in Vol. 13 - November Issue - Year 2012
Focus on Production of Metal Raw Materials in Powders and Granules
Carlo Sgarbossa (center), Marketing and Sales Manager of Pometon SpA at O&S Stuttgart fair
Pometon Headquarters in Maerne, Italy
Turbine wheels blasted with Graninox CrH (high chrome grit)
Sample of Graninox CrNi
Graninox Cr and Graninox CrNi
MFN had the opportunity to talk to Carlo Sgarbossa, Marketing and Sales Manager of Pometon SpA in Maerne, Italy.
(?) MFN: Could you tell me a little about the background and history of Pometon?
(!) C. S.: Pometon was founded by the bright intuition of Ing. Sergio Toniolo in the far 1940s and ever since, has never lost its focus for the production of metal raw materials in powder and granular form. In the beginning, it was born out of military purposes but after the war, the company explored a huge range of applications covering practically all mass production metals. Nowadays Pometon still covers most of the metals, but some were dismissed because of H&S reasons or difficulty of operating in a market becoming global.
In 1987, Ing. Toniolo passed over, and ever since, the company has been run by professional managers. Despite this fact, the company has always kept high attention on maintaining a strong team spirit and has focussed its industrial approach on keeping the core activity and production in Western Europe.
(?) MFN: What group facilities do you have and where are they based?
(!) C. S.: Currently, we have our major production site in Italy (area of Venice) and a second plant in Serbia, which is dedicated to a very specific technology (electrolytic copper powders). Pometon has progressively concentrated various production facilities into one major plant with great advantage on efficiency. Our technical and sales subsidiaries cover all major European countries (UK, Spain, Germany, France). We recently opened an office in Istanbul and in 2012, we launched our new location in India with great success. All our subsidiaries provide the service of a materials warehouse and offer professional technical support for all the key applications of our business.
(?) MFN: Have you made any major investments recently, or are there any planned?
(!) C. S.: We constantly keep investing in our production lines, but with a careful pace. Being a small company, we must pay high attention to the bottom line. This approach proved successful especially during the dramatic days of the 2009 crisis. Latest investments have been focussed on a major program of compliance to present and forthcoming environmental restrictions. After a tremendous 2009, we are now experiencing an exciting market situation which is driving us to increase our production capacity in various production lines (some demand caused by collapse of competitors).
(?) MFN: Would it be possible to have some up-to-date information on your production capacity and the number of employees currently working for Pometon?
(!) C. S.: You can consider Pometon Group has a turnover in excess of 100 million Euros. Our force today is around 250 people.
We have a production capacity for about 80k tons and we can say today our plant saturation is good.
(?) MFN: What are the key product lines of Pometon?
(!) C. S.: We divide our product portfolio into three major groups:
Non Ferrous powders (primarily copper and copper based alloys)
Abrasives for blast cleaning (iron, brass, stainless steel, zinc)
(?) MFN: Which industry sectors does your company mostly serve?
(!) C. S.: We can say a major business for Pometon is the automotive industry, which accounts for over 50% of our production. Nonetheless, our goal is to fit in several and much diversified application markets, even within the above industry. Pometon has made the diversification of final markets, products and customers a key point of its strategy. We keep expanding into new applications and new markets and sometimes we release some of the existing ones. But if we can, we avoid complete dismissal. The market has taught us that sometimes product/market segments considered not interesting can turn around and represent a major opportunity.
I consider this capability of adaptation one of the key force points which permit Pometon to keep a high profile even against competitors of much bigger size.
(?) MFN: Who are your target customers?
(!) C. S.: The profile of our customers is the most varied possible: we move from the big multinational companies operating in the chemical and automotive fields (Bayer, ITT, Air Liquide, Xerox) to the aerospace industry, research institutes and finally small companies where the owner is working on the shop floor with family and a few employees.
It is another strength point of Pometon to be capable to serve all these very different customers, granting the highest level of satisfaction. I can tell you our ladies at customer service deserve the highest appreciation.
(?) MFN: Where are your principal markets, and are you planning to move into any geographical markets?
(!) C. S.: Pometon sells all over the world, but many of our products are too expensive to deliver long distance. Although our most important market is Europe, we are more and more focussing these days on emerging markets (like India, Korea, Brazil, Taiwan) which are showing great interest in our high quality materials.
(?) MFN: How are your research and development activities organised?
(!) C. S.: It is part of our strategy to be capable to follow new ideas, and develop new materials. We operate on various levels, from advanced research where we cooperate also with some research institutes and universities, to industrial applications and finally (and most importantly), to our development activity in support of our customers' needs. A very significant portion of our efforts is put into developing new production technology and testing capability to be always able to guarantee our customer the best control of the material they receive.
(?) MFN: How environmentally aware is Pometon, and what green measures has it implemented?
(!) C. S.: Pometon is running a foundry in the vicinity of Venice producing metal powders. Our team in charge of environmental aspects is never relaxing. Always, new challenges are either forced by local authorities, EU regulations, and our own goals. Finally, some products were decided to be phased out because of their high trouble of manufacturing (as in the case of magnesium). ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 certifications are accomplished.
(?) MFN: Where do you think your future growth will come from?
(!) C. S.: We are currently living an important moment of changeover due to the new REACH regulation which is affecting all our production range. We are putting a lot of effort to be "first in class", and be capable of sustaining the new shape of the market there will be after the implementation of these new rules. I am sure our future continue to be exciting for many years ahead.
(?) MFN: Can you tell us about your major innovation in the abrasive range?
(!) C. S.: Pometon has probably the broadest experience in metal abrasives for blast cleaning. We have particularly focussed in the last period to introduce new stainless steel solutions capable of offering high durability with an unbeatable quality/price ratio. Because of cost and also because the usage of nickel has become more and more difficult, we have developed our new grades of stainless steel to avoid the presence of nickel.
Today, the Graninox family of stainless steel abrasives is articulated in 5 different groups which are well presented on our new website.
MFN would like to thank Carlo Sgarbossa for the interview!