Anaheim - Sepro America is feeling pretty comfortable in the western region of the U.S.
Paul Rudzinski, regional sales manager for Sepro, told PlasticsToday at PLASTEC West that medical processors in California and automotive molders in Texas were actively buying robots in 2013. To meet the market demand, Sepro expanded its product line and added sales representatives. As a result, Sepro America tripled its sales in the western U.S., compared to 2012.
Providing automation sales, engineering and service throughout the U.S. and Canada, Sepro America, LLC, is a wholly owned daughter company of Sepro Robotique, La Roche sur Yon, France.
Part of the growth is attributed to the company introducing new equipment in the past few years. "Almost every product Sepro manufactures has been revamped and redesigned with added new options," Rudzinski said.
Sepro offers a variety of robots such as the 'Success robots' that are finding its way into installations that don't require high speeds or complex part manipulation, including many medical applications and some in automotive. For packaging or other applications that require faster cycles, Rudzinski says he usually recommends the Sepro S5 line of high-speed robots.
The increasing demand for automation is another reason sales have increased.
"There is definitely a push to reduce labor costs," Rudzinski said. "When you talk about the minimum wage and hear that fast food chains workers are striking, processers are wondering, 'are we next'?"
He said automation provides a way to improve efficiency and increase productivity.
Rudzinski joined Sepro just over a year ago and, at about the same time, the company signed on two new sales agencies. The Turner Group covers California, the Pacific Northwest and mountain states, while Industrial Machine Sales, Inc. (IMSI) covers Texas, the Southwest and several Gulf states. Both territories extend into the border cities of Mexico. "These two organizations are highly experienced and well-respected in the west," he said. "All of their salespeople have many years in the injection molding market and enjoy excellent customer relationships. They deserve a lot of the credit for the growth we've seen in those territories."
Globally, the Sepro Group, headquartered in La Roche sur Yon, France, registered its best sales year ever in its 40-year history, selling 1700 robots and sprue pickers to customers around the world, which was 31 percent more than in 2012.
North American sales were a big factor, the company says, with 2013 orders outpacing 2012 by some 34 percent. In the past five years, North America has gone from being Sepro's no. 3 global market to the no. 1 position, accounting for almost a quarter of company sales. Recently, Sepro America moved into a new facility that is nearly double the size of its previous space. The new building in Cranberry Township, PA, is 16,500 sq. ft., including a large "workshop" area, which encompasses assembly, testing and warehouse space. Office space has doubled in size to 6700 sq. ft., and there is an 800-sq.-ft. training room with 18-ft ceiling height so that it can accommodate even large robots.
The company has also expanded its field service staffing in key like California, for example, and added in-house engineering personnel. The company now employs nearly 30 and anticipates adding at least two more positions during 2014.