‘Someone wrote that those who have no memory of their past have no identity. This applies to people, to nations and to societies’ (Luigi Savelli)'
The 170th anniversary of Savelli spa (1842-2012) offers the occasion to reflect, through a proper analysis of the ‘history’ and ‘spirit’ of the Brescia engineering company, on the sense and purpose of an important family company that has managed to preserve its ‘unity’ over the centuries.
The Savelli family has continued and renewed for six generations the precious family tradition initiated by Egidio Savelli in 1842. Unfortunately many, in fact too many traditional industries of the Brescia area have been lost. Just think of the story of the Ferrari socks manufacturer, the woollen mills in Manerbio or the forgotten world of the spinning mills and spinning machines. The traditions of these industries have survived only in the personal memories of a few witnesses and have never become part of the cultural heritage of our community. This is a great gap in the collective consciousness of our area, a gap that has to be filled to confront fierce international competition which is mostly ‘without roots’.
We are today at an historic moment of epoch-making transition. The forces of globalization and the insatiable frenzy of international finance operators are challenging not only the foundations of a local economy, that of Brescia, which seemed solid and irremovable, but are also challenging the entrepreneurial spirit of those who were responsible for guiding their companies.
Consciously drawing on one’s own memory, on the efforts of previous generations, can be decisive for rediscovering the confidence and optimism required for effectively facing the new challenges of globalized competition.
The Brescia historian Roberto Chiarini maintains that the economic, entrepreneurial, social and also human fortunes of a company do not respond alone to the understandable wish to historicize that a family of entrepreneurs like the Savellis may possess. ‘On the contrary, it is a route that is in some ways obligatory if you want to know, especially from inside, the most important institution of modern capitalism and secondly, if you want to trace the web of paths and methods of the complex dynamics of economic modernization of any society’.
Telling the story of the Savelli family is also an occasion for recognizing the value of Brescia entrepreneurs, who often live for their work. We should not forget Brescia entrepreneurs like Giuseppe Soffiantini, the famous textile manufacturer who was kidnapped on 17 June 1997 by three gangsters and held in appalling conditions for 237 days. ‘The night they released me’ says Soffiantini, ‘I got into the car and asked my son ‘How far have we got with the computerization?’ You see, I’m an entrepreneur from Brescia.’’
Lastly, in addition to the value, the author wishes to embrace the ‘values’ of those who over the course of the years took most responsibility within Savelli in order to uphold those ‘principles’ that have enabled Savelli S.p.A. to be created, evolve and prosper.