RCN Changes at the top

RCN overcomes a natural setback to relaunch itself
Author: Canice Murray

RCN was set up by Elena Calvi and Stefano Ricchi and produced furnaces and kilns for the flat glass industry. The company was innovative and formed international partnerships to learn new techniques; they followed up research into new products. They developed and launched their top product Powerlam for laminating glass using EVA or PVB. Their products were exported to Europe and they had successfully broken into the American and Russian markets.

Halfway through 2016 RCN faced a severe test of its maturity: the departure of one of the founding partners – Stefano Ricchi. Very often, new directions taken by a company – in terms of styles of approach to the market, to clients and to its own commercial network – are not accepted equally by everyone. This was the case with RCN.

The transition from founder-owner to second generation manager is never easy for a company. Firms are set up by special people who at a particular moment have the drive, the determination, the inspiration and the charisma to found and lead them. There is no formula for certain success and there is no guarantee that the particular conditions that favour the setting up of a company will endure; in fact the reverse is true – most new set-ups don’t last.

The Present Challenge
Running a company is a dynamic hands-on business. Decisions need to be taken constantly in ever changing circumstances. The global crisis has led to a drastic natural selection of companies. The firms that have survived are different from those that haven’t. The present is a new country; they do things differently here. Clients are not what they used to be. The old ways of dealing with them are no longer valid. New ways will have to be found, by trial or by error. Whoever is unable to change course when the market changes will be lost.

The Solution
At RCN it was clear that a new approach was necessary. Feedback from Fairs and agents and competition on price indicated that more economical products would have to be offered without sacrificing quality. Flexible production would allow greater choice of service options to be offered with each machine. Clients would have to be informed of the possibilities offered by new developments. The client would have to be able to get accurate comprehensive information from the Agents, since they were usually the first contacts. A new form of technical commercial agent would be needed. The company would have to select its agents very carefully. Clients would have to be given a fully customized product, not simply standard models. This played to one of the companies strengths, which was the design and supply of custom-built equipment.

Crisis point
Whoever could not adjust to the new circumstances would be hindering the company’s development and losing clients. It became obvious that a clash between the formerly successful traditional approach and the new approach could not be avoided.
The remainder of the company strongly supported Elena Calvi in realigning the firm’s business into RCN Engineering, which is responsible for technical development and production, and RCN Solutions, which is the commercial and marketing side.

RCN Solutions was present in force at the Dusseldorf Fair showing its best machines and meeting as many people as possible. The result was a number of orders, some from countries where the company had not previously been represented. There was also interest shown from Iran, following Glasstec.
At present, the main focus is on building up a network of agents with the necessary technical know-how to analyse the client’s real needs and how these could be met by a more flexible range of products. Alongside the agent network there is a requirement for a distribution network.
An agreement was reached with Tecno-glass to distribute RCN EVA products in central and southern Italy. This agreement is working out well to the satisfaction of all concerned. The network is well organized and the people are very committed.

Around Europe the situation is mixed. The agent network is being set up. France is looking promising as a lot of glassworks have broken away from their previous holding companies and become independent. In Germany they have one major client; but the German market is difficult for lamination furnaces that use EVA; in Germany mostly large-sized glass laminates are used, which require another technology.
Local certification is more understandable in USA where the conditions are more severe with hurricanes and firearms being more frequent. The U.K. remains sluggish, with uncertainty over the future a factor.
Russia was a very profitable and productive market until it was almost completely closed by international sanctions. This applied across the board to all players and ultimately facilitated the entry of Chinese products into the Russian market. This situation also extended to central Asian countries such as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan
The USA is going well for certified EVA but less well for other machines. There are many competitors, some of them genuine and serious -- but many are not able to provide high-performance products and in particular are not able to guarantee the high quality production process that RCN can deliver. The quality of their machinery and service is not as good as RCN’s but their salesmanship is very aggressive and, in the final analysis, getting the sale is the most important thing for them.

Room for improvement
One area of discontent is logistics: unreliability of courier delivery times and lack of commitment is a serious problem. Client dissatisfaction is inevitably transferred immediately to the supplier.

Future projects
Growth can be expected in touch screens and chemically tempered glass as well as in the development of feeder systems and servicing of furnaces. RCN is in the process of responding to the demand for “Jumbo size” 6m units.

As the new year begins RCN Solutions can look back with satisfaction on their improved trading position, on successfully passing the milestone of the departing founder, and on their good showing at Glasstec in Dusseldorf. They can look forward with confidence to the future in the knowledge that their choices proved correct and that they have the personnel with the skills, the know-how and the motivation to meet the challenges which lie ahead.

Finally, a piece of news that is fundamental to the company.The management of RCN is proud and happy to announce a new entry in which the entire firm reposes great hopes: from 1st January 2017, young Davide Ricchi succeeds to the position his father once held, with great enthusiasm, business acumen, and dynamism.

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