Like father, like son – and daughter

The presentation by the non-woven fabrics manufacturer Nanowetlaids on the joint stand of the German Ministry of Economics for new companies has such a low profile that nobody would guess he or she might discover something really unusual there: a textile family with decades of inherited fibre experience.

“Last week I got a call from my son”, explains Paul A. Senn (senior). “Can you represent me at Techtextil? I’m afraid I can’t make it”, complained the younger man. The reason: this very week he had to supervise the production of non-wovens at Friedrichsdorf in Brandenburg. Since last year Philipp Senn, the son, with his company Nanowetlaids, has been supplying specialist non-woven materials from there for automotive, hygiene and filtration uses. “Of course”, replied his father. As he himself says, he did not know so much about non-woven fabrics as his son, who – according to Senn senior – became interested in this material early on. But Senn junior knew of course why he was asking his father to help.

Textile family: grandfather, father, son and daughter

For he had already founded Samtex Textil-Handels-GmbH at the start of the 1970s, selling fabrics to clothing firms. “I have been through every structural change in the textile industry over the last 60 years”, says Senn senior. After taking his degree as a textile engineer at Reutlingen Polytechnic (son Philip completed the same course there later), he started by working at a chemical-fibre manufacturing company, which in the wake of globalisation ran into somewhat troubled waters. So Senn founded Samtex. But here, too, globalisation processes in the 90s demolished some major strands. “Then at the noughties I set out with my wife to Inner Mongolia, to build up cashmere production there”, he recalls. And adds abruptly: “Actually my father was already a textile specialist; he had worked in a factory in the Black Forest.”

On being asked who was actually representing him in his firm while he was taking his son’s place here, Senn answers: “Well, my daughter has been the owner there for quite a while now.” What did you say – your daughter is also involved in the textile business? “But of course”, answers Senn. Isn’t he afraid that all the Senns will regret their decision when the next structural change takes place in textiles? “Not a bit”, is the reply. “Just look how big this fair is, how many exciting businesses are exhibiting here”, he says with a sweeping gesture around the hall. And adds, after a short pause: “I am very proud of my children.”

About the cover image: father of textiles: daughter Eva and son Philipp are following the textile lifeline of their father Paul Senn.

Ronny Eckert

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