Walking The Walk

Last month, I and a couple of other editor-types were guests of Mandelli, an Italian machine tool builder. We spent a week in Italy visiting various plants that use Mandelli machine tools to make tractor axle units, naval ship cannons, tanks, machine tools themselves and, my personal favorite, Ferrari automobiles.

Columns From: 3/1/1998 Modern Machine Shop, ,

Last month, I and a couple of other editor-types were guests of Mandelli, an Italian machine tool builder. We spent a week in Italy visiting various plants that use Mandelli machine tools to make tractor axle units, naval ship cannons, tanks, machine tools themselves and, my personal favorite, Ferrari automobiles. Part of the reason for inviting us over was to show and tell us that Mandelli is indeed alive and well in the marketplace.

Of course, our current U.S. manufacturing boom has not escaped notice by the Italians. They are looking to our shores as fertile ground for their line of three, four and five-axis machining centers. This is not the company's first foray into our domestic market. However they have been essentially absent for a few years—recovering financial strength from the European recession. Now more lean and mean, Mandelli has targeted specific geographic regions and industrial segments within the United States for their marketing efforts. It's a slow but steady approach.

Aside from the technology issues we discussed, it was interesting to observe what appears to be a "youth movement" underway there. Their president, Andrea Matterelli, has yet to see his 40th birthday. There is an energy and excitement in the company that's palpable. Investors, who include Mr. Matterelli, are infusing the company with sufficient capital to help create what's becoming a very modern and efficient enterprise—by global standards.

That's a key distinction for any manufacturer looking to expand into foreign markets. Applying qualitative and quantitative measurement standards that transcend national borders is a necessary step to prepare for international marketing. Companies who want to market outside their traditional base need to make themselves viable within those new markets. Going global raises the bar for suppliers of all stripes.

Mandelli is an example of this new understanding. When the current phase of internal upgrade is complete, around $20 million will be invested to help make them a global player. That's a lot of money but it's ante for the big game.

After more than six years of incredible economic health and with no down-turn in sight, it's important to remember that we are the foreign market of choice for companies going global. Mandelli and companies like them have seen and learned much about how to participate in the U.S. market. These companies are not just talking the talk.

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