Solema Seniors: a life dedicated to the company and to the growth of the Under-25s (part 2)


Solema Seniors: a life dedicated to the company and to the growth of t

Portraits of historical employees belonging to the "Senior category", who tell us about their experiences in Solema.

After the Under 25 here are the Seniors: a selection of Solema employees who have grown the company and contributed to the inclusion of the youngest, motivating them day after day during their training and integration process. Portraits of 4 historical employees belonging to the "Seniors", who tell us about their paths and stories.
After meeting Claudio and Alessandro, today we talk with Davide Franzoni of the Sales Department and Alex Persico of the Purchasing Department.

Davide, one who jumped on the bike….and took the ride!

Davide Franzoni, born in 1977, has been working in Solema since 1995 and is currently part of the Sales Department with the task of specialized salesman for the European market. Initially hired as an apprentice in the Assembly Department, where he remained for 6 years, in 2001 he experienced the "professional turning point" with the entry into the team of Solema salesmen.

Davide, last year you celebrated 25 years in Solema, the so-called "Silver Wedding". Tell us, how this long marriage was born?

25 years is really a life, but I still remember the first day, it’s still like it was yesterday. It was a delicate moment for me, I wasn’t interested in studying and I had the big desire to take on the world. But I had to ‘fight’ Mom and Dad who wanted me to finish school. After one other argument, I jumped on the bike determined to knock on all the companies I would have found on the street to find a job. Fate wanted the first door to be Solema’s. "Apprentice wanted" said the sheet on the gate. I went in, the interview lasted 15 minutes: at that time no CV was needed, the best feature to have was the desire to do and to learn.
"Thank you, we’ll come back to you with an answer". I ride my bike and knocked on other companies and in the evening I went home with a decent score: I had a couple of job offers for the next morning. Just enough to cheer up Mom and Dad...

But in the end you chose Solema. Why?

Although I had concrete and immediate proposals, I decided to wait a bit for a response from Solema. Of all the companies I visited, it was the one that hit me the most; I was immediately fascinated by the environment, very warm and familiar, even if I had no knowledge about what they were doing inside that factory just few steps far from home. The call came three days later: "You can start tomorrow".
I was hired as an apprentice in the Assembly Department and I started my journey, under the guidance of the "maestro" another Senior we interviewed in a Claudio Brignoli.
We were really a nice group of boys, about thirty, and we immediately created a particular climate of union and solidarity. In addition, my supervisors gave me the opportunity to try some experiences of working outside Solema in Italy and abroad, to enrich my resume.
And after a few months, I was feeling comfortable in what I was doing, but I realized that Mom and Dad were right and I decided to finish my studies alternating work and school: after eight hours in the company, I run to the evening school in Bergamo, where I got the diploma of Mechanical Engineer.

How was the transition from the Assembly Department to the Sales Department?

After five intense years in the Assembly Department, during which I managed to complete even the year of compulsory lever, Solema Sales manager Luca Parsani (current CEO of Solema n.d.r.) told me that he had in mind a specific goal: placing me to the Sales Department as, after completing the entire production training, he had identified in me some skills that could serve to strengthen that department. The first project that awaited me was to follow closely the development of a Korean machine that we had recently imported.

If this year I celebrate 25 years in Solema, you have to consider that 20 of them have been worked in the Sales Department, where I initially followed the business related to the Italian and Spanish markets then, with experience, I expanded the sphere of markets to the rest of Europe.
Over the years, in this department I have also acted as a "coach" to many young people one of them is Giuseppe Liguori who accompanied me on several business trips to gain experience and learn the trade.
Over time, and with the great reluctance of my wife, I got used to long business trips and it is rare that I can stay a whole week without moving from the office: in 20 years as a salesman it happened just a couple of times. Then came the coronavirus pandemic and the travel decreased for obvious reasons, even if I still often go abroad to monitor the developments of projects for a Swiss customer. To do that, I had to take several Covid-19 tests.

It is not common to witness a change in tasks like yours, think for example to the work clothes: from the worksuit to the tie.

Yes, it’s true, this change has also modified some of my habits, including clothing, but I gladly adapted. This hasn’t changed the passion I put into it. At the beginning I suffered a bit from being away from home for long periods, for example when I had to attend the trade fairs that at the time lasted even 10-15 days.
One good thing about the transition from the Production to the Sales Department is that I have personally assimilated certain mechanisms and competences that I have used, and I still use, when I have to cope with a particular request of a customer who asks me about parts of machineries I have worked on for years. Notions and experiences that a salesman usually doesn’t have. At the same time, when I propose an automation project for a line, I know exactly what I’m talking about.

What is the main strength to convince a customer to choose Solema as supplier?

