CHICAGO (July 12, 12:30 p.m. EDT) — Meeting potential U.S. customers at NPE 2000, Cristian Heinen found himself explaining the country of Brazil as much as Himaco injection molding machines.
NPE, held June 19-23 in Chicago, marked the first major U.S. trade show for Himaco Hidraulicos e Maquinas Ltda. Tucked away in the lower level of McCormick Place East, with no English-language sales literature and no U.S. office, Himaco faced an uphill battle.
"It's a very hard challenge, but it's a start," said Heinen, sales manager of the company based in Novo Hamburgo, Brazil.
Brazil's largest injection press maker, IndÃºstrias Romi SA, is gaining U.S. attention through its partnership with Reed-Prentice Ltd. Romi is making Reed's new line of horizontal machines, which debuted at NPE 2000.
Himaco is smaller than Romi, and for now, Himaco has decided to go it alone, without a U.S. partner. Heinen said the company plans to set up a U.S. office, probably in Florida or somewhere in the Midwest, such as Chicago. The facility would handle sales and service.
At NPE, Heinen met with prospective U.S. sales managers.
A currency devaluation last year has lowered the price of products exported from Brazil. Heinen said Himaco offers good-quality machines at about the same price in the United States as presses from Taiwan.
The company offers machine financing through the New York branch of Banco do Brasil.
The company claims to be the market leader in Brazil on smaller machines with up to 220 tons of clamping force. Two hundred people work at the 32-year-old press maker, which is owned by the Bondan family.
Novo Hamburgo is a long way from Chicago, where the city name sounds more like the latest Richard Melman restaurant. But Brazil actually has a well-established plastics machinery manufacturing sector.
At McCormick Place, Heinen was busy talking to one person at a time, pressing the flesh and talking up his company, and country.
"We're here to introduce the name of Himaco and show the product," he said. "The people that are at the show are very interested in the machine. (But they) are not believing it's from Brazil. They think we don't have the kind of technology to make these kind of machines."