This is a very particular period, in which the real economy is dealing with a pandemic that has yet to be eradicated, metal production is suffering, but companies in certain sectors are experiencing an unexpected increase in orders and turnover. I have asked for a chat with one of them, producer of springs and other metal parts, in the person of Angelo Cortesi, owner of Co.El. Srl. His company, based in Northern Italy, has a fifty-year history, made up of research, innovation, and adherence to solid principles of transparency and social responsibility.
How is the situation for Co.El.?
We are working almost beyond our means. It's a unique situation, where orders are pouring in, one after the other. At the end of March we recorded between +25 and +30% turnover compared to last year, and hearing from companies similar to ours, I can say that this is also true for our colleagues. If I look at what's going on outside the window, at real consumption, I get the feeling that this is a real bubble, that this frenzy is unjustified, and that customers are driven more by fear than by the actual need for goods. Better for us, of course, but indeed it is a bit strange!
Is this increase transversal to all your target sectors or does it only concern certain branches?
Transversal! It seems to concern all sectors, even the automotive branch has been performing well for several months. We all think that it cannot last forever and that from September/October this bubble will deflate.
As regards raw materials?
We are also suffering from the common difficulties in finding raw materials, which are penalizing this liveliness on the side of the orders. Deliveries have lengthened considerably, even beyond 12 weeks; on stainless steel, even on iron.
You process wire and strip in various types. Which ones?
We use stainless steel, copper alloy, carbon steel, or even pre-hardened wire to produce our springs and components. Or we use strips made of carbon steel, stainless steel, copper alloys. For special requirements, we can use special alloys, such as titanium. In some cases, instead of wire or metal strip, flat wires can be used, mainly in carbon or stainless steel. We are able to produce any type of springs: compression, torsion, extension, shaped springs - the latter is an important part of our business.
I know you have always allocated a large portion of your budget to investments. Did your plans suffer a setback as a result of the pandemic?
Far from it. We have purchased several new pieces of equipment, some of which have already arrived in recent months, including some very high-tech 16-axis CNC machines that allow us to produce certain types of springs more easily now.
Shall we take a look at the future?
We ended the year 2020 well. 2021 will be even better, from what it looks like so far. I'm optimistic - realistic, but optimistic.