Exclusive interview with Mr. Alessandro Malavolti, new president of FederUnacoma

From left: Roberto Pini (PresidentAssomase ), Franco Novello (President Comagarden ), Manlio Martilli (PresidentAssotrattori ), Lorenzo Selvatici (President Assomao), Antonella Varini (Vice president Comacomp), Alessandro Malavolti (President FederUnacoma), Pier Giorgio Salvarini (President Comacomp), Massimo Goldoni (CEO FederUnacoma srl), Stefano Cesari (Vice president Assomase), Massimo Bergo (Vice president Assomao)

June 22, 2017, saw the election of Alessandro Malavolti as president of FederUnacoma, the Italian Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers Federation. Mr. Malavolti is the president of AMA Spa, the Italian manufacturer of components for off-highway, agricultural and gardening machines, and the former president of Comacomp, the Italian association of component manufacturers.

FederUnacoma’s members are involved at the national and international levels and account for 80% of Italian production, with exports accounting for 60% of this production. The association focuses on providing its members a system of services as well as development and training activities. They also provide these companies with the opportunity to connect with institutions to promote innovation and the exchange of knowledge and enter diverse national and international markets.

One of this association’s main activities is the organization of various tradeshows and events. These include EIMA International (International Agricultural and Gardening Machinery Exhibition) in Bologna, Agrilevante in Bari, EIMA Show as well as EIMA Agrimach (International Exhibition of Agri-Machinery & Equipment) in New Delhi. Through collaboration with ICE (Italian Trade Agency), FederUnacoma offers their member companies the opportunity to participate in the most important international sector-specific tradeshows.

FederUnacoma was formed in 2012 to replace Unacoma, the Italian Farm Machinery Manufacturers Association, created in 1945. This association is a member of Confindustria (National Manufacturers Federation) and has represented the interests of their mechanical engineering companies since its formation.

FederUnacoma acts as an umbrella organization for the associations of Italian manufacturers of implements (Assomao), self-propelled machines (Assomase), tractors (Assotrattori), components (Comacomp) and gardening machinery (Comagarden). FederUnacoma is also a member of the European associations CEMA (European Committee of Agricultural Machinery Manufacturer Associations), EGMF (European Garden Machinery Industry Federation) and Euromot (European Association of Internal Combustion Engines).

DLG Italia: What are your initial goals as President of FederUnacoma?

Mr. Malavolti: I have set multiple goals, but most importantly I will continue with activities to further the potential of internationalization for our members. This will come through reinforcing the technical sector of FederUnacoma with a large push towards the technical assistance that we give to members to resolve, interpret, understand and react with third parties regarding new regulations. These new regulations primarily affect emissions standards as well as the electric and electronic areas as machines are increasingly sophisticated with a larger number of electric and electronic systems.

Lobbying is also a very important topic for me as most decision making is done at the international level in Brussels, the center of strategic and bureaucratic decisions. There is less happening at the national level now, so ideally we will create a bigger force behind CEMA as this association represents many smaller companies and associations and reinforces their power at the international level.

Lobbying at the local and regional levels is also key as we receive European funds that must be managed at a local level for rural development. The European Union has developed the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development for 2014-2020 and has given each member country a certain sum to improve the competitiveness of farm, forest and agri-food businesses, help protect the natural environment and support rural economies. Each region manages their own funds, and for this reason lobbying at the Italian level is fundamental.

Courses and seminars for companies regarding financing, materials and the market are also essential for our members, activities that will be continued and expanded upon during my term.

Your experience will definitely bring new ideas to FederUnacoma. Do you see yourself as a traditional leader or will we see a change of direction?

My role will continue along the same lines as that of previous president Mr. Massimo Goldoni, who will continue to sit on the board of FederUnacoma. My presidency will emphasize some innovative points but continue along already established lines that have seen excellent results, at both the tradeshow and association levels, under Mr. Goldoni.

 

As “ex-president” of Comacomp, you definitely have a broader vision of the component market. Which sectors have seen the greatest growth?

The components market is seeing positive results, both on the national and international levels. In Comacomp, there are two distinct markets – that of the OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and the aftermarket. The OEM market is doing slightly better than last year while the aftermarket is maintaining its numbers of last year with the sectors of electronics and irrigation having slightly improved.

Many Comacomp members have participated for years in Agritechnica, especially in Systems & Components. How do you see this platform?

I see Systems & Components very positively. We have had a similar experience in EIMA with “Eima Components”, and we have seen that dedicating a specialized area to components has a high return. This audience is different than that of the major machine builders. Technicians, engineers, R&D – professionals – now have the opportunity to go to one area and find everything they need to build their machines or resolve their problems with a clear logic.

Before, tradeshows were very dispersive with all of the systems and components companies located with all other exhibitors. The innovative concept and layout of both Systems & Components and “Eima Components” has proven to be a successful approach to Agritechnica and Eima.

Agritechnica and Eima are the two most important tradeshows in agricultural mechanization. What differences do you see? Where is their potential?

Agritechnica is the largest tradeshow dedicated to agricultural mechanization with an emphasis placed on specialization in big machines for geographical areas such as Germany, Eastern Europe, the ex-Soviet Union, the Americas – areas that practice extensive agriculture.

Eima concentrates more on niche product groups seeing that our target is the Mediteranean and Latin areas. Our exhibitors and manufacturers in Italy are more interested in machinery for vineyards, produce and olive groves – mechanical technologies geared towards specialized agriculture and production of various territories. The two tradeshows have grown at similar rates and are complementary rather than rival.

Specialized tradeshows are always on the innovative forefront in terms of content. Both Agritechnica and Eima have been sold out for the past few editions. Reflecting upon this, what do you think are the most important strategies to adopt?

Again, the target audience is key and you have to look at that and gear all activities and content towards that market. Agritechnica has a target of large landowners and professional farmers while Eima is aimed at a smaller, niche group of specialized farmers. Both tradeshows have a different outlook and can grow in the markets that they address.

Most importantly, I have seen that both tradeshows have continued to increase their foreign visitors and consistently represent a major attraction for both visitors as well as manufacturers.

Twenty years ago people said that tradeshows would disappear because of the Internet and more advanced modes of communication, but the reality is that both Agritechnica and Eima have only increased in size and importance. Agriculture is becoming ever more professional with a large number of farmers that are university educated or even expert agronomists who run their farms like businesses. Agriculture is an industry, one in which farmers must be constantly up to date with the innovations of the market. Large, specialized tradeshows support and reflect this change through training and knowledge activities.


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