Officials of Negri Bossi USA Inc. said a new 25,000-square-foot headquarters here shows the long-term commitment by its Italian parent to the United States even in the face of a slump in injection molding machine sales.
``This building is the realization of Negri Bossi to be a global player and invest money in the United States,'' said Eugenio Bonsignori, area manager covering the United States for Negri Bossi SpA in Milan, Italy.
During an Oct. 30 open house, Liam Burns, general manager of Negri Bossi USA, hefted a giant pair of metal scissors to cut the ribbon to cheers by the operation's 12 employees, plus sales representatives, customers and local government officials.
The building's 40-ton crane was decked out with flags of America and Italy. The leased building, which was designed by Negri Bossi, holds 35 injection presses in its large warehouse a big improvement over the previous building in nearby Newark, Del., which measured 10,000 square feet, and did not have a crane. Trucks now can pull directly into the building.
Bill Duff, national sales manager, said the old building could only hold 15 to 20 smaller presses. The company rented warehouse space in Baltimore to store larger presses.
``It was expensive, and every time we moved them, we had to pay a rigging fee. All that's been wiped out with this crane,'' Duff said. The crane can lift parts as heavy as a clamp module for a 1,000-ton press, which weighs 80,000 pounds.
``We can bring our larger equipment in. We can do a lot of manufacturing modifications here, clamps, injection units, barrels and screws,'' Duff said. ``All the options that we offer, we can now do that work right here in Delaware.'' For example, Negri Bossi USA employees are customizing a standard 480-ton press shipped from Italy into a two-shot machine with a rotary table modifications that will take less than five weeks.
During the open house, two machines were running in a technical center, next to the warehouse area. An all-electric VE 120 with 135 tons of clamping force demonstrated Twinshot coinjection molding. A 250-ton V210-820 molded two-shot, two-color Halloween cups, removed by a Ranger six-axis robot.
Road to N. America
Negri Bossi SpA has come a long way in North America, in less than a decade. In 1991, the Italian company closed a distribution center in Ohio, ending active sales here. In 2000, Negri Bossi opened a sales and service operation in Mississauga, Ontario, and Delaware. Burns and Duff were the only two U.S. employees.
``It was a folding table and a laptop and a cardboard box,'' Burns said in a speech. But even then, Delaware economic development officials paid attention and supported the company a key reason Negri Bossi decided to stay in the small state.
New Castle County Executive Christopher Coons noted Negri Bossi represents a sort of plastics rebirth, since the site was a former brownfield that was home to an Amoco Polymer plant that closed after an explosion in 1980.
The investment in Delaware was approved by Sacmi Imola S.C., an Italian industrial group that owns 65 percent of Negri Bossi, which now is traded on the Milan Stock Exchange.
Sacmi makes plastics equipment, machinery for the ceramics industry and process controllers and designs and builds complete packaging factories. Sacmi is buying more shares, with the goal of owning 100 percent by the end of the year. Then it will delist Negri Bossi from the stock market.
Private ownership makes it easier to reinvest in the machinery business, Bonsignori said in an interview.
Public companies are under too much pressure to make quick profits, he said. ``If you don't have partners, you decide what to do, what is better,'' Bonsignori said. ``You make a strategy and then you go.''
Once Sacmi has full control, Negri Bossi will become fully integrated with its other plastics machinery businesses, including Sacmi's own compression molding machines to make bottle caps, and other Italian injection press makers Oima SpA and BM Biraghi SpA. Under Sacmi Group, the sister companies can buy components together and cut costs, he said.
All machinery manufacturers face a tough 2009 especially in the U.S. market, which dipped below 3,000 units in 2007 and is sinking lower this year. Burns said most machinery executives think the bare minimum for the United States is 2,000 to 2,500.
``Our company says we still need to have the facility to go for that 2,500-machine market,'' Burns said.
Negri Bossi USA is holding its own. ``We've just received over a million dollars of orders in the last couple of weeks, during the financial turmoil,'' Burns said. The orders covered six injection presses.
``The companies we're dealing with tend to be privately held, owner-operated companies, smaller companies,'' he said. ``They don't go to the bank to get a loan. They have their own cash flow to support it.''