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Extruding above its weight


“We continue to find new applications for our aluminium profiles in a broad range of different industries,” says Managing Director Marco Del Gracco. “As well as leveraging falls in demand in other areas, this also keeps us on our toes when it comes to innovating new solutions.”

Take the solar industry for example. The boom in solar installations of recent years has been a boon to the aluminium extrusion sector as the building industry in general saw a decline. The profiles used to fix solar panels onto building roofs are all made from extruded aluminium.

“We certainly felt the effects of the decline in the building industry of recent years in the shape of fewer orders for window and door profiles,” admits Mr. Del Gracco. “However, this was compensated to a certain extent by growth in areas such as solar power.”

Despite such short-term blips, BODEGA has experienced fairly constant growth throughout its history. Founded in 1964 with just one 800 t press, the company now operates four extrusion plants with capacities of 1,250 t, 1,600 t, 2,000 t and 3,300 t.

Its most recent expansion saw it more than double production capacity from 14,000 t to 35,000 t per year. “When we first started in the 1960s, we worked predominantly for the furniture sector and window and door manufacturers,” explains Mr. Del Gracco. “Now we are seeing much greater use of aluminium in building facades where it is used to create strikingly contemporary, weatherproof exteriors. At the same time, the boom in the automotive sector is serving us well.”

Aluminium is more expensive than sheet steel for use in car bodies but the weight savings and therefore fuel economies that can be achieved are shifting the equation increasingly in favour of the lighter metal.

“Environmental concerns are coming more and more to the fore in consumers’ minds,” says Mr. Del Gracco. “Aluminium has long been used in engine components to reduce weight but we are seeing its use in other areas of car manufacture rise. For example the latest Jaguar XS model was made completely from aluminium. Developments that start off in the luxury end of the market eventually trickle down into the mass market as well.”

As well as exploring new applications for its products, BODEGA is also keen to explore new geographic markets. Exports already account for 30% of sales with Germany accounting for the lion’s share of this figure.

“We are currently active in France, Austria, the Netherlands and Switzerland but want to expand eastwards to Russia and possibly Asia through the establishment of a joint venture,” outlines Mr. Del Gracco. “I could also imagine setting up a production plant in the US to serve the North American market in the future.”

With aluminium consumption in its domestic market down by 30% since the financial crisis of 2008, BODEGA is well-advised to look beyond its traditional markets for its future. “There is a wave of consolidation coming in this sector as the smaller operators are swallowed by larger ones or band together for strength,” predicts Mr. Del Gracco. “We have a major role to play in this development.”

With 234 employees and turnover of 100 million EUR, BODEGA is confident that it can grow in the future. “We are more than just an extrusion company, we have our own technical bureau that is able to do more than just standard profiles,” says Mr. Del Gracco. “We can make anything the client wants and have built up a databank with more than 60,000 profiles. We can also respond very quickly to customer orders. These are the qualities that will assure us positive future growth.”

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