Interview with Mario Barbero - CEO at Precision

Mario Barbero: why ‘fast and steady wins the race’ for PRECISION

Mario Barbero: why ‘fast and steady wins the race’ for PRECISION

As PRECISION celebrates the 70th anniversary of its invention of the modern aerosol valve, ADF&PCD and PLD caught up with its chief executive Mario Barbero to discuss the past, present and future of the company.

ADF&PCD and PLD:
Mr. Barbero, thanks for talking to us. For readers that might not be as familiar with PRECISION, how would you describe the Company?

Mario Barbero:
Thanks for the opportunity. It’s always difficult to describe a company with such a rich history in a few words, but I’ll do my best. In 1949, PRECISION invented the modern-day aerosol valve by miniaturizing the original US Army valve. In doing so, it effectively pioneered what has since grown into the massive global aerosol industry, which is today celebrating its 70th anniversary. Over the years, PRECISION has filed over 500 patents in connection with new innovative products with the goal of continuously improving the lives of its consumers worldwide. Today, the Company has a presence on each of the 6 continents, with 19 facilities across 15 countries, and sells approximately 4 billion valves and 2 billion actuators worldwide. Lastly, as the global leader of the aerosol industry, PRECISION’s expertise, product quality, professionalism, and technical knowledge, are word-class among industry standards.

ADF&PCD and PLD:
In August 2018, PRECISION was acquired by ONCAP Management Partners (“ONCAP”). How did the change in ownership impact PRECISION, if at all?

Mario Barbero:
Firstly, by way of introduction, ONCAP is the dedicated mid-market private equity investing platform of Onex, the largest private equity company in Canada and one of the largest and oldest in North America. ONCAP’s strategy is to partner with management teams and invest for the long term, which coupled with its significant industry experience in the plastics and packaging industry, bodes very well for PRECISION as we embark on our next phase of growth and transformation.

ADF&PCD and PLD:
Can you elaborate further on the growth and transformation plans that PRECISION aims to achieve?

Mario Barbero:
As we all know, given the increasingly fast-paced global business environment, companies must constantly transform themselves in response to a changing competitive landscape and to meet their customers’ evolving needs. In Italy, my country of origin, we have an expression that goes “chi va piano va sano e va lontano,” which roughly translates to “slow and steady wins the race.” However, this saying has become somewhat disconnected with today’s competitive environment and at PRECISION we prefer to say “fast and steady wins the race.” This is a challenge that all competitors face, but an incredible opportunity for those that seize it and one that PRECISION is laser focused on.

ADF&PCD and PLD:
Practically speaking, what does “fast and steady wins the race” mean for PRECISION?

Mario Barbero:
It means a brand-new organizational structure that’s combines a regional framework organized into four main geographies (North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific) with a global group platform, which allows PRECISION to optimally serve its local, regional and global CPG customers alike. In addition to the new organizational structure, PRECISION has created new functions dedicated to Group Engineering and Group New Product Development, while also significantly reinvesting in our Group Supply Chain & Procurement, Group Quality, and Group Marketing functions. Each of these key functions is now led by a seasoned industry professional, with world-class experience from various leading global packaging companies, who drive change and transformation within their respective areas.

ADF&PCD and PLD:
At ADF New York 2019, PRECISION introduced a new marketing campaign with vibrant pictures of consumers and a new slogan “It all starts with you”. Can you elaborate further on this new campaign?

Mario Barbero:
The new campaign is aimed at reinforcing that PRECISION’s customers are at the center of everything we do. This notion has always been fundamental to PRECISION’s mission and it is core to what we’ve been doing for the past 70 years. However, “It all starts with you” isn’t limited to PRECISION’s existing customers. In fact, it is also geared towards our prospective customers, including those that might not yet be using aerosol solutions for their products. As a result, the ADF & PCD exhibitions are the perfect opportunity to launch this campaign and communicate with our existing and prospective customers in a modern way.

ADF&PCD and PLD:
What about PRECISION’s new products and recent investments?

Mario Barbero:
PRECISION has been focused on re-investing in its facilities to improve production capacity and service levels across the global platform, especially for high-volume core items within our product portfolio. PRECISION has also recently invested in new bag-on-valve lines in Europe and North America. These new and innovative bag-on-valve products are in the commercial ramp-up phase, but represent a compelling addition to PRECISION’s traditional aerosol valve offering. PRECISION has also made significant investments in Thailand to create a state-of-the-art production facility that will provide customers in Asia Pacific with an unparalleled experience. In terms of innovation, PRECISION is very excited about a number of industry-leading valves and actuators that we hope to reveal in the coming months. Further, the company has a deep pipeline of promising concepts that it has been creating in collaboration with customers, ranging from new products with improved eco-design, to higher functionality, to lower cost profile.

ADF&PCD and PLD:
As you mentioned previously, a key challenge for the global packaging industry is sustainability. How do you see this unfolding in the future?

Mario Barbero:
From my perspective, it is and will continue to be a key subject for our industry but, first of all, for the brand owners. Generally speaking, the aerosol Industry is quite well positioned to address that challenge. Of course, we all have to reduce the impact of our products and optimize our production processes but the aerosol Industry already enjoys a good percentage of product recycling and, consequently, seems to be relatively well perceived by the consumers.
At PRECISION level, we hired a global health, safety and environmental director whose role will be to bring PRECISION to an even higher level of environmental performance. In terms of resource savings, all PRECISION new product development projects are conducted with an eco-design approach and all our plants are already involved in packaging recycling, electricity or water saving and inter-company logistics optimization. In addition, our local presence on all continents is already a decisive advantage as far as the final deliveries to customers are concerned.
And, as already explained earlier, our NPD activity puts sustainability concerns at the heart of any new project.

ADF&PCD and PLD:
Mario Barbero, thank you for this conversation.

Mario Barbero:
Thank you again for this opportunity and I look forward to seeing you, and your readers, at the PRECISION booth at ADF Paris 2020.

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