AKRON—Cassioli Group is bringing a new presence to the U.S. with a new sales and after-sales office in Birmingham, Ala., through Cassioli USA Corp.
The new office comes about two years after its original U.S. facility, located in Detroit, has been in standby since 2016, according to a company spokeswoman at the International Tire Exhibition & Conference, held recently in Akron.
Cassioli, which develops handling systems for material manufacturing and industrial automation, set up the Detroit office in 2009 to serve as the hub of operations for the U.S., but the downturn in the economy led to a downturn in demand, she said. The office became inactive, and Cassioli stopped investing in the hub while it waited for the U.S. economy to improve.
Cassioli USA moved to Alabama, set up a new headquarters office and, within the last year, the company has started building a small team to serve clients and expand the company's market presence in the U.S., she said. The office is starting off as a sales and after-sales market, but the long-term project is to start production in the U.S.
Moving to Birmingham made sense for Cassioli, which was founded 75 years ago, partially because of how the local automotive business is rebuilding, said Marco Cencetti, North America sales area manager.
"We came back from Michigan to Alabama because we have customers there we wanted to follow closely, and because Alabama is doing pretty good," Cencetti said. "Especially in automotive, a lot of big companies are coming there. We have Toyota, Hyundai, Mercedes, as some of the companies there."
Cassioli USA opened the office to take care of its main customers there and develop its business in the U.S. from that point, Cencetti said.
The current team at the Birmingham facility includes sales representatives and engineers for on-site support, Cencetti said. Right now the investment in the location is limited, but that could develop further as manufacturing becomes an option.
"We are working hard to increase our market and business here in North America," he said.
The process is a standard procedure for Cassioli, as the Italy-based company established manufacturing facilities in both Brazil and Poland by following a customer, Cencetti said. The company went to both locations to take care of a particular customer, and ended up expanding its presence through after-sales offices.
One factor that could play into that development is the political landscape in the U.S. as importation taxes and other issues continue to be raised, Cencetti said.
"We want to have a better idea, a more stable situation, before investing a lot of money in with manufacturing," he said.
Cassioli USA is seeing a lot of interest from tire customers in the area, both with existing customers and new prospects, Cencetti said. The company already has multiple projects running in the U.S., including installing an automatic warehouse for a customer.