PADUA, Italy—An Italian specialty hose manufacturer is beginning to sell its products in North America, starting with lines for the food and beverage industries.
Tubigomma Deregibus S.R.L. has reached an agreement with CRP Industries Inc. of Cranbury, N.J., to distribute its products in North America. The Italian firm started shipping its goods to CRP in early June.
Tubigomma Deregibus does business as Tudertechnica and makes specialty hose for a wide range of applications in the food, chemical, wind, pharmaceutical, cosmetic and other industries. It employs about 70 at its 60,000-sq.-ft. facility in Padua and sells products to about 40 nations, according to Andrea Deregibus, the firm's chief operating officer who co-owns the firm with his mother. Sales for 2009 approached $10 million.
“Our goal is to become a leader in the specialty hose business,” he said. “We want to build a solid clientele base in North America, and we believe that we can accomplish this by offering technically superior products that have been successfully applied by our customers, especially in Europe and in Japan.”
Everything to do with the company's history starts with his father, Deregibus said. His father was a shift manager for a time at Pirelli, the industry giant where many rubber company founders in Italy started.
In 1967, the elder Deregibus was one of the founders of industrial hose producer IVG in Italy. In the mid-1970s, he moved to Canada to build up IVG Canada, which later was sold to Goodyear.
The father left that firm in 1983 to start up Tubigomma, and he also founded U.S. Rubber Hose Corp. in Florida in 1987.
During his career, the elder Deregibus was active in the development of hose manufacturing processes, holding a number of patents on what was to become known as the Deregibus Technology. Most of the company's equipment now is highly automated, with employees serving more as technicians than pure labor, the younger Deregibus said.
When his father died in 1993, Deregibus—then only 26—had to make a decision. “At that point I had to choose between the Italian plant and the American plant,” he said. “I understood that I was not able to do both. The decision was made to sell U.S. Rubber Hose to Dayco and keep the company in Italy.”
Its most important market, obviously, is Europe, but he said the firm's hose products also sell well in the South Pacific, China, South America and Japan.
Japan was a particularly tough market to crack, Deregibus said. The first meeting with a possible Japanese customer went quickly. Tubigomma showed its product sample, along with the U.S. and European certifications for the hose line. “They told us, 'As soon as you have Japanese certification, come back,' ” he said.
That was in 2005 and it wasn't until last year that the hose maker finally started marketing its lines in Japan. “You have to be very patient and ready to answer any kind of question or request that they have,” Deregibus said.
Tackling North America
Tubigomma has sold products in the U.S., but as a private label manufacturer for another firm. Deregibus said that arrangement continues, but declined to name the customer.
In the past several years, though, Tubigomma has begun to focus more on being a specialty hose producer, and he believes now is the time to start selling in North America under its Tudertechnica brand name.
“As a major element of our strategic intent, we feel we have to develop and introduce new products in the market,” Deregibus said. “Our strategy is not to produce industrial hose. We provide solutions to the customers. We feel that there is a space for a manufacturer like us that can provide specialty product to the market.”
Tubigomma's flexibility as a niche player will help it find its place in North America, he said. “We do not try to convince the customer that all our hoses fit their applications. We ask the customer to tell us what is the application and we will make and design a hose to fit the application. I think it's a different way to approach the market.”
Selecting CRP Industries
The hose firm chose CRP Industries to market its products for several reasons, Deregibus said.
“The most important reason is CRP is a family-owned business with extensive experience in marketing European and international specialty products in the North American market,” he said.
CRP also is financially resourceful and has an experienced, capable sales organization, Deregibus said. It will make the final decision on how to provide Tubigomma's product to the market, although probably will go through distribution.
“Tudertechnica is well-respected and highly successful in Europe and around the globe,” said CRP President Dan Schildge. “Our goal is to help them become just as successful in our markets of the U.S., Canada and Mexico.”
The first products to hit North America will be its Glidetech line of hose for the food, beverage and wine industries. The firm said the line is approved by the Food and Drug Administration and is lighter, more flexible and more abrasion-resistant than competitive products.
Possibilities to follow include elastomer and silicone hose for other markets, including cosmetics and wind power generation.
Deregibus said he has some goals for what sales levels he wants to achieve, but will see what happens this year.
“I really think the North American market, which is a difficult market and very sensitive to quality, will be satisfied by our products,” he said. “This is the main goal we have, to have a good answer from the market regarding our quality.”