“The Monty Heat Treat News” Interviews Mr. Marco Baretti and Mr. Jan Massholder of Vacuum Furnace Manufacturer “TAV”

“The Monty Heat Treat News” is very excited to present this “dual” interview with Mr. Marco Baretti and Mr. Jan Massholder of vacuum furnace manufacturer “TAV”. Marco, Jan we really appreciate your time and insights. Jan, Marco I am always curious how people get into this industry-what I am asking of both of you is how you ended up where you are today.

Jan: Thanks a lot for having us on “The Monty Heat Treat News”, Gord. Always a pleasure.

I ended up in this industry a bit by accident but have been part of it for more than 15 years now. For my undergraduate studies in international business and management I went to a university close to Ipsen’s office in Germany. When it was time to find a company I could write my final thesis with (a requirement in European universities) I ended up talking to Ipsen and was immediately fascinated by heat treatment and the vast amount of diverse applications and customers. So, I wrote my thesis and stayed with the team in Kleve post graduation. After a couple of years with Ipsen in Germany, I moved to Japan, where I worked for Ipsen for a year, before eventually relocating to the US in 2011 to join Ipsen’s team here in the States. In 2020 I then joined TAV and became responsible for our operations in North America. To this day I am still fascinated by the amazing things our customers do with our furnaces and find it quite motivating to know that heat treatment plays such an essential part in our modern world and in technological advancements.

Marco: For me it’s a bit of a family affair. My older brother, Michele, is an engineer with TAV Engineering, our Italian aftermarket company within TAV Group. When I graduated from university, he suggested I should join TAV for an internship. I was, like Jan, immediately fascinated by the furnaces and the things they could do. My internship quickly turned into full time employment. After a short time in project management, I joined our sales team and have been supporting our customers in Europe and the Americas for the past 11 years. In the beginning of this year, I was given the opportunity to join the team here in the US as Sales Manager. Now I am responsible for leading our sales and marketing efforts in North America.

Jan In Europe everybody involved in vacuum heat treating knows the TAV brand, however you are a newer player in the North American market-perhaps you could give our North American readers some background on the company. 

Jan: The company was founded in 1984 on the principles of excellent engineering, high quality, tailored solutions, and best in class service. Since that time we have grown into the primary supplier to the European aerospace industry and the supplier of choice for many sectors seeking quality solutions. All of our growth has come organically as opposed to through acquisitions, and we have always tried to stay true to our founding principles of excellent engineering, high quality and tailored solutions.

We moved into the US market in 2016 with Furnacare to support our growing install base in North America. Since that time we have been growing aggressively with the goal of being customers first choice for “tailored solutions”.  The last few years we have been growing aggressively in North America with the goal of becoming the go to resource for specialized applications

Marco I will address this question to you and it is a very basic one-what are your main products and what markets are you addressing? 

Marco: The very basic answer is anything related to vacuum heat treatment and vacuum heat treatment only. This would include classic applications like annealing, hardening and tempering to the more complex solutions needed for brazing, sintering, or aluminizing.

Our products go from small horizontal units to very large vertical furnaces and everything in between. Our approach is to find the optimal solution and design to fit our customers’ needs rather than offering a standardized catalogue of sizes and options.

Jan, Marco It’s a number of years since I had the privilege of visiting your facility in Italy but I recall being tremendously impressed by some of the projects you had on the floor at that time-what projects have you done over the years that really impressed you?  

Jan: I am still impressed by the wide range of products we offer and fascinated by the smart engineering solutions our team comes up with. The little details that make our furnaces more efficient, more uniform, quench faster, or easier to maintain are great to see. Every time I am in our headquarters in Italy, I see something new I have not seen in the North American market yet. The ingenuity of our team keeps on impressing me and feedback from our customers here shows that they are impressed by our solutions as well.

Marco: We are currently building a two chamber furnace that we are jointly developing with a customer to reach quench speeds unseen before in a 20 bar gas quench furnace. Generally speaking, we already see that our furnaces achieve quench speeds significantly faster than those of competitors at any pressure level. With this furnace we will be pushing the boundary of what’s possible even further …

Tell us about your organization in North America-install base, where you are located, technical support and anything else that comes to mind.

