Worldwide, companies that build machinery for railway construction and maintenance from scratch can be counted on the fingers of one hand. For this very reason, they enjoy consolidated and privileged channels where it can be difficult to enter and conclude business, unless deciding to overcome such obstacle by focusing on the same market but with a different product; this is the choice made by Avantgarde, an Apulia-based company specialised in the servicing, maintenance and marketing of machinery for track construction and maintenance.
“The railway maintenance sector is a little hidden, overshadowed by the beauty of the train,” stated Vincenzo Dagostino, founder and sole director of the company. Avantgarde operates in the sector of track-maintenance machinery servicing, selling used machinery to customers that are not interested in buying new equipment. “We decided to focus on the guaranteed second-hand formula and the facts are proving us right,” he continued.
Dagostino chose to think big, outside the national boundaries, trusting in himself and his desire to make it, working for years in the railway industry before deciding to take the plunge and start his own business: “In 2003, when we started – recalls the founder of Avantgarde – there were three of us and we had the courage to believe in a new sector”. Today the company based in Giovinazzo has 15 employees: a staff of engineers, technicians and consultants specialised in the railway sector, able to offer an effective, versatile and high-quality service, in compliance with environmental and safety standards. There are many advantages for those who opt for such a choice: “From the quality of the rail machinery to the lowest prices in the sector and, in addition, those who turn to us have no limits in terms of customisation, being able to request any operational function,” explains Dagostino.
Avantgarde services all types of rail machinery, including track and switch tamping machines, ballast cleaners, rail grinders, track stabilizers, shunting locomotives and wagons. A series of activities that require particular care for the environment, by adopting low-emission solutions and taking into consideration the climatic conditions the machines must operate in. Over the years, Avantgarde has also managed to equip the machines sold with Italian technology, installing a track geometry diagnostic device, not by chance called Track-rec, which make it possible to record and store the geometric parameters measured during the work performed by tamping machines in real time, including any defects, in order to ensure high-quality tracks and the safety of railway traffic.
The Apulia-based company has also experienced tough times, due to the economic recession in Italy: “2013-2014 was a difficult period. Since the beginning of 2015 we can safely say that the emergency has passed”. Avantgarde has been a pioneer in the servicing of rail machinery, offering, over the last decade, a highly professional service focusing on foreign countries such as Saudi Arabia, the company’s first trading party. This is where the Apulian company sold its first machine and it is from here that it began its expansion into foreign markets: Egypt, Algeria and South Africa, then moving to Australia, Argentina, Colombia and Mozambique. The company from Giovinazzo is an example of the excellence of Southern Italian SMEs that manage to successfully export their products to the distant frontiers of sub-Saharan Africa.
Precisely in Mozambique, SACE has insured the supply of a rail-tamping machine for the renewal of the rail corridor of Nacala, on the northern coast of the country. This operation allowed Avantgarde to acquire an important job order in Mozambique for the renovation of a strategic railway. The stretch will connect the commercial port of Nacala to neighbouring Malawi. This first project will be followed by the construction of an airport that will transform this small city on the northern coast of Mozambique into a major interchange of sub-Saharan Africa.