A day with Bergi Spa, Great challenges for the upturn phase

BERGI, LEADING COMPANY HEADQUARTERED IN ARZIGNANO AND SPECIALIZED IN THE DESIGN, PRODUCTION AND SALE OF MACHINERY AND EQUIPMENT FOR THE TANNING INDUSTRY, KEEPS INVESTING IN TECHNOLOGY. AFTER SUMMER, IT IS TIME FOR THE 2200 SQUARE METRE EXPANSION

The major development that will characterize 2022 is the new facility, covering an area of 2200 sqm., connected to the current headquarters (3500 sqm.), thus increasing the amount of available space as well as resulting in a redistribution of the corporate departments. The ultimate goal is to guarantee an efficient organization of work, while paving the way for possible new developments concerning the making of cuttingedge machinery for other business sectors. Moreover, BERGI can rely on a site based in Gambellara, a 3500 square meter unit located 500 metres away from Montebello Vicentino’s highway exit – a facility that deals mainly with carpentry and with the components’ whole processing cycle, equipped with innovative machine tools. Once the project is complete, the overall production area, including the used parts warehouse of 1500 sqm. next to the Gambellara-based unit, will amount to approximately 10,700 square metres.
The expansion of the headquarters located in Arzignano – a substantial financial investment – is a major milestone for the company, a 57-year-long journey full of successes and marked by a steady increase both in terms of turnover and in the number of machines produced. BERGI was established in 1965 by Giovanni Bergozza, who passed away in 2018 and who handed the firm’s management to his three sons: Mauro, CEO and sole director, business partner together with his brothers Alberto and Federico. A beautiful entrepreneurial as well as family history, given that the corporate staff has already welcomed Mauro’s children, that is, Samantha, Nicola and Leonardo, the third generation of the Bergozza family. The following pages will feature their interviews, together with the one taken with Raffaele Palma, head of electronics.
“The expansion and reorganization of our headquarters,” explained Mauro Bergozza, acting as vice president of Assomac as well, the national association bringing together Italian manufacturers of machinery and accessories for the footwear, leatherware and tanning sectors, “is a project we had nurtured for years and that turned into reality at the end of 2017 when we purchased the necessary plot of land. Unfortunately, the issues caused by the lockdown and, in the last few months, by the lack of raw materials, has slowed down the project, although the latter should see its completion by the end of summer, so as to give us the chance to be fully operational for the reopening after the vacation. Provided that we manage to get the licence of habitability in the short term. The two facilities are connected, a feat that will help us move safely from one department to the other. The new indoor goods loading/unloading area has been placed between the two units, as overhead cranes can move through the various production divisions, from inside to outside, thus reducing the risks for the assembly employees.”
What can you tell us about the main innovations logistics-wise?
“In addition to a large underground parking area, the new facility will feature the assembly lines for buffing, dedusting, polishing, through-feed ironing and embossing machines as well as for other single-piece technologies, while the automations such as stackers and leather selection systems will remain in the current location, yet benefitting from the increase in space. Besides the manufacturing department, the new site will ensure additional 900 sqm. spread over three floors to house sales and administration offices. The technical, production and post-sales offices will not change their position in the current headquarters, while the new spaces available will be used efficiently for assistance and to widen the warehouse, the latter to be automated. As for the new facility, it will be divided in different production areas, each one with enough space for the machine to be assembled and the required components: every workstation will be an “island”, with the chance to keep everything at hand, so as to guarantee, according to the Japanese Lean production philosophy, a decrease in downtime and in movements for assemblers. Moreover, a 400 square-metre area will house the showroom, where we will put on display the main technologies in our range, a space devoted to the development of prototypes and of the latest systems as well as to testing.”
Lately, you have hired several people: how has the integration of the corporate staff proceeded?
“Overall, with the newly recruited workers, our workforce comprises approximately 75 employees. For the headquarters located in Arzignano, we have hired two electricians, one maintenance technician, one lathe operator, one warehouse worker and an assembler, while two carpenters joined the Gambellara-based facility last fall. As for the sales department, there is a new secretary who is fluent in both spoken and written Chinese. Part of this new recruitment campaign is linked to future retirements, so we have taken action well in advance.”
Will you launch new products in 2022?
“The ultimate goal is to strengthen the corporate core business, that is, buffing machines, through-feed ironing and embossing machines, and automations. In both cases, in the last couple of years, we have launched on the market new, cutting-edge solutions, the same goes for dedusting systems. We aim at reinforcing this range of products, implementing technological upgrades; we have been focusing on the development of these models via optimization, industrialization and set-up. To launch new solutions every year, as it happens in other sectors, is not a benefit for us. Ours is a small-sized company operating in a niche field: oftentimes, we have to comply with the customers’ requirements, on the lookout for specific customization options that are not easy to implement.”
Can you give us an example?
“As for some foreign companies, where certain hides have lower quality standards than average, in addiction to quality we must deal with high humidity levels, a factor that can affect some processes. The goal was to overcome the obstacle and find a solution: for this reason, we have established a work team that, “step by step”, carried out analysis to understand if we were on track. In this specific case, solving the humidity issue was of pivotal importance, because the same situation could be found in other countries featuring the same climate conditions and whose production focuses on certain types of leathers.”
