Interview: ROTAIR on new markets, expansion plans and petrol compressors
By Lewis Tyler18 July 2023
ROTAIR showcased two new compressors at the International Rental Exhibition in June. IRN deputy editor Lewis Tyler spoke with Alex Persyn, director of product management and Luca Degiovanni, marketing manager, about the new launches, future expansion and customer focus.
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Alex Persyn, director of product management, and Luca Degiovanni, marketing manager of ROTAIR at the International Rental Exhibition in Maastricht, the Netherlands.
The show was an important event for the company, in which it exhibited its new MDVN32B petrol portable air compressor and MDVN34E electric portable air compressor.
Officially launched at the SaMoTer exhibition earlier this year, where the machines won the “Innovation Award”, ROTAIR describes the machines as flexible and sustainable.
According to the company, the MDVN32B can deliver 3,200lt/min of air at a constant 7 bar (102 psi) and comes on the same chassis and body as the MDVN34E.
ROTAIR also says the performance is “equal if not superior” to diesel Stage V engines and can bring significant savings on product purchase price, while an optional generator will also be made available within the units’ architecture.
Both products are described as efficient and able to meet the rental sector’s need for sub-750kg portable air compressors with lower emissions, but Degiovanni says the company is particularly excited about is MDVN32B petrol portable air compressor, while Persyn says; “The petrol version is very important because that’s such leap of faith. Some people might think that the future looks green with electric.
“Are we ignoring that forward thinking? No, but if you look at today’s needs, we really think that this serves a market which, since Stage V came in, is not served anymore. But, if you want electric, it’s there, you can have it (with the MDVN34E).”
On initial feedback received for the new petrol unit, Degiovanni says it has been through testing in both the Netherlands and Poland, with the first delivery to go ahead in Romania before the full commercial rollout later this year.
Degiovanni goes on to say that through its regional partners, ROTAIR has seen a real interest in the product; “All across Europe, we are seeing increased interest in this step-change from the market-norm and with ongoing discussions, we are confident of significant sales in the near future.
“Our Romanian dealer was highly motivated to introduce this new concept to their customers as it provides an autonomous working mobile unit at an attractive price point compared to StageV category models.”
One thing that both Persyn and Degiovanni stress is that the units have been built with the end user in mind, which is not surprising as the company’s mantra is “the company that listens”.
In fact, when ROTAIR announced the launch of the aforementioned products, Giuseppe Donadio, managing director of ROTAIR said, the company “has always prided itself on designing and building innovative solutions that address our customers’ current and future needs.”
This sentiment is echoed by Persyn, who joined the company from Donaldson in 2020 and previously spent 12 years with Doosan Bobcat. “We have been in the compressor market for about 60 years. I have been with the company for three years, but I understood quickly that it is a company that listens,” he tells me.
“For example, our VRK unit comes with integrated aftercoolers. There are similar units on the market but by listening to our customers we have this onboard functionality that is appreciated and recognised and now it’s getting more traction.
“That shows that by a little focus and listening you can make more changes that respond to the needs of the customer.”
Following up on this, Degiovanni, who joined the company shortly after it was acquired by ELGi in 2012, says that ROTAIR “must actively listen to the market” and points towards its relationship with regional distributors.
Degiovanni says, “Our market researchers gather the voice of the wider sector but mainly on the needs of our distributors and channel partners, whether that is rental or sales.”
“As a rental focus, we are more oriented toward the smaller family-owned companies. Italy is exactly the opposite of UK and France which means the split is 80% smaller companies, 20% bigger ones.”
ROTAIR’s expansion plans
Since the first air compressors were designed in 1960, ROTAIR has undergone several changes, both in its product range and in the structure of the company.
While the compressors that it displayed at IRE are the latest in a long line of innovations in the last 60+ years, the company has undergone important changes since it was acquired by ELGi Equipments in 2012.
In the decade that followed, both Elgi Europe and ROTAIR have seen a fair share of growth, and this, says Persyn, is why the company is expanding its facilities in Italy; “ELGi Europe manages the stationary product arm of the business, while ROTAIR produces the portable air compressors and other construction products such as mini-dumpers known as Rampicar and hydraulic breakers.
“While ELGi Europe also has operations in Italy, including within the existing operational base of ROTAIR in Caraglio, Piedmont, At first, they were guests in our facility, but the growth of both parts of the business has necessitated an expansion in the Caraglio site.
“When it comes to the company, given its steady growth we have experienced over the years and activity on a group level, we have acquired the land next door to our facility in Italy with the plan to double the operational surface in the coming years.”
Aside from growing its facilities, the company also announced its intention to further focus its attention on the UK. Off the back of this, ROTAIR appointed Chris Vaughan as its sales leader for the UK and Ireland at the beginning of this year.
Both Degiovanni and Persyn believe now could be an opportune moment for the company to expand into the UK, especially with the launch of the of its new petrol unit.
“In the UK, diesel is more expensive than petrol,” says Persyn. “So, having a petrol unit like the MDVN32B petrol portable air compressor which is cheaper than a StageV category unit, and is serving a niche, should hit a sweet spot in the UK.”