“We are a handicraft business led by the third generation: my father Romano founded the company in 1957, then we, his children, took over after serving in the army. My brother Ivan came first, then I joined too.” Stefano Taroni welcomed us in the “workshop” in Cesano Maderno, in the Brianza area closest to Milan, to tell us the +60-year story of this family-owned company and their relationship with coating technology.
“As far as I can remember, we have always invested massively in new equipment, in new machinery,” Taroni continued. “We have considered several times moving into larger premises, but each time we decided that it was more important to invest in technology, in order to work better, to be more productive and to ensure consistent quality for our coatings… and doing so with less effort!
In the mid Seventies, my father had already adopted special coating pumps to work faster. A few years later we bought the first semi-automatic sanding machine by Nerli, starting a collaboration that is still going on today with great satisfaction. In the Nineties, still under the supervision of my father, we installed the first curtain coating machine. Those were the years when the third generation joined the company”.
So, how many of you are working here now?
“Apart from our employees, the entire family is here: me, my brother Ivan, my sister Titti and my two children, Marco and Davide. All sharing the same passion and vocation for coating! I remember when we purchased the first automatic spraying machine from a French manufacturer, it was so many years ago: it was so beautiful and innovative that colleagues and customers queued up outside the factory gates to see it in operation… so much time has passed since then. Now we have a robot and a sprayer by Giardina Group: the most recent acquisition is a hybrid “Dualtech Dualbelt”, a very flexible machine as it allows to select a paper or self-cleaning belt according to the type of operation and the volume. Furthermore, we can also choose from two overspray suction systems, i.e. a dry filter and a water-based filter, so as to minimize emissions into the air according to our requirements.
We are proud of the robot from Giardina Group: it was around mid-2005, the third generation of our family had joined the company and we wanted to send out a signal with a significant investment. We met Stefano Mauri at an exhibition and he told us what they could do for us, as we had pretty clear ideas. We had seen their painting robots at work. Their solutions were optimized for painting booths, but we preferred a “flow-through” concept, a booth where the parts to be coated entered from one side and came out “finished” at the opposite end. We sat around a table and, together, we designed the best solution: that’s the machine we have been using every day for more than fifteen years, to make big or small batches, very flexibly and with excellent results.
My son Marco has been enthusiastic about this machine from the very start! You see, it’s not easy to involve young people in this business, it’s full of bad smells, dust, paints, despite all the measures we have implemented to create the best possible working environment. When he joined the company and began to spray together with his grandpa Romano, he was not quite happy, but new machinery and new technology to discover is a strong driver for young people… we often underestimate this factor.
The labor crisis everyone is talking about can be solved also by offering an exciting working environment that supports the professional development of people. That’s what happened when we decided to face the challenge of glossy finishing, encouraging our young employees to approach an unprecedented operation, buying a brushing machine and acquiring a Nerli sanding machine to be able to handle also this kind of finishing”.
Mr. Taroni, who are your customers?
“Ever since we were born, we decided to focus on the small and medium businesses that build the backbone of the Brianza furniture district: our key strength was to strengthen our organization and to acquire suitable machines and plants to handle very small batches cost effectively. We know we are a service company, and the reason why many customers decide to work with us is that we can guaranteed efficiency, speed and quality with our experience and technology. We work predominantly in Brianza, but we also have many customers based in other regions. Just to make an example, we work with a furniture manufacturer based in Montecarlo: they come to us because we offer exactly what they want!
The Brianza furniture district is still alive. Sure, things have changed, but there is a strong community of healthy companies that can offer and create wealth. We shouldn’t mix the good and the bad: I can tell you that we are very busy, like many other companies, so busy that we even worked in August, due to the delays caused by the pandemic. Delivering a service means you have to be ready when a customer calls, and fortunately, over the years we have built a network of friends/colleagues we can collaborate with when we have to deal with pressing demand…”
… and why did you choose Giardina Group?
“They have always offered what matters most to us, namely personal relations. Let’s be frank: today, in any business, products basically offer the same performance. Quality, speed and reliability are taken for granted and the most important factor is service, support at short notice, relations with competent people who know your job. That’s how it is with Giardina Group, they are always next to us, and they have always delivered to our expectations, providing all we needed: we visit them, we illustrate our needs, we imagine the machine that might solve the problem, we fix a price and that’s it… all we have to do is wait for them to come and install the machine. I recall that big plant from France I mentioned at the beginning, a sort of starship that could make amazing things, but we didn’t really need them, after all. We told Stefano Mauri what we wanted: a compact, multifunction, fast and reliable machine, to handle also big parts; with Riccardo Mauri, technical manager, we solved the problem of edges, painting them perfectly with a dedicated gun controlled by a software that they adapted on purpose. They work for us, and when a supplier does exactly what you need, you know that your business can rely on solid foundations”.
So, coating has changed too…
“Yes, definitely, with technology you work better and achieve better results. We still have a manual painting booth, it’s necessary for specific jobs, and we still sand some parts manually to get the best result, but all our work is now handled by machines that offer high versatility, as modern business is a sum of small quantities. Customers are more and more demanding, they want perfection; others only need to paint ten, fifteen pieces, but all with the highest quality. And finishing must be “natural”, you have to see, to feel the wood…
Coating products have changed as well: it takes much less product to achieve good protection without creating “glazed” surfaces. We had to learn a lot about materials, too, because the results required by architects and customers come from a perfect match of machine and paint. Textured and haptic coatings dominate the market, the requirements are increasingly sophisticated: just think we have identified four different shades of white! And the price of coatings has increased accordingly: in the past, it was a negligible factor, now it accounts for 50 percent of the final cost of our work… And we should not forget the challenge of water-based coatings, we have also faced this challenge, but drying time is not compatible with the requirements of our customers. We have even tested Uv products, but we could not achieve the quality standards we want. As I said, the Brianza furniture district still exists and is more and more demanding in terms of quality and lead time!”
And now, Mr. Taroni, the inevitable question about the future.
“Talking about the market, I really believe that “mid-range” is doomed to disappear: we will have retail furniture on one side, offering a good standard of perceived quality, and high-end offer on the other, for consumers with a clear vision of the environment, the finishing and the quality they want. Therefore, I am pretty confident: our business will keep thriving, because there will always be someone who cannot be satisfied with “standard” products and wants something more…
Let me tell you I have many projects in my mind: this is the right moment to invest, to buy new machines, to start testing new coatings. As you can see, we are well equipped and we don’t feel the need to expand our fleet of machines, but you should never stop thinking about what else you could do”.