If you think of retirement as when you feel lost or where people have nothing to do, read what Giovanni Badinotti did.
This gentleman, now senior after spending his life working in the offices of the City, reached the fateful moment. Instead of setting aside, he opened a net store in Porta Vigentina in the heart of Milan. We are in the early twentieth century, Giovanni is not limited in selling only fishing nets, but also fishing lines, floats and all that is needed for a fishing passionate of the lakes, close to where he is located.
Usually, not all the passions of the fathers are passed to their children, Carlo, son of Giovanni does not want to know anything about fishing, as a matter of fact, he began working as an engraver. Probably, his father would have let him do this job, if he considers that he can live out of it, but that was not the case.
Giovanni decides to wait five or six years, then tries again to convince his son. Giovanni suggests to his son, to take over the shop to make a bit of money. Carlo replied that fishing shop does not match his interest, and thinks that his father has finally understood. And he was wrong, the father still has a card to play, the decisive one. Because he liked fishing so much, he knew which fishing stores were the best equipped in Milan. The store which was best equipped and had a vast variety of stock, was in Agnelo St., just behind the Duomo of Milan.
At that time, the store was directed by a girl, which was very unusual during those years. She is called Annunciata Colosio, she comes from Monteisola an island on Lake Iseo. This island is full of net manufactures, which have been doing this for nearly a century; since the Emperor Francesco Giuseppe, head of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, give to his people the task of repairing the remaining nets of the Venetian fleet. From the people of Monteisola, Annunciata has learned the art of manufacturing nets.
Annunciata and her family, are all masters in the arm mount and nets, furthermore Annunciata is beautiful, and she is not yet married. Giovanni finds a way to bring them together. A few years later, Giovanni and the beautiful girl from monteisola got married with Carlo. They decided to take over the fishing store in Porta Vicentina, and because of this, Carlo starts to understand something about fishing.
In the 30’s, Badinotti was already born. From a geographical point of view, the reference points are two; at Monteisola, where local workers produce everything in cotton or in any other natural fibers by hand, under the control of Annunciata sister´s, an also, Milan shop where they sell nets, and other fishing supplies, managed by Carlo and Annunciata, which leads the company. In 1934, there is a young man behind the counter. His name is Mario, he is the firstborn of Badinotti, and he is fourteen years old. He knows how to knot a thread of cotton, better than his mother and his uncles. He also gets along well, he goes with his parents to make deliveries to customers near the lakes.
Mario has other two brothers, Renato and Gianni and a sister Marisa. All of them, are still very small, their time will come later, to take care of the company. It seems to be going well, and orders begin to arrive from all parts of Italy. Meanwhile, the workers in Monteisola start struggling. One day, Annunciata decides to give another impulse to the company, and decides to purchase looms to increase production; whereas Carlo, preferred to be more cautious, but nobody listened to him. In 1940 the frame arrives, but also postcards arrive to call the three brothers to the war. Mario ends up in Russia, to fight as a soldier. Renato is immediately captured by British army, and sent to Egypt. Gianni, the smallest, manages to avoid the front, but is also too small to handle the company. The company must slow the step, despite the cost incurred from buying the frame. In 1943 Mario returns to Milan, it’s a difficult period for him.
He has behind the massacre of Italian soldiers in Russia. He managed to survive hunger, cold, and the bombs. The war is finally over, the country is in a difficult situation, and the economy is not going well. In this year, the father dies, but fisherman’s still go fishing and still are making orders to Badinotti. Now, it’s up to Mario to help Annunciata with the company, and teach little Gianni, which is seventeen years old.
They go on their bicycles along the streets of villages around the lake to deliver the nets to the carriers that would them send to clients. But times are different, and between employers and employees sometimes those are not well understood. Annuncias’s advice, seems to be very successful, and that machines allow fast growth for the company. After the first frame, others are purchased. After the orders from Italy, orders come from all over Europe: Finland, Denmark, Norway, Greece; all countries with many lakes, seas, and strong fishing traditions. Fortunately, Renato in his six years of prison in the fields of His Majesty learned English well.
The revolution starts to come from the United States, along with rock and roll, and 3D glasses in the late fifties. A new fiber arrived, it’s called nylon. It is long-lasting and economic, and immediately attractions the attention in Italy. Badinotti is really interested in this new fiber. However, it presents only one inconvenience, it does not hold well the knot. Many complaints from customers and suppliers came.