What innovations do you plan to showcase at the September edition of Simac Tanning Tech?
“Since the deadline is approaching, we are working to arrange the stand. What I can say is that we will exhibit machines for the footwear and leatherware sectors. We will showcase a new range of automations too: we are satisfied with the results achieved in this field, with orders up until the end of the year. We are pleased and confident. The trade show in Milan will be a pivotal event, because we will have a more precise overview concerning the global market situation. In the meantime, we hope for a more marked recovery. This year as well, the participation of Asian professionals and buyers is not certain, as they were forced to miss the latest editions. We hope to see them again soon.”
Market-wise, where do you expect major developments in the postpandemic period?
“A difficult question because right now, in addition to economic issues, there are also historic dynamics that are difficult to analyse. At present, we are focusing on Italy, China and Europe, whereas classic markets such as South America, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are at a standstill. Obviously, specific situations must be taken into account: Covid emergency has resulted in enterprises closing down, while some small-sized firms are currently experiencing a growth and development phases, without forgetting mergers. Therefore, those who move from small to larger hides, now require bigger processing machines: this type of expansion applies especially to Chinese, Taiwanese, US and German groups. We expect good results from the North American market as well, while some areas in South-East Asia are more interested in cheaper products, below our cost.”
What are your prospects for 2022 and for the years to come?
“As a company, we are placed in the high-end market segment. Looking to the numbers, one third of our workforce does not operate in the production department, but rather in the technical office, in the service, R&D and sales division. They must guarantee a prompt response and timely assistance. Suffice it to say that we have an employee whose sole task is to collect and package spare parts ready to be shipped out. An expensive workforce, that includes several senior professionals. Therefore, we have to keep up with the highest quality standards.”
Will BERGI have the chance to explore new opportunities in other sectors beyond the tanning industry?
“This is what we intend to do, given that, due to the resources invested in the headquarters expansion, we must widen our clientele. Right now, we are trying to understand if the range of machines we currently produce, could be adjusted to manufacture different types of articles. The fact that we are not forced to start from scratch is a plus, as we can rely on the experience of our know-how. However, the transition will not be easy: for example, we may need new recruits in the sales office. We will take one step at a time, but we are ready for the evolution process.”
Let’s talk about the need to produce at lower costs: in your opinion, is this going to be a key trend in the years to come on a global level?
“Here as well, we are experiencing an odd situation: currently, the renowned brands’ goal lies in safeguarding their exclusivity, a trend that has resulted in a rise in retail prices. So much so that some high-end articles, such as women’s bags, are sold for thousands of euros, thus creating a “status symbol”. The most prominent brands have collected data on consumers, have noticed an increase in the number of people worldwide who, compared to the past, can afford to buy a designer piece and, in order to protect their exclusive status, have raised prices. However, this decision has not helped leather, fabrics and accessories manufacturers who, on the one hand, have to deal with the growing retail prices, while, in some cases, are even forced to lower them to fight off the competition. A new source of concern is the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, an event that has been affecting the early months of 2022, two countries with strategic markets for the leather world, in terms of wet-blue supply as well as of purchase rate. As everyone knows, leather consumption levels are way higher in colder countries.”
Is sustainability still a cornerstone in your corporate philosophy?
“Absolutely. We believe we are well on track, by summer we will get the ISO 14000 certification and we are implementing a coherent policy document. Recently, we were interviewed by a large Italian banking group with regard to this topic and we got a score far superior to the average of the other polls: we were truly satisfied with the result achieved. The first step lies in fostering a “green” philosophy in our employees: I believe we should try and leave a better world to future generations. In the most advanced markets, including the Italian one, the situation is good, our district has made further progress in the last few decades. When I was boy, the water of the stream running through Arzignano did not have a reassuring colour, while now it is fit for fishing. The same goes for smells, now a rare occurrence. In Europe and in developed nations, sustainability has turned into a strategic priority, while in many other countries, alas, there is still a lot to do to promote environmental awareness. This gap will deeply affect our future.”

www.bergi.com

Mauro Bergozza, CEO Bergi Spa

SAMANTHA BERGOZZA: “accounting monitoring and administration management play a key role in shaping the future”

Samantha is Mauro Bergozza’s eldest daughter; after other professional experiences in companies operating in different sectors, she joined BERGI over a decade ago working as an accountant. Thanks to the skills acquired over the years, she now takes care of the accounting, of security-related aspects as well as of BERGI employees’ welfare. Together with the team at the helm of the administration office, she manages the bureaucratic issues, the requirements and the good rules every company must comply with. “An important job – explains Samantha – which requires constant information and training. I think that in a company every single ring of the chain is important; our task is to process all financial and economic information as quickly and correctly as possible so to obtain the information necessary to take more or less important decisions without worries. This entails a daily commitment, and yet it is truly satisfying, especially when you reap the benefits at the end of the year. Corporate departments are like pieces on a chessboard and their proper management can lead to victory. And we do not like to lose.”

