Assofond – Italian Foundry Industry looks forward

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Torbole Casaglia, Torbole Foundry

Over 500 participants and 70 foundries, represented by more than 200 entrepreneurs and collaborators, took part in the 2017 Assofond Assembly, held in Torbole, Italy at the Torbole Foundry on its 50th anniversary.

The choice of location mirrored the opening message of the dialogue and collaboration that as envisioned by Assofond, and around which the morning of structured meeting sessions was organized; in a private session dedicated to Foundry Associates and a session dedicated to the public. In the afternoon, interested people could enjoy a guided tour of the production department of the foundry.

The 2017 Assofond Annual Assembly wished to create an opportunity for a concrete encounter among actors within the same chain, through a mini-exhibit involving over forty suppliers.

Roberto Ariotti: Italy’s Foundry Industry is Recovering
The second part of the morning was reserved for the public assembly: the assembly was opened with a speech by President Roberto Ariotti who, for the benefit of the guests, briefly provided an overview of the latest economic developments of the Italian Foundry Industry, focusing specifically on the structural changes that characterized the sectoral production system after the crisis.

Human Resources, respect and genuine recognition of the foundry world, pride in the ability to endure, and confidence in the recovery of the sector have been key points made by President Roberto Ariotti in his report.

Appealing to the Young: Foundry is a Great Opportunity
To reaffirm that foundry engineering is a great opportunity where commitment and results are measurable, and enable them to increase their position to reach the highest and most prestigious levels, the President wanted to address the young people directly to remind them that: “In our sector there is ample space for young people who are willing to get involved and become influenced by the fascination of our hard work, sometimes complex but extremely stimulating”, highlighting with great emphasis how human capital has the added value of giving a future to the entire sector. 

The Effects of the Crisis and the Pride of Making It Through
The theme of the 2017 Assembly was “Pride 4.0”, a slogan that, as specified by Ariotti, should reaffirm the pride of having overcome the worst crisis since the post war period. The number “4.0” indicates the need for foundry industries to continue to follow the trend of modernization and change.

“Surely, the Italian post-crisis foundry system is significantly different from that of 2008,” Ariotti said. “The foundry industry now has around 1,055 companies of ferrous and non-ferrous metals, and continues to achieve a turnover of almost 7 billion of Euros with the production of 2 million tons of castings, feeding about 350,000 mechanical industry employees of small and medium-sized enterprises. We are proud to have made it, and we will continue to work responsibly, as we have always done, without draining public resources. What we call out to the country, institutions, and communities is an authentic recognition of our work. We ask that you stop looking at the foundry industry with prejudices dictated by the commonplace and bad information, and you start to see it as an industry with huge potential.”   

The exhortation of Assofond’s President is to not stop at appearances but be able to look with open-minded eyes at the potential of a sector that has great chances to contribute to growth.

To help the stakeholders in this process, Ariotti announced that Assofond has begun to work on the first Sustainability Report by the Association, a project that is pushing Assofond on multiple levels ranging from methodological definition to stakeholder engagement trough the collection and processing of information.

The Wind is Changing with a Growth of + 4 %
The President closed his speech with a wave of optimism, given both the improving economic data and various elements that contribute to the thinning of clouds for the future as well.

“After nearly ten years of undeniable crisis, exacerbated by rampant pessimism, today I think that we can shake off the drowsiness that paralyzed us until a few months ago and regain the optimism that characterizes our entrepreneurial spirit,” Arotti said. “We cannot and must not deny that the climate has changed and a new breeze of trust lies between our businesses. The underlying intonation of the main indicators of the state of health of our economy has changed. Finally, the improvement of the global economy is gradually reflecting on our country, as confirmed by the growth of the Italian industry in the first part of 2017, which was driven by the improvement of the global macroeconomic picture and particularly of exports. The macroeconomics continues to get better, such as world trade, the launch of a new global investment cycle and business confidence at the highest levels. After several unsuccessful departures and accelerations, the disappointments we have suffered have led our industry operators to make more and more cautious evaluations of their production recovery potential. The data for the first 7 months of 2017, relating to the production of castings in our entire industry, already show a satisfactory growth of + 4%, mainly due to the rebound recorded in the mechanical engineering sector. For 10 years I have been attending the meetings of our European Foundry Association, often feeling disappointed, but also embarrassed to see Italy's statistics. In the light of the new data, I look forward to meeting European colleagues and for once we can comment on the charts in an upside-down perspective. "

Italians are a people of entrepreneurs
Luca Paolazzi, Director of the Confindustria Studies Center, with his speech “The Italians are a People of Entrepreneurs”, has laid the ground at the round table of entrepreneurs.

It followed an authentic story of the foundry world by seven founders who talked about themselves and their entrepreneurial experience of successes and sacrifices, difficult and often brave choices, of numbers, methods, and different visions. Each story has made it clear that the will of the entrepreneur is not just to leave a mark, but to align itself with a new future that is emerging. 

Thanks to the panellists: Marco Bigliardi, Boardmember of Microfound srl, Gianluigi Casati, CEO of Fonderia Casati spa, Roberto Dalla Bona, President and CEO of Fonderie Guido Glisenti spa, Enrico Frigerio, Chairman of the EF Group, Chiara Valduga, President of Gruppo Cividale, Franco Vicentini, CEO of VDP Fonderia spa and Fabio Zanardi, President and CEO of Zanardi Fonderie spa.

National General Secretary of Cgil, Maurizio Landini, expressed his appreciation of the invitation to the General Assembly, seeing it as an expression of true opening of the sector to a new system of union- and industrial relations. The system will have to emphasize the importance of both the company and the quality of work to finally come together to discuss how to address the new challenges of the labour market.

Thanks to the host from the EF Group, Enrique Frigerio, for the company’s hospitality and a great day at Fonderia di Torbole.