Benedetto: ATEX, Inc. started production in Gainesville, Georgia in July 2000 to better serve our US customers. We visited several states and counties before meeting Georgia and the Hall County Chamber of Commerce representatives.
At that time, our primary customer was located in North Carolina and the Southeast was our target location. Georgia State and Hall County had good start-up incentive programs.
IACCSE: Are there any business numbers you would like to share with us?
Mr. Di Benedetto: The Atex Group employs around 80 people in the USA and 70 in Italy. ATEX, Inc. USA sales are approximately $ 40 million.
IACCSE: What has been your experience with COVID-19?
Mr. Di Benedetto: The Atex Group is strongly involved in the fight against Covid-19!
Our non-woven products are key components for face masks (protective, surgical, N95, respirators), disinfectant wipes, personal protective equipment (PPE) and generally for medical and hygiene applications. We are committed to supplying the largest US PPE manufacturers from our US location and European PPE manufacturers from our Italian location.
We are a 24/7 operation and it is extremely important in this COVID-19 emergency to keep our manufacturing capabilities at full capacity. This has been a challenge especially during the months of June, July and early August when Covid-19 cases exploded in this region. With the introduction of all possible safety and prevention measures, we were able to fulfill our commitments to customers and government agencies.
2600 West Park Drive
Gainesville, Georgia 30504
General inquiries: [email protected]