NICOLA BERGOZZA: “my task lies in connecting the firm’s various branches”

Despite his young age, Nicola Bergozza, 32 years old, the owner’s elder son, has been working in BERGI for thirteen years. One year and a half ago, he took on the role of production manager. “I graduated as electronic technical expert at the institute in Montecchio Maggiore,” explained Nicola, “and I joined the company immediately at 19. For over a decade, I dealt with all the operations concerning electrical systems, thus acquiring a remarkable experience and learning the secrets of a strategic field for our sector. After that, in 2020, due to the roles turnover, there was a vacancy for the position of production manager and I proposed for the job, so as to set new goals for myself and to keep fostering my professional growth. Unfortunately, this change of position took place during a period affected by pandemic-related restrictions, a period that led to a market slowdown, especially internationally.” Nicola Bergozza’s new role is highly strategic and delicate. “At the helm of the production division,” stated Nicola, “I am charged with bringing together the firm and its various branches. The processing cycle, planned down to the smallest detail, entails that orders are handled by the sales office and, after that, by the manufacturing team. My department analyses everything and then decides which processes will be carried out in-house in this facility and which are handed to the unit located in Gambellara, specialized in carpentry as well as in mechanical operations performed with machine tools. The manager of the Gambellarabased facility is my uncle Alberto (Mauro’s brother, editor’s note), who monitors the components’ manufacturing phase. Once ready, said components are sent to the headquarters in Arzignano, where we proceed with preliminary assembling, painting and final assembling. When the machine is complete, it is sent to the warehouse to be shipped out.” However, the production manager role is not linked solely to the assembly chain. “In my position,” pointed out Nicola Bergozza, “I manage the situation staff-wise as well, since I interact with people coming from different countries and performing different tasks. Given that I monitor the whole manufacturing cycle in real time, my daily presence on-site is essential. Overall, there is a peaceful atmosphere in BERGI, my grandfather Giovanni and my father have taught us to respect the employees. A value shared by all the parties involved.”

LEONARDO BERGOZZA: “the key role of marketing and corporate identity”

The latest addition, in order of time, is Leonardo Bergozza, 25 years old, who recently graduated in Business Economics from the University of Verona, set to take on a strategic role in BERGI, that is, the marketing & communication division. “During this initial phase,” explained Leonardo, “I am focusing on issues revolving around marketing and corporate image. I just started: with two colleagues from the sales department, we took part in the APLF exhibition held in Dubai between the end of March and the beginning of March. This was my first “official participation”. I am still taking the first steps, but the goal is to work at once with the utmost dedication, trying to learn as fast as possible. For starters, with Deborah, a member of the agency that cooperates with us in this sector, we have redesigned the catalogues featuring the various machines, data and information have been upgraded, so as to improve the reading experience. We have chosen to customize the brochures, one for each machine: to date, we have made seventeen booklets, yet we aim at doing the same for the whole range of BERGI technologies. The Tanning Tech and APLF trade shows gave us some insight and, once back, we used this feedback to make additional edits so as to further increase the appeal and transparency of our corporate image. We are using increasingly sophisticate graphic devices and new applications, in order to effectively interact with different cultures worldwide, via the three main social media as well, the latter strategic tools. Moreover, we will proceed with the website restyling and with the creation of a newsletter tailored to specific markets.” A demanding, yet exciting task for Leonardo Bergozza: “If we analyse BERGI products, we can say that the majority of them are complex technologies, hence the need to simplify the message, to convey effectively the machine’s specific functions and its benefits. We take part in several exhibitions all over the world: the selection of the right materials for a specific fair is not a trivial activity. After all, I have always enjoyed dealing with event management, even when I was still a student and I organized musical events. I am accustomed to teamwork.” The communication projects developed by the Arzignano-based firm will be modern and technologically advanced. “For the new brochures,” stated Leonardo, “we are using 3D modelling, so as to include machinery rendering. The technical office sends us the machine files and, via a specific programme, we add lights and materials so as to make it as real as possible. This is the best solution, because, since we produce bulky technologies, that can reach 6 metres in length and 3 metres in height, it is impossible to arrange a suitable photo studio. However, thanks to the virtual world, we will have the chance to use different colours, chosen either by us or according to a customer’s demands, thus resulting in an impactful image. The digitization of information, pictures included, is essential, because the system, in addition to a 3D perspective, allows to highlight the internal section, a strategic feature for the study of a complex machine.”