I believe that one of Solema strengths is represented by a well-tested and well-tried after-sales service.
I can say this because the market is full of companies that offer our same products and services at lower costs, but then, once they deliver the goods, they “disappear” leaving the customer with the heavy task of managing the machines alone. This unfortunately happens more and more frequently, with customers who, in order to save something, find themselves to struggle for working when they have machines installed.
When I go to the customers to offer Solema products, I try to convince customers focusing on the goodness and seriousness of our services, and with the awareness that 85% of the work is carried out entirely in our premises without having to rely on external realities. This also means reliability and professionalism.

Talking about competitors, are there Chinese companies similar to Solema?

Yes, for sure. But luckily, they still do not have the same expertise and culture of the product that we have here in Europe. Moreover, Chinese companies are more focused on the supply of individual machines and concentrated mainly in the Packaging sector. We have a wider range of products not only in the Graphic Art field but also for the Paper Board industry.
And then in China they often rely on different suppliers while we "make everything at Km 0". Being proud of our Italian roots and our origins from Bergamo. Because when you take a bike, then you have to start your ride!

Alex, grew up with the company

Alex Persico, 50 years old, has been working in Solema since 1993 and has been part of the Technical and Purchasing Department for 27 years. He is an Electro-Technical Engineer, but his tenacity and willingness have led him to cover numerous tasks in Solema. His experiences within the company have made him a kind of "wild card".

Alex, tell us how this long partnership with Solema was born.

The first approach dates back to 1990. While I was still in high school, I decided to take advantage of the summer holidays to do an internship in the company. My supervisors were impressed by the way I worked and by my desire to learn. So after graduating in June 1993, I was hired with a permanent contract. Just in those months, Solema was looking for a professional figure who had to be able to cover simultaneously the "mechanical" and "electrical" steps for Production and Assembly, and they found the right person. After a three-month trial, I was asked to move "from the workshop to the office" to follow the Systems Development Department, a newly created unit that was moving the first steps.

What exactly does the Systems Development Department do and what is your role in it?

In our department we take care of the phase that follows the immediate signature of the Purchase Order with the customer. We can say that we "draw the guidelines" of what will then be performed in our production cycle, also stating the delivery dates of lines and machines. We also find out new solutions and ideas to improve the production process within the company. At the moment, in the Systems Development / Technical Departure we are 8 people. I am the most experienced and I’m able to work on the complete line. I also supervise the work of my colleagues, providing analyses and proposals on how to articulate projects.
My role places me just between the Sales Department and the Production Department. This is a role that I have appreciated from the beginning and that I still play with passion and dedication. But this didn’t stop me from diversifying my business tasks.

Does this mean that you had experiences in other departments in the company?

Since my first years at Solema I have been luck to grow with the company: while I accumulated experience, the company steadily increased turnover and, consequently, the number of employees. This has also rewarded me, because I saw the results, mine and of the company, arriving day after day, I expressed my desire to do new things and the company promptly satisfied it.
In the course of these 30 years I have covered other roles, like being Warehouse Supervisor with tasks of logistics and materials supplying – experience that allowed me to know better the delivery times of the materials and to manage all the timeframes and schedules of any project – and that of person in charge of Personnel Management inside and outside the company, taking care of relationships with partners and suppliers.

Your role is somewhat reminiscent of the "Swiss knife", many uses and properties in one object, in your case many features in one person. Is that so?

In Solema I am a so-called "jolly" who can, if necessary, compensate for different roles, as in these years I have practically done everything: from the mechanic to the warehouse keeper, from the installer to the line designer.
Unfortunately, or luckily, I cannot keep still for too long in the same place/department, and my ability to learn has favored the process of interchangeability between roles. I have to thank the company that allowed me to do it, proving to be a reality that even knows how to adapt to the worker if necessary. But trust has always been mutual.

What advice would you give to a young worker?

I would tell him to learn the tricks of the job as quickly as possible, because that is the only way to make a career with good results. The secret of my work, but not only of mine, is to always treasure what more experienced colleagues have to teach and "steal the job". I learned by rolling up my sleeves, not always waiting for someone to teach me what to do. Once, there were no training courses, we did the training directly onsite. And when I was offered a task that would have to scare me, I jumped right in.

In over 30 years of work, is there an episode you remember in a particular way?

I remember that time when there was a need, for a French customer, to carry out a dismantling with replacement of an entire line in just a week. It was an old Solema line on which the customer had asked to add special functions, and to do this it was necessary to disassemble it completely. The company immediately thought of me to select a team for this intervention: they would need a technician who had skills both as an electrician and mechanic (what today we could call mechatronic) and an additional mechanic – plus me.
With this team we left on Sunday morning at dawn, to perform all the work in exactly seven days: a whole week dismantling and reassembling the line, working 15 hours a day, but although it may seem like heavy work, it was not at all, because carried out with enthusiasm and passion...

Thanks to Davide and Alex. And good job.

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