Cranberry Township, Pa. — About 55 Cannon SpA employees from around the world gathered in a Pittsburgh suburb to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Italian polyurethane equipment maker's division, Cannon USA, and see its 26,000-square-foot expansion.
Forty years in the United States proves the privately held Cannon has a long-term vision for business in the United States, Cannon USA President Paolo Spinelli said. That also shows in the $4 million expansion, which more than doubles the manufacturing space in the Cranberry Township factory and includes an office upgrade.
"We see a stable growth in the market. And we see more and more the advantages of manufacturing in the U.S., which is not just an economical reason," he said. "For sure, the exchange rate and now the dollar is strong and it's easier to buy from Europe. But then you have the tariffs. Besides, all of this variation that you cannot consider — it's changing every year."
Beyond dollars and cents, Spinelli said, having a U.S. manufacturing operation has helped Cannon serve customers better here.
"We speak the same language and have the same mentality," he said. And for a European company, making machinery in the United States means the company employs domestic people with engineering and manufacturing expertise. He believes that's better than simply stocking spare parts.
"Something breaks, you replace it. It's easy. But to replace something that you have to change the design and so on, you have to understand why it was designed in the first time like this," he said. Having engineering in the United States, he said, "It's very, very important. It makes such a difference."
Cannon USA also employs seven service technicians.
Leonardo Volpato, a prolific inventor, founded Cannon in 1962 in Italy, initially to make spray polyester systems. The company grew, and after his partner Carlo Fiorentini joined three years later, Cannon got into polyurethane machinery — and never looked back. The two families still own Cannon, based north of Milan in Caronno Pertusella.
Leonardo's son, Marco Volpato, Cannon's president and CEO, spoke at the open house. He said the owners firmly believe that a company like Cannon needs be family-owned, not owned by private equity.
"We carry on projects for decades. Not years. Decades," he said in an interview. "It could take 10 or 15 years for projects to come together."
Cannon SpA also makes thermoforming machines for industrial parts.
Now Cannon is moving into new niche areas and new markets for its foam machinery, where it can use its experience of precisely mixing two liquids together, Volpato said.
"Now we're not only talking about polyurethane," he said. "We are talking about urea. We are talking phenolics."