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Italian bureaucracy stalls new investments for aluminum products maker Profilglass

Friday, Feb 24, 2017

Aluminum products maker Profilglass has spent the past two years working closely with the Marche Polytechnic to develop an offering that has won it supply contracts from automakers Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Volkswagen as the car industry moves from steel to aluminum.

But its plans to build a new factory to handle the incoming orders have been halted by red tape awaiting for the necessary permits, says founder Giancarlo Paci.

Profilglass was founded in 1982, and in 2000 it entered the field of laminates, creating flat-rolled products for widespread uses: from lighting to construction, electronics to machinery, from tubes to household products, and the production of shopping trolleys and ski poles.

Their strength lies in their closed loop model, which allows for integrated control of production processes. Every year, in slabs or from recycled waste systems, 180,000 tons of aluminum enter its manufacturing sites and exit as finished products.

“We work on a wide range of alloys,” said Giancarlo Paci, founder of the group along with his brother Stefano, “that means being able to confer different mechanical characteristics for different sectors.”

The latest of which is the car sector, which is turning to aluminum to construct lighter vehicles with lower environmental impact, a trend that is also being seen in the nautical sector (“another sector undergoing a global recovery”) which is asking Profilglass for specific components.

The year 2016 was another year of growth for the group, with revenues up 15% to €480 million. About 70% of that was made up of exports to 85 countries in the world. It has 800 employees, 300 of which work in other subsidiaries that operate exclusively for Profilglass.

The acceleration in the business was helped above all by a deal with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which has the car body shells for the Alfa Romeo and Maserati cars made in the Fano site.

“They were looking for a firm that could accompany them in the journey toward aluminum and we felt ready, having gathered all the necessary knowledge and experience,” said Paci.

This developing activity has been entrusted to his son Matteo, who has a degree in mechanical engineering and coordinates the internal unit in daily contact with the University of Ancona. The story is one of a solid company developing in full swing, because straight after FCA, which “already from next year has asked for a higher number of components,” Audi and BMW also arrived.

A year ago Profilglass discovered that production had reached saturation point and that rapid expansion was necessary. An investment of about €90 million over five years is ready, foreseeing 400 new hires in the same period, and an area of about 30,000 square meters has been identified for another site on the outskirts of Fano.

“For us this means maintaining a logistical and operative connection with the current site,” said Silvia Paci, chief financial officer of the group. “And above all, to remain in the city where we were born.”

The link is strong, seeing as 4,500 families in the area are served by energy produced by the 150,000 square meter photo-voltaic plant installed at the site, one of the biggest of its kind in Italy.

Nevertheless, the expansion plans have been blocked for some time due to bureaucracy “that extends to infinity and does not correspond to the speed of the market” and by politics that “prefers not to decide.”

Giancarlo Paci has given himself two months. “I have already identified the alternatives,” he revealed “one is also outside Marche, but leaving Fano would be a defeat for everyone.”

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