Serafini, a 2022 of expansion and positive results

A two-person interview with Roberto Elisei, Group General Manager, and Andrea Santolini, General Manager of the production site located in Mexico

A double-digit increase in turnover and an excellent expansion policy are the focal points of growth for the Serafini Group, which confirms its extremely positive performance. Passion, ambition and a bit of healthy optimism drive the Marche company, a leading manufacturer of support materials and adhesive tapes for footwear, leather goods, leather for clothing and automotive industry. Relations between the company and the market are becoming considerably more complex, but, Roberto Elisei, who joined the Group a few months ago, has accepted the challenge of being able to imagine a project that goes beyond mere profit to contribute to the growth of the community inside and outside the company, looking towards the horizon and the long term.
Mr. Elisei, how is it coming along?
“Very well. The moment is particular, we all know that. It is useless to delude ourselves that things will change quickly, both politically and economically. However, we can say that it is an interesting time because the real economy is still working, at least in our industry, that works mainly with the world of footwear and leather goods. Our company is particularly focused on working with big international brands that continue to invest and make very interesting products.”
Did you present any specific innovation at Lineapelle?
“We are famous in the production of those product elements that are invisible, so reinforcements and internal microfibres. For us, the work now has become mostly research and experimentation. For simple consultation for what we do, there is the internet. The fair for us is more of a meeting with our customers, or potential customers, suppliers and you journalists. It is perhaps the most beautiful thing about this event that it transforms into an almost intimate moment, in which the customer participates to strengthen a relationship, and the rest they already know.”
What do your customers tell you?
“We are becoming more and more aware of the dynamics related to the world of raw materials, which are now hard to come by. Strange things often happen: either materials cannot be found at all or their costs rise sharply without warning, wreaking havoc on the market, which then comes to a standstill for the fear of what will happen.”
What actions do you put in place to address this problem?
“We try to make as few mistakes as possible because, unfortunately, none of us has a magic wand yet. To give you an example: if I bought cotton at current prices (on the stock exchange its price has marked up almost 200 percent in one year) and kept it in stock, I have no guarantee that its cost would not go down even after just one month. You can imagine how much money would be lost. This happens every day. Therefore, we try to be conservative in the warehouses, trying to be good at balancing everything. Surely today applying the Japanese system of lean thinking is impractical. In any case, Serafini fulfills 99.7 percent of orders within a week. I think that would be a record even in normal times. We certainly don’t lack organization.”
Have you received visits from new customers?
“Absolutely. There is a lot of interest, especially from Turkey. Although there are a lot of competitors in the territory, they don’t scare us because we have a top product. What we hope most now is that this conflict will end. That would also mean for us the recovery of a market that has always been rich in production: in the Ukraine and Russia we had a lot of factories working a lot. Now they are all at a standstill.”
Have you been hard hit or have you been able to compensate with other markets?
“Despite the economic downturn, the company is growing strongly, including in terms of turnover. We recorded at least a 30 percent increase over the previous year, a figure updated at the end of September. The fair was also an opportunity to celebrate.”
On the R&D side, what are you focusing on?
“We are working on very advanced microfibres for the leather goods world, created with special reinforcements. The goal is to increasingly lighten the product, a quality that is in high demand by the market and the brands. For those working in the luxury world, even the weight of a bag can make a difference. If we succeeded in our intent while keeping the technical qualities unchanged, it would be a real goal. We are working on it and, by next year, we could be ready.” This concludes Mr. Serafini, who, with an advancement that could represent a real breakthrough in the market, he passes the word to Andrea Santolini, who heads a plant with one hundred employees to its credit, and higher sales growth than the headquarters.
Is Mexico a very lively market?
“We would say yes. Right now, the Mexican market is in great evolution. It is one of the markets that is growing the most, especially in view of the fact that, being part of the Americas, it has the United States, its reference point, close by. The United States, on the other hand, given the friction they have with the Far East (China), are finding Mexico the right location for their production because there is plenty of labor and it is accessible at fairly competitive prices.”
As a percentage, how much have you grown?
“As far as we know, we are above 40 percent.”
Dr. Serafini, what do you think is the reason for such a large increase in sales in Mexico?
“Our Mexican subsidiary operates with a different market approach than ours and on different sectors than ours, such as automotive. For example, they make products specifically for the reflective world, which we do not. Also, Andrea has been particularly good at developing the market, he has been maniacally dedicated to it.”
Mr. Santolini, can you give us some names from the automotive sector that you are working with?
“From General Motors to Tesla, rather than Nissan. In Latin America, and especially in Mexico, these brands are opening many sites favouring our growth opportunities. In addition, being twinned with the principal company, we were able to obtain ISO 9002 certification: this gives us the opportunity to enter very important market niches with the guarantee of always offering products developed in Italy.”