MARCO ISLAND, Fla.—Specialty hose manufacturer Tubigomma Deregibus s.r.l. is spending $8 million to add 40,000 square feet to its Padua, Italy, factory, a project that will include a clean room for silicone hose.
The addition will bring the total space at the headquarters facility to about 100,000 square feet, according to Andrea Deregibus, general manager and chief operating officer of the firm, which does business as Tudertechnica.
He and Andrea Compostella, who is marketing and sales manager, discussed the investment at NAHAD's annual convention, held April 28-May 1 in Marco Island, Fla.
The main part of the expansion centers on adding the 20,000-sq.-ft. clean room that will be used to produce silicone hose for the pharmaceutical, cosmetics and food industries, Deregibus said. Plans are for the clean room to be ISO 8 certified. The rest of the space will be available for future expansion plans.
He said the building should be completed by the end of June, then Tudertechnica will install the clean room. That should be ready along with machinery around the beginning of October, with full production launched by the end of the year.
The hose firm will have the capability to produce 130-foot long hose in the clean room, much longer than the current industry standard of about 20 feet, Deregibus said.
"This complies with our five-year strategy to take another step forward for innovative products," he said. "We are talking about something that is completely different for the industries."
The officials said the three target markets all have trends calling for more safety in its products, and Compostella said the food industry in particular will be in need of more silicone hose in the coming years.
He added that Tudertechnica will sell these hoses through its distribution channels. "For a distributor to have a 130-foot long hose is a big advantage," Compostella said. "This will give less scrap and more flexibility. Industry may have a few cases where 20 feet is not enough, but there is no solution at the moment in the market in a clean room. So this can satisfy that part of the market where there is some limitation."
The company officials said their target will be technical distributors that are well-versed in handling high-tech, high-quality products.
"We need someone who is professionally prepared, with very good skills in silicone and the application in order to sell our solution in the correct way, which is a really high level," Compostella said. "We believe this is the way that will bring us more results. It also gives the opportunity to the distributor to have a stronger relationship with the end user, who will decide to start with this new solution."
He added that Tudertechnica has started this process, identifying some prospective candidates in Europe, and will continue with this in North America, Asia and other parts of the world.
"For us, it's important who knows well the advantages of silicone, and better if they have experience in pharmaceutical, so they are used to talking about clean rooms," he said. "And they must be a very good partner of Tudertechnica, so they can represent our brand."
Silicone and rubber-covered PTFE hoses have been showing the strongest growth for Tudertechnica in recent years, Deregibus said, with volumes more or less doubling every two years. "This is the right moment," he said. "The investment must be made when the market is up to be ready to take opportunities for the future."
The company expects to add some new products to the PTFE lines by the end of the year. Deregibus couldn't release any details, but claimed they would have an "immediate impact on the market."
Compostella said this is in line with Tudertechica's strategy for growth in high-value product lines. "Now we are concentrating on the three big markets: North America, Europe and China," he said.
Deregibus added that the Chinese market is looking for high-quality products, and the firm's top lines there are its silicone and rubber-covered PTFE offerings. "If you look at silicone and PTFE only, China is the fastest growing market for us right now," he said.
Currently, 20 percent of sales for Tudertechnica come from Italy. Other parts of Europe, he said, account for 40 percent, with the remainder from the rest of the world, led by Asia and North America. Deregibus projected sales for 2018 will clock in at about $22 million to $23 million.
Compostella said going forward, as the hose maker aims for more of a global presence, that Italy's share of revenues may dip to 15 percent, with the share of exports rising to 85 percent.