Vienna, Austria-based Semperit partnered with Shaw Almex, a global producer of industrial and vulcanisation presses with a large production campus in Atlanta, during recent years to establish a sales and marketing operation serving the US, Canada and Mexico, he said.
Taking that business to the next level is a natural step for the companies.
"Through the partnership with Shaw Almex, we will utilise our long-term growth potential in the second largest conveyor belt market worldwide and prepare for the next market upturn," he said.
Illetschko estimated the conveyor belt market, including replacement investments, in North America at roughly $640 million (€600 million).
"Even in the currently very challenging market environment, we will further expand our market shares with our technically advanced and high-quality products, a competitive price ratio, and the market coverage and know-how of Shaw Almex," he said.
Sempertrans brings conveyor belt design and manufacturing expertise to the partnership, while Shaw Almex provides technical and infrastructure expertise as well as access to the North American market. In addition, Sempertrans said, sales efforts will be bolstered by cooperation with selected distributors offering the company's heavy duty textile and steel reinforced conveyor belts to the market.
Shaw Almex will support the partnership with several industry leaders both in the commercial and technical fields, Illetschko said.
"Our sales force and application engineering teams are located throughout North America to be close to our customers and to meet the needs of the local market."
He said key industry leaders have joined the Sempertrans' team, including experts in the conveyor belt market, in the technical and application engineering field, and those with production know-how. "Additionally Shaw Almex is a global leader in training and the supply of splice materials and conveyor belt repair materials."
Shaw Almex has a broad range of offerings, including rip prevention products, that will help drive conveyor belt sales, according to Tim Shaw, CEO of the North American operations.
"It is very exciting to see this project move to the next phase," he said. "With an inventory of several million dollars located at the Atlanta distribution facility and with the ability to slit to custom widths and ship within 24 hours, this will significantly increase our market penetration."
Primary segments expected to be served will be mining, steel, cement, power plants and the transport industry.
Sempertrans also will have conveyor belt inventory and slitting capabilities at the Leon site, which is located near major mining operations, Shaw said.
He also noted that Sempertrans has received Mining Safety and Health Administration certification, opening up the underground mining market to the firm.
Sempertrans operates conveyor belt manufacturing plants in Poland, France, China and India. Illetschko said in recent interviews that the company is reviewing the possibility of opening a belt production facility in North America, but a final determination has not yet been made.
Partnering with Shaw Almex will allow Sempertrans "to better understand the specific demands and needs of our customers and local market demands such as industry certifications with MSHA or for the grain handling industry," Illetschko said.
He said that over the course of the last several years, "we have established our sales and marketing activities in North America and more than doubled our sales in the market. This has come not only from an increased sales force but also from our efforts and emphasis on knowing and learning about our customers and their needs and applications in the market.
"While still small in terms of market share, we are gaining more and more traction," Illetschko said. "With a focus on traditional sales through value-added distributors, Sempertrans USA has launched a viable alternative to the other major suppliers."
Shaw said in the last few months, Sempertrans has won some key contracts such as the replacement of a long overland conveyor in Nevada and a significant project in Mexico. "These wins have been a result of strong local sales and application engineering support, superior lead times and competitive price points," he said.