International scenarios

A player, a mission: to become global

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Relying on the transfer of ownership from an exclusively financial fund to one with more industrial and operational peculiarities, CastFutura increases its investments in the Italian research and development laboratories and in its production units widespread worldwide, with the goal of establishing new factories, launching further product lines and conquering new markets.

Moreno Soppelsa

It will be a 2014-year characterized by the enhancement of internationalization and of research and development for CastFutura, the company headquartered at Terno d’Isola, in Bergamo province, specialized in the design and manufacturing of products for combustion, ignition and safety in the ambit of gas systems for domestic cooking and heating: oven burners, safety thermocouples, ignition electrodes, spit rods and so on. In these last months took place the transfer of ownership of the shares held by the investment fund BS Private Equity of Synergo to the closed-end investment fund of the Milanese Star Capital, which now controls 76% of the Bergamo company, while 24% is still owned by the historical shareholders of the Cast and Electronics Futura companies, which in 2006 merged giving birth to CastFutura, and to its management. A property transfer occurred by natural course, since BS had reached its operational end, and which has led to a recapitalization by the new majority shareholders amounting to 3.5 million Euros, now allowing the Terno d’Isola company to go on with renewed determination on the main road already traced some years go by the president in charge Dino Falciola: consolidation of the Group internationalization with new investments in the pre-existing works, setup of new production units and huge investments in research and development that have already generated the doubling of the laboratories by the Italian headquarters. But also turnover rise thanks to the widening of the offered range, to the consolidation of the presence on the markets currently controlled (Greater  Europe, North Africa and Middle East, South America) and to the expectations of extending the activity to markets not followed until now, like North America and Far East. We talked about the company and its strategies with Dino Falciola, who, besides being the President of CastFutura, is also one of its members. «Star Capital took over CastFutura with completely different modalities from those adopted by BS in 2006» explains Falciola. “The company has no debt leverage and, on the contrary, the capital has been reinforced with a specific injection that makes this operation very positive for us. Also thanks to the fact of relying on a sound majority shareholder, having a medium-term horizon and financial resources for additional investments, fundamental for us”.

Dino Falciola, president of CastFutura.

The three skills of CastFutura
“Our offer is highly differentiated – states Falciola – but we can boast three essential competences on which we organize our product range: combustion, ignition and gas safety». The Bergamo company manufactures also products that range from lamp holders to spit rods, but it is in the three “skills” mentioned by Falciola that we can identify the core of CastFutura’s strategy. «Our “top” product – adds Falciola in outlining the offer and the operational modalities of his company – is the oven burner, for which we have a wide range of solutions and experience consisting in over 1,500 different applications, all filed, historicized and fruit, each of them, of a setup work in laboratory lasting from two to four weeks. A very complex work, which has allowed, and still permits us, to store a big number of data and parameters, in order to offer always targeted solutions. Our customers acknowledge the added value of the expertise by CastFutura and of the free-of-charge assistance that we offer them in the setup phase. Besides, we produce the necessary documentation to speed up the approval process. We transfer the reliability and competence values that we have achieved in this kind of products to all others, regardless whether they are thermocouples or ignition electrodes”. CastFutura operates then in co-design with its customers and an important role is played by its research and development laboratories located in the Italian premises at Terno d’Isola. “Concerning this, we have made huge investments” explains Falciola. “In the course of the last two years we have doubled the area destined to laboratories, dividing the heating division from the coking one. We have scheduled in the very short term a further enlargement taking up 200 square metres, even more making the Italian headquarters the development centre of each solution, leaving the productive competences to peripheral units”.

On the left the application for heating boilers developed by CastFutura that integrates in a single product igniter and electrode, thus allowing a clean installation. In the middle a conventional solution with high-voltage cables. On the right we can see the electromagnetic dispersions generated by the high voltage.

The market
Dino Falciola, thanks to his role and competence, has a global vision of the world of household appliances and related components. We asked him what he thinks of the present market situation. “In Europe – he affirms – the market trend is stagnant but no drops will occur. We expect a recovery of Russian markets and a slow growth of Eastern nations. South American markets are currently characterized by contrasting trends, but I believe that a discrete growth will still take place, even if with slower rates than in the past. The so-called area MENA, North Africa and Middle East, is strongly influenced by the present socio-political conditions. They are socially unbalanced Countries, frontier markets that will probably be very interesting in five years, when quality requirements will have risen, but that currently do not allow big growths. Concerning the areas that we do not currently control, like Far East and North America, with the entry of Star Capital our mission is to become a global player with a strong presence in these zones, too. We are working on it and in a couple of years we will probably see the first results”.

On the left the 15 pieces needed in a standard application for heating boiler and on the right the four components of the innovative solution developed by CastFutura.

A product
Let’s see now a product, whose images are shown in these pages, studied and produced by CastFutura, which in a certain sense summarizes the potential of this company. “We have recently developed a new application for domestic heating boilers – explains Falciola – that springs from the physical integration of two components already available in our portfolio: igniters for cooking hobs and heating electrodes. The benefits are several: the solution of the serious problem of electromagnetic interferences, connected with the high-voltage wiring (Crown effect), the reduction by 80% of the components to be managed and the cost decrease for customers, both in purchase and assembly phase”.

One of the testing, research and development laboratories housed in the Italian premises of CastFutura, at Terno d’Isola (BG).

THE FORCE OF THE GROUP

CastFutura has chosen the smart delocalization course, maintaining the thinking head of the Group at Terno d’Isola entrusting the majority of the manufacturing activity to factories situated in low labour cost Countries.

Bulgaria. In 2002 the first step of the Group’ s delocalization strategy was the productive site taking up 1,500 square metres at 30 km from Sofia for the production of ceramic insulators, key semi-finished product for heating electrodes. Today 200,000 insulators per week are produces, partly destined to the cooking market, too. In 2007 it establishes a new productive site for manufacturing thermocouples, hob and oven electrodes and heating electrodes at Plovdiv, second city of Bulgaria by population after the capital. It employs 350 workers. Some further productive developments are scheduled.

Poland. CastFutura Polska was born in 2007. They take over Lart, player already consolidated in the market of ignition electrodes, and they identify and equip a factory for the production of oven burners, ignition electrodes and spit rods. The site is growing: the employees of CastFutura Polska, situated in the outskirts of the city of Wroclaw, will reach 100 units within next year

Egypt. This productive unit, established in Suez in 2004, is currently in slight downturn phase owing to the socio-political instability of the area where it operates. They produce cooking hob electrodes, lamp holders, oven hinges and spit rods. Today the productive reality employs about 100 people and controls Middle East and North Africa.

Brazil. The plants are close to Sao Paulo. The internal productive activity is focused on hob electrodes and burners. The Group is making huge investments in this productive unit whose employees, currently 60, have doubled in the last two years.

Turkey. The company, with the complex name Cast Futura Ev Eşyası Parçaları Sanayi ve Ticaret Limited Şirketi, was set up in 2010. It is an exclusively trade reality, since the Turkish market is served by the productive units of the Group in Bulgaria, Poland and Italy.

Hungary. CastFutura, through the Company Estco taken over more than 10 years ago and one of the few that have maintained its historical company name, is going to inaugurate the new productive plant in Hungary, which at full rate will employ around one hundred workers. Its influence area, traditionally the whole East Europe, will be extended to the remaining markets of the Group.