Giuseppe Ranalli, CEO at Tecnomatic
I’ve always had a predilection for technology and innovation.
This has pushed me to get a degree in Economics, with a thesis on industrial automation, and subsequently to attend FIAT School of Management.
In 1997, when I was 27, I decided to acquire two SMEs (Proxima and Tecnomatic), burdening myself with a debt of 3.8 billion lira, to relaunch a business established in 1973 (Tecnomatic), starting an entrepreneurial journey different from the past: on the ashes of the two old companies, I tried to pave the way for relaunching the new Tecnomatic Spa, specialized in the design and development/creation of the turn key system production processes for automotive components such as: turbochargers, internal combustion engines, transmission components and innovative high-voltage and efficiency electric engines.
Everything started from an intuition that I could define it as “alcoholic”: one evening, at dinner with some collaborators after a classroom-training day and under the influence of an excellent bottle of Montepulciano wine, I came up with the idea of inserting a square copper wire in the stator of electric motors, getting inspiration from the video on problem solving that the trainers showed us in the classroom.
From that intuition I developed the first patent families on the process.
I felt strong, having the feeling that I could do anything, also because the company had been growing exponentially. In January 2008 I had a complete portfolio of orders, and thanks to this trend, I hired 30 people. Unfortunately between June and September of the same year, things changed. The economy growth blocked. The great financial crisis burst first in the USA and then worldwide.
Clients stopped paying. At the end of 2008 the amount of the unpaid overdue invoices exceeded 18 million euro. I employed my personal resources, using all the overdrafts to meet the creditors’ pressures. After short time there wasn’t anything left to advance.
This time I had an existential crisis. For the first time I felt weak and lost.
I withdrew into myself, deciding not to answer to the calls of suppliers and banks. One day, maybe in order to deal with my discouragement, I went to Milan to attend a “community school”, a catechetical confrontation moment organized by Comunione e Liberazione.
There I reached a turning point. Someone asked me: “According to you, what is the opposite term for the concept of peace?” I impulsively answered: “war”. They replied to me “You’re wrong, it’s fear! Why are you afraid? Where does your consistency lie? In what you can do with your strength?”.
In that moment, I understood that all my fears that prevented me to confront myself with others on my real condition, originated from the fact that, over the years my human consistency, had been exclusively based on what I had been able to do. At that time, when the reality had changed and I was not able to do certain things anymore, I felt lost, almost inconsistent. Until then, I had to put on a mask, trying to disguise a balance that I had lost longer before. I made the journey back, crying incessantly but I had learnt that I had to take off that mask, to react and return to serenity.
I had fully learnt that I didn’t have to fear our humanity.
Once I returned to the company, I first answered to the calls of the suppliers, admitting my situation of difficulty. I summoned the first four. However, since they were totally 400, I decided to meet them in more numerous groups. I showed them the departments, the production the designing sections, the portfolio of orders before the crisis, the international patents. This humble and transparent attitude managed to break through, not only in their souls but also in their brains. They understood that they had to do with a reliable person, with a vision that was worth to be supported. I decided to do the same thing with the bank representatives, inviting them to come to visit the company. None of them denied helping me.
At that point, I had to deal with the employees. I decided to summon them, explaining them how things stood.
I asked them to rationalize all the resources. We decided to recycle anything that was recyclable, except toilet paper. We started again from what was there, not from what was missing. Nobody left; I didn’t loose a single person. What happened? Thanks to the economic crisis we understood the mistakes we had made, many of them were only mine. To be honest the crisis corrected us and saved us! The business restarted, focusing on the R&D of the electric traction. Car companies such as Ferrari, General Motors, Ford and Geely, Great Wall Motors became loyal customers. The same happened with multinational corporations such as ZF-TRW, Bosch, Continental, Valeo.
For some of them we develop assembly and testing systems, for others we design and manufacture winding systems. So reads Tecnomatic’s payoff. “The green heart of Italy beats in the engines of the future”, but declaring it is not enough, we must have faith, in every way.
In 2018 Tecnomatic maintained its headquarters in Corropoli, in Abruzzo, but it has subsidiaries all over the world from China to Brazil, from the USA to India, from Mexico to Romania.
It is possible to overcome the crisis, only by opening oneself to the other, not only from the human but also from the professional viewpoint. I’ve always given everything I have to my clients as well as my friends for better or worse. The innovative capability has withstood the impact of the crisis also thanks to the fact that I have re-invested all the profit in the company, above all in research and development. Today we have 46 patent families protecting the invention both in terms of product and of process, for a total amount of 345 registered patents throughout the world, 210 of which have been already released. We have a stable collaboration with the Automotive Innovation Pole Abruzzo and with the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Electrical and Electronic Engineering of the University of L’Aquila, with whom we have created a spin-off company, engaging the University and eight full professors. Only positioning us on the sector of the highest innovation it is possible to overcome the recurring crises.
Lesson learnt: in order not to lose or getting lost; it is important to live in a permanent state of crisis. Crisis as a consequence of reality, as sense of inadequacy when compared to the challenges that the world sets for us, as continuous self-awareness of the profound need of what we are made of, as awareness that knowledge lies only within an open relationship, otherwise “the already known paralyzes us and suffocates us in self-reference”.
Lastly, crisis as opening to all possible ways of being and doing “with”.
The state of permanent crisis opens us to the entire world and keeps awake the awareness that we are meant to share if we want to be happy.