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IRSAP-RHOSS, A HAPPY MARRIAGE BETWEEN HOT AND COLD
Irsap and Rhoss have had a happy marriage that is now entering its tenth year. Irsap’s buyout of Rhoss dates back to 2000. At that time the foundations were laid for the creation of a group that today numbers among the top Italian companies in the sector of heating radiators and refrigeration machines. But the journey, before coming together, has been a long one, aaa aand each of the two companies has travelled alone for decades. We ask first of all the president of Rhoss and Ad of Irsap, Alessandro Zen, to describe the role that Irsap and Rhoss have played in the story of Italian industry.
Both groups boast of a long tradition, don't they?
Yes, there is a long tradition, going back at least 40 years. The ‘oldest’ is Irsap, founded in 1963 to make radiators from pressed and tubular steel. Over the decades the company has introduced an original way of conceiving the radiator to the market. It was viewed not just as a heating device, but also as a furnishing component, and enhanced with shapes, colours and functions, capturing its new image in the brand name. The first great novelty dates back to 1982, when Irsap introduced the first ‘towel warmer’ bathroom radiators produced in Italy.
And what about Rhoss?
It began in Codroipo in 1968: it specialised in design, production and sales for groups making thermo-refrigerators, convector fans and public, residential and industrial air conditioning units. Over the years it became the leading company in its sector in the Italian market and rapidly expanded in the international market. Thanks to decades of experience, as well as a wide and complete range of products, it also provides original system solutions that answer the most demanding needs of the market.
What has the takeover of Rhoss meant for Irsap?
The operation has allowed Irsap to enter the air conditioning market, and has thereby broadened the range of products, systems and services for climatisation and environmental comfort in both residential and service buildings. The operation has also allowed the two companies to attain greater expansion in the international market and the possibility of developing an important R&D activity.
After almost ten years since the takeover, how have the products of the two companies changed?
The range has been continuously developed, with research to find colours that always look modern and numerous changes to dimensions. Thanks to this, today Irsap offers more than 500 thousand different models of radiator to satisfy all customers’ requests with truly made-to-measure heating. With the brand name “Officina delle idee”, Irasp offers new exclusive design radiators, in keeping with furnishing trends, for customers who are demanding and attentive to details. The range of Rhoss products, on the other hand, includes a complete selection for the air-conditioning market: refrigerating machines, system terminals and air conditioning systems. There is a wide choice of models to satisfy every system requirement: hydronic systems from 2 kw to 2,500 kw, terminal units from 100 m³/h to 150,000 m³/h, and a split-system range from 2 kw to 35kw. The product catalogue has been further enlarged with the inclusion of radiating air-conditioning systems (floor, wall and ceiling cooling and heating), which allow us to make devices that provide greater ambience comfort and consume less electricity.
The Rhoss R&D Lab Research Centre was inaugurated in 2003. What direction have your R&D initiatives taken since then?
Product development has focussed on perfecting solutions aimed at reaching maximum energy efficiency, in compliance with the ongoing development of European and international regulations covering energy saving. In particular, a new series of heat pumps have been recently developed that use patented operating software, the “Adaptive Function Plus”. This software permits an improvement in energy efficiency of the order of 20% annually, and fewer CO2 emissions as a result.
The research centre has “Eurovent” certification. What does this involve?
The company has obtained Eurovent certification, from the name of the European body that certifies the performance of air-conditioning and treatment systems, both for our catalogue of products but also, more importantly, for our laboratory. Our R&D Lab is one of the very few private European laboratories accredited by the DMT of Essen with Eurovent certification.
Let’s move on to internationalisation strategies. The group has production factories in Romania and China. And out of 1,350 employees, as many as 600 of them are working outside of Italy. Did you go abroad with the aim of producing semi-finished products for Italy, which can then re-export them all over the world, or directly for the local markets?
The factory in Beijing makes radiators exclusively for Chinese demand. The factories in Italy and Romania, with Iso 9001 and Vision 2000 certification, specialise in the range of radiators intended for all markets. In an expected turnover for 2009 of around 165 million, the group’s average export quota is around 35%, which goes down to 25% for Irsap and up to 50% for Rhoss, with expectation of a further rise to 60% in 2009. But the uncertainty of the current situation has to be taken into account, particularly in the promising East European markets. Without a doubt, our main outlet countries remain France, Germany, Spain, China, Turkey and Romania, followed by the Mediterranean basin and the Middle East. The group's approach to the international market is to form a network of partners, or rather exclusive distributors, in every single country that combine their name with our brands.
Do you believe the importance of the Made in Italy tradition in creating solutions for heating and refrigeration is appreciated in other countries?
We are convinced that the added value of Made in Italy guarantees a greater penetration in foreign markets, which is confirmed by the high level of service that we offer in terms of quality, pre-sale consultation, customisation of products and service assistance.