Brushware was offered the opportunity to meet with the MGG and MGG North America team at the 2023 ABMA Convention held in March at the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego. The conversation covered a range of topics including the comprehensive customer service and onboarding capabilities MGG North America offers and plans to expand that service in addition to a new collaboration with Paggin. Our roundtable session included Alberto Voltolina, Veronica Marcon, Beatrice Marcon, Carlo Pozzobon, Francesca Martinotti and Stefano Paggin.
One year ago, we heard about your plans for North America and how you were targeting the paintbrush and roller market. How do you feel about your progress so far?
Veronica Marcon: When we decided to open the North American company, we wanted to be closer to our customers in the American market because we saw that from Italy, we couldn’t really have the same feedback or as close of a relationship with them. So we decided to open this company and at the convention, we had the confirmation that opening the company was the right choice. All of our customers are excited and benefited to have us here in the US.
Alberto Voltolina: The business volume was almost 10 times the amount compared to what we had been selling in the United States prior. Not only for new machines but for service as well. Especially after-sales service is the baseline of a company. If the customer is not happy after the sale, there is no future for
We are doing a great job with spare parts and consumables. Thanks to the new warehouse in Charlotte, we can store parts and consumable parts like nails, ferrules and plugs. The customer can push the button and order certain quantities and can get the quantity that they need overnight. The industry overall has benefited from MGG launching in the United States.
Carlo Pozzobon: We sell machines, we sell spare parts, we improved a lot, but we sell something intangible, which is the trust with our clients, and the relationships have improved dramatically in this last year. Many customers who previously didn’t want to be in touch with their suppliers have opened the doors of their facilities. We make relationships and build trust and these kinds of things reinforce what MGG already had before. So the ABMA Convention has been a good opportunity to find new customers?
Alberto Voltolina: Yes, we’re having a good event. I would say the breakdown is 20 percent paintbrush and roller manufacturers and 80 percent brush manufacturers. So you can count on one hand the number of paintbrush manufacturers here. With the presence of Stefano Paggin, we can even target this portion of the market that we were not able to support as MGG, so we are going to verticalize our portfolio. Now, we will have a few meetings with industry brush manufacturers, and we consider this a good time for networking. Obviously, everybody is waiting and looking forward to next year’s World Brush Expo event. Bologna is like one hour from our headquarters.
Will you take machinery to the World Brush Expo?
Veronica Marcon: Of course, we will bring something to be physically touched because we know from our experiences that clients want to touch the equipment, not just only seeing the machines on a video. We’re working on new projects and news about machines, not only in paintbrushes but also in paint rollers, which is a sector that we have been developing in the last few years. We will bring something digital as well, like a plant configurator which can help our customer in digital implementation and seeing their new plants on a screen.
Do you want to talk about the relationship with Paggin and how that’s going to work?
Stefano Paggin: I started working on this collaboration with MGG last year. As Paggin, we started working in the US in the early 90s. Step by step, we have learned a lot from the American market and from the American manufacturers. They’ve taught us how to develop some solutions and I think we made something good, and we’ve delivered a good number of machines to the US. On the other hand, MGG has developed very much compared to our size and they are very strong in developing new equipment and state-of-the-art technological solutions. Now I see the need to be supported by a company like MGG for servicing the customers in the US. We’ve delivered a lot of equipment, but we are still a small company, and we need stronger shoulders to support this company. So that’s why I asked MGG if they were willing to support us on this.
So to clarify the Paggin machines and brand will still continue and MGG will provide customer and technical for your equipment?
Stefano Paggin: Yes, for the time being. But in the future, if this collaboration works out well, we will share the ideas and we will work together.
Alberto Voltolina: We are finding the right way to make it happen. Right now, we are starting with the information that we can share. We are creating synergies between the two companies, especially in service. Paggin sold a lot of lines everywhere in the United States and we did a great job in the last two years as MGG North America. We are confident that in the coming months, we can have even better news for the market, and everyone can benefit from this possible collaboration.
Generally speaking, if we want to outline the collaboration, the companies, both of us, we want to assure that we deliver what we promise. That’s the reason why MGG decided to open in North America. We keep investing in service and the idea is to be physically present because we want to deliver what we are promising. It’s easy to sell and now it will be even easier to sell because there will be no competition unless someone wants to buy Chinese. This is a decision a customer can make, but I don’t see the American customer moving in that direction, considering the political situation.
Stefano Paggin: I agree 100%. We want to take advantage of working together, but also we want to be stronger on servicing and supplying what we can.
So on the technology side, there is the potential for knowledge sharing going forward between MGG and Paggin. Have you learned anything already?
Stefano Paggin: The collaboration will always bring some new ideas. From them for sure, the integration of new ideas is very important. They are very good and they have a good team of designers and so for sure, some ideas will also give us improvement on our equipment.
