Our first and next 70 years

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“We look to the future with the same determination that has helped us create innovative, high quality products for all these years, and for which the market has abundantly shown its appreciation. We believe it’s the best way to celebrate our first 70 years.”
With these words, Alessandro Fenzi, the group’s CEO, pays homage to the family business that in June 2011 celebrated its 70th anniversary. A vivid testimony to the commitment to responsibility that has shaped the family’s successful management style and is now in its third generation.

Since 1941, the year it was founded, Fenzi has made enormous strides, making a name for itself over the years and around the world as the most reliable partner in the industry of chemical products for secondary processing of flat glass. This constant and exclusive focus has allowed the company to develop the know-how, operating skills and technological wherewithal that are crucial to becoming the go-to supplier for industry professionals. Its knowledge base is built on more than 70 years of work in close contact with the market, begun with mirror backing paints and expanded, on the wave of the success and technologies developed with that initial product type, to include decorative paints and sealants for IG units. A deep understanding of its customers and their varying needs has been and continues to constitute a healthy form of mental and operating gymnastics for Fenzi -- a quality that feeds the incessant drive for innovation and leads to the development, often ahead of market demand, of products that are consistently more advanced and practical. 

The winning combination upon which the Fenzi group as a whole can rely today is comprised of ongoing product updating (thanks to major key investments in research and development), the high quality of raw materials, manufacturing processes that have been fine tuned, down to the smallest detail, and a special emphasis on customer service – all the ingredients that make it a trustworthy partner in the world of glass.

“For any company like ours that has chosen to operate in a highly specialized market sector, coverage of global markets is an absolute necessity”: a theme handed down from generation to generation that now translates into an increasingly vast international footprint. Expansion into North America, South America and Australia strengthened during the 1960s and ‘70s; then, far ahead of the competition, starting in the ‘80s, Fenzi became a pioneer among glass professionals by exporting to China. It began with Duralux paints, focusing its efforts in the large industrial cities like Beijing, Shenzhen, and Shanghai. The country’s rapid process of industrialization carried with it the need for broader distribution and greater production capacity. In  2006 Fenzi China Paints and Sealants Company Limited was founded -- one of the group’s affiliates that lives by the same quality creed as its parent, but which bears the distinct signs of its host country and takes full advantage of the availability and skills of local labor. Little by little, production was expanded to other products in the Fenzi spectrum, over time and based on local needs, until the entire line was completely represented.

The most recent development along the timeline is the founding of two new companies, OOO Fenzi and OOO Alu-Pro, with manufacturing plants in Lipetsk, about 500 km from Moscow. The only Italian companies in the industry to have local production facilities, they are already working at full capacity after just two years from start up. In this case as well, the process was continuous and progressive; starting in 1998 with exportation of products for making IG units, both Fenzi and its partner Alu-Pro have quickly become market leaders in polysulphide sealants and aluminum profiles. The need to defend the market soon led to the decision to start production locally, making sure Russian manufacturers of insulating glass could rely on the immediate availability of products with the same quality features they were accustomed to having.

Its international presence is further strengthened by the comprehensive Glass Alliance network, formed by the three companies -- Fenzi, Alu-Pro and Rolltech -- which, thanks to 9 facilities (production centers and sales offices) around the world, are able to meet the needs of IG unit manufacturers on five continents.


A word from the top:
Dino Fenzi, President of the Fenzi group

In the past, the company had the foresight to develop new markets and now has facilities around the world. How did the decision come about to penetrate the Asian market and then manufacture directly on site in China?

It all began in 1967, when we participated in the Journées Internationales de l’Equipement de Miroiterie in Paris: it was the industry’s first international trade show. Only later did Glasstec in Dusseldorf, Vitrum in Milan, and all the others come along. The initial contacts were made at that time and the first network of clients was created. Industrial scale manufacturing of mirrors began in Hong Kong around 1974 and in 1988 China acquired its first glass processing machines. This industrial development progressed in stages, and step by step, the Asian market was created and grew into what we know today.
But back then it was different: In those far-off lands, Fenzi started from zero; it built its sales relationships from the ground up. On the strength of this, we continued to follow the developments in that market until we decided to manufacture the products in highest demand on-site as, starting in 2002, it became clear that it was absolutely necessary to remain in close proximity to our customers.

