Headquartered in Volpago del Montello (Treviso province), GARSPORT was established in 1972 by the Garbuio family: now, its core business revolves around the production of technical, outdoor and safety footwear
Fifty years of passion and tradition. These few words can easily sum up the incredible entrepreneurial and family history of GARSPORT – shoe factory based in Volpago del Montello, established in 1972 by Diego Garbuio and Gabriella Favotto. Their children, Cristian and Mauro, are currently at the helm of this thriving enterprise, proud of the results achieved by their parents, yet able to step up their game and to take up new challenges, both domestically and internationally, especially in the outdoor and safety sectors, two fields that experienced a marked growth in the 2000s.
Product quality is one of the core values pursued by the Veneto-based firm’s philosophy: the thorough monitoring of safety footwear’s manufacturing processes as well as the ongoing search for new materials for hiking shoes ensure top-notch quality standards, undisputed safety and unparalleled durability.
“This year, we are going to celebrate our fiftieth anniversary,” confirmed Cristian and Mauro Garbuio, when we met them at the A+A exhibition in Düsseldorf (Germany) last fall, “a prestigious milestone for our family. When our parents launched their own business in 1972, both had previously worked in a renowned local shoe factory.”
What can you tell us about GARSPORT’s early years?
“The firm started off as a manufacturer of apres-ski models: back then, this type of shoes was in great demand, especially in the USA. Later, the attention turned to hiking footwear: that’s when the enterprise experienced a significant change technology-wise, given that the interest moved on to “assembled” shoes, a change that resulted in a first revolution in terms of machinery. Over the years, we noticed that we picked the right strategy, that is, to develop increasingly technical articles, praised by the customers and the market. A technological process that, among other things, helped us become Goretex licensee.”
Another decisive turning point occurred in 2000: what was it about?
“We took over a company based in Romania, where, over the next two decades, we have planned sports as well as safety shoes, the latter grown into a pivotal asset for our business. The Romanian facility has expanded considerably, its workforce amounts to approximately 400 employees. Said factory deals with injection operations and it is equipped with three machines that perfectly embody the excellence of Italian production, manufactured by STEMMA. The latter is a firm headquartered in Cornuda (Treviso province), leader in the development of technologies and in the making of polyurethane moulding plants and machines. As for the specific models, one is the semi-automatic static machine featuring 30 stations, used to provide double-density components, while the remaining two have 24 stations each. We are very satisfied with these machines, in terms of production capacity, as well as with the collaboration with STEMMA, a fruitful partnership thanks to both geographic closeness and to the current owners’ expertise and helpfulness.”
Your performances are amazing, in line with the “industry giants”…
“Indeed. We manufacture a remarkable quantity of safety and hiking shoes, the majority produced on behalf of third-party companies and their brands. This strategy is an integral part of our corporate philosophy and it accounts for a significant share of the turnover. In the meantime, we have decided the undertake the other “path” as well: in the past few years, we have deemed imperative to promote both our know-how and our brand. Production-wise, we deal in-house with the whole footwear supply chain, for assembled as well as injected models.”
What about the activities carried out in Italy?
“In Veneto, we take care of the whole creative part and the head office houses the R&D laboratory, the latter featuring three divisions that manage product storage. Our work is highly customized: we collaborate with the customer from start to finish, from the initial design up to development of the components, helping mould-makers with the manufacturing of both injected and non-injected soles. We monitor the whole processing cycle, providing assistance logistics- wise, given that we ship our articles worldwide, but also in terms of certifications, sample cases and production standards.”
Let’s talk about your brand and its core business.
“The launch of the GARSPORT brand took place 10/12 years ago; especially at the beginning, we relied on the experience acquired previously, moving from the hiking field on to the safety sector. This “know-how” resulted in small collections featuring our brand, collections that, over time, have expanded progressively, thus giving rise to the ample range of products we can provide currently. As for the Safety field, we are satisfied with the results achieved in Italy, where there is a marked development and interesting turnover growth prospects. With regard to foreign markets, we are taking some steps in terms of internationalization as well, especially in countries such as Germany and France, both registering promising trends; at the same time, we are striving to gain a strong foothold in Northern Europe, where there is room for further development.”
When it comes to the production of two different types of articles, what are the pros and cons?
“We have put into practice the experience acquired over the years spent manufacturing mountain footwear and, after turning our attention to the safety sector, we have relied, for example, on studies concerning extreme conditions, managing to apply those technical data to a different field. Without forgetting that, as time goes by, work shoes have become not only safer, but also far more comfortable and elegant.”
With regard to safety shoes, what are their distinctive traits?
“Lightweight and comfortable, the shoes included in the Safety line are designed and manufactured using the best technologies, so as to ensure the highest safety, performance and resistance standards. They feature Michelin as well as Vibram soles, the innovative BOA® Fit System, conceived to facilitate lacing and unlacing, and cutting-edge technical materials. Now, thanks to GARSPORT, it is possible to work comfortably and in complete tranquillity, as our models can protect and support workers facing even the most extreme, dangerous conditions.”
“We can provide both assembled and injected solutions. We manufacture a flexible assembled shoe using, as mentioned earlier, Michelin sole technologies, the latter a method we employ for injected models as well. However, in this case, we prefer polyurethane rubber: the sole is very sturdy, cold-resistant and non-slip, suitable for typically winter climate conditions. High production quality and love for our articles allow us to provide the clientele with comfortable safety boots, designed to safeguard the foot even in the most dangerous environments. Therefore, we have developed a comprehensive range of models, all featuring the best technologies.”
What are the commercial strategies planned for 2022?
“As dealers working directly from Italy with quantities ranging from 10 to 80/100 pairs of shoes, we have noticed we are struggling, since it is an additional step. Via an agency based in France, we have managed to develop our business there; the key goal is to manage to do the same in other European countries, thus ensuring the presence of local agents, direct GARSPORT sales representatives, on site.”
GARSPORT – www.garsport.it
Cristian e Mauro Garbuio