INTERVIEW FOR TUBETODAY 69/19 by: Mr. Alberto Manzo
Ercolina has turned 45: in this period of time the market has changed and the technological challenges have changed. How did you deal with them?«45 years ago, my brother and I invented a small revolutionary machine called Ercolina, capable of entering in the palm of one hand and bending steel or copper tubes with great energy. For the time, it was an innovative invention, so much so that in 1973 it was awarded the gold medal in Geneva as the invention of the year. Over the years the company has continued to grow and create new models of machines, larger and larger and more innovative, taking advantage of 45 years of history and experience, always pointing at the sword towards a more technological future. As CML, we have a mixed history of innovation, technology, hope, perseverance and a great desire to grow by riding the trends of the moment.
The first trend we have seen in recent years has been the evolution to digital. New segments of business intelligence and data mining to identify winning marketing strategies or web reputation to better cultivate the relationship with the market. A new website, continuously updated, intuitive and interactive, an informative blog on new technologies and new applications invented and implemented, a continuous care of social networks to cultivate the community, participation in major trade fairs, but especially the company’s approach to artificial intelligence and industry 4.0. For some time now, in fact, our machines have been networked and receive remote assistance».
Ercolina turned 45 and got a great gift, IBP Pedrazzoli. Can you tell us the story of this acquisition?
«Pedrazzoli was also a surprise for us, we knew about the failure of the company and we were very sorry, to think of a reality like Pedrazzoli with a history of over 70 years, abandoned to itself and destined to close has made us clench our hearts. We had to decide quickly, literally from evening to morning. The Pedrazzoli plant of over 17’000 square meters opened in the 50’s in Bassano del Grappa, is a national reference point, has produced the first machines for bending and cutting pipes become then famous and exported worldwide. Both Ercolina and Pedrazzoli have a long history behind them, they were born under our garages, grew up with sweat and sacrifices and must absolutely continue to write their own history to bring up the brand and tradition made in Italy.
How do you see/foresee 2019 for Ercolina? What are the difficulties that you think you will have to face? What are your strengths compared to your competitors?
«Our 2019 started very well, we just sold in Qatar the biggest machine ever produced by Ercolina and we are opening a new Ercolina/Pedrazzoli headquarters in Russia. I’m sure there will be some difficulties, but we are ready to face all the challenges that this 2019 will present us, we have a strong and united team.
Our strength that distinguishes us from our competitors is certainly the internationalization (not only of goods but also of services). We export not only Italian machinery, but also all our know-how and creativity.
CML international has several offices, two of which are in Italy (Piedimonte San Germano and Bassano del grappa), one in Germany, one in America, one in Korea and, as anticipated, we are opening one in Russia these days.
Each location is managed by qualified personnel hired and trained on site, but all are continuously followed by our Italian managers who travel every week and visit the various locations to check the market and trends.
Again on Pedrazzoli: the acquisition is certainly a great leap forward, but it is also a great challenge, first of all technological. Is Ercolina ready?
«I’m honest, not at first, we weren’t ready and maybe we’re not ready at all yet, but we’re doing our best to get back in line with production and deliveries.
We have found a disastrous situation, machines paid for and not delivered, warehouses bound by courts, rightly angry customers and much more. The technology used for Pedrazzoli machines is different for Ercolina’s so we had to adapt, like children, we had to go back to school, we had to study the history and the projects, we had to hire new specialized personnel and double the production shifts. Finally, at the beginning of this year, we managed to get the first Pedrazzoli machines out of the CML warehouse.
The components of the Pedrazzoli machines will be produced in Cassino and the machines will be assembled in Bassano: what will change for the Pedrazzoli employees?
«Not everyone knows that before us Pedrazzoli had parts produced by external companies and once they arrived at the Bassano plant, they were assembled. Today with us, all production takes place in our work centres in Cassino and sent to Bassano for assembly». Almost nothing will change for Pedrazzoli employees, what they used to do, they do even now. Unfortunately, with the bankruptcy of Pedrazzoli and the long acquisition period, we have lost a lot of good workers who have preferred to try other ways, but also from this point of view we are organizing ourselves. At the Bassano del Grappa plant, we have just hired a new manager and we are hiring another 30 people to assemble the machines and design new tools».
A few months after the acquisition, is it already possible to draw up an initial balance sheet? What are the main difficulties you have encountered? What about the results?
«The biggest difficulties we encountered were certainly those customers who had paid for the machines at the old management and were still waiting for them to be delivered. Machines that literally did not exist, were still to be built, so you can imagine the great mess in which we found ourselves. Today, finally, we have overcome the greatest gravity and we can see, albeit in the distance, the light of the tunnel. We are doing everything possible to satisfy our customers and to safeguard as much as possible the historic name Pedrazzoli. We are not yet on line, but we can say that the Pedrazzoli machines are finally also being delivered».
Where does the market for tube machines go? Is made in Italy still an added value that can make a difference?
«I believe it is the factor that most characterizes our growth, the «absolute» Italian quality. The top of the range is a symbol of the made in Italy, we sell not only the product, but the Italian way of life when we sell a machine.
All the Ercolina and Pedrazzoli machines found in the world are designed, designed and manufactured in Italy at the Piedimonte San Germano (Cassino) plant, a pole of innovation and technology with cutting-edge CNC machining centres, automated machines, laser cutting and entire departments dedicated to the production of innovative machines, from design to production in a short time.
Once sold, our machines become partners of the customer, the workshop or the company for life. The Ercolina and Pedrazzoli machines are synonymous with reliability and durability over time».
From now until the next 5 years, the tube machines will be fully automated and connected to each other and in the network, it will be possible to produce in a short time many more pieces and with absolute precision, it will be possible to make the machines work even at night and without the continuous presence of an operator, we could check them from our smartphones or tablets and receive assistance from the parent company and a specialized operator thanks to the virtual reality at any time.
Can you tell us about your film? How do you experience it when you see it again?
The movie «The Traveling Scientist» was a surprise organized by my children with our Marketing Manager on the occasion of my 70th birthday. They wanted to tell the story of the birth of Ercolina with a film, very beautiful and exciting.
I watched it many times, often with my wife and grandchildren. It tells my story, when I went to Canada to seek my fortune, when I came back to Italy and I designed this revolutionary machine called Ercolina, the many trips in which I always leave my wife and children alone at home, in short, it tells the joys and sorrows of the dream Ercolina.
It’s a film that tells my story but I think it’s also inspiring for the many young people of today, to whom I say I always believe in their dreams and go on despite the hardships. Ideas and dreams are like soap bubbles that float in the air, you just have to be ready to take one.