More auxiliary equipment suppliers have their sights set on Europe.
Penetrating the continent is a trend for certain firms, which announced new ventures during NPE 2003. There are several factors inspiring their decisions: the weakened dollar, and a general attitude change within Europe itself, some officials believe. Europe's economy has not been great, they acknowledge, but now is the best time to make an entrance. Firms also want to be there in time for the huge K 2004 plastics show in Dusseldorf, Germany.
``You have to be ahead of the curve in Europe,'' said Tom Rajkovich, president of Dayton, Ohio-based Comet Automation Systems Inc. ``We've got some low-cost equipment that we think will work in Europe. We just sold equipment recently to an Italian company in the U.S. We think the attitude has changed. Honestly, 20 years ago, I wasn't interested in it.''
There may be a new generation of buyers, Rajkovich said, and the Internet certainly has helped. Comet has formed a pact with Fasti GmbH in Hopfgarten, Austria. The U.S. market still will be its bread-and-butter business, he said.
``Our business is getting better domestically,'' he said in a July 21 telephone interview. ``It hit bottom about a year ago and it's been picking up ever since. It's the same thing in Mexico. [That market] went down and came back with us.''
Dri-Air Industries Inc. officials were working to finalize a deal during NPE in Chicago for its entrance into Europe. In that transaction, East Windsor, Conn.-based Dri-Air is teaming up with Moditec, an auxiliary equipment supplier in Marennes, France.
``Anything we'd get in Europe would be a plus.'' said Mike Keane, vice president of sales.
The firm also has inked a deal with MCP Equipment of Stone, England, in which Dri-Air will begin offering fully automatic, pneumatic injection molding presses.
In product news, Dri-Air has introduced its first dryer specifically for medical products. Officials said the series features Dri-Air's patented, four-bed design for fast drying with precise control.
``This closes the loop on medical for us,'' Keane said.
Maguire Products Inc. plans to establish Maguire Deutschland GmbH by fall. Like some major auxiliary equipment players in North America, Europe is not exactly a new market for Maguire. The company has been in Europe since 1995.
``Our biggest driver is the weak dollar,'' said Pat Smith, Maguire's vice president of sales and marketing. ``It is as though we've had a 30 percent price decrease vs. the exchange rate of 12-18 months ago. If you look at all of Europe, that market is as large as North America. It's clearly a substantial market opportunity.''