In the Spotlight!
In the second of the series on people in our industry, Nick Coombes speaks with Giuseppe Rossi, who has represented Vetaphone in Italy for more than 20 years.
Tell us a little about your early life
I was born in Castellanza, in the northern area of Milan in 1964, and have what I would call a technical mechanical education, which has been the basis of the work I’ve done and career I’ve pursued. In my younger days, when I didn’t have family responsibilities, I had a passion for touring Africa in a variety of well-used vehicles, some of debatable quality and safety, but while we enjoyed many adventures, we never came to any harm! Unfortunately, after the last unforgettable trip in the early 90’s, work has not allowed me to indulge my passion, but a part of my heart still lives in Africa.
You say that work intervened, what was your first job?
When I was only 16 and still studying, my best friend gave me the opportunity to work in a boatyard, doing maintenance, repairs, and upgrades to all kinds of craft. I’d known this friend from secondary school, and we shared a love of off-road motorbikes, so started meeting on a regular basis. It was only later that we discovered that our respective parents had been good friends for more than 40 years – life is full of surprises!
How did you come to switch from boats to the printing industry?
After a few different job experiences, I came into contact with the extrusion market, first as a technical employee, and then in a commercial role. I’ve always been strongly self-motivated and keen to work for myself, so I decided to extend my knowledge and commitment to the markets associated closely with extruding, and printing was one that really caught my imagination and satisfied my curiosity and interest.
What were the early days like?
When you are young and first starting out you look for a direction to go in – not so much a career-path because you don’t have the knowledge and experience at that stage to see the long-term future. And there are many different factors that play a decisive role in what you end up doing for a living. I could have remained with my best friend working on boats, but didn’t want to risk the friendship, so I decided to choose a different profession, and with my technical education, I started by joining a small machinery company. But this didn’t fire my imagination, so I switched to another one where the challenge was greater, and this was my real start in the technical industry.
So, which companies have you worked for?
I first joined Ghioldi, a family-owned business that manufactured extrusion plants, and this was where I found space to grow, first in the technical department and later the commercial side. After six happy years with them I joined Dolci Extrusion, who gave me the biggest opportunity in this market segment, and this eventually led me to the decision to start my own company.
When was that, and what was your motivation?
Like most people who start their own business I remember the date very clearly! It was 2nd January 1999, but the idea was born earlier 1998. By that time, I’d come to realise that there wasn’t the career path that I was looking for, and that it was time to imitate the Dolci agents, whom I had been supporting in several foreign countries for some time. You know, the main driver with me has always been the need to express my ability by establishing consistent and durable relationships with customers. I thought I could do this better on my own – now I had to prove it!
How and when did you first become aware of Vetaphone?
Extrusion was, and still is my main background but I like to know more about the surrounding equipment to enhance my knowledge and be able to offer a complete support package to customers in my market. I was looking for a top manufacturer of corona treatment technology, and it didn’t take long to work out that Vetaphone was the best choice. I first came across them at the K98 expo, and this convinced me to approach them.
How did you end up becoming Vetaphone’s man in Italy’?
I think it was a mutual challenge for both parties. For me to promote, despite its good reputation, a totally unknown brand in Italy, and for Vetaphone to take on a market where competition and demands are at the highest level. I can tell you that the first few years were definitely not easy, but if I look back now, I can honestly say that it was the correct decision to make for me, and I believe for Vetaphone too.
How do you assess the Italian market for surface treatment?
Next to Germany, I’d say Italy is the most competitive market in Europe. It has many local and highly reputable manufacturers who are setting the market standard. They make domestic Italian customers very comfortable because of the common language and mentality, so it’s not so much Italy that is special, but the Italians! This means that my main task is to offer them the correct advice and close cooperation and support them by responding to their demands. Is price an issue? Yes, of course it is, but we can prove that Vetaphone offers an excellent overall solution, not just a product, and continues to do so 24/7.
Do you see new opportunities for Vetaphone technology in Italy away from its traditional applications in labels and flexible packaging?
Italy is a market where you find all the technologies related to plastic processing. Despite the onward march of global mergers and consolidations, Italy still has a large number of privately owned companies that retain those essential personal and warm relationships that strengthen the bond between customer and supplier. Narrow and wide web printing and laminating are the key areas, but extrusion should become a focal point because flexible packaging starts life as polymer pellets that are processed into something that makes it possible to protect our food and other products.
Plastic packaging is being heavily criticised by environmentalists right now – how can the problem be addressed?
For a start, the problem is not the creation of plastic packaging but its subsequent disposal or re-use that is the issue. Without flexible packaging there would be a vast increase in food wastage at a time when the World is already incapable of feeding its population – so it is here to stay, that’s for sure! What we can do is choose the right polymers and use the best equipment. These are the winning tools for producing the perfect packaging product that uses less raw material, requires less energy to manufacture, and is more sustainable.
Is this where Plasma surface treatment can make a significant contribution?
Yes, it is, because substrates treated by the Plasma process are much easier and cheaper to recycle than most of the top-coated stocks that are in use today. This will become an increasingly important issue, not only from the environmental point of view but because the new substrates being developed are much more complex and cannot achieve the required Dyne level with Corona treatment. This is where Plasma comes into its own and will play an increasingly important part in Vetaphone’s surface treatment technology going forward.
How do you see the market recovering from the global pandemic?
The current raw material shortage is an issue, but every problem creates opportunities. The pandemic was very critical for some market segments, and they have my sympathy, but it also generated a number of new opportunities that can drive a very fast recovery with surprising new results. We cannot ignore what we are still experiencing, but we can use the situation to build a better future for the next generation. I believe we all have that responsibility.
Looking back, what achievement are you most proud of in your career?
For me, the most important achievement is always the one coming up next! And who knows what that might be?