The Italian-based equipment manufacturer VRV is celebrating its 50th anniversary and its success to date this year.
What is remarkable in this company\\$quot;s path is the passion that shines through the two generations of leaders and the strong belief in constant development without forgetting their roots and how it all begun in 1956.
"Our father, Massimiliano Spada, literally started from zero and now, when he is slowly starting to step aside and handing over his lifetime\\$quot;s creation to us, it\\$quot;s our responsibility to take it to the next level," says Federico Spada, the 36-year old CEO of VRV\\$quot;s Cryogenic Division.
"My father has created something that offers me, my sister Elena (39) and brother Alessandro (41) global careers within an exciting industry and it\\$quot;s an honour to be part of it."
VRV's Ornago facilities in Italy///
But how did it all begin? According to Massimiliano Spada, it was all accidental. "VRV was originally established by three artisans who worked in a small Milan-based workshop that dealt with the maintenance and repair within the pharmaceutical industry.
"When I joined the business 30 years ago I started to look at how we could develop our mechanical and maintenance work outside of the pharmaceutical companies. I spoke to a technician who suggested hiring an engineer, as my own background was mainly economical and financial. Within a year we started to get different configurations to the company and so in 1974 the company moved from Milan to Ornago where we are now."
This time period was a turning point for VRV as the number of professional employees started to grow. At the same time the company started to approach other engineering companies in Italy and offering them VRV\\$quot;s expertise.
Massimiliano continued: "One of our first clients was Italian oxygen company SIO for whom we became a sub-supplier building the inner vessels for their tanks made of stainless steel. This co-operation lasted about two years until I proposed that VRV could manufacture the entire tank for them and not just the inner vessels.
"At that time cryogenic equipment played a strategic role for companies producing technical gases. But SIO\\$quot;s answer to my proposal was negative and they did not even allow me to their list of sub suppliers.
"The rejection gave me the opportunity to look for an engineer who knew how to design and manufacture equipment. Eventually I found somebody who had been working in cryogenics and he joined us to manufacture these equipment."
It took a year for Massimiliano and the engineer to pioneer the first three pieces of cryogenic equipment. They presented the equipment to SOL, who bought it.
"The early decision to start manufacture in vast volume proved to be the key to VRV\\$quot;s success"
Due to this first success he and the engineer started visiting all the gas companies in Italy.
The 67-year old chairman continued: "At that time delivery times of equipment manufacturers\\$quot; were very long reaching up to 18 months so when we returned to the workshop we made a construction plan, and according to the plan the engineer suggested building 15 new piecs of equipment.
"I was reluctant to build so few because of the long delivery times as my intention was to start manufacturing on an industrial scale so in the end we decided to build one hundred items."
The early decision to start manufacture in vast volume proved to be the key to VRV\\$quot;s success and still is today. Federico continued: "We have been following this policy for 30 years. Even today we manufacture tanks for stock, which guarantees short deliveries to our customers."
Eventually the VRV product range started to expand and diversify to production of tanks for transport of technical gases, ambient air vaporizers, small-sized cryogenic equipment, vacuum-insulated lines, LNG equipment and oxygen therapy units leading up to a full range of cryogenic tanks holding up to 500,000 litres.
New generation, new mission
Today VRV is experiencing some significant changes; after 30 years in charge Massimiliano is ready to start his retirement process and has started preparing to leave his company in the hands of his children.
Yellow full aluminium trailer///
"It\\$quot;s a big change for the company and for me," Massimiliano continued, "but I have three successors to continue to develop the business. So this time period for me is mainly passing my knowledge and experience to them in order to guarantee straightforward and successful transformation."
The siblings certainly have a significant task ahead of them. The company has not only enlarged considerably over the past few years through acquisition of the French Cryo Diffusion but also by establishment of new businesses like the VRV Services.
However, the trio\\$quot;s excitement and enthusiasm to respond to the challenge was clear. Federico continued: "We appreciate the gift our father has offered us and we look forward to taking VRV to the next level."
The plans are certainly big. This year for example the two Italian facilities are expanding again, providing the company with more than 5,000 square metres of space and the opportunity to enhance VRV\\$quot;s activities; Cryogenic, Pressure Vessels and Process and Equipment divisions.
