Asta.Net: the union of mould and die makers makes the consortium

apertura stampi_12 OKDue to its recent establishment, dating back to 2012 only, Asta.Net is little more than a novice in the Italian panorama of business groupings but since the beginning it set ambitious internationalization targets leveraged by competences rooted into Brescia territory. Until now, twenty mould and die makers decided to join it: a “firepower” at the service of customers worldwide.

The story is well known. Struggling with the crisis and the more and more severe policies that rule the relationship between subcontractors and final customers or with the significant decrease of the latter, a group of enterprises strongly rooted on the territory (in detail, the Brescia area) is in front of a crossroads. The alternative is between the possibility of gaining critical mass and job orders, better if coming from international markets, by creating aggregations and the decision of going on fluctuating among the waves of the recession but with the risk of being affected by a constant erosion of market shares. If the problem is well known, the solution chosen by Brescia companies, currently grouped under the umbrella of Asta.Net is nowadays original. On one hand because it gives up the dominating paradigm of business nets, which on 1st October 2014 concerned almost 9,000 realities for 1,772 contracts regularly registered, opting for the consortium form. On the other hand because, instead of searching for managing and leadership figures in its inside, the Group turned to external managers, even if relying on a long-term experience in the segment of major interest, that is to say the industry of moulds and dies, especially for aluminium. It is a typical specialization of Brescia province, in which members can boast usable and competitive competences. Even more, anyway, than a specialization that, especially in relation to the automotive industry, can enjoy fascinating and rich market potentialities. To make some examples, inspired just by the conversations with Asta.Net managers, one of the most renowned German automotive brands has estimated that within the next ten years about 800 presses, with a capacity of 4,000 tons and over, might be operating in the world. Today they are only 200. The four-wheel ambit is precisely expected to guide the expansion, in search for lighter and lighter materials to couple the speed and safety requirements with the vehicle lightness, targeted to the consumption reduction.

se serve 007 OKAluminium for car sprint

«The consortium Asta.Net», told Stampi the former sales manager Antonio Perini and the general manager Andrea Cerutti, «was established about two years ago to meet the demands of a market where the major players showed the will of reducing the overall number of suppliers and of attaining at the same time more flexibility, service and global competence». At the beginning, only eight mould and die producers joined the initiative; today they are twenty and numbers tell a lot about their firepower. Together they aggregate a turnover exceeding 53 million Euros because members include companies that do not surpass 500,000 Euros yearly and enterprises that on the contrary exceed 10 millions. While the turnover generated by the consortium’ efforts is currently equal to one million Euros, with the prospect, however, of surpassing 10 millions in four years. «In the starting phases we had to overcome mistrusts of various kind», added Perini, «on one hand those connected with a certain entrepreneurial model that has made individualism, for good or bad, one of its cornerstones. On the other hand the lack of confidence of customers, or possible buyers, which often deem mould and die makers the most problematic suppliers». All hindrances solved with a double move. First came the decision of entrusting external professionals, like Perini and Cerutti themselves, as already told, with the definition of the strategic and commercial roadmaps of Asta.Net. Then, the choice of allowing the consortium directors, who have engaged the automotive expert Antonio Gandellini as technical consultant, to act towards members as if they were buyers, with the same diktats about delivery terms and quality. «Another important aspect», argued Perini, «is represented by marketing. Asta.Net has linked Aluminium with the made in Brescia brand, using a pair renowned in the automotive world for the consolidated excellence in key-ambits like extrusion and die-casting». A real eco-system of treatment experts has then gradually developed around the consortium, such as TAG at Dolzago, or of selected players of the iron and steel supply chain like Aubert Duval. «Besides, further specifications», explained the former sale manager, «concern the normalized material purchase that, for foreign markets, finds in Meusburger a supplier able to grant competitive and inimitable service conditions».

From Brescia to the world

Asta.Net consortium has adopted a detailed and structured internal organization to face at best customers’ challenges. Depending on the typology of required machining, the orders are distributed among the members and the coexistence of different and branched know how enables the trouble-free acquisition and management of committing job order. Each of the partners is judged according to the validity and timeliness of its work, in conformity with a logic of scores and penalties assigned by precise internal audits. The consortium, which aims at becoming a consortium company in the medium-short term, entrusts external partners only with some types of production like for instance castings. Almost without competitors in Italy, due to the nature of its organization, Asta.Net set the ultimate target of becoming the main customer for its members. «At present», reminded Perini, «it is worth 3-5% of the turnovers reached by the total of the participating companies, but it is clear that this proportion must change and the orders coming from Asta.Net must become majoritarian. Besides, in order to avoid overlapping competences, our market analyses allow us to interact exclusively with final customers that are not those of the single mould and die maker». The interest in the young made in Brescia aggregation is constantly growing, both according to Perini’s experience and of the new general manager Andrea Cerutti, since the beginning on board of Asta.Net after a past spent with steel multinationals and Italian normalized producers. It is worth underlining that some collaboration requests have already come from Germany and on the other hand just the German front is the most interesting for members, in view of internationalization: «For 2015 we have scheduled the appointment of a project manager for the Federal Republic», reported Perini, «while six months of assiduous analyses gave us the possibility of identifying a good 70 German foundries of which we might become suppliers. Today Berlin is already worth 18% of the business». According to the managers of the consortium, the company structure chosen is a further weapon to win abroad, where the primary brands feel the need of dealing with a single partner, which the business network philosophy does not allow attaining, in the opinion of Perini. In addition to that, «the approach based on a complex and complete synergy like ours is a successful factor», said the sale manager, «without considering that the consortium and the consortium company can harmonize and rationalize costs better, optimizing financial resources». Therefore, Germany can be only the first stage of a course towards the globalization whose core is the old Central-Western Europe but that does not disdain to look elsewhere, especially at Romania and Turkey, also in virtue of the action of seven partners operating in the world.

foto A 003 OKAsta.Net: numbers and characteristics of an original experience

Operating since 2012 only, Asta.Net is the consortium that groups 20 mould and die makers of Brescia province mainly specialized in supplies to foundries and to the automotive industry. With an aggregate turnover that exceeds 50 million Euros and 350 collaborators and designers in all, Asta.Net can boast a productive capacity that amounts to about 60,000 hours/man each month. Among its main prerogatives, casting dies for aluminium and magnesium, shells for gravity casting and core boxes, low-pressure moulds and dies and moulding. The consortium manages also maintenance and optimization activities of existing moulds and dies, sampling and pre-series.

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