Hakan Ozmen, CEO of Prysmian Group North America, reviews some of the region’s 2017 accomplishments and shares his predictions for 2018
Prysmian Group North America experienced significant growth in 2017 with major investments in key areas, a milestone acquisition and a strong focus on programs that shape the company’s culture. We started the year with a major achievement by announcing the deployment of 100 million miles of fiber across North America and haven’t slowed down since.
Investments in Latin America
Prysmian Group North America opened a special fiber optics facility in Durango, Mexico, located in a region where there is a high demand for fiber optics. Amid today’s uncertain political and economic climate, I firmly believe that Mexico and its neighboring countries will benefit from the power of a global leader like Prysmian Group to pave the way for the type of economic stability that comes from strong international partnerships. Mexico is an integral part of the international equation, so we are enthusiastically optimistic about the impact that will come from this innovative facility.
Investments in the United States
In May, Prysmian Group North America announced a three-year, $300 million agreement with Verizon to facilitate the deployment of its 5G and broadband networks. To support this project, we invested $15 million into our Lexington facility, which will lead to 30 new jobs over the next five years. We also announced a $14 million expansion to our Abbeville facility, which will lead to the creation of 10 new jobs and fulfill future renewable energy projects, such as wind farm operation. In North Carolina, we are planning a $54 million investment to our Claremont facility, which will increase the plant's capacity by 60 percent and support the production of optical fiber for the telecom industry. This investment will create 50 new jobs in just three years.
Sustainability & Corporate Responsibility
Prysmian Group North America made significant strides in 2017 to implement sustainable programs and establish efforts to attract and retain top tier talent. We launched the second phase of "Make It," our engineer recruiting program, and "Sell It," our sales and marketing recruiting program. We broke ground on a new expansion to our R&D Center in Lexington, which will make way for a new Prysmian Group Academy and bring experts from around the globe to South Carolina. We also joined the SmartWay® Transport Partnership, an innovative collaboration between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that provides a framework to assess the environmental and energy efficiency of goods movement supply chains.
Without a doubt, our biggest accomplishment of 2017 was the start of the General Cable acquisition, the largest acquisition in the cable industry. North America is one of the most important markets inside Prysmian Group, and after this acquisition will make up 30 percent of the group as a whole. This merger will be a top priority in the new year, and we look forward to sharing details about the impact that this deal will have on our company and customers in the coming months.
In 2017, Prysmian Group North America saw profitability beyond the normal pace with double-digit percentage growth stemming from the investments and improvements to our facilities. I’m enthusiastic to share that 2018 is poised for further growth on all fronts.
Renewed Focus on Innovation
In the new year, we will release two new products, which is very exciting for our business. In response to demand to support data centers from major companies like Google and Amazon, we will be releasing a flexible ribbon. We will also be releasing fire resistant armored products, which will be vital to the safety of critical infrastructure.
The next generation of cable will be “intelligent,” meaning the cables will carry information that can easily be downloaded by customers. We’re starting to see this innovation shape the industry, and as IoT continues to grow so will the intelligence of its products. The world-class R&D talent of Prysmian Group is hard at work developing products for the future, and we look forward to continuing to be a leader in this sector. The energy industry remains solid, and I predict we will see less volatility as we have in the past in this sector. We look forward to furthering our commitments for advancing wind farm developments as well.
We’ve also just renewed our agreement with Florida Power and Light and NextEra and will be making some major investments in the specialty industry as well. We will be investing in our North Dighton, MA facility in the new year to strengthen the presence of our specialty business. In addition, we will work to concentrate Draka into our existing system to create one company to better service our customers.
I am proud to say that Prysmian Group North America partners with its local organizations to strengthen relationships within its community. Next year, we will kick off a regional leadership program with the University of South Carolina through Bocconi University in Italy and will continue to build out programs that support diversity, sustainability and continued education for our employees.
As Prysmian Group continues to provide the communities of the world with power and communication, I look forward to another milestone year with Prysmian Group North America to contribute to economic and social development around the globe.