But VRV is also expanding its global presence to new emerging markets, such as Asia. Federico continued: "Europe is and continues to be an important market for us but we also need to respond to the production need in Asia.
"This doesn\\$quot;t mean that we are exiting Europe or starting to export our products from Asia to Europe but we want to respond to the internal demand in Asia. For months we have been working in the area to set up a company and a cryogenic manufacturing base there because we believe that is the market of the future and it could form a big part of the VRV Group\\$quot;s business.
VRV Cryo Services///
"We already have an office and a commercial branch there run by local specialised staff. The expansion will bring us closer to our customers, enable us to serve them better and join the worldwide market.
"On the other hand we are also expanding in Eastern Europe. Our staff based in Belgium and in the Czech Republic are doing a remarkable work and are really pushing our products for example to the Russian and Ukrainian markets."
As for the Cryogenic Division, led by Federico, VRV not only aim at expanding to new markets but also at developing new products in medical, LNG and mobile units lines.
"This doesn\\$quot;t mean that we are exiting Europe or starting to export our products from Asia to Europe but we want to respond to the internal demand in Asia."
"With the medical oxygen units we are bringing out new portable oxygen therapy units fuelled with our technology, which has not been experienced in the market yet.
"We strongly believe in the market, which is new for us too. It\\$quot;s also a market where we have two major competitors and this makes it very interesting.
"Italy is the most important market in Europe and as we are the only independent company producing these units, this is really thrilling for us because we already have a lot of interest in the product itself. In the next three years the medical oxygen business will represent 30 per cent of the Cryogenic Division business.
"Again for the medical applications, a full range of LIN dry storage units have been developed.
"We are also moving into LNG projects for stationary, transportable and on-board tanks. As regards mobile equipment we can already offer the full aluminium trailer and have just restyled our former trailers to make them even safer, reliable and cost effective. More gas and less tara," Federico says.
"I would like to highlight that all new products are designed and developed in close co-operation with Cryo Diffusion people."
So the future really looks bright for VRV with its new innovations, expansions and products. VRV\\$quot;s Cryogenic division is likely to grow by 20 per cent this year and thanks to these new projects healthy double-digit rates are expected.
Federico continued: "We have become known for our quality, reliability and for total packages.
"Still we mustn\\$quot;t forget the team behind our success. We have a very talented young team, which is prepared to work hard in order to guarantee our success. Although the Spada family plays a strong role within the development and strategy we encourage our staff to be innovative and creative."
And at the end of the day the success story must continue to be able to provide the third generation of Spada\\$quot;s with new challenge to grasp hold of one day.
Federico Spada CEO Cryogenic Division///
The Cryogenic Division of VRV has two arms in Europe; Italy and France through Cryo Diffusion. The business sector designs and manufactures equipment for storage, transport and distribution for liquefied technical gases.
Today the division is actively bringing new solutions to the market including portable homecare oxygen therapy units, LNG solutions and mobile storage tanks.
Whilst the demand for cryogenic equipment remains strong the division is focusing on mass production at fast pace whilst the Pressure Vessels division focuses more on niche one-off solutions. Currently cryogenic experiences 20 per cent growth annually and this is expected to continue thanks to expansion into new markets and development of new products. The division is expected to represent about 50 per cent of the VRV Group\\$quot;s turnover within the next few years.
The CEO of the division is Federico Spada (36), the youngest of the Spada siblings.
Pressure Vessels Division
The Pressure Vessels Division of VRV designs and manufactures medium and high-pressure equipment such as reactors, heat exchangers, columns and special vessels.
Alessandro Spada CEO Pressure Vessels and Process and Equipment Divisions///
Today the division represents the majority of VRV Group\\$quot;s annual turnover and it focuses on highly technological tailor-made equipment.
90 per cent of the division\\$quot;s products are exported globally and the CEO of the division is Alessandro Spada (41), the eldest of the Spada brothers.
Process and Equipment Division
The Process and Equipment division specialises in the design, manufacture and start-up of complete units for drying, reaction and granulation of products under different forms.
The division is equipped with a testing room, pilot and mobile plants for feasibility tests, production or optimisation. CEO Alessandro Spada is also responsible for this division.