Gemata: finishing according to natureAfter a successful 2016 (+13%), Gemata continues its positive trend. As explained by engineer Maitan, who aims to confirm (or improve) the good momentum of the company. With particular focus on the environment.
This story begins in 1971 when Gemata was founded as a machine shop for the tanning industry. After positioning itself on the market, it started to build its own machines for working goat and sheep skins, and subsequently, the first roller machines. Over the years, through company acquisitions and renewals, the brand grew to become a solid reality that today has a turnover of over thirty million euros and more than 120 employees operating in four market lines: leather, faux leather, fabric and glass.
The company is run by the engineer Gianni Maitan, Executive Director of the Trissino-based company, who is the current face of Gemata for this chat, far away from budgets, forecasts, six-monthly reports and share capital.
- Engineer Maitan, how was Simac Tanning Tech?
The fair was very interesting, with a good turnout – in the machine sector – of customers, which hasn’t been seen for a few editions. This allows us to be optimistic. Last year, despite a decline in the last quarter, we still had a 13% increase in turnover, mainly due to new machines that we put on the market a few years ago and that now are finding favour with customers. If anything, in the first months of this year, I have noticed a slowdown; how-ever, slowdowns in our industry are rather cyclical. After the fair, I am hoping that last year’s performance is also confirmed for 2017.
- Globally speaking, is “Made in Italy” a value?
I would say yes because we are basically the only manufacturers, besides Turkey and China. As long as our product stands out in quality and innovation, we can hope for the best. Of course, we are helped by the tanneries that work closely with us.
- What are Gemata’s main markets?
Last year, due to the decline in the Chinese market, we exported less to eastern countries; but in 2015, 30% of our turnover was generated by the eastern market. The remaining 70% is divided equally between Europe and the Americas, even if South America and Brazil, in particular, were practically at a standstill in 2016 with regard to finishing.
- You have a plant there, in San Leopoldo, southern Brazil, near Porto Alegre. Is this to be present in the local market or have you relocated your production there?
In Brazil, we have a facility where we produce machines on request for the local market and for neighbouring areas. We are present, above all, to provide maintenance and assistance to local companies. Therefore, we are there for our customers, not to relocate our production. I have always believed that, in the machinery sector, there is no need to relocate, just for costs. For other products, perhaps for more consumption, it may make more sense. But in our sector, absolutely not.
- Are Italian tanneries sensitive to renewal of the machine fleet?
In Tuscany, we had several requests for new models both in 2015 and last year. This trend continues in 2017. As for Veneto, a little less, but there are specific market reasons: tanneries often do not have time to stop working. Bear in mind that to replace the body and furnishings of a 3.4 m plant, a tannery must stop working for one month. It is easier to insert a few more machines wherever you can find some space. In Tuscany, it is easier because it is a district that uses smaller machines. How-ever, I think that the laws on super-depreciation have given a push, an impulse.
- On average, how long does a machine last before being technologically outdated and therefore no longer practical to use, even though it is still functional?
The life of a machine is linked to the fact that new models are introduced that improve quality. The duration, therefore, depends greatly on research. A machine can usually last twenty years with proper maintenance, so much so that the second-hand or used market (Pakistan and India) request machines that are also 10/15 years old. Mechanically speaking, when worn elements have been replaced in a machine, it continues to work. We also supply spare parts for machines that are 25 years old. We provide our customers with assistance and maintenance, even on lines that have been on the market for over twenty years.
- The used market that you mentioned is interesting? You have a dedicated area on your website.
We only deal with used machines relating to recent models because the way we service a machine costs us the same amount as it would to make it from scratch. Reconditioning a model that is too old does not make sense. It would cost almost as much as a new one and you would still have an outdated machine.
- How is Gemata dealing with sustainability? Energy-efficient, low product dispersion machines etc.
We have always invested in environmentally friendly machines, even when this issue wasn’t so important. Just remember that when we came out with the Rotoplus, the advertising slogan was “Less Consumption, More nature.” And we used this message for a long time. Our machines are mainly roller machines, therefore the environmental impact is virtually zero and even energy consumption is very low. We have also invested a lot of money to reduce solid particulates in sprayers.
- We are all familiar with your photographs because you use them for the Gemata adv. However, not very many people know that you have won the World Championship of Wildlife Photography eight times with the Italian team and have won numerous awards in many international competitions. Do you consider yourself a manager with the hobby of photography or a photographer who is also a manager?
I am a manager with the hobby of photography. Even if I am retired, I work as much as I did before and only sometimes I am able to take some time off to pursue my nature photography, which is my passion.