LAS VEGAS—It's been two years since Tubigomma Deregibus S.R.L. started aiming its specialty hose products at the North American market, and so far the firm's top executive is more than satisfied with the results.
In that time, the Padua, Italy-based manufacturer has seen North America become its second-largest market, behind its home base of Europe, accounting for about 20 percent of company revenue, according to Andreas Deregibus, the firm's chief operating officer and co-owner. He discussed the firm during NAHAD's annual convention, held April 18-21 in Las Vegas.
Overall sales for Tubigomma—which does business as Tudertechnica—grew 25 percent during 2011 to $15 million, and Deregibus is forecasting double-digit growth again for 2012.
It first focused its specialty hose offerings at the food and beverage industries in North America and also has had some good success with hoses for chemical applications. Deregibus acknowledged that it takes time to get a foothold in a new market, but his firm has been getting good feedback and new applications.
“Our company is not a mass market company,” he said. “We are more a niche market company. It means we design the product to fill up the needs of the customer. It's a tailor-made product. This means a lot of engineering and a lot of innovation. But as soon as a company gets our product, we are spec'd in for life.”
The firm sells strictly through distribution, working in North America with Cranbury, N.J.-based CRP Industries Inc. But it also works closely with end users to develop custom solutions, often sending its technical personnel with distributors to meet with customers and participate at trade shows.
“Every time we work in strict contact with the distributor, the business comes back stronger,” Deregibus said. “If we approach the market with the distributors, the market always pays back the investment.”
Sonia Violatto serves as Tudertechnica's export manager and has spearheaded its growth efforts in North and South America.
“If you want to grow as a specialty, you have to make sure you understand the market and market needs,” she said at NAHAD. “At the same time, you have to make sure distributors have the technical knowledge. We select our distributors very closely and we work with them.”
Deregibus said the relationship with CRP is strong. “I can clearly state that we are working very well with CRP,” he said. “It's a good fit.”
While Europe and North America are Tudertechnica's top markets, Asia and South America are growing at the fastest pace. He said China is strong and Japan—following last year's earthquake and tsunami—is showing unexpected strength.
The Italian hose maker added new production lines in 2011 and plans additional capacity expansion in 2013, according to Deregibus. It employs 80 overall.
“We foresee a brilliant future,” he said. “We are the boutique of rubber hoses. It's the only way for a small company to survive in a market where there are big players. They can buy the market if they want, but not on specialty hose.”
New hoses for North America
Tudertechnica introduced two hoses at NAHAD for the North American market, one a silicone product and the other made of PTFE.
The Tusil Bright silicone hose is a suction and delivery hose made for the cosmetic, pharmaceutical and food products industries. It meets the health and sanitary standards of industry governing agencies in the U.S., Europe and Japan, the company said, and also has been tested in compliance with USP XXXII Class Vi.
The hose company said the latest approval for Tusil Bright is the migration test of the German agency BfR, and Deregibus said he believes his firm is the first to have a silicone hose that passed that test.
“You can't go in any kind of plant today just saying you have a silicone hose,” he said. “They want to know what standard your silicone hose met.”
Tusil Bright is made with a translucent and phthalates-free silicone platinum-cured tube and is reinforced with synthetic plies and stainless steel wire helix.
The Tuflon PTFE Biotech offering is a suction and delivery hose that is resistant to high temperatures and is suitable for many chemicals and solvents. Tudertechnica said it provides full conductivity, Food and Drug Administration approval in the U.S., and has a distinctive spotted black-and-white color. It is designed for the chemical, food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries, especially where a flexible connection is required and there is a risk of explosion.
The hose was released earlier in Europe and was well-received by customers, Deregibus said.
A silicone hose Tudertechnica introduced last year for the wind energy market is gaining some traction in North America but is seeing more growth in Asia and Europe, where there is much more investment in the sector. “I knew from the very beginning it would be tough to enter because it's still a new market for North America, but it is moving,” he said.