Flat threads and punches find their application in a multitude of industrial sectors, from screw and bolt forming to sheet metal stamping. If the industry slows down, things are bound to get tough for toolmakers as well. We asked a well-known manufacturer of special punches, threading dies and other tools to take stock of the situation: Sala Punzoni, an Italian firm with more than 50 years of experience in the field. We interviewed CEO Dario Sala.
Must ask question: how did you close this 2020?
I’d be lying if I said this was a good year. Like other companies, in March and April we were forced to close, and even when we reopened in the following weeks, many of our customers were still closed, which resulted in a lack of orders. All this continued until the end of August. In September there was a slow restart and since then it has been a crescendo. Somehow, we managed to "bring home the bacon" by focusing on differentiation.
Your exports account for around 40% of the sales. Which market is doing better at the moment?
Truth be told, Italy is showing a remarkable resilience and is rewarding us with the most results. We have been hit hard by the slowdown in Germany, as clearly pointed out by the few orders we are receiving from this country.
Who are your customers and what do they do?
We address a very diverse audience, ranging from the automotive industry, through various sectors, to the medical sector.
In terms of internal safety measures, how did you deal with the pandemic?
From the very beginning, during the early days of March, we got ourselves all the necessary safety devices and adopted procedures to minimize the risk of infection as much as possible. Fortunately, there has not been a single case.
You also had to cut back on business trips and customer missions.
Yes, since the end of January. However, we have managed to keep in contact using videoconferencing and other tools.
Have you reduced investments?
Not at all! Research & Development is and will always be vital for us. We have never stopped investing in new technologies and new products. On the launching pad there are brand-new threading dies, currently undergoing production and quality tests in collaboration with some customers. We have not neglected to develop new punches and other tools as well. And the company is also in the process of being renovated. In other words, sure, the coronavirus has affected us, but it hasn't stopped us and, like many other Italian companies, we've rolled up our sleeves and tried to come out on top - looking to the future.