Jan: Some of your readers might be surprised to know that we now have almost 60 furnaces installed in North America-a number we are very proud of.  We now have offices in the US Southeast, Midwest and on the West Coast. We now have a team of 6 skilled and experienced service technicians in the US plus rotating teams of technicians from our sister companies. The focus as always is on first and foremost offering first class, reliable and quick service to our TAV furnace customers but we are also able to offer service and support for other brand furnaces. Overall, we have a pool of more than 50 technicians we can dispatch worldwide, if needed.

How do you see the vacuum furnace market in North America going forward-stagnant, growing shrinking?  And where do you see this growth coming from? 

Marco: We see strong growth in the energy, aerospace and medical fields going forward. Also, the growing e mobility sector is a big opportunity for vacuum heat treatment. Finally, we see a significant growth in additive manufacturing as well as MIM applications which is also a driver for the overall growth of our market share.

Jan: Another interesting trend we see is onshoring of production. Customers are bringing certain manufacturing processes back to the US from overseas. This trend also brings with it the opportunity to optimize production and increase efficiencies. We have seen a couple of projects where that meant a shift towards vacuum heat treatment applications.

That being said, we also see a global shift towards more complex requirements. Furnaces need to meet tighter requirements when it comes to temperature uniformity, ramp rates, vacuum levels, and quench speeds. All while also keeping an eye on economics. Lower operating costs and energy efficiency are big topics in the industry as well. 

All in all, we are very optimistic about the market of vacuum heat treatment. Especially the market for more sophisticated solutions that go beyond the capabilities of your cookie cutter furnaces will see large growth in the foreseeable future, we feel.

Marco and Jan you know this better than I-there are a lot of good, reputable suppliers of vacuum furnaces in North America-in your opinion how do customers choose one particular supplier? 

Marco: One important factor we feel is being able to trust in the supplier’s expertise. As a supplier it is important to us to be intimately familiar with the processes of our customers and being aware of their specific needs. If we can help our customers with our expertise and know-how it not only builds trust, it also lays the foundation for a lasting partnership. Being able to show customers ways to improve their part quality, increase their throughput, or lower their maintenance cost is key. Becoming a partner rather than just a supplier, we feel, can be very beneficial to both parties.

Jan: Responsiveness and expertise on the service side is also very important we feel. We strive to not only offer our customers quick response times but also focus on only having the best trained service team in the industry. To Marco’s point, this also builds trust in a supplier’s capabilities. Only having boots on the ground does not cut it in the long run. 

You’ve told us how in your opinion customers choose a particular supplier, lets elaborate on that and ask why you think customers pick TAV? What is different about TAV? 

Marco: As mentioned before, we are always trying to be a partner that helps our customers solve their heat treatment challenges so that they can offer the best possible products to their customers. Being able to easily make small changes and truly tailor a furnace to our customers’ needs can offer tremendous value to them. That’s where we feel we offer a different approach to the market.

Also, we focus on quick response times and the best service possible. Maintaining the quality of our products and services is more important to us than accelerated uncontrolled growth.

And what is the future going to hold for TAV in North America-how about some really bold predictions? Being far and away the largest in terms of sales? Having the most advanced furnaces in the market? Or even acquiring some of your competitors?

Jan: We are on a path to become the primary source in the North American market for tailored, sophisticated vacuum heat treat solutions. In the near future we will make some announcements that will support this claim and show our path a little more clearly. Our mission has been and always will be to offer our customers the highest possible value in our industry which we define as a combination of quality, expertise, engineering, and support. We already see that this this approach is very well received by customers in North America. One thing is clear however, we will always stay true to our founding principles of excellent engineering, high quality, tailored solutions, and best in class service.

Jan, Marco I really appreciate the time and look forward to seeing you at the heat treat exhibitions in Detroit and Cologne in the fall and hopefully at TAV in Italy.

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