GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Company executives, area officials and a host of other well-wishers gathered Thursday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new North American headquarters of Tecnoform, the Bologna, Italy-based suppliers of high-end cabinetry to the RV, marine and residential luxury furniture markets.
The new facility is a 172,000-square-foot production, warehousing, sales and corporate office complex located just north of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Cascade Township, a suburb of Grand Rapids.
The building is Tecnofrom’s first production facility outside of Italy, officials said, and it represents the company’s long-term commitment to the North American RV industry.
“We know that to be part of this market we have to be here and we have to stay in connection with the companies,” Renzo Kerkoc, president of Tecnoform, told RVBusiness. “So, what I want to say to our customers is that we are here for them. Tecnoform is not ‘our’ company, but it is our customers’ company. So, let’s say, please help us to enlarge our capability also to understand the needs of the market. We are here. We are open to exchange, and we are open to the better.”
The grand opening festivities began with a presentation by Kerkoc, who was joined at the event by his brother, Andrea, and their wives, along with Tecnoform Technical and R&D Director Alessandro Rossodivita and James Timyan, operations manager of Tecnoform USA.
While also acknowledging the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the Michigan Association of RVs and Campgrounds (MARVAC), Kerkoc was emphatic in his praise for The Right Place, an economic development agency based in Grand Rapids, and Brent Case, who serves as its vice president of business attraction.
What began as a business relationship has resulted in a personal friendship, Kerkoc said, which Case later affirmed.
Kerkoc went on to provide an overview of the company and its history in the North American market.
In 2022, Tecnoform reported worldwide revenues of 32 million Euros (about $35.9 million U.S.), with 163 employees working in a 24,000-square-meter (258,333-square-foot) facility which gets as much as 40% of its power from the company’s 30,000-square-meter (323,000-square-foot) solar plant. About 94% of its products were exported, with 54% going to Europe and 40% to overseas locations including North America and Australia.
Kerkoc noted that THOR Industries is Tecnoform’s largest customer, with Winnebago Industries the second largest. The rest of the top six included Jayco Pty in Australia, and the European-based manufacturers of Trigano Group, Knaus Tabbert Group and Hobby Group.
As far as the North America, Tecnoform first made a presence in 2004 with the Fleetwood Tioga. From there, Tecnoform added new brands every year as well as exhibited at the National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.
As mentioned, the $7.3 million Grand Rapids facility represents Tecnoform’s intention to grow further into the North American market. Specifically, Kerkoc said Tecnoform looks to gain a larger foothold into the RV industry’s towable brands to go along with its already well-established presence in the motorized market. In the United States, Tecnoform has seen its revenues grow from $4.1 million in 2019 to $13 million in 2022.
“We see potential to increase the quantity and also the potential to look at something that we have not done before,” he said. “So, our goal is to find new customers, but especially to find a new way of producing the existing products. So, the towables are a very good example of something that can grow.”
Kerkoc noted that it can often be a challenge to introduce any type of change on an RV production line, but Tecnoform is developing processes and products that will make that transition much easier without compromising the clean, contemporary, European-style cabinetry for which Tecnoform has become known.
“We believe that the RV can be really different in the future, and our idea is to do that in a way that is not too complicated, that is flat but is elegant,” he said.
Kerkoc also cited the surrounding labor pool (which will help fill 130 positions at the new location), the fact that several other furniture makers are located nearby as well as the area’s sense of community and family as other reasons for Grand Rapids.
The ceremonial ribbon-cutting followed the presentation before Renzo and Andrea Kerkoc and Rossodivita provided a walk-through tour of the spacious production facility, which is still under development. Three Class B motorhomes — a Winnebago Travato, and Sequence and Sanctuary from Thor Motor Coach, all provided by General RV Center — offered attendees an opportunity to see Tecnoform’s finished products.
The production process leans heavily on highly trained workers using high-tech machines, officials noted, with the overriding goal being cabinetry free from any imperfections. Rossodivita went into great detail on how Tecnoform is continuously innovating so it can offer a wide range of options depending on a customer’s aesthetic, weight and budgetary needs.
“Personally, for me, let’s say, it’s really a nice moment — an ‘arrival’ moment,” Kerkoc said. “To reach this arrival moment, we did, let’s say, a lot of activity and we spent a lot of time in the direction of being able to explain to our customers here the value of what we can do and to show the value of the technology that we’ve developed, the value of the design that allows the customer to use the RV without risk and with the pleasure. So, what we try to add is something that is difficult to be found somewhere else.”