“Live.Homag 2021” ran from May 10 to June 10, one full month to take a close look at all the news presented by the group, with 500 contents for all kinds of users…
Webinars, live demos and one-to-one talks, across 30 days at “Live.Homag 2021”, the event organized by the German group, live from the sites of Horb and Holzbronn, hosting two dedicated exhibitions of “made in Homag” solutions for handicraft, small, medium and large businesses.
We decided to talk with Walter Crescenzi, managing director at Homag Italia, who lived this experience in first person through each phase. And of course, we took the opportunity to ask how things are going in the industry, especially in Italy.
“It was really a big event – Crescenzi said – introducing a platform that will be always available to our customers: more than 500 pieces of content, designed to give answers also after these thirty days of “treff”, for which we created real booths, just like a traditional exhibition!
This was the setting for presentations, meetings, in-depths and demos organized for specific groups of people, onsite or online. I daresay it was even better than visiting an exhibition, as the “depth of contact” was much closer than you can normally achieve at a big event. Let’s say we have leveraged this approach to its best, aware that an exhibition has multiple facets and values… We have seen good attendance by Italian visitors and we have also acted as mediators with our customers who attended the demos”.
What’s the greatest news?
“There were really so many, a tangible sign that we have been moving on during the pandemic, without stopping. I can even say that the new communication tools have expanded our availability of time, so we have become even more effective and productive, while losing the emotional and human touch, which remains critical for any business activity.
In short, I would say that there were three big areas: a huge portfolio of digital apps and modules for handicraft woodworking shops and small-medium enterprises, “batch one” production, and solid wood solutions. We showed how even small organizations can improve their operations, becoming more digital with simple and fast tools. We showed what we can offer to our customers to manage a wider product portfolio while controlling cycle time and costs, thanks to our experience in the high-flexibility automated factory. As to solid wood, with partners like Weinmann and the Danish company System TM, recently acquired, both members of our group, we can offer excellent solutions also for wood carpentry and constructions”.
Is the success of “Live.Homag 2021” evidence that, in spite of all, the industry is still positive?
“Sure. We have been going through bad periods, but at economic and industrial level, things have not been so bad. The year 2020 closed positively for Homag, especially if you consider the awful expectations in the early months. We have noticed that everyone has reorganized, with the medium and large companies going much better, while smaller businesses have paid a higher fee…
There are many forward-looking companies who have decided to keep investing: in Italy, for instance, until April 30 we were above budget, which had already been increased recently by 60 percent. For the group, 2021 might be a new record year, mostly thanks to big plants, where a lot of technology and creativity are required; these investments are no longer limited to our big traditional customers, but are also extending to new businesses. We are looking forward to an excellent season with widespread growth across the entire group: the global markets have positioned us correctly, recognizing that we are not “cheap” but we can offer excellent technological standards. This is reflected in our lead time, which has extended due to high demand, so we are hiring new engineers and staff in general, having already exceeded our 2021 budget by 40 percent!”.
And in the future? Which are the “Homag values” you are focusing on?
“Homag means technology, innovation, advanced manufacturing systems. We are and we will always be considered for our serious, competent and timely approach. We are also improving in other areas, keeping up with the changes that are occurring in several markets where we operate. I’ll give you another example, namely the success of our panel saws in Italy in recent times. The number of sawing machines we have sold is really amazing. Somehow, we have succeeded in conveying the message that our machines are excellent and their price is competitive: we have managed to adapt the prices and the orders are pouring in!
We are also working well with Weinmann, the group specialist in wood construction solutions, with the arrival of new people who will promote our offer in this specific segment.
This challenge has been on the table for a while, and now – as a result of Homag’s decision to set their branch offices free to act and adapt to their operating landscape – we are moving strongly into that direction. Homag Italia has always been more “focused” on furniture, on squaring-edgebanding: now we know it’s not enough, we need to push also on solutions for other segments of the wood industry, constructions first, also in view of the favorable trend of these constructions.
We can say the same for “Tapio“, the digital technology platform of the group, one of the top solutions in the market; the platform has actually grown into a “consortium” where more and more organizations are merging. This topic was not so important for us until a couple of years ago, when we found the right person to interact with our younger users, who represent our future. All we had to do was believe, dedicate a few resources to organize weekly webinars open to all customers, to involve a wider audience and show all the benefits of digital operations for each type of company, from family-owned furniture workshops to big groups”.
So, you are optimistic…
“Definitely, although it’s not easy to be confident. It seems we are getting out of a painful period, which has brought worries and poverty all over the world. But, as I said, no one has given up. We want to continue to be reliable suppliers, with clear values to offer to our customers. When we sell a machine, from the most basic to the most complex plant, we always have to explain the reasons why we are not a low-price company. We know what we can offer and this is our imperative.
And ultimately, we will go back to industry exhibitions, which are an essential channel to build new contacts, even if new methods have emerged. Exhibitions will have to change, of course, and a new balance must be found with onsite and online open-house events. We are learning that we can do things in a different way, and I believe that everyone, not only Homag, is ready”.
by Luca Rossetti
The event presented several formats to meet the requirements of all categories. “Live.Explore” presented joiners with the benefits of Homag’s specific solutions, while in the “Live.Webinars”, the group experts offered live demos of machinery, technology and production methods, answering questions in the “Live.Forum”, where the future of woodworking was discussed.
Anyone interested in direct contacts could use “Live.Connect” to get in touch with the desired specialist.
And if you missed anything, don’t worry, as the hundreds of pieces of content are constantly accessible in the “Mediathek Live.Collection“, anytime, anywhere, for free.