The interview with Massimo Grigolon, Managing Director of Plas Mec, a company specialised in mixing systems for plastics.
Plas Mec is celebrating fifty years in the business, what does this milestone mean?
It represents an important milestone that Plas Mec has reached this year, confirming the company, fifty years after starting, as a leader in the manufacture of mixing plants for plastics, with worldwide acknowledgement and acclaim. A winning combination, brought about by features such as the quality and efficiency of its machines, experience, and customer dedication. This milestone demonstrates that we have done a good job.
Fifty years is an important anniversary. Can we briefly retrace the most significant stages of your history?
1967 was the year in which Plas Mec started up, founded by Filadelfo Marinello and his brothers in Lonate Pozzolo (VA) in Italy. Production consisted mainly of accessories for the plastics industry: transport systems for granules, small mixers and dispensers, dryers.
1977 saw the start of the development of mixers and coolers for PVC which were launched, encountering remarkable success. The following years were marked by an increase in sales abroad which would exceed those for the domestic market in Italy.
In 1983, the first high-efficiency cooler for PVC was launched. Since it was the first of its kind on the market and very different from what was being proposed by competitors, it soon proved to be a hands-down winner.
In 1986, Plas Mec needed more space and so, moved to its current site in Lonate Pozzolo, with enough space to accommodate the new production requirements.
In 1992, new mixer equipment was introduced to increase the efficiency and productivity of the plants.
In 2000, new offices were built.
In 2004, the founder of the company passed away and the business was carried on by his children. The company continued to develop thanks to the quality of the products and to the growth of the international market, reaching its highest point in 2008 before the onset of the effects of the international financial crisis.
In 2013, a company reshuffle began a rationalisation process aimed at making Plas Mec more efficient and competitive and readying it for future challenges.
In 2015, we implemented some key technical innovations to our machines, in particular by introducing the new and more efficient version of our HEC cooler.
What has changed over fifty years? How has the market evolved?
The market has changed completely. It has become much more demanding and selective, and this is due to several factors: the evolution of the automation processes, the demand for productivity and efficiency, workplace safety, regulatory constraints, and competition. These are all aspects that have led to a transformation in the approach by the manufacturer and user of the plants, and Plas Mec has continued to keep pace with the needs of the customer and the market. Today, for example, “Industry 4.0” is a further evolutionary step in the market.
What, on the other hand, has remained unchanged in Plas Mec? Is there a distinctive trait that you have never abandoned despite everything?
Reliability, which is a combination of quality and solidity. Plas Mec is known for manufacturing sturdy, long-lasting machinery that maintains the highest levels of production quality. This also stems from our decision to maintain a key part of the production within the company, so as to keep a watchful eye over every detail of the machinery.
There is much talk nowadays of “make or buy”, but Plas Mec has decided to stick to the traditional line, opting for “make”. The “make” option offers the advantage of being able to keep a check on production and product quality, and it also helps to safeguard industrial secrets. The “buy” option, on the other hand, has the advantage of lower fixed costs and leads to less fixed capital. There were no doubts in Plas Mec, however: the heart of our machinery must be designed and constructed by us.
How are you celebrating your first fifty years? Have you decided to hold any special events?
The beginning of 2017 took us a little by surprise with a workload which exceeded expectations and has, therefore, distracted us to some extent from this anniversary. We also take an old school approach here; we do not want to celebrate and rest on our laurels, but rather concentrate on working hard in the spirit of our founder. The precise date that Plas Mec was founded is not known, but it was toward the middle of the year, so we are just considering how to promote the event and thinking about concentrating our efforts in the second half of 2017 up until the next “Plast 2018” that continues to be an event with close ties to the history and the growth of Plas Mec.
What are you aiming for, in particular, in terms of technological and product innovations?
The most significant technical innovation concerns our new cooler, introduced in 2015, which significantly reduces cooling times by increasing the productivity of the plant and the quality of the final product. We have been working for a long time on innovative projects in the field of additives for plastics in partnership with international companies and we will soon pass from the experimental to the industrial stage. This will broaden our range of applications and allow us to better diversify our products.
What does the future hold in store for Plas Mec? What are your next steps?
Plas Mec will be participating in numerous trade fairs which will be held in Europe, Africa and the Middle East in the coming months.
Plas Mec’s policy is to grow the development of its technological relationship with customers, so we are gradually increasing the number of industrial tests held in our R&D department. The aim is to fully incorporate our customers’ requests and be able to offer a tailor-made product, as well as foster customer loyalty.
We are also looking carefully into the increased internationalisation of Plas Mec, so we are on the verge of completing an agreement with an important foreign group, aimed at increasing our share in the Asian market.