Economic review from Piemonte and Italy

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Mauro Ferrari
A CASE HISTORY FROM ONE OF THE 600 FOREIGN COMPANIES LOCATED IN PIEMONTE Mauro Ferrari, Vice Chairman of Webasto Spa; after taking a degree in Torino and an MBA at Harvard, he began his career with the De Benedetti Group, becoming MD of the CIR Group. In 1980 he founded Vallko, which in 1997 was acquired by the multinational Webasto AG, becoming Webasto SpA. Mauro Ferrari is also Chairman of the Anfia Components Group, he is a member of the Executive of AMMA, of the Board of the Unione Industriale, of Federmeccanica and Confindustria.

Webasto SpA's role within the group has grown in over 20 years of activity; what are the reasons for this success?
Vallko was created in 1982 from the idea of occupying a market segment that was still free in Italy, manufacturing opening roofs for the aftermarket. Webasto was already world leader in this sector, and was looking for a foothold on the Italian market at that time. It found that Vallko was a company with an excellent network of relations with customers and suppliers, based in Piemonte, with a wealth of expertise, the ideal conditions for a components maker. This prompted the decision to establish a JV, which significantly contributed to our success.

Do you have significant relations with local companies, whether Piedmontese or foreign?
In Torino, Webasto SpA employs about 300 people, producing an extremely complex product with a high level of technology; our main activity is design and testing, actual manufacturing processes are limited to bonding and assembly, while the rest is outsourced, establishing a very significant relationship with the local supplier sector that employs about 700-800 people in the manufacturing process. In addition to the particularly rich breeding ground, which also means high qualified resources, in Torino we are the sole suppliers to Fiat and we have created a company that is now 100% owned by the German multinational, a competitive member of the group, with a very strong specialisation. We are firmly rooted in the territory, a fact borne out by our activities in the social and cultural fields.

Over the years, has your company developed research agreements in Piemonte?
Yes, for our research activities we collaborate with the entire local R&D system. The context in which we operate is made particularly favourable by the presence of the Polytechnic and of numerous research centres. For example, with CRF we are working on a sustainable mobility project financed by the EU, an issue we are particularly interested in.

Do you think that Piemonte can guarantee a good level of competitiveness?
Piemonte, and the Torino area in particular, has excellent potential and offers important competitive advantages, particularly in terms of human resources and expertise. Where the automotive sector is concerned, it is possibly the European region that offers the most extensive range of skills.

Investments for over Euro 440 million and 1000 new jobs

These are the figures declared by the eight companies that recently located to Piemonte with the help of Piemonte Agency.
ARMetallizing was incorporated in Casalgrasso (CN) following the acquisition of Rotoflex by the Belgian company Alupa, a major international player in the paper metallisation sector. Aenergo, a Latvian company that operates in the field of renewable energy, is investing in Borgosesia (VC); A-27, from Rancio Valcuvia (VA), which produces desserts, has established itself in Gattico (NO); FGV-Manuex, an Italian multinational from Veduggio (MB), manufactures has chosen Quaregna (BI) to start drawer production and expects to hire approximately 250 resources at full steam; Opde, a Spanish group in the photovoltaic sector, has begun the construction of solar parks all over Piemonte, and has opened a plant to build solar trackers and a logistics centre in Moncalieri; GM Hybrid, an American company in the GM group, has established a new development and prototyping centre for hybrid diesel engines in Torino; SolarLab, from the Renergies Italia group of Urbisaglia (MC), active in the field of 3rd generation photovoltaic systems, has opened an R&D centre in the PST in Tortona (AL) with Torino Polytechnic; the French company Ardea Seal, has opened a research centre, also in Tortona, in collaboration with Proplast to design "intelligent stoppers".

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