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THE MONTANTE GROUP’S SHOCK ABSORBERS GAIN TRACTION AROUND THE WORLD
The Montante family – which, after more than 80 years, still controls the family company that has become leader in the sector of shock absorbers for industrial and railway vehicles and special applications - has always been capable of transforming itself using one of its own distinctive keys: first as a factory making bicycles, then motorcycles, then the ‘leap’ to shock absorbers. And today it is at the summit of an organisation (www.gimonmsa.it) with 250 employees with a turnover of 30 million Euros in 2007 and with an export share of 45%. And for 2008 the company plans on increasing revenues by a further 13%.
We ask Antonello Montante, chairman of MSA (Mediterr Shock Absorbers), if it is precisely this propensity to change while retaining its identity which is the key to the company’s success in the marketplace.
The strength of our model depends first of all on the fact that we have always succeeded in conserving our tradition of family entrepreneurship while performing activities which, until now, have been constantly modernising both our manufacturing system and our corporate image. All changes have had the fundamental objective of increasing our companies’ competitiveness, while caring in an exemplary manner for the quality of our product and the relationship with our clients. The latter is established on solid feedback based on loyalty and mutual respect, as occurred at the very beginning – in a more limited manner – with the simple craft activity linked to the early production of bicycles by my grandfather.
The local dimension, so distinctive in the case of a company capable of exporting its own business model created in the South of Italy to the North, has not prevented MSA from becoming an international player. How difficult has it been to manage an ever-growing share of foreign markets? In which world markets outside Italy does the Group have the greatest presence with its two “Msa” and “Gimon” brands?
The company has always considered it a big responsibility to work towards developing differentiated strategies for global marketing of its corporate growth in more and diverse international markets. We have succeeded today in winning ourselves leadership in our benchmark sector whether it is in Italy or in markets like India, France, Germany and Holland.
Does your business model provide for a centralised structure in terms of manufacturing and a lot of peripheral units or have you implemented a policy of truly outsourced manufacturing?
Our business model envisages outsourcing of manufacturing to the North of Italy and India.
The sectors managed by the company are numerous and differentiated depending on the product: shock absorbers for primary and secondary suspensions (locomotives and carriages); anti-twist shock absorbers for pantographs, trams and buses; shock absorbers for trucks, trailers, axles and commercial vehicles; shock absorbers for special applications, like nuclear power stations. Which is your most promising sector?
Certainly our most promising and most profitable sector is the production of automotive, truck, trailer and axle shock absorbers.
Does the need for infrastructure of emerging countries in Asia, the Middle East, the Gulf Region and Latin America represent the real challenge which the MSA Group is gearing itself up to grasp? Or do the industrialised countries remain the areas to develop and take advantage of?
The challenges which our company has already mapped out point us towards the Middle East and southern Asia. It is therefore about areas which have excellent potential for scouting and productivity within our sector of reference.
What are the defining characteristics being recognised in MSA Group by the market and by clients from all over the world? I imagine that you have decided to give preference to an approach focused on quality, combined with security and technology. But is it enough to be more skilful than others to compete with those who are not comparable to you in terms of size or cost?
Our company has succeeded in positioning itself well in all markets by interacting with other corporate organisations both in the national and international context. Our added value is in the attention we give to research and innovation: an example is the spin-off we have formed with the Politecnico di Milano (Milan University of Science and Technology) which led to the launch of “Ti.Ve.T.” and which is dedicated to the study of new technologies. We have been relentless in growing our fundamental know-how through our innovation projects within the sector. Montante Group’s latest acquisition is the know-how and brand of “Sebac”, renowned for the production of specialised ranges of shock absorbers. Other fundamental aspects which determine our company’s strong competitiveness are the flexibility to requests from our customers and the quality of the products we offer.