MIAMI BEACH, Fla.—CRP Industries Inc. is poised to make inroads on both sides of its industrial hose business, with continuing growth expected for its specialty business, and a new ultra high pressure hose to be added to its thermoplastic offerings.
Its specialty rubber hoses are supplied by Padua, Italy-based Tubigomma Deregibus s.r.l., which does business as Tudertechnica. CRP has been marketing the Tudertechnica lines in North America since 2010 as the Italian firm—led by Andreas Deregibus, chief operating officer and co-owner—wanted to break into the market.
Tudertechnica fits in well with Cranbury, N.J.-based CRP because it produces high quality, specialty hose lines and generally introduces new products each year, said Guy Renshaw, CRP vice president for industrial.
He said CRP has been able to find a place in the North American market, though sales haven't necessarily grown as quickly as originally predicted. “I won't say it's been easy because you're carving out a niche area, but food and beverage is definitely our strongest area of application,” Renshaw said during the recent NAHAD convention in Miami Beach, Fla. “Second would be silicone, and third is chemical hoses.”
Five years into the partnership, Renshaw said it took time for both sides to get accustomed to working with each other. “It was a new effort for CRP,” he said. “I thought the first couple of years we would take off with this thing, but there's just too much competition on the hose side. You really have to provide a value. We're happy with the progress. It's not as much as we thought it would be, but we're certainly happy with it and are ready to move to the next level.”
While not revealing what sales level the Tudertechnica lines have achieved in North America, he said after a tough year in 2013, sales grew 25 percent in 2014.
Renshaw cited two reasons why it has taken longer than expected for the Italian-made hose products to gain traction here.
One, it was an unknown brand competing against long-established giants such as the former Goodyear Engineered Products and Parker-Hannifin Corp.
Second is that the quality of the Tudertechnica products place them at the upper end of the price scale. “People have to pay more for that product,” Renshaw said. “Once they understand the benefits, they're on board with it.”
The CRP official also said one of the first products the Italian company brought to North America—the Glidetech line of hose for the food, beverage and wine industries—was not patented and now basically has been copied by one of the largest industrial hose makers.
“It just makes it a little tougher,” he said. “We still have customers who love it and won't switch away from it because it's the original.”
One of the strong points of the relationship has been customer retention, according to Renshaw. Because of the quality of the Tudertechnica hoses, he said CRP has retained at least 95 percent of its original customers.
Hoses for use with chemicals will be the next area of focus. CRP has expanded its engineering team to help drive business in this market. “In the chemicals market, the requirements are much stricter, and the further we can get away from commodity-type hose, the better we are.”
CRP is partnering with another Italian hose manufacturer, Transfer Oil S.p.A., to introduce a UHP hose to the North American market later this year. The thermoplastic hose will have working pressure of up to 40,000 PSI, Renshaw said.
Previously only Parker and Germany's Spir Star Druck-schlauche A.G. produced TP hose that operated at these pressures until Transfer Oil started marketing its line in Europe earlier this year, Renshaw claimed.
He said Transfer Oil, which has supplied CRP with other TP hose lines in the past, invested more than $6 million in equipment and other resources to develop the line over a three-year period.
CRP has had the hose on test since late last year and is preparing to set up its assembly area. The New Jersey firm is investing $500,000, he said, for capital equipment, resources, personnel and inventory. “As their partner, we'll be their marketing, sales and engineering arm,” Renshaw said.
The line officially will be launched in the third quarter of this year, he said. CRP plans to market it under its own Reinflex brand name, though Renshaw said it's likely there will be some type of co-branding with the Transfer Oil name.
Expected uses for the UHP hose will come in such applications as wind energy, oil fields and hydraulic tools. Examples would be for water blasting where hoses are used for such things as cleaning the sides of ships, or in hydro-demolition, where high-pressure water is used to blast away concrete while leaving the rebar for new walls to be built.
“It suits our strength,” he said. “It's not a price-driven market; it's performance-driven.”
CRP typically partners with European manufacturers. “They do everything up to manufacturing, and then it stops,” Renshaw said. “We do sales, marketing and application engineering. We're then a supplier to distributors. We don't sell to end users.”
The industrial side of CRP Industries accounts for about 20 percent of the firm's sales, he said, with its automotive division accounting for the rest. The overall firm has four locations in North America and employs about 130.