Mario and his brothers are doing everything to resolve the problem, but they do not want to go back to producing nets in cotton, as they know that nylon is going to be the future. They make an agreement with Orsi Mangelli, which is a manufacturer of socks in Forlì, to purchase at a discounted price some of their waste and use them for the nets.
One day, the owner of the company reveals that he knew an engineer how recently returned from Venezuela with something new; a net without knot. It does not require much labor and would resolve the problem once and for all. The technique is interesting; Mario and his brothers contacted the Hawaiian engineer to make a negotiation. Everything seems to be going well, until the man makes a request: 100 million for the patent.
Badinotti at does times did not have 100 million, and if they had that amount, they probably would not have made the deal. Mario takes time to think about it. Then, he replies that he would think about it, and starts searching for alternatives. He saw the engineer to build the knotless nets use a Raschel loom, which is the same one adopted for the lace. In a period when internet did not even exist, he manages to find the German company that builds the machines.
He travels to Germany to see the machines, he tests them and he bought them; they were the ones that produced the lace and the knotless nets. The engineer decides to sue them, but Mario discovers that the technique was also used in the 1850’s, and there was a U.S. patent, but it had expired. For Badinotti is a good point. A few years later, the other companies followed, but Badinotti is the first company to enter the knotless net into the market. With these new machines, Badinotti could lower its production costs, produce more volume, and have the possibility to expand; in this way, it becomes easier to make nets for fish farming, but also others; like those for protection, volleyball, and tennis.
Giancarlo, Mario’s son, is four years old, he is sitting at the table in the kitchen. It is 1962; in the room, there is also the father and mother, the baby hears fo first time the sound of an unknown word, meaningless for him at that moment: Perú. The father announces that it is necessary for the family to move to Perú. Mario had been already some years in Perú. He had started receiving orders, and discovered that there does not exist a factory which produces that kind of nets in the country. It is a place where there are a large amount of fisherman’s, lower labor cost, and land and non-expensive land. Annunciata has a positive attitude on the country. In Giancarlo´s mind, there is a small port – probably Genoa – and a ship. After many days on the sea, messing with the sailors, playing with ropes, joking with his brother Roberto, they had finally arrived in Panama.
Their father awaits there with a plane to bring them up in Lima. You cannot say, their accommodation is a palace; it is a small house within the grounds of the factory. It still had to be finished. But in those years, there are problems that are related to the father. Giancarlo especially thinks about playing between frames, ropes, nylon of the future nets. After a full year in Perú, the mother decides to move her children back home. Giancarlo is five, it is time for him to go to school and his parents prefer him to go an Italian school. The father stays in Perú a while longer, and then, the brothers start taking three months turns to go to Perú.
The net market was growing due to the boom in the farms fish. The decisions seem to be the correct, but Giancarlo knows well, that his father and his uncles before left Perú, they have left him a little gift. The small factory on Monteisola was sold; it was necessary because the nets were mainly manufactured by hand. In that factory, there was no more space available for expansion, furthermore the transportation costs were very expensive. Badinotti plant was moved to Franciacorta, near Iseo. There is a place of 6 thousand square meters, where they can accommodate many more machines. In the seventies, in Italy there were about fifteen companies like Badinotti, today there are only two. In the early eighties, Badinotti produces about 250 tons of nets per year, today Badinotti produces at least five times more nets, and the company has the largest market share of knotless nets in the world.
In the early nineties, Carlo Badinotti, son of Renato joins the new structure of Franciacorta. Then, Paolo come along, whose real name is Gianangelo Tizzoni; he is the son of Marisa, which was the last child of Annunciata. Once the mother passed away, Gianni, the youngest of three brothers, the one that had managed to escape the call to the front during the second world war, decided to adopt Gianangelo. In this way, Gianangelo which everyone calls Paolo, becomes a Badinotti in all respects.
Roberto, Giancarlo’s brother, lives in Perú and becomes director of Retex Peruana.
The Badinotti name and reputation goes on increasing worldwide and, to allow going on with this tradition, Giancarlo, Carlo, Paolo and Roberto decide in 2016 to release from their managing positions and remain just as board members.
The group is now run by professional managers external to the Badinotti family that will continue the tradition and will help this wonderful story to go on for many more years.