Talamona, September 10th 2020
Let’s start from the beginning. Bermec has a very long history and is heir to an artisan tradition that goes back a long way: can you give us a brief description of how you came to be a benchmark of excellence in Precision Machining?
Our family’s business history began more than a hundred years ago, at Talamona.
My grandfather Carlo started out as a blacksmith, but he immediately began to specialise in the construction of winches and cableways, once the only option for transporting goods in the mountains.
My parents continued in his footsteps, adding a hardware store and a gas cylinder distribution service.
When, in 1986, we were forced to move our workshop out of the centre of town, I decided to change tack and I converted the business into a machining shop with numerically controlled machines. I bought my first CNC machining centre and built my first small workshop on the Talamona industrial estate. That was 33 years ago, and in the meantime other businesses have sprung up alongside Bermec (some have moved away and others have shut down), and over the years we’ve weathered a number of crisis, large and small – but Bermec has never stopped growing.
Today we’re still here, happy with what we do and how we do it, and what we can still do in the future.
Let’s talk about promises kept and dreams for the future: which plans have come to fruition over time, and which is Bermec aiming to realise in the short term?
The promises kept are my promises to myself: I’ve always been determined to run an ethical business, with respect for others and the environment. A business that operates in the light of day and is open to change, putting transparency and gratitude to our staff first – not only the twenty employed by Bermec today, but also the more than eighty who have worked for us over the years.
For the future, our idea is definitely to stick to our principles, striving to put respect for our planet into practice more and more, and finding solutions that enable us to work with greater serenity, to deliver accurate, prompt service at the right price for everyone.
The strength of every business, and a mechanical engineering firm in particular, lies in the people behind the machines, and at Bermec you invest a great deal in the training and wellbeing of every member of the team. Can you give us a detailed account of this vision, which places the whole team at the centre of the project?
I’ve always thought and said that none of us is indispensable, starting from me, but that everyone willing to work hard it useful, everyone contributing their own individual talents.
The important thing is to manage to identify everyone’s strong points, then to foster and build on them with the right training, enabling them to put what they know into practice in a job that gives satisfaction, that means they are happy to go to work, and for which they receive a fair wage.
This is what we’ve always tried to do at Bermec.
Today one of the issues which is becoming more and more important when people talk about business is respect for the environment; raising awareness and education in this area are essential. We know that Bermec is also a leader in this area; can you tell us how?
At Bermec, we’ve always been environmentally aware, and over the years this has also been rewarded with ISO 14001 certification.
Over time, we’ve minimised pollutant emissions, starting from the recycling of the metalworking fluid that is waste for a mechanical engineering firm like us, we’ve replaced our oil-fired heating plants with district heating with no environmental impact, we use old newspapers collected from large users for packaging, and we encourage our staff to cycle to work by means of a specific welfare plan.
We’re convinced that with projects of this kind, and by encouraging associates and customers to pay more attention to environmental issues, we can make a genuine contribution to slowing down the damage to our planet.
The start of 2020 was very complicated, and not just for businesses: how did the way you operate change during and after the lockdown, and what is your broader vision for your district, the Valtellina, with its many small enterprises?
The Pandemic has been a severe test for businesses, and is continuing to be so. The biggest problems we had to deal with at Bermec were those relating to the mobility of goods and people, with the consequent reduction in orders from our customers in the European area, where we do most of our work.
Of course, this didn’t stop us, and from the point of view of lessons to be learnt and inputs for growth it has certainly helped us to improve with regard to in-house safety, and, above all, the management of orders on a day-to-day basis, in a scenario where medium-long term planning was no longer possible. We’d experienced this situation in the past but, for obvious reasons, it’s been a constant in recent months.
In terms of our district, when it comes to Valtellina, where Bermec operates, perhaps it’s too early to draw conclusions, although in general I’d say that businesses here have been hit less hard than in other zones.
Apart from the closures imposed by the lockdown, the mechanical engineering sector has come through with only minimal use of furlough schemes.
The farming and food sector never stopped working, some businesses even increasing their output, while during June, July and August the holiday and hotel sector saw a huge rise in visitor numbers, since many people chose the mountains for their vacation and there was a general preference not to go too far from home.
During this difficult time, we should think about the ongoing changes, what we can’t stop and must simply manage, and what, on the other hand, by everyone doing their bit, we can try to improve.
After this sudden slowdown, there’s a determination to restart even stronger than before.