We interviewed Luca Zanetti, CEO of Fratelli Mariani, to find out what, according to him, the future scenarios of architecture and industry will be, starting from his experience. During the chat, many interesting insights emerged, especially on the organization of work within Fratelli Mariani and on the challenges that Italian companies are called to face in such a delicate and uncertain moment. Read the article to learn more about the only company producing both expanded metal and wire mesh.
How did Fratelli Mariani experience the lockdown?
Within our company, as in the rest of Italy and the world, we immediately felt unprepared, confused and helpless in dealing with a new situation, that of a global pandemic.
As far as we are concerned, we reacted immediately, identifying separate production clusters to minimize interaction between workers. In this way, any positive cases would have been limited to the cluster of origin and would not have affected the flow of Fratelli Mariani, which ranges in different sectors: from food to pharmaceutical industries to the production of basic goods, such as components.
Beyond this corporate organization, we immediately used all the required protection systems, even before they became mandatory by law. For example, we have adopted masks regardless of the safety distance, even before their compulsory use. In addition, we immediately carried out temperature checks on-access. All these safety measures, which we continue to follow meticulously every day, have allowed us to have no cases of Covid-19 within our company.
In fact, we have never stopped, not even during the lockdown, as our company operates with customers whose product category is considered essential. Therefore, Fratelli Mariani, as supplier of these companies, is indirectly but crucially involved in the supply chain of basic goods, through the transformation of metals for the supply of wire mesh and expanded metal.
What has changed and what will still change in the sectors in which Fratelli Mariani operates, namely architecture and industry?
First of all, the approach to doing business has changed through a new awareness, starting with the ways in which everyone in the company can express him or herself and collaborate. We have reduced face-to-face interaction to essentials through remote communication, thanks to the use of platforms for videoconferencing and the exchange of information and data, such as Zoom, Skype, etc …
We have also introduced smart working, which we have then used less in the last period. In fact, we have large spaces and much larger than what is required by social distancing, as well as having immediately disposed the use of the masks, as already mentioned above.
With on-site production, most of the staff returned to the company to manage requests, which would have been more complex remotely, more promptly and efficiently. Just think of the importance of seeing and touching the products live in order to make a sample. Our own collaborators have realized this, preferring a team-work in person rather than remote meetings.
Furthermore, as in any period of crisis, there is a strong market selection. Therefore, those who are able to transform the difficult moment in a positive way, can seize precious opportunities that would have never emerged in the past. As for our company, after having reorganized and adapted to all the provisions introduced for carrying out the activities regularly, we continued as we did before, but with a deeper knowledge of the path that has brought us up to here.
In the long term, excellence will be rewarded: backed by 91 years of history, we have the privilege of operating in a complex, uncertain and competitive context with a solidity behind our company that allows us to make wise, thoughtful and far-sighted choices.
Therefore, this very difficult situation has united us even more as people and not just as workers. Each member of Fratelli Mariani team, a total of about a hundred of employees in Cormano headquarters, immediately showed great availability with a responsible, proactive, flexible and empathetic attitude in meeting company needs. All this is the result of a loyalty, built year after year in a serene atmosphere, where you can breathe trust, respect, seriousness and rigor.
What will be the biggest news you are working on for 2021?
First of all, we maintained the technological investments in research and development planned for 2020 with the introduction of new production machinery for wire mesh and expanded metal. Our production capacity has therefore progressed not only in terms of numbers, but above all in terms of quality.
Therefore, we expect to meet the targets set for next year by expanding the production capacity and the type of product range, from the thickness to the size of the mesh, both for new products and those already existing, which will be manufactured with greater efficiency.
In this regard, we are perfecting a new concept of expanded metal, of which we cannot reveal the details yet, but we will talk about it shortly, as soon as we complete the test phase. Basically, we have never stopped even on the side of product innovations.
Are there new collaborations, partners, projects on the horizon?
Beyond our willingness to join international initiatives, we are always open to new opportunities for cooperation even with entities outside our own. We are currently continuing our internal growth process. Therefore, we will have new developments of Fratelli Mariani in Germany, with the inclusion of new professionals in the German team. In our Italian headquarters too, the workforce increased in both sectors in which Fratelli Mariani specializes, architecture and industry, and on all fronts: commercial, design, production and engineering.
We are also trying to overcome the cliché that the sectors in which we operate are mostly male-dominated, thanks to a predominantly female sales office and to our sales managers in the architectural division. Much of the history of Fratelli Mariani is proof that women, with their determination and perseverance, can make a fundamental and strategic contribution at any level. An example above all is Guglielmina Mariani, who led Fratelli Mariani as Sole Director and President for over 65 years.
In such a competitive market, where outsourcing and internationalization are the order of the day, what is Fratelli Mariani’s secret to be still an Italian excellence?
Today we are continuing to invest in the technical training of our staff. It is a process of growth that lasts for years and that in most cases ends in a positive way, both in terms of learning and working relationship.
Within our company, the collaborators are not assembly line workers, but specialized operators who combine manual labor with technologies built specifically to manufacture our wire mesh and expanded metal. Therefore, our training is truly tailored to the needs of Fratelli Mariani and its customers.
The biggest risk that Italian companies, as well as manufacturing and artisan excellence of Made in Italy, are running is the lack of know-how, the loss of skills, especially the technical ones. For this reason, many small and medium-sized enterprises choose to merge with foreign groups, characterized by high investment capacities in the Italian market.
The greatest challenge of the SMEs of the future, including Fratelli Mariani, will be to make handicraft jobs more attractive among young people, to be able to face the generational transition with less uncertainty about the future and fill the employment gap with a more specialized work training.
Keep following Fratelli Mariani, consulting the other news and browse our website to find out more about our expanded metal and wire mesh for industry and architecture.