MAE: Investments in Technology the Catalyst for Growth and Product Range Expansion
In more than thirty years of existence, the MAE brand of envelopes, curing tubes, bladders and other consumables for the retreading industry has become one of the most established and best-known brands on a global level. Since the company’s move to new and expanded facilities in 2008, the company has made significant steps forward in terms of technology and product quality, allowing it to further cement its role as one of the leading global players in the retreading sector. We recently visited the company’s headquarters in Anagni, 50 km south of Rome to find out more about the family-owned company’s latest developments.
MAE srl was originally founded in 1980 by the Malatesta family in the small town of Montecompatri, 20 km south of Rome. Initially, the company ran a small plant of 2,000 sq m in size, producing technical articles for retreading. Over the years the company expanded into bladders and inner envelopes, before developing a range of outer envelopes in 1995.
The move into the envelope market, the product line for which MAE is now best known, occurred in the 1990s, when the market for envelopes started to develop. The company achieved rapid success, selling as many as 40,000 units in 2001. A plant expansion was completed in 2008 followed by the decision to relocate and reorganise the company.
At that time, the remanufacturing operations were reorganised under the name MIG srl, an acronym for MAE Industria Gomma. Meanwhile, MAE srl Montecompatri was transformed into a property management company for the management of the real estate owned by the company.
The transfer to the new site in Anagni made it possible to install a second extrusion line, conceived by MAE and manufactured by a European specialist. The new equipment allows the control of all aspects of the rubber without extrusion, with strict control of quality in real time. At the same time, computerisation has allowed the assurance of more constant and superior quality.
According to Giampaolo Malatesta, within a year of the transfer to Anagni MIG were able to show excellent results in terms of product quality, efficiency and capacity.
Today the company operates from a 30,000 sq m site with 7,000 sq m of covered space, including offices, warehouse and manufacturing units producing outer and inner envelopes, bladders, curing tubes, tubes for special use as well as other products. The facility also incorporates an R&D lab, which is used for creating and developing new compounds as well as for quality control purposes.
Today 70% of MAE production is dedicated to the company’s vast range of inner and outer envelopes, which also includes extended skirt envelopes used by the US market, Australia and South Africa (for the ARC system). Curing tubes used to be 80% of production in 1983, but now curing tubes only account for 20% of production, which goes some way towards illustrating the company’s success in the supply of envelopes.
MAE also produces a range of bladders, including bladders for new tyre production, however, according to Giampaolo Malatesta, the company is now looking for potential partners to expand in this specific and growing sector.
Today MAE is capable of responding rapidly to changes in the demand of the global market. The company supplies 50 countries in 5 continents with key markets in Asia (China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore) North America (USA, Canada, Mexico) and South America. The company also has good relationships with clients in Australia, New Zealand and Africa. Says Giampaolo Malatesta; “MAE has been stable in these markets for more than 20 years and our products are well known. We have excellent long-term relationships with our distribution partners, also within our core European market, where we currently have distribution facilities in Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, Finland and Baltics countries and UK.
According to MAE the future demands of the market will be supported by a series of innovations, many which are in various stages of development.
This includes the further expansion of the company’s compression moulded ST line of envelopes. In particular, the company has achieved improvement in compounds to achieve improved stability, the ability to keep shape for longer as well as a better performance and longer life. Moulds have also been re-engineered in order to achieve perfect fitment.
This year the company says it will complete the ARC system range with missing sizes and has also recently upgraded its range of traditional type SL envelopes with new compounds offering better performance. The SL envelope is still well accepted in many price sensitive markets because of the cost per cure achieved.
According to Giampaolo Malatesta further progress is being made with the company’s new inner envelope Millennium S, which is growing in demand. This product can achieve a faster vacuum because of higher sidewall flap and better overall performance due to reinforcements in the bead. Also growing in popularity is the company’s range of thinner wall curing tubes, called the U-tube.
In terms of international markets, recent progress has been made in India and Latin American markets, especially in Colombia where a partnership has been concluded. The company is now looking for distributor in Central America.