Since it was established in 2002, Colmar USA has continued to increase its penetration into the U.S. scrap metal recycling industry, supplying rubber-tired and pedestal cranes as well as logger/balers, shear/baler/loggers and a line of mobile horizontal shears.
As with most new entrants to a market, Colmar USA, headquartered in Wheatfield, N.Y., had to prove itself a worthy contender. Attracting the attention of U.S. customers was not an easy, but an "acceptably difficult" challenge, according to the company’s Vice President Lisa Bresolin. "Nothing comes easy in business. That is why we always want to thank all the people who gave us the chance to succeed," Lisa says of the company’s customers throughout the years.
A CUSTOMER-CENTERED APPROACH
Colmar found success in the U.S. market by putting technology and customer relationships at the forefront of its corporate culture.
"We try to manufacture equipment that is perceived as a value; good equipment that can do the job (which is to make money for our customers) using the best technology available," Colmar USA CEO Julian Marceglia says. He adds that the company tries to keep a cap on its manufacturing costs and passes these savings on to its customers.
Customer input has proven essential to Colmar’s growth. "We also try to establish a very strong relationship with our customers, listening to their suggestions and acting upon them," Julian says. "For example, from the day when we started Colmar USA, we went a long way to ‘Americanize’ our product lines." Feedback from the company’s original U.S. customers helped Colmar to make this process possible.
Julian adds that the company’s early U.S. customers acknowledged Colmar USA’s efforts to tailor its product lines to the U.S. market with product loyalty, coming back to the company for new units. Julian says that Colmar could not ask for a better return on its investment in the U.S. market than the brand loyalty its customers show.
This loyalty stems from the tradition of innovation on which Colmar USA was founded.
"There is very little to invent in our line of business," Julian says. "Nevertheless, we introduced the roll-on/roll-off system to the market. The way we design the doors for our 5000 baler line was a novelty in the market when we did it," Julian says.
The most recent example of the company’s innovation can be seen in the Cayman series of mobile horizontal shears, which Colmar introduced in 2005. The product line grew out of Colmar customers’ requests for a truly portable shear, Julian says.
Colmar Cayman shears are available with lifting cylinders or on wheels for easy transportation and feature high productivity thanks to their continuous-motion design.
While the origins of Colmar USA, a fully owned subsidiary of Colmar S.p.A., date back to 2002, its parent company began shortly after the end of World War II in the Veneto region of Italy.
A REPUTATION GROWS
Colmar S.p.A. began by manufacturing agricultural tractors and cranes. The company then added a line of railroad cranes to its product offering in 1975.
As the cranes the company manufactured grew in sophistication, Colmar ceased making tractors. The company decided to exit the agriculture market and to focus on the recycling segment of the heavy equipment industry.
As the company’s reputation for manufacturing reliable and efficient equipment spread, Colmar’s vibrant yellow cranes began appearing at more and more yards throughout Italy.
In addition to capturing 80 percent of the Italian market, Colmar’s cranes also held a substantial share of the European market, particularly in the United Kingdom and in France.In the 1990s, Colmar expanded its reach into the scrap recycling equipment market by adding scrap metal balers to its equipment lineup. The move has proven fruitful for Colmar, as its lines of shear/logger/balers and baler/loggers have accounted for 60 percent to 70 percent of Colmar’s sales in the last eight years.
In addition to expanding its equipment line, Colmar was also growing its international market reach during the 1990s. The increase in equipment sales lead Colmar to construct a new production facility in Italy in 1999. By the end of 2003, the company had already doubled its production capacity in response to growing demand in America, the former Soviet Republics and Japan. But the company’s growth continued. By the end of 2004, Colmar’s manufacturing output again grew by 30 percent.
With the establishment of Colmar USA in 2002, the company began Americanizing its machinery and components to better address the needs of the U.S. market.
A NEW FOCUS
With the establishment of Colmar USA, the company began making adjustments to its machinery to better accommodate the needs of U.S. scrap metal recyclers. Colmar began making larger charge boxes for its logger/balers to correspond with the bigger vehicles that Americans tend to drive.
Colmar also Americanized the component parts, such as pumps and filters, on its machinery to make them easily available either through Colmar USA or its local suppliers.
While the company has successfully expanded its market reach since the 1990s, Julian says Colmar is far from content.
"In the last 15 years, we have had enormous growth worldwide. The last three years in the U.S.A. have been extremely successful," he says.
"Nevertheless, we are not satisfied. We want to improve the overall quality of our equipment. We want to improve our customer service. We want to be recognized as a main force in the U.S. scrap metal business as we are recognized in Europe and worldwide," Julian adds.
Julian outlines some steps Colmar USA is taking to accomplish its near-term goals. "We are updating and redesigning our best seller worldwide, the B5000 baler. We are designing a new heavy-duty baler called the B6200SW, a new high-speed high-technology shear/baler line (SB7000-1000 and SB6000-700) and completely redesigning our line of loaders and cranes," Julian says.
He adds, "I want to emphasize that Colmar is here to stay, improve and grow."
THE NEXT GENERATION
Dr. Carlo Bortoletti became the president of Colmar in the 1990s. With his appointment, the company launched an expansion that included not only its product line but also its international reach, extending beyond Western Europe into the United States, the former Soviet Republics and Japan.
Now, Colmar is embarking on a different sort of expansion that also involves Dr. Bortoletti as his son Gaetano is introduced to Colmar USA’s operations.
Gaetano recently began serving as the assistant to Colmar USA CEO Julian Marceglia in Italy and he says he is learning the business from the bottom up. "I’ve worked in the parts and service department, then I will follow the sales associates and then the service technicians," Gaetano says of his early experiences with the company. "This is a great opportunity for me to learn the business, and, at the same time, I can help Colmar."
Gaetano graduated from Università Bocconi in Milan with a degree in business administration in October of 2005 and then went on to an internship at the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Adelaide, Australia.
He says that adjusting to life in America has not been difficult, thanks to the support of the staff at Colmar USA. "Here in America, Colmar is like a big family, and this made me not feel homesick," Gaetano says.
Based on his initial experience with Colmar USA, Gaetano says that he is most interested in product development and customer service, but he says he knows he has his father’s reputation to uphold.
"Six years ago, Colmar was a small company. After the foundation of Colmar USA, the sales have increased very fast, and nowadays Colmar can be considered a big company," Gaetano says. "My father has had to manage this fast growth."
Gaetano says he’s learned an important thing from his father that should help along the way. "If you want to have success, you have to work very hard."