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Pa-Nam: Bringing Italian Ingenuity And Quality In Manufacturing Design And Engineering To North America

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Pa-Nam Bringing Italian Ingenuity And Quality In Manufacturing Design And Engineering To North America

By Terri Perrin / Published February 2024

PA NAM US Factory

P.A. was founded in 1982 in the city of Rubiera, in North Central Italy. It started as a small manufacturing company producing parts and accessories for the agricultural industry. Under the direction of Arnaldo Benetti and Adriano Cuccolini, two young shareholders directly involved in the management of the company, they eventually changed to a new product line. Today P.A. is renowned worldwide for the manufacturing of accessories for high pressure cleaning industries such as unloader valves, spray guns, and various components for pressure washers, car-wash plants, and several different industrial sectors, such as manufacturing, construction, food, and pharmaceutical plants.

Arnaldo Benetti, engineer and product designer, played an integral role in the massive corporate expansion, acquisitions, and growth and eventually became the sole owner of P.A. In the early 2000s the second generation of the family joined the company. His son, Alberto, and his daughter, Stefania, started to work for him after their graduation. The brother and sister team now lead the family business. Alberto is CEO of Italy’s P.A. facilities and president of the U.S. PA-NAM operations. Stefania is CEO of the PA-NAM division.

Although he is now semi-retired, Arnaldo still comes to the office every day to oversee projects, review pricing, and connect with the team.

THE BIG PICTURE—P.A. GROUP

Today more than 200 employees are part of the P.A. Group. P.A. SpA is the main company of the P.A. Group, which also includes a number of other companies, either completely or partially controlled by P.A., all located in Rubiera, Italy. These other companies are the main suppliers of P.A. and were acquired over the years, with the main intent of controlling most parts, if not the totality, of the production cycles. Having components manufactured internally ensures constant quality checks both on products and raw materials.

Over the years P.A. has invested most of its resources in expanding and updating its manufacturing plants. Their main facility in Rubiera is almost 350,000 square feet in size and boasts three main production units: assembly, lathe turning, and plastic molding.

The advanced engineering innovation they employ utilizes robotic processes and automation for everything from production to warehousing. Their plastic molding plant has ten injection presses and two numerical control machines for the molds.

The milling and turning facilities work both with brass and stainless steel, forged and from bar, using Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines. CNC is a manufacturing process in which pre-programmed computer software dictates the movement of factory tools and machinery. The process can be used to control a range of complex machinery, from grinders and lathes to mills and CNC routers.

Under the P.A. label/brand, products are sold to a manufacturer/distributor network that includes such highly respected companies as General Pump, Kärcher, and Cat Pumps, to name a few.

“Today P.A. is active both on domestic and international markets, exporting more than 85 percent of production, for a yearly turnover of more than 42 mln €euros, which converts to approximately $45 million, depending on the exchange rates,” explains Stefania. “In recent years our Italian operations fulfilled an average of 7,000 shipments annually to a worldwide customer base in 70 different countries. To meet international customer care expectations, P.A. offers service in six different languages.”

While having such a large export market is impressive, over the years it became apparent that much could be gained from moving some of their manufacturing to North America.

NORTH AMERICAN EXPANSION

P.A. had considered opening a U.S.-based manufacturing facility prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but restrictions on travel forced them to delay the move until 2022.

“In 2022 we purchased and renovated an existing 60,000-square-foot building in Bloomington, MN,” explains Stefania. “It’s actually larger than what we need right now, but we have room for planned growth. The company that makes our production lines is one that we partly own, so we were able to duplicate some of the machines and lines that we have in Italy and move them here. The building choice was based on the space to fit these machines, plus the warehouse. We also duplicated office space design to give people who are familiar with our Italian facilities the same experience. The plant’s location is south of the Twin Cities and close to the international airport, as well as major interstate routes, so it is very convenient.”

Another factor that influenced opening a U.S. facility is the fact that the North Americans use the American National Standard Pipe Thread (NPT) standards, which have a different screw thread, on threaded pipes, fittings, and equipment, as compared to the metric system used in Europe. The Minnesota facility currently concentrates on producing nozzles and guns specifically for the pressure washing industry and car wash applications and only manufactures with brass, not stainless steel.

