Italy’s Ravizza Packaging opening its U.S. headquarters in Akron (video)


AKRON, Ohio — Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic announced Friday morning that Ravizza Packaging, a third-generation, family owned manufacturing company based in Turin, Italy, will open its U.S. headquarters in Akron as part of plans to sell its patented Simplicita Bag Smart throughout America.

Ravizza Packaging, founded in 1982 by Roberto Ravizza and his father, Franco, will open Ravizza Packaging USA Corp. with nine large pieces of machinery and three employees at Akron’s Global Business Accelerator, according to the city. The Accelerator, at 526 S. Main St. in Akron, offers technical, administrative, marketing and professional services to technology-based startups.

The company’s annual revenues are $3.4 million, with the majority of its sales coming from Europe. It has also recently expanded into South America and New Zealand.

“I chose Akron, Ohio, because of its proximity to our market, the overwhelming support from the City and the Accelerator, and the welcoming nature of the people I have met throughout Akron during my visits,” Roberto Ravizza said in a written statement announcing the move.

The Simplicita Bag Smart machine forms, fills and seals bags from tubes on a roll, instead of using the more traditional, and expensive, pre-made bags. The city’s announcement said Ravizza’s product can save an average of $35,000 per year compared to other machines.

“This is really a great example of the region’s strength playing to investment opportunities outside our region,” said Rick Rebadow, executive vice president of economic development at the Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce.

“It kind of developed quickly. We’ve been working with them for a couple of years, and we’re very familiar with them,” he said of the Ravizza family. “Basically, they’re a small-scale packaging company.”

He said Akron-area representatives discovered the company at the K-Fair Messe, an international trade  in Dusseldorf, Germany, in late 2012. Ravizza executives followed up with a visit to the Akron area last December, during which they toured the University of Akron’s Goodyear Polymer Center.

“I am excited that Ravizza Packaging chose Akron, Ohio, to be its entry into the United States market,” Plusquellic said in a statement. “While their operation in Akron will start out small, growing sales of their products in the U.S. market will require additional employees, and Roberto plans to hire locally.

“As they cultivate their U.S. presence over the next few years, we will continue to work with Roberto to find a permanent location in Akron that will fit their escalating needs,” he said.

Rebadow said it’s not clear how quickly Ravizza will be able to move its heavy equipment here from Italy, but that the company plans on hiring up to 10 people within the first year of operations.

Ravizza Packaging’s parent company, Ravizza, Guiseppe & Son, was founded in 1938 by Roberto Ravizza’s grandmother and grandfather to make wood crating and shipping containers.

In 1982, Roberto Ravizza and Franco Ravizza started Ravizza Packaging and entered the packaging machinery and materials market. Ravizza Packaging sells small-scale packaging equipment and accessories in four business segments: Machine & Materials Distribution; Packaging Line System Solutions; Liquid Fill Container Packaging; and Simplicita Bagging Machines.

Roberto Ravizza’s 17-year-old son Francesco Ravizza is among those who will help with the company’s transition into the U.S. market, the city said.

Roberto Ravizza said he met then-Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Bob Bowman and current Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Sam DeShazior at a trade show in Germany. “Since then, we have been in communications regarding doing business in the United States,” he said.

When Ravizza spoke about choosing Akron “because of its proximity to our market,” Rebadow said that’s a reference to the fact that the region is “within a day’s drive of 60 percent of the manufacturing operations in North America.” He said Akron officials touted the area’s labor force, economic competitiveness, and research and development capacities.