Manfred Kern, entrepreneur with every fibre

Manfred Kern, entrepreneur with every fibre

Manfred Kern has been shaping the Austrian textile industry for a great number of years.

Not only is this expert a fountain of knowledge on fibres, what they can be used for and how they can be combined, but he is also an entrepreneur to the core and acts as an innovation catalyst for the entire textile sector. During the past few decades, he has served on executive boards and as CEO of large Austrian industrial companies, and became chairman of the Austrian Association of the Textile, Clothing, Shoe and Leather Industry in September 2013.

Around one and a half years ago, he began building the first production hall for Packnatur® net packaging made from beechwood cellulose, based in Neudau in eastern Styria, Austria. The second production hall was opened in December 2020 and the third one is already in the planning phase. His international experience and large professional network within the textile industry have made the production site what it is today, taking it from a centre of competence for textile packaging – which took off with the establishment of the factory – to a ‘green packaging’ innovation hub.

It was on 8 March 1999 that Helmut Meininger from VPZ approached Manfred Kern (who at that time was head of the yarn manufacturer Borckenstein), with the intention of undertaking the first attempts at producing net packaging from a few kilos of cellulose yarn. It was the meeting of two pioneers. Manfred Kern was immediately attracted to the idea and set about hunting down the right quality of fibre for this type of application: one that was tear-resistant, humidity-proof, food safe and compostable. The LENZING™ Modal fibres sourced from the thinning of local beechwood forests ticked all the right boxes. And this is how a product, which had the potential to curb the use of plastic, was born. Meanwhile, containers full of the net packaging are shipped from Neudau, destined for all four corners of the world.

Manfred Kern leads the manufacturing company Packnatur with great foresight and is setting a new course for the textile industry and the local region. People and the environment remain key factors for him. His heart beats to the rhythm of the production machines. The factory is his second home. His professional network reaches from China to Brazil.