Spanish Machinery Makers Set Their Sights on the U.S. Market
With streamlined production, updated technology and expansion plans, Spanish makers of woodworking equipment hope to increase their exports to the United States.
While sunny coasts, cheery flamenco music and robust Rioja wine may be what comes first to American minds when thinking about Spain, that country’s machinery manufacturers would like to add “high-quality woodworking equipment” to the list. AFEMMA, a national nonprofit association representing roughly 93 woodworking equipment companies (90 percent of Spain’s total production), is trying to get the word out about this growing industry.
“Spain is the third largest European producer, just after Germany and Italy,” says AFEMMA Director Jose Menoyo.
Output has almost doubled in the last seven years, he adds, with exports growing 80 percent between 1994 and 1999 and the number of workers engaged in the industry increasing by 14 percent. Menoyo estimates that 25 percent of members’ equipment is exported world-wide, with the United States consistently ranking among the top three markets.
Americans may be familiar with some Spanish manufacturers who already have U.S. distribution, such as Barberan, Bermaq, Calpe, Cehisa, Homag EspaÃÆÃÂ±a, Intorex, Ramarch, Torreda-Tormadex and Virutex. Thanks to plant expansions and technological improvements in recent years, these firms’ and other equipment suppliers’ capacities have grown and they are eager to increase their exports.
Part of the impetus behind the recent advances has been vigorous demand from Spanish furniture manufacturers. The healthy furniture market also has resulted in the development and growth of companies manufacturing components. According to AFEMMA, both these markets have been striving to improve their technological capabilities in order to compete worldwide and have been demanding more high-tech woodworking equipment.
Annual Spanish furniture sales are around $7 billion, with $1.3 billion in exports, while non-furniture wood products sales are $5 billion each year. The main export markets are in Europe, although the United States imports about 4.2 percent of Spain’s production and Russia imports about 3.1 percent, according to AFEMMA.
Furnituremakers’ efforts also have spurred the creation and growth of sophisticated training centers and testing facilities. One such facility is headquartered in Valencia, one of three areas in Spain with a high concentration of furniture producers. AIDIMA is a technology institute funded in part by the government and also by 600 furniture manufacturer members. It conducts research, collects statistics, certifies products for quality, and trains woodworkers in advanced areas like CAD and CNC.
“The vigorous development of the Spanish woodworking machinery and furniture industries in the last five years has been the driving force behind Spanish competitiveness all over the world,” Menoyo says.
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