Frigel Firenze SpA's equipment cools down process water, but business is heating up at the Italian company, leading to a global expansion of manufacturing.
Frigel officials recently announced plans to manufacture in Thailand, the U.S. and Brazil.
In the U.S., manufacturing should begin in early 2012 at Frigel North America Inc. in East Dundee, Ill., company officials said.
“The company has seen tremendous growth the last several years, particularly this last year. The products have been widely accepted. We want to be able to respond on a quick and timely basis for our customers in North America and around the world,” said Lou Zavala, national sales manager.
The Florence, Italy-based equipment maker started Frigel North America in 2006 with a small office and warehouse in Lake Zurich, Ill. Two years later, Frigel North America moved to a 40,000-square-foot plant in a new industrial park in East Dundee that the company has equipped with a crane and other infrastructure.
“The plant was built and designed with the thought that sooner or later we would start manufacturing here,” Zavala said.
Frigel makes the Ecodry line of cooling equipment, which replaces traditional, evaporative-cooling towers with a closed-loop, water-cooling technology that uses heat exchangers, cooling the water with ambient air. The company also supplies the Microgel line of self-contained, water-cooled chillers.
Zavala said the benefits of energy efficiency, water savings and the delivery of clean water to the molding process have helped Frigel North America secure a loyal customer base. “We've had a very healthy growth pattern the past year.” Part of the growth, he said, is because U.S. customers started loosening their expansion budgets. “We've also been picking up some diverse market share in other areas,” he added.
Frigel North America currently employs nine people in East Dundee. As it prepares to begin manufacturing, the company is hiring more employees, said Matteo Gallerini, who runs the engineering operations there.
Gallerini said proximity to customers is important for quick service and parts, and to help them expand cooling systems using modular equipment.
Frigel Firenze SpA moved in 2007 to its new 108,000-square-foot global headquarters, which is three times the size of its former facility. Now, the company is expanding again, this time by setting up international operations to handle manufacturing, sales and service.
In Latin America, Frigel has created a subsidiary with its longtime Brazilian distributor Tecnos. The firm, FrigelTecnos, is housed in a 32,000-square-foot building in Limeira, near São Paulo. Gallerini said Tecnos already had assembled Frigel equipment under license for Brazil, which is an important market for process cooling equipment.
On Sept. 1, Frigel announced it also is forming a joint venture in Bangkok, with Osaka, Japan-based auxiliary equipment maker Matsui Mfg. Co. Ltd. and Hong Kong-based Chudleigh-Sutch Technologies Co. Ltd. The operation, Frigel Asia Pacific Co. Ltd., will cover the entire region.