What other emerging global areas are potentially of interest to the Group?

The giant global market has grown considerably with the arrival of the emerging economies. And it will continue to grow. We’re going to experience a new phenomenon, with a broader distribution of manufactured products than currently exists. China, India and Malaysia, then Brazil, Russia, South Africa and Indonesia: all will participate in global production and they will then need to ensure they have a reliable network of suppliers.

The company has always been known for its cutting edge products, and exploring new fields of application, like the green economy. Can you give us an idea of how business is shaping up in these early years of Fenzi Solar Coatings?

The Green Economy is a fantastic opportunity for the future, even though the waiting times are long and costs extremely high. There have been significant slowdowns in Europe as a result of the economic crisis, due to a lack of, or reduction in financing. There’s no doubt the road is open, and the immense tragedies like the one in Japan are a further stimulus to continue to look for ways to tap clean sources of energy. For its part, the attitude at Fenzi Solar Coatings is quite positive and we’re moving forward with investments in this particular sector.

Do you see new developments for the Group in solar energy?

Fenzi Solar Coatings is seriously involved in the development of CSP (Concentration Solar Power) technology, in which mirrors of various kinds are the primary instrument used to capture solar energy. The latest developments have led to progress in terms of system output, because the entire supply chain is quickly moving ahead in terms of optimization of the individual components.
There are many projects around the world, but the investment requirements are extremely high and there are often obstacles in the way, even of a geopolitical nature. Today the USA and China are the countries holding the greatest potential. This is however a sector that is rapidly developing and, as always, Fenzi is geared to make its own technological and strategic contributions.



A word from the top:
Alessandro Fenzi, CEO of the Fenzi group

What was the greatest factor in the success of the company in its early days?

Without a doubt, the primary success factor was the decision to focus on flat glass. It’s the element that sets Fenzi apart, the only chemical company in the world to be completely dedicated to secondary processing of flat glass. A characteristic that allowed it to stay constantly and totally in touch with the needs of this particular market, understanding its requirements, accelerating innovations and contributing to its growth. Throughout the years it has been an enormous advantage over the competition – in 70 years of life Fenzi has seen a lot of competition but none can match our heritage.

Are there any special technological innovations by Fenzi that have contributed to developing the industry?

In all sectors of the glass industry in which we have worked, Fenzi has achieved a position of leadership. This has ensured total integration: the growing needs of businesses demanded innovative solutions in order to meet the new demands, which then led to new expectations, and thus new incentives for innovation. It’s a circle that motivates technological development and works to mutual advantage. To give you an example, mirror production around the world today would look quite different without the contributions Fenzi has made.

The trend toward energy savings is spreading everywhere, even to the emerging economies, brought about by their focus on economic development and the high cost of energy. Does the Group take this aspect into account in its efforts to maintain its leadership position in the world of chemicals for secondary glass processing?

The quest for wealth through technological development is taking hold around the world. The focus on quality products, capable of ensuring maximum performance at the lowest cost, both economically and socially, is rampant and widespread. It’s the best possible condition for Fenzi, which has made the unceasing quest for quality its philosophy of life. The trend toward energy efficiency also falls into this category because it improves living comfort with an appreciable cost savings. The news is that this awareness does not apply just to mature economies, but has become characteristic of the new economies as well, who are making enormous strides in this area. The demand for insulating glass is constantly growing in countries like Russia, China, and all over South America, exactly where, through strategic decision making, a good part of Fenzi’s investments are concentrated.

Very briefly, are there 3 or 4 key words that sum up the success achieved by Fenzi over the last 70 years? And the ones that summarize the strategy for the next 70 years?

The four key words are carved into our DNA: specialization, as we discussed; internationalization, through a process of global expansion begun more than 40 years ago, as true pioneers; dedication, with a spirit of sacrifice, because results like this are not gained without being fully convinced about the work you do; continuity, because after 70 years, the company is still 100% owned and managed by its founding family.

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