New era for Raimondi13 March 2006
The new owner of Italian tower crane manufacturer Carlo Raimondi Gru plans further international expansion
Over the course of the past 15 years, Raimondi has grown steadily from a company that produces approximately 30 cranes a year to one that now turns out in the region of 450 to 500. The roots of the company lie in a foundry established in Legnano, Lombardy in 1863 by Rodolfo Raimondi to produce transmission systems for the textile industry, which in the second half of the 19th century was the major industry in the region. Other products followed and by the late 1940s the company capitalised on the post-war reconstruction market, producing cement mixers, winches, hoisting towers and cranes. Over the past 50 years, the company has produced more than 10,000 tower cranes.
In 1972, after the managers and staff took over the company, Raimondi began to focus exclusively on tower cranes. The real turning point for what was by now Carlo Raimondi Gru came in 1989 when a domestic sales network led by rental company SIME was established. Growth in the 1990s was aided significantly by the success of the city crane concept, first introduced in 1988, as well as by international distributors such as Vanson in the UK and Arcomet in, well, almost everywhere really.
By 2005 the owner/managers were looking to retire and hand over the reigns. There had been speculation in the industry that the expansionist Arcomet would be a likely purchaser. In fact it was the SIME Group that took over. SIME has been Raimondi's distributor for Italy since 1989, so it knows the product as well as anybody.
The new general director of Raimondi is Enrico Natella, who was already a director of SIME, says the two companies make a natural fit, since the two companies were already so integrated. SIME was, effectively, the commercial arm of Raimondi for the domestic market.
Natella explains that SIME has big plans. “We intend to strengthen and expand the reputation of the Raimondi brand both in Italy and abroad,” he says. He adds that SIME has both "the resources and competences" to expand the product range and lead innovation.
The two companies make a natural fit, he says. As both a rental company and a distributor, SIME has acted as a consultant to its customer base in the building industry. Now that it is also the manufacturer, SMIE/Raimondi will be able to offer an even better and more comprehensive service to its customers at home, for example with direct access to Raimondi's own technicians and to spare parts. This knowledge and experience of being close to the market will also help it internationally, he suggests.
"We [SIME] offer a unique service in our country, making available not only the crane, but also the operator," he says. SIME operators were already able to offer a significant degree of technical assistance and advice on the job, but now SIME can offer the manufacturer's technicians too.
Natella says that SIME Group will "continue to invest its skill in the cranes sector, to guarantee all its customers a competent commercial service, technical assistance and financial consultancy". It will also guarantee a fleet of the highest quality cranes for rental, he says.
SIME also intends to reposition the Raimondi brand. "We want a penetration of the brand based on technical/qualitative aspects advanced of those of the competition," Natella says. The intention is to position Raimondi as not just an Italian producer but as a major player internationally, one that competes on technical reputation more than on price.
To achieve this, SMIE aims to further develop its distribution network. Partners will be required to be entrepreneurs who have the expertise and resources to offer full technical support and consultancy to customers and can take a lead in after-sales service. In Italy, SIME increasingly finds itself supplying more than just hardware. It markets what it calls "technical rent" - offering advice and feasibility studies relating to crane installations - rather than a straightforward rental service. It is clear that this is to be the model for international partners too.