CLEVELAND - Automa SpA, a 27-year-old Italian maker of blow molding machines, has opened an office in the Columbus, Ohio, suburb of Dublin - its first office for direct sales in North America. Area manager Sergio Nanni moved from Automa's headquarters in Bologna, Italy, two months ago to oversee development of the firm's business in North America. Nanni said in an interview at Plastics Fair Cleveland, held June 13-15, that Automa already has an installed base of about 50 machines in Mexico, 55 in the United States and 65 in Canada.
Automa currently produces shuttle blow molding machines capable of making containers with capacities of 2 ounces to 11/2 gallons. Nanni said the firm is developing a 21/2-gallon unit as well as its first PET machine.
Since 1990, Moldpro Inc. of Toronto has been providing spare parts and technical support service for Automa machines in North America.
Nanni currently is a one-person sales office, working out of his home, but he said Automa will lease facilities and hire a couple more workers by early next year.
``If business grows as we think it will, and as our research shows,'' he said, ``we expect to manufacture our machines here in two to three years.''
Nanni said that he expects Automa to compete primarily with Johnson Controls Inc.'s Uniloy line of blow molding machines.