Alberto Voltolina: We have the robotic company in MGG, so we can also serve other industries with our multi-company approach. We are always thinking and we are investing a lot of money in those kinds of technologies and innovations.
Is there some advantage or edge that MGG provides right out of the box that always impresses new customers?
Alberto Voltolina: The physical presence here is something in certain situations that surprised our customers because they were used to dealing with our Italian colleagues. Like with a six-hour or nine-hour California time difference. So how can you deal with the supplier in this way? Now we are here. We are Italian, so sometimes they ask us, “Okay, are you flying back to Europe?” No, we are really here.
And, we can also be price competitive for certain kinds of products, such as nails, plastic films for wrapping, wedges, epoxy resins … all those kind of materials that usually come straight from the supplier. Considering the economy of scale, sometimes we can be more competitive on price.
How does an implementation work with a new customer?
Francesca Martinotti: There is a system inside the company to follow a new customer project. One person follows the project step by step, including the construction of the machine. So, it’s very important to manage the entire process during the life of the machines. When a customer orders a machine, we are going to get in touch directly with the customer and follow step by step the entire project until the delivery. So then we pass all the information to the service department, so it’s important also for the after-sales part. It’s an internal procedure that MGG has been implemented in the last two or three years and it’s an important service to the customers.
Veronica Marcon: It’s important to stay in touch with the client because sometimes the delivery time is 12 months from the order. So it’s important to update them about the status of the production of the machines
MGG was selected as one of the ABMA Innovation Award nominees and you had a video presentation that really showcased the line. Do you want to comment
on your entry?
Alberto Voltolina: It is a clear example of innovation. You see how the machine works. I mean everything is automatic. The full automatic line — 16 pieces of equipment in a row — it can be managed by two skilled operators. This is incredible for a very manual industry like the paintbrush and roller industry.
Veronica Marcon: We are innovating the machines and implementing robotic islands as well, not because we want to remove people from the production. Sometimes there is the perception that automation lines are just for countries where the manpower is really expensive. But that’s not true, because we sell a lot of production plants in South America where the manpower is not that expensive. It’s something that can help production because people in the morning at 8:00 o’clock, they are fresh and they can work in a certain way. But then at the end of the day, they can make errors. Robotic lines don’t do that because they have repeatability in the process. That’s why we are always implementing our lines with automatic feeders and robotic islands.
Alberto Voltolina: Sometimes people that are used to working in manual mode, they are a little bit scared about implementing automation and we have had several examples here in North America where the production, especially for small batches is manual. Implementing automation is not in opposition to working manually, but it is adding something more. We are not removing people from the floor, we are just providing consistency and repeatability to the process.
Additionally, in this world where hiring people is so difficult. With this kind of implementation, you have the ability to maintain the know-how internally in the company. During this time of high turnover, sometimes people leave the floor and go to work for a competitor, which is the most dramatic situation that can happen for a manufacturer. With us, you are able to store in the brain of the machine all the most important information of the recipes and you are able to retrieve the recipes.
With the connection and feedback from the machines in the market, are you able to use the data to improve the equipment and lines overall?
Carlo Pozzobon: That’s crucial because we can do better using the feedback we have from the customers. So we like to consider our machines, not just standard machines, but customized machines based on the feedback from the client. Every client has some different qualities that they want to provide to their customers. And so we act accordingly, that’s why the feedback is really important.
Alberto Voltolina: It is retroactive feedback because our machines are connected to our Italian headquarters through a private IP. So we can easily see what is going on in the customer’s equipment with a limited view to retrieve only the information that is needed in order to implement a corrective action plan if necessary.
Carlo Pozzobon: And provide service from remote if it is needed. If the machine has an issue, our technicians from Italy can directly intervene through the WiFi connection and fix what is wrong if it is something electronic. Or at least understand what’s going on.
Alberto Voltolina: This is what is nice about technology. We are not here to replace people, but just to provide added value for those kinds of services where we can put our hand remotely inside the machines.
Carlo Pozzobon: And then we save a lot of money also for the customer because having somebody from Italy, going directly to the customer plant is a big cost. So now with this technology, you don’t have to physically be present.
Is there anything not covered that you would like to comment on?
Carlo Pozzobon: I think the presence here in the States with the warehouse is definitely something that is very important, not only for the spare parts and the service but also for the machines themselves. With the idea that we can gradually move to the point that we can make an assembly facility here in the States. That means, that from Italy, the machines start in groups and we can assemble them here in the US. We can have our customers come to Charlotte instead of going to Italy to check the machine before being delivered. It’s a work in progress that will only get better.
Alberto Voltolina: It’s coming down the road. But we did a lot in the last 12 months, so we have to keep doing a lot now. We will do a lot with Stefano in the next 18 to 24 months potentially, but this is the next step that we want to take.
MGG website: www.mggmecannica.com
Paggin website: www.paggin.it
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