The banks of the Hudson River north and south of Albany, as well as the Mohawk and other nearby rivers, were dotted with paper mills in the 1890s. Practically all of the paper manufactured in the U.S. was made within a few hundred miles of Albany, and the forests of the Adirondacks resounded with the echoes of the woodsman's axe and falling timber. It is no wonder that there grew up in the Albany area an industry to supply the burgeoning paper industry.
In 1895, three Albany businessmen with capital of $40,000 formed the Albany Felt Company to manufacture papermaker's felts. In 1902, the Company moved to the site that would be its principal home until 2011 - the plant on Broadway which is on the boundary line between the City of Albany and the Village of Menands.
Global Expansion and Branding
All the Company's operations were conducted in the Broadway plant from 1902 until 1947. Within the next twenty years, the Company established felt mills in Canada and the Southeastern United States, expanded into overseas markets with joint ventures that brought it into Scandinavia, Latin America, The Netherlands, France, and Australia, and made major expansions into industrial fabrics and plastics.
In 1969, a major step in the Company's development took place with the establishment of a new corporate name, Albany International Corp., and the joining together of the complementary operations of Albany Felt Company and Appleton Wire Works, the largest U.S. manufacturer of forming fabrics, and Nordiska Maskinfilt, the leading European clothing supplier to the Scandinavian paper industry as well as a major exporter to other countries. Each of these companies of Albany International was privately owned, and all held positions of leadership in their markets and communities.
Acquisitions and Public Offering
During the 1970s, Albany International acquired paper machine clothing companies in England, Brazil, and Norway, as well as overseas and domestic manufacturing capabilities in paper machine auxiliary equipment. The Company continued to expand and modernize existing paper machine clothing manufacturing operations, as well as investing in its growing plastic products and industrial fabrics businesses and ventures. In the United States, it acquired a leading textile research firm near Boston, Massachusetts, now the home of Albany International Research Co.
Albany International offered its stock to the public in 1972 and listed on the New York Stock Exchange in July 1974. In 1976, it moved its corporate headquarters from the Felt Division location on Broadway to the newly renovated Sage Estate, about a mile away. In 1983, in order to accommodate the Company's largest shareholder group, who wished to diversify their holdings, management took the Company private in a leveraged buy-out. Then, to reduce its newly acquired debt, all operations not primarily serving the paper industry were sold, and the Company again focused its resources on paper machine clothing and auxiliary equipment. While a private company, it continued to invest heavily in research and development and accelerate its capital expenditures program to expand and to modernize its paper machine clothing capacity.
The shareholders voted in 1987 to again make Albany International a public company. Class A stock was offered to the public in September 1987, and in 1988, the Company again listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Today, the Company, headquartered in Rochester, New Hampshire, as of January 1, 2011, has been transformed into a global advanced textiles and materials processing company with two core businesses. Albany Door Systems and PrimaLoft Products were sold in 2012.
Albany's Machine Clothing business is the world's leading producer of custom-designed fabrics and belts essential to production in the paper, nonwovens, and other process industries. Albany Engineered Composites is a rapidly growing supplier of highly engineered composite parts for the aerospace industry.
More than half of the Company's sales, profits, assets, and employment are outside of the United States.