It is a privilege, but also a duty, for those of us who do this job, to take a look at some beautiful Italian stories, which illustrate the honesty, integrity, continuous passion for development and investment of human resources and research. The Italian industry, as is well known, has suffered difficult times and many criticisms in recent years. Globalization, emerging markets, the escape of so many companies that have not been able to resist the temptation to invest abroad are just some of the reasons. On the other hand, there are companies that continue to do well in Italy, and for Italy, like Sapio. Companies that continue to build and grow, continuously investing in and for new generations. While wishing all the best to Sapio, which in 2022 will celebrate its ‘ first ‘ hundred years, we wanted to meet its president, Alberto Dossi, to learn some secrets and get to know more about this beautiful Italian reality.
Alberto Dossi, Presidente Gruppo Sapio
Yours is an ‘ enlightened ‘ company, but doing business in Italy is now extremely difficult. How do you manage so well? Which strategies do you find most useful?
“We live in a constantly changing and uncertain world with unstable and precarious policies, whilst industry needs stability to be able to grow, invest and plan, because it obviously takes us a long time to prepare an investment or create a new production plant. We have to carefully assess costs, machinery, depreciation, and innovation and this is the case not just for us. All this needs stable governments and policies that are not constantly changing course. Today it takes a lot of courage to invest in Italy.
“Here at Sapio fortunately courage abounds, and while some Italian industries delocalize, we continue to invest in our country and in our resources. In 2017 we had a turnover of 506 million Euros; We have 1800 employees and many new projects in the pipeline. My way of doing business and being an entrepreneur also takes into account a certain responsibility towards the people who work with us and their families.
“Italy is a large market, albeit influenced by the effects of globalization and the aggressiveness of emerging countries such as China, India and the Middle East. Italian industry has always had a strong vocation for export. Our company on the other hand exports only 5% of its product. Fortunately, our company embraces most of the industrial sectors, from chemical to petrochemical, pharmaceutical, steel and agribusiness and electronics. Last but not least, health care that accounts for 50% of our income.
In short, ours is a complex market and we are therefore accustomed to managing difficulties of all kinds.
I believe that Sapio’s success lies in the fact that it has always known how to transform and update itself. We are a historical company that since 1922 has created work and innovation. We are in the third generation of the Dossi and Colombo families and about to celebrate 100 years of activity. Another important thing that has contributed to our success has been believing and investing in young people, in research and development. It is the young people who have the ability to change and adapt to changes”.
You define yourself as an ethical company. What does it mean for you?
“A proper ethical attitude to work has always been in our DNA. I had the privilege of growing up with two parents who practiced what they preached. I’ve always been inspired by their teachings. My father told me on the first day of work that I had to stick to the “4 C” rule. Be credible, be consistent, be constant and correct, first of all with yourself. It’s a necessary condition if you expect the same from others. To follow these guidelines I have sometimes had to make very uncomfortable and difficult choices, but if people are to trust you, you have to stick to your word.
Your company always keeps pace with technology. Does this involve a great commitment on your part?
We carry out applied research. Gas has found so many applications that we must continue doing research with our team of engineers and actively collaborating with the Italian University world. It is a crime that a country like ours, which invests in the formation of young people, does not then create the right job opportunities. In our small way we try to do something about it. Since 1999 we have also established a ‘ Sapio award ‘ for research and innovation. And for this initiative we were received by the then President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano and awarded a prize. ”
What is it exactly?
“In this case, we assign 5 grants: for research, innovation, safety, start-ups, and a further Sapio junior prize reserved to young people under the age of thirty. The winners receive 15 thousand Euros each, and are also invited to the Senate or the Chamber of Deputies to take part in a roundtable involving media, politicians, industrialists and associations. Often, for them it is a first approach to the world of work. I still keep the many letters of thanks that I have received over the years.”
What are the goals that the company intends to achieve in the near future?
“We want to continue to be a leader in our industry and continue to grow, making improvements to the quality of life. The drivers of the future are energy, the environment, the agri-food sector and health. We believe that through gas and research we can give a great contribution. There is one area that we have dedicated, for example, to the benefit of the environment, the development of hydrogen cars, whose only emission is water vapor”.
I guess from the energy of the company President that this is just a glimpse of the many projects in the works at Sapio. But I would like to add something myself, which I discovered in my research before the interview and is something that Dr. Dossi, being very discrete, has not mentioned: at the company’s dinner at the end of the year, Sapio gave its 1800 employees a reward for their productivity, consisting in 1500 Euros each. So, not only words, but also facts.