Caffaro Industrie S.p.A. is a dynamically developing company operating in the field of chemicals production in the north east of Italy in the industrialized city of Torviscosa closed to Trieste: this site has more than 100 years of history and the know how is extremely settled. The product portfolio ranges from various fine chemicals such as ketones, special esters, and polycarbonate diols. At Caffaro Industrie proudly inherited the legacy of a company that has been successfully operating in the pure and basic chemicals market since the end of the 19th century. The company constantly strengthens its market position by improving technology, product quality and general service, while supporting activities with large investments.
What is the source of the company’s success? This and other questions are answered by Mr. Gustavo Bertolini, General Manager of Caffaro Industrie S.p.A.
Could you briefly describe the history of the company?
Caffaro Industrie was born in 2011 thanks to the intuition of our entrepreneurial family: my father and I were - and are - deeply convinced that the know-how born in Torviscosa - which has about 100 years of history - should not be lost. In February 11, the Bertolini Group, now the SNIA BDG Group, took over the Torviscosa assets (plants, workforce and product portfolio) from the then extraordinary administration of Caffaro (now in liquidation). We started with our productions with a turnover of about 35 million, about 135 employees and today on the Friulian site we are well over 100 million euro with about 200 employees. From Caffaro Industrie, active in the production of fine chemicals, two other branches have developed - Caffaro Green Chemicals and Halo Industry.
What were the strategies that proved most useful over time?
A diversification in various sectors, both geographic and final markets. In this way, the company has always dealt with times of general hardship with greater confidence, which has not been lacking in the past ten years. Just think about the pandemic in 2020 - if we did not have wide diversification, we would likely be negatively affected. However, our presence in various market segments allowed us to achieve good results regardless of economic times. Our main sales markets are in Europe, Asia and North America. About 60-70% is exported, while sales in Italy are approx. 40-30%.
What have been the new products and technological advances introduced by your Research and Development sector in the last period?
In fact, we do not have a real Research and Development center within us. Most of the projects are allocated in collaboration with an external company present on the chemical site that works closely with the University of Trieste. It is one of the many synergies that Torviscosa can present. In recent years there have been numerous new productions. Most of them in favor of multinationals that require new production spaces dedicated continuously or in the “countryside” (“the processing accounts”). We are certainly very much appreciated in our sector for this. Our speed in implementing new production lines allows us to be at the forefront when an important external player decides to introduce new molecules on an industrial scale.
What investments have been made in the technological innovation sector? Caffaro Industrie S.p.A. - does it fit in with the industry 4.0 trend and invest in the latest technologies and solutions?
Absolutely yes. The tools provided by recent governments go in the right direction. Caffaro Industrie takes advantage of these opportunities and constantly invests in the latest technologies and solutions. We always try to be attentive and when the opportunity arises, we try to seize it on the fly. Every year we try to implement new productions and this involves huge investments which nevertheless have fast returns.
Could you tell us about the production possibilities and the number of people employed in your company?
In Torviscosa our Group has around 200 employees. The majority is engaged in the fine chemicals of Caffaro Industrie. About 30% is employed in the remaining two businesses, Caffaro Green Chemicals Srl and Halo Industry. The first is active in the production of chlorinated products and the second produces chlorine, soda and hydrogen, the latter largely reused on the site. From 2011 to today, the active staff in our companies in Torviscosa has increased by about 45%. This is a good result if we consider that in 2011 the production activities (before our arrival) were in danger of closing permanently. I repeat - without the commitment of the workers, our shareholders and all stakeholders, we would certainly not have come this far.
What are the exclusive elements that make your company unique from the point of view of production?
Our productions are not in fact commodities and have important barriers to entry due to the know-how linked to the productions themselves. These - in addition to having an important hardware at the capex level - have a learning curve behind them that strengthens its know-how and becomes in fact less replicable externally.
Tell us about the quality control system in use at your company.
Caffaro Industrie has already adopted a QHSE (Quality Assurance - Health - Safety - Environment) management system for some time that fully represents the company’s strategic approach to ensure the achievement of our objectives. Together with these tools which in fact materialize in a series of procedures, manuals, periodic reviews of the same, audits, training courses, we wanted to implement both a Code of Ethics and an Organization, Management and Control Model pursuant to Legislative Decree 231 / 01. I also want to underline that this year for the first time we strongly wanted to be audited by one of the first European rating agency as regards our ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) strategy and our score was already above the sector average from the first year of analysis. It absolutely means that we are moving in the right direction.
Quality is your company’s priority. You work with selected suppliers and partners. Would you like to highlight individual companies?
From this point of view, we are very happy - both our suppliers and our customers are international corporations with a first-class position. We cooperate in 360 degrees with major international corporations in the industry. Many of them are both suppliers and customers, which absolutely strengthens the relationship.
What, in your opinion, can be indicated as the main reasons for the company’s success?
First of all, huge investments, long-term vision, relations with employees and continuous improvement of qualifications. Above all, I want to emphasize the last aspect - high employee skills are now very much appreciated, because they are less and less frequent and constitute the basis for the functioning of the company. Thanks to our workers and partners, constant development has always been possible and treated as a priority. We have always been synonymous with reliability and speed in understanding the needs of our clients, which has certainly rewarded us over the years.
How have the markets and customers changed in recent years?
The sector is constantly evolving and is certainly deeply marked by recent events (the pandemic and crisis in Ukraine) which, in my opinion, are only accelerating a process already marked for some time. It is necessary to focus on issues related to sustainable development and the circular economy.
Are you planning expansion into new markets and new directions?
We recently invested in the pharmaceutical “starting materials” sector and successfully implemented the first ad hoc production for a leading company in the field of active ingredients in a two-year period (2020/21). This is a sector where we can grow in the near future. Some players have contacted us because they want to move some of their production related to this sector from Asia to Europe and we are ready to support this trend.
What are the elements of greatest pride for your company?
Staff turnover in our company is very low and I am proud of it. Attachment to the company which today is not taken for granted - means a lot to us. It comes with commitment and dedication from everyone, and is a fundamental driving force behind the company’s growth.