IEN: This year your company is celebrating its 55th anniversary. What are the key factors in such a long-term success?
Palmieri: The key to our success can be summarised in three words: quality, service and specialization. All our products are 100% tested at least three times during the production process. We use the best quality materials and a high level of automation. We have 18 sales subsidiaries worldwide and 6 in Italy - with extremely competent teams that take care of marketing and customer service. We can say that we are the only European multinational family-owned company that focuses on relays and relay-related products.
IEN: Regarding sales, what proportion of your relays are used in industrial applications, and what proportion in the building sector?
Palmieri: Globally, a good 20% of our sales are related to the building sector, and this percentage is growing constantly, whereas the remaining 80% goes into the industrial sector.
IEN: Could you name some of the most important industrial uses for your products?
Palmieri: Our relays have a multitude of applications- - ranging from control panels for lifts and elevators, electric and photovoltaic power plants- right up to the interfacing of PLC's with various types of PCB's and electronic machinery as well as automation systems. In the building sector our components are used principally in lighting control.
IEN: Unlike many other manufacturers in the industry who may be cutting back on participating in trade fairs, Finder will be present at more than 50 trade shows and events worldwide this year. What's the thinking behind this strategy?
Palmieri: We wanted to send a strong message to the market: Finder is always present when sometimes others are not. As a result we've had some positive feedback, with our customers and potential customers showing a great deal of interest in our products at these events. IEN: Many people might consider relays to be products that can typically be manufactured in so-called lowlabour cost countries, whereas Finder's production facilities are located in Italy, France and Spain where wages are relatively high. Why is the label "Made in Europe" so important to your products? Palmieri: Europe is synonymous with quality; whatever people might say, the facts still bear this out. Furthermore, for a company like Finder it wouldn't make much sense to shift production to China or some other country where the cost of labour is low. In the end, the saving would not be great enough to justify such a change in direction; and the risks of a significant loss in quality are far too great. So far, the facts have proved us right in following this strategy.
IEN: What are the current trends and developments in relay technology and what are the most important market requirements?
Palmieri: If we're speaking about our core business of electromechanical relays, then the requests made by our customers - largely top-end users - can be divided into two groups: The first regards having relays with an increasingly greater specification and higher performance relating to factors such as temperature, electrical life and mechanical life. The second refers to the need to comply with increasingly higher standards and norms - especially in specific sectors such as the railways. All this represents an entirely new challenge for Finder - and for 55 years we have been ready to face tough challenges.
IEN: What are your thoughts for Finder's next 55 years?
Palmieri: Finder currently employs around 1,000 people: I sincerely hope that in 55 years' time we will have at least double this amount!
IEN: Mr. Palmieri, thank you for the interview.
Facts & Figures
Employees: ~ 1,000
Headquarters: Almese (Turin), Italy
18 sales subsidiaries and more than 60 representatives worldwide
Main products: PCB relays, industrial relays, relay interface modules, timers, monitoring relays, products for commercial and residential applications