GOVONI, THE EXPERT'S CHOICE
With constant innovation driving the expansion plans of the company based in Crevalcore (Bologna), the aim is to increase market coverage also internationally as well as a structured presence in the tire dealers sector; Soon to be launched, an electronic diagnosis device for suspensions
Mino De Rigo
Imagine a small engineering company able to launch a new product every week, reinvesting almost the entire annual profit in research and development, able to double its size within a decade, transforming Europe in its domestic market and succeeding at the same time in expanding internationally. This is the profile of Govoni, a Crevalcore (Bologna) based firm, with 49 employees and a turnover close to 5 million euro, which has established itself as a reference model in the field of professional equipment for vehicle repair workshops, notably for engine replacement parts and components for cars and trucks.
As general manager Davide Verrillo states: "It all started with an invention by Fausto Govoni, who founded the company in 1977, of a tool for removing engine valves, which was soon followed by another invention, a pneumatic coil spring compressor. Today the company operates in 60 countries with a catalog of 1,200 finished products, exporting over 70% of its production”. And while the company insists on expanding internationally, new channels are explored to reach out and expand the firm’s market share, notably for specialized tire dealers, grinding workshops and spare parts dealers. "We’re also looking at the tire sector, and more so now, since an increasing numbers of tire dealers are integrating mechanical services as well; for them we offer a wide range of equipment to operate on the wheel-brake-suspension unit".
Focus on the brand’s exposure
Moreover, whereas trade policy has so far favored distributors and, concurrently, OEM agreements (with multinational distribution chains that apply their own brand on Govoni products), for the small Crevalcore company the time has come to invest on brand recognition. "We are firmly focusing on this - confirms Verrillo – so as to plan better marketing strategies in the future and, especially, leaving it up to the end users to ask their suppliers for our products. The goal is to triple our customers. "
The marketing of their catalog of products is still entrusted to about 350 distributors worldwide. "In Italy, to make our brand more visible and communicate our offer to potential customers, we have set up two demo-vans that move along the Italian peninsula, stopping at retailers, showing them our different products on site while training their staff at the same time. We are studying in this regard, packages tailored for tire retail specialists. We are, however, already able to supply kits that include all the necessary equipment to work on suspensions. "
From pneumatic coil spring machines to hubs, bearings and silent block removal/installation kits. Furthermore, among the different lines of products, Govoni boasts a line dedicated to heavy transport vehicles, with sockets and accessories for specific models, designed to remove rings and hubs from trucks, trailers and buses. As general equipment, the company’s catalog also includes, among others, pressure and wind back tools for brake pistons.
Tire dealers as a new target
"The first advice we give to tire dealers - adds Verrillo - is to buy a set of tools for general use, not tied to specific models or a specific range of cars. These can be added later as working on specific vehicles and applications will enable them to be recognized as a unique reference model, in a specific field. "
Since the products designed and manufactured by Govoni are linked to vehicle maintenance, from timing tool sets to extractors for diesel injectors and glow plugs through generic tools such as sets of wrenches for oil filters and clutch tool sets, it is easy to understand how the succession of models on the market spurs constant innovation. "New products - says the general manager of the company - are Govoni’s bread and butter. This business sector requires a fast and continuous development activity: the better we are at churning out ideas and solutions, the more customers look for us. All of this becomes a performance indicator. During the year we plan and develop 80-90 different projects that week after week reach completion". Six designers are employed and supported by an investment strategy in research and development that at present amounts to 4% of the annual turnover. "Time-to-market is a key factor. We are among the few European companies that design and build their products, and the added value of our products lies all in the search for new and innovative technical solutions. Their life cycle is only a few years and, if no provision is made to patent them, their commercial value will be greatly reduced to a two-year period. They could, in fact, be copied by competitors and manufactured in the Far East. Hence the need to constantly push on the accelerator and continuously invest to keep up with, and often, to anticipate the market".
Suspension electronic diagnosis
The latest jewel, will probably be launched at the upcoming Autopromotec exhibition in Bologna scheduled for next May. "It is - reveals Verrillo - a product designed to diagnose electronically a vehicle’s dampers. This innovative patented equipment, developed in collaboration with the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Modena, is able to assess whether the dampers are still in good working conditions or if they must be replaced ". There are still no regulations setting a minimum level of suspension efficiency, or how the instrument able to measure it should be made and directives, setting the necessary requirements for suspension efficiency, are long overdue.
"This new device - continues Verrillo - is applied by means of suction pads to the body of the vehicle; when it drives over a hump the system detects the damping frequency and calculates the performance indicators. The parameters acquired are thus processed and sent via Bluetooth to the management software that displays the results". The cost of research and development is supported by investments in technology and production processes. Therefore, last year Govoni bought three new production machines, one of which is dedicated to manufacturing polyurethane foam housing for tools in sales packages. "Among other investment projects currently being studied - concludes Verrillo - one regards the strengthening of our presence abroad. We currently lack branches in other countries, but we're toying with the idea of setting up a few of them. Starting with our most important export markets, which are Germany and Great Britain".
IN THE BEGINNING, THE PNEUMATIC VALVE SPRING COMPRESSOR
From the first eureka moment of Fausto Govoni, an unusual pneumatic valve spring compressor, to the birth, in Modena, of the eponymous company. Seven years later, when the founder is convinced that its creation no longer has a market, the company was taken over by Antonio Verrillo, who sees great potential in broadening the range. The small beginning of a slow but relentless growth that accelerates as soon as the company acquires a complete production cycle, from design to prototyping, ending up with whole production series.
Since then, the company’s turnover has been increasing, also thanks to an international thrust as well as a catalog that boasts over 1.200 finished products. Four main families of products make up the catalog, including pneumatic coil spring compressors, which contribute to approximately 30% of the turnover; products for engine timing (including tools to block camshaft and crankshafts during belt replacement) which accounts for a 25% sales share; diesel tools for working on injectors and spark plugs and, finally, general equipment for maintenance activities (such as tools for clutch and brakes, steering and body maintenance ), which respectively account for a quarter and a fifth of the total turnover.