Even after several years of record sales, Sepro Group is investing heavily in North America, which has been its largest market, contributing as much as 25 percent or more of global revenues, which topped €126 million in 2017. The investments are just one indication of just how important the North American market – including the United States, Canada and Mexico – is to Sepro and why it is commanding and receiving more of Sepro’s global focus and resources than ever before.
Despite or, perhaps more accurately, because of this recent growth, Sepro CEO Jean-Michel Renaudeau sees the need for a new approach: “Our business has reached a point where we need to take a new approach in North America and around the world. This initiative is expected to result a greater customer focus, especially addressing the needs of multi-national companies and key accounts. We intend to take advantage of the strengths and potential synergies of our three daughter companies – Sepro Mexico, Sepro Canada, and Sepro America – as transform them into even more capable, responsive, and truly local and global businesses.”
To drive this initiative into reality and provide the ‘local’ and ‘global’ quality that Sepro believes is so important to its success worldwide, Renaudeau has named Raul Scheller as Managing Director, North America, effective in mid-June. Scheller brings Sepro more than 25 years of executive and operations experience in automation, packaging, and plastics injection molding businesses, along with fluency in three languages: English, Spanish, and German. He will work from an office at Sepro America, Warrendale, PA, and the robot assembly and technical service capabilities of that business unit will support the company’s activities in Canada and Mexico.
Scheller’s task, says Renaudeau, is to lead the initiative to bring North American customers more of the speed and responsiveness that they are looking for. The first step in this effort took place in 2017 when Sepro America’s expanded Warrendale, PA facility became the first outside France to begin assembling Sepro robots. This shift, which affected three robot lines designed for high-tonnage IMMs – the general purpose 3-axis Strong Line; the technically advanced, 3-axis S7 Line, and the premium, 5-axis 7X Line – will streamline large-robot deliveries for North American customers.
Step two, which has only recently been completed, has been to expand North American service operations. To that end, Sepro added four new technicians in Mexico and two in Canada, with both groups backed up by the larger U.S. based team. Regional service operations in the U.S. and Canada utilize the Sepro America parts center, also located in Warrendale, while those south of the border can rely on Sepro Mexico parts center in Queretaro.
Step three, whose foundation was put in place with the Warrendale expansion, involves building out and expanding the availability of “Solutions by Sepro,” the company’s automation services offering. It encompasses increasingly sophisticated pre-and post-mold automation solutions that include equipment, engineering and service. These solutions are becoming increasingly important to molders seeking to add value to their products. Though the Sepro American hub in Warrendale now houses the North American solutions group, the effort to develop a broader solutions capability in the region is “only in the beginning stages,” Renaudeau says.
Sepro was one of the first companies in the world to develop Cartesian beam robots for injection-molding machines, introducing its first CNC controlled “manipulator” in 1981. Today, having equipped more than 33,000 injection-molding machines, Sepro Group is one of the largest independent sellers of robots in the world. Its 3-, 5- and 6-axis servo robots, special-purpose units and complete automation systems are all supported by the Visual control platform developed by Sepro especially for injection molders. This unique controller is a key component in what the company refers to as ‘Open Integration’ – a collaborative approach to equipment connectivity and interoperability that can be tailored to exactly suit the specific needs of processors and injection-molding OEMs. For Sepro and its customers and partners, “The Future is Wide Open.”