ROBOTS DON'T DENY NEW JOBS

Interview with the president of the leading self-adhesive material company in Caponago: “we remain a family model with a global vision”
16 Jun 2016 | RITRAMA WORLD

It sticks to everything. Worldwide giant in the production of self-adhesive materials, Ritrama – for many – has the appearance of the headquarters that overlook the lanes of the A4 motorway in Caponago (“all free marketing”). The company, stopped due to the expansion plans in Monza in 2006, moved to the small town and from there, today, it overlooks the world. With a turnover of 400 million and hundreds of employees, today, controlled by Tomas Rink, son of Arnold and part of an Austrian family landed in Lombardy in the 60s, has production sites in the USA, the United Kingdom, in China, Spain, Chile and various slitting centers worldwide. “And yet we remain a family business with a global vision”, explains Rink interviewed by "il Cittadino" in the meeting room with windows overlooking the factory floor: a huge tidy room where white rolls taller than a human arrive and are put into enormous machines and become self-adhesive, “raw material” to label manufacturers (Ritrama’s customers).

What is Italy to a business like this one?
If we’re talking about numbers, it represents one third of the revenue in the EU: it’s not an easy country to manufacture in… Automation is taking over in your sector.

Do you think people that fear of employment future are right to feel this way?
I don’t think so. Both the product and the way it’s manufactured changes. Thanks to automation and various technologies, we are able to have a greater outcome and spending less with the same number of people. Our new coming plant in South Carolina is totally automated. This doesn’t have negative impacts on employment: we’ll need to attract even more professionalism in order to improve further.

With which criteria were you able to expand in almost every continent in just a couple of decades?
To some extent we followed the market trends, for example opening in China at the time of maximum development. In other cases, we focused on a development strategy to serve as well as we can those markets that we have in mind as objectives: for example, Peru and Costa Rica, helpful for our growth in South America. Due to our diversification, we have always been able to handle well with difficult periods in some areas.

You have also been expanding within Italy.
Yes, we have a new location, in Basiano (located between Milan and the Bergamo Area): a perfect logistical link. We took advantage of an already used space that had been emptied.

For a group like yours, how much does geopolitics count? For example: you are located in Manchester, what do you expect from the Brexit vote?
My hope is for Great Britain to remain in the EU. Although it’s true that on the practical side of things it wouldn’t have a severe economical impact on us. I’m more worried with what is happening between Russia and Turkey and the instability in these areas.

You were stating that in Italy it’s not convenient to produce. How important is the currency?
Being able to devalue the Lira gave us many benefits. Who knows maybe my grandchildren will see something similar… it’s not impossible for the monetary union to break apart.

You really think the family model is valid in this context?
It’s the only winning one, trust me. If you have the luck to continue using it, it guarantees quicker and better decision making.

Did you always have in mind to work with your father?
I would say so. My sons (Ricardo and Ronald) have had a longer journey in order to be convinced and today I think they are very happy with the choice they made.

How do you see Italy from Ritrama’s point of view? Do you approve this government?
I keep seeing good prospective. I think Renzi is the only one capable to undertake the job done up to now : I hope he does so.
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