Sencorp Systems Inc., a division of DT Industries Inc., recently finalized a manufacturing alliance with Italian thermoforming equipment maker Rigo Group of Milan.
Rigo is a small company compared with Sencorp, but it is a European leader in thermoforming equipment for the large appliance market, said Sencorp's product line manager, John Suomala.
``We're hoping to get into markets such as home improvement, automotive, trucking, recreational and big thermoformed parts like kids' pools, truck components or MRI machines,'' Suomala said in a June 28 telephone interview. ``This is our first entry into a large thermoform [machinery] market.
``It's not a long distance [from us] as far as technology, it's just on a larger scale.''
Sencorp primarily produces roll-fed thermoforming and package-sealing equipment for various consumer-packaging applications.
Hyannis, Mass.-based Sencorp already has started building the first order for equipment as called for in the alliance. Through the Rigo alliance, Sencorp hopes to see a 30 percent sales increase and expects to increase the current number of 150 employees at the Hyannis facility. Sencorp officials did not say how many more employees may be added at the 200,000-square-foot location. They did not disclose annual sales figures.
At present, Sencorp has sufficient staff and capacity to accommodate the additional manufacturing, officials said.
Both sides stand to benefit from exposure in an area where they had not had that much presence, Suomala said.
``On our end, [the partnership] gives us a new product line and gives us that sales potential,'' he said. ``The benefit to Rigo is historically they have not had a strong presence in North America - they don't have the sales and marketing force to be able to support the U.S. market.
``What we bring to the table is a strong knowledge of what an American customer expects of thermoforming machinery and a local base for manufacturing the machinery rather than shipping them overseas.''
Sencorp's parent company, DT Industries, had a previous relationship with Rigo in the early 1990s, Suomala said. By the mid-1990s, the major appliance maker that DT served with Rigo machinery began to slow down its new model releases to save on tooling costs. Machine orders were cut back, and much of the engineering staff left the company as a result, Suomala said.
``Now that the demand is returning, there are a lot of new ideas coming out, and, as a result, so did demands for new equipment,'' he said. ``The good news for DT as a company is Brian Urban [Sencorp's current president] was instrumental as vice president of sales at DT and knew appliance industry customers.
``He decided to take on that product line at Sencorp and bring it here.''
Rigo's deal with Sencorp is not exclusive, but Suomala said Sencorp eventually will be the sole North American manufacturer.
``Our ultimate goal is to secure a license for the entire North American market,'' he said.