IN THE USA TODAY

Since the plant first opened in April 2022, the PA-NAM team has already grown to 10 employees working on the production and assembling lines, in quality control, and as warehouse associates. (And they are always looking to hire and train more.) Stefania Benetti and plant manager, Davide Vezzani, both moved here from Italy, but the rest of the employees are Americans.

“Life in America is pretty good,” says Stefania with a smile. “I’ve always loved coming here in the past to visit with customers and attend CETA conventions. I’m glad that we could make this happen. When my brother suggested it, I was immediately drawn to it; and the experience thus far has been amazing.

“One thing that really stood out for us is that there is a lot less political red tape in America as compared to Italy,” she explains. “Alberto and I were both amazed, for example, at how quickly we could get permits. When city hall said 10 days for a permit, we were pleasantly shocked. Permits can take 90 days to secure in Italy. The State of Minnesota has been very welcoming, and they had some grants that we were able to take advantage of. Navigating these areas was relatively easy. It reinforced the idea that we were in a business- friendly environment.

“Overall, we have found America to be very welcoming. Being a new company, bringing different machines, and finding people to work here has been a little difficult, but I understand that this is a challenge for all businesses right now. In the future, as we get more established, we plan to get more involved with the community. For now, being a member of CETA is how we are engaging with the industry. And, still recovering from the COVID- 19 pandemic, we continue to find it challenging to find, stock, and source some raw materials. We are looking for local suppliers and people who can replace what we are buying here to build our own vendor community.”

SO, WHAT’S IN STORE FOR THE FUTURE OF PA-NAM?

“The idea is to keep the momentum going, adding more production lines to what we already make, to expand our North American product range in the best possible way,” concludes Stefania. “We attended the CETA convention this year for the second time as North American-based, so it was great to be able to promote the fact that we are now manufacturing here. We are still in the process of converting our existing customers to buying from the U.S. facility. It is much more convenient for customers as products can be shipped faster, but the way they order is different.”

Speaking from the Italian head office, Alberto Benetti states, “Today P.A. is a main force in the high-pressure sector with an ever-expanding catalog of products. We are internationally recognized for the quality of our products, achieved and maintained through a strict control over all aspects of production. Our Italy-based facility was getting too small for the output, and this expansion to the USA freed up time for other products that we make for the rest of the world, so in Minnesota we are concentrating on North American markets. Up until the expansion into the USA, P.A. did not manufacture abroad, and proudly considered the ‘Made in Italy’ label a badge of honor. Now, we are proud to add ‘Made in Italy and in the USA’ to our tagline.”

Watch a video that highlights the Italy-based manufacturing facility on YouTube or search YouTube with “P.A. S.p.A. – High Pressure Cleaning Industry.”

Both the Italian and North American operations share the same website. Learn more at www.pa-etl.it.

P.A. SPA/PA-NAM — The Names, Explained

“P.A.” or “PA” is not to be confused with the abbreviation for the State of Pennsylvania. The letters are the initials of the company’s original founder. When Arnaldo Benetti became sole owner of the company in the mid-1990s, he considered changing the name; however, the brand had already been well established, so the name stuck.

“SpA” is the abbreviation of “società per azioni,” which translates to “public limited company” or PLC, which is similar to an LLC in the USA.

PA-NAM defines the U.S. operations. “NAM” is an abbreviation of “North America.”

PA-NAM’S PRESSURE WASHING PRODUCT CATEGORIES

Manufactured using the highest quality raw materials in state-of-the-art facilities, P.A.’s extensive product catalog lists hundreds of high-quality items specifically designed for the low- and high-pressure washing industries. Many of their products can be utilized in multiple applications, including industrial cleaning, car washes, the food industry, drainage, and tank cleaner applications. This includes the following:

  • Gear reduction boxes for engine motors
  • Rotating special nozzles— tank cleaners—floor cleaners
  • Quick couplings and swivels
  • Valves
  • Low pressure accessories— 0–7 Mpa or 0–1000 psi
  • Chemical Venturi injectors/ foamers
  • Nozzles and nozzle holders
  • Accessories
  • Spray guns
  • Lances