RAFFAELE PALMA: “increasingly cutting-edge electronics, the future has already begun”

“In a well-developed and modern company like ours – Palma explained to us during our visit – the electronic part is increasingly important and advanced. All of this is also evident in the system we use, also in terms of man/machine relationship: the graphic part, the software development and that of the operator panel, are studied and implemented entirely within BERGI. We started from an important basis, which was already partially designed, while the further advancement steps were possible with the improvement of the electronics, telecommunications and other components, which have ensured a relevant and significant development, even in terms of connections. In recent time, the machines are increasingly interacting with each other, for this reason it is necessary to adjust the communication of the machine with the management software of the company.”
“Even in a fairly short time – adds Raffaele Palma – we are convinced that all the tanneries will work with an integrated management system, aiming at guaranteeing traceability, real-time warehouse status and count of the produced and available material. In the current market, both Italian and foreign, customers are increasingly demanding for such upgrade, especially as of the automatic setting of the machine and the management of formulas based on the type of leather. With current programming systems, if there is a saved formula, all machine parameters can be automatically set. Going forward, this system will be increasingly requested and used: one of the obvious advantages will mainly concern large groups, owners of tanneries all over the world, who will be able to equip themselves with a “historical database”, which, by summarizing all internal processes, will be able to avoid to start from scratch every time.” Even at BERGI these modern and ground-breaking technologies are widely used. “A high-quality touch screen operator panel is installed on each machine. Our task is to develop it in the simplest way possible, as it is used by different operators, who have different ways of thinking, skills and tasks. Most of the processes can be managed automatically by any operator, while others that require certain parameters are managed only by a dashboard run by a well-identified highlyskilled manager. Often, we are asked to customize the standard machine. This leads us to communicate close with the customer, letting the system to be further developed.” “The future is increasingly oriented towards these technologies – concludes BERGI’s head of the electrical and electronic part – and we are working according to this. Today, we already rely on communication protocols, such as databases or SQL, which 10/15 years ago were not taken into account. Furthermore, there is also the need to set up systems that can be easily integrated with other machines and companies. We regularly collaborate with other manufacturers of tannery machines, ensuring that all equipment communicate with each other correctly and safely and make it possible to control a working line of different machines, even if from different suppliers, from a primary machine. Tanneries and subcontractors are increasingly realizing the importance of having data available to analyze; we are precisely carrying out R&D activities on sensors for the detection of data to be analyzed. The future will get us satisfaction.”

BERGI WILL PARTICIPATE IN THE 2023 EDITION OF ITMA AS BERTEX

The world’s largest textile and clothing technology fair will be held in Fiera Milano Rho June 8 – 14: sold out expected. estimated over 150 thousand visitors.

BERGI Spa will attend as exhibitor the 2023 edition of ITMA, the world’s largest textile and clothing technology fair, which will be held in the Milan Rho exhibition center from June 8 – 14, 2023 – a whole week as per tradition. The international show, now in its 19th edition, has been held every four years since 1951 and takes place in different locations every time; in the 2000s, here was the schedule: Birmingham 2003, Munich 2007, Barcelona 2011, Milan 2015 (the first after twenty years – the last took place in 1995) and again Barcelona in 2019. The fair, considered the most important trade exhibition on a world scale, attracts on average about 150 thousand visitors, but the forecasts for next year’s edition at Fiera Milano Rho, which for the occasion will make the entire fairgrounds available, are higher, so it could represent a record edition.
The event is organized by Cematex, the Committee of European mechanotextile associations, which brings together manufacturers from nine countries, in alphabetical order Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The leaders of the association chose Milan (which won among two other candidates, from an initial list of nine cities), after receiving several positive feedbacks from the exhibitors and visitors of the 2015 edition. “Milan fairgrounds – it is specified in a note – features excellent amenities for a large-scale exhibition such as ITMA, which covers over 200 thousand square meters and attracts a global audience. In addition, Italy also has a large textile industry, one of the most important in the world.”
In Italy, the reference point of this sector is ACIMIT, the trade association representing the Italian textile machinery manufacturers, which believes that this choice of location is the right acknowledgement for the national textile-machinery, made up of over 300 companies, boasting an annual turnover of about 3 billion euros, and among the main world exporters. After the official announcement, satisfaction was also expressed by the top management of Fiera Milano, for which the countdown in terms of organization has already begun.
“At the 2023 edition of ITMA in Milan – states Mauro Bergozza – we will showcase some technologies we consider very interesting for the textile sector, always looking for top-notch processes. Our registration dates back to last year, a timely choice as already 15/16 months before, it was sold out. For us it’s a return, as in the past, up to the 2000s, we participated with the BERTEX trademark.”