Setting the Standard
As a leading name in the manufacture of hoses and fittings, Rick Sacco, Managing Director at Alfagomma Australia, discusses his firm’s competitive advantage
Writer: Sean Galea-Pace | Project Manager: Ryan Gray
Leading the market is a challenge. Retaining that position for a sustained period of time is even harder.
For Alfagomma Australia, the world’s largest independent manufacturer of hoses and fittings, it’s something that Rick Sacco, Managing Director at the organisation, embraces and points to his company’s talent management strategy as a key component for success.
“The people recruited in the first five years of business made the difference between us and our competitors,” he explains. “The team at Alfagomma made the strategic decision to become focused on the underground mining business. We were highly innovative and specialised in developing the right products for the industry.
“As a result, Alfagomma now dominates the mining market with our reputation for being a quality manufacturer of fluid handling systems products with a special focus on hydraulic hoses and industrial hose and fittings. Our customers and their loyalty are what continues to drive our business.”
With a people-centric mindset, Sacco stresses that his company’s people are a key reason for success. “Our employees are highly experienced and knowledgeable within the mining markets and general industry,” he discusses. “Our business demands experienced people with technical ability to service specialised industries such as mining. Therefore, it is essential to recruit the right people. Remuneration has a lot to do with retaining people particularly when competing with large mining companies who remunerate well.
“We compete by providing our people training and development programmes to strengthen skills within the industry, share our success with employees, provide an ethical working culture, provide work in modern, state-of-the-art facilities that are purpose built, motivate through quality management and leadership. Our sales and technical team have the opportunity to work with major account customers which is both challenging and rewarding.”
Sacco has worked at the organisation since 1994 across several different roles such as Sales Manager, General Manager and his current role as MD. With such considerable experience, he believes the space is an exciting place to be. “It’s still a rapidly growing industry with global demand for minerals such as gold, nickel, copper and energy resources such as coal, oil and gas,” affirms Sacco. “Our business is very much driven by commodity demand.”
Upon first making his way in the industry, quality fluid power manufacture and distribution companies were minimal in the Australian market and Sacco saw the potential. “There was a real opportunity for Alfagomma to come into the market and make a difference,” he explains. “The difference was taking our product from the manufacturer direct to major mining companies in strategic regions of Australia. We sell what we manufacture.”
Alfagomma Australia’s mobile hose service operates throughout Australia with quality experienced technicians. Sacco believes its model is unique and partners with its technicians to deliver the best possible service at an affordable price. “Our Hiflex model is somewhat unique because we partner with our technicians to deliver the best possible service at the best possible price,” he explains. “They are motivated to provide excellent customer service and they earn the best commissions in the industry. We recruit only the best hose technicians to assemble, repair and service our customer’s hydraulic hoses.”
Founded in 1956 by Felice Gennasio in Monza, Italy, the business is still privately owned by Felice’s two sons Guido and Enrico. Today, Alfagomma employs around 3,915 people in 86 sales outlets and 22 manufacturing plants worldwide and is ISO 9001 and 14001 quality certified. Having operated in Australia for 30 years, the firm operates eight branches with over 200 employees, contractors, licensees, and distributors.
In 2005, Alfagomma Australia won its first million-dollar project to supply and install specialised mining hoses for the underground longwall mining industry. In October 2016, the organisation opened its national distribution facility in Eastern Creek, New South Wales. The 10,000 square metre facility is one of the largest and most advanced distribution warehouse and hose assembly facilities in the industry. For the past 20 years, Alfagomma Australia has been involved in the majority of projects involving the supply of hydraulic components for underground tunnel projects.
In June 2021, Alfagomma Australia celebrates 30 years in the Australian market. As such, Sacco is excited to celebrate this achievement with both staff and customers. “Our evolution hose is of a superior quality and has unprecedented performance,” explains Sacco. “Evolution hoses are known for having extra safe construction, extreme flexibility in suction and delivery, and exceptional manufacturing tolerance control. The company invested millions of dollars in the upgrade of equipment in the manufacturing facilities globally. The evolution product manufactured today is the most technically advanced product in the market today and at Alfagomma, we are all proud of the development.
“We are investing in our Hiflex mobile hose service where we have a vision to deliver the best possible service and price to our customers in Australia. With a potential market of $300 million per annum, the Hiflex Mobile Hose Service is a focus in our investment.”
Through its eight distribution facilities, Alfagomma Australia’s product comes directly from its manufacturing facilities in Europe or Asia to its distribution warehouse in Eastern Creek supply direct to its branches or customers. “Today, we also have a 27,000 square metre warehouse facility in Malaysia adjacent to our manufacturing plant where this facility supports our Australia distribution operation with product delivered in two weeks,” says Sacco.
When it comes to developing robust and sustained relationships with partners, aligning to a common objective is essential to Sacco.
AlfaTracka App – Process
It begins with the creation of the assembly which is built to specification at the workshop. This data relating to the assembly is uploaded to Alfatraka and makes each assembly unique in its own data. Subsequently, a label is placed on the assembly which includes the Alfatraka QR image for scanning with a smart device. The QR image is the gateway to all the information related to that individual assembly. This means less clutter on the hose assembly as the QR image can be printed on multiple surfaces.
The AkfaTraka content management system (CMS) can be accessed using any web browser on any device. The CMS is leveraged to manage AlfaTraka components and administration functions. The CMS allows clients to:
- Use the extensive search function to retrieve a components lifetime cycle history.
- Send a replacement order.
- Store historical data of product application or failure.
- Receive notifications when certain flags are triggered.
- Import and export data from programmes such as Microsoft Excel, Adobe PDF and other database programmes.
- Create reports for specific data analysis.
- Administer configuration and users.
AlfaTraka is a hub where hose information can be managed and reported on. AlfaTraka can be integrated directly into the current inventory system. The AlfaTraka application is available for smart devices and can be found in the Google Play Store for Android devices and the App Store for iOS devices. The App allows you to scan a component to retrieve the lifecycle history, send a replacement order, store historical data of product application or failure and receive notifications when certain flags are triggered.
Looking ahead, Sacco affirms his organisation has big plans to grow its market share in open cut mining and oil and gas. “We are looking for more technicians to join our Hiflex mobile hose service to support the open cut mining and construction markets,” he explains. “We have just recruited a senior manager to head our oil and gas division and will be hiring a specialist sales team for this market. We will continue to lead the market in Australia in innovation, quality, people and technology across all industries.”