How was 2021 for machinery and technology companies?
2021 was an exceptional year. Dramatic for reasons we well know, it was a year that saw us having to face unprecedented challenges, but we also came out on top: the jewelry technology sector produced positive numbers, not great, but numbers that have the value of a double-digit increase in a pre-pandemic year. 2021 will be remembered for the performances achieved, but above all, for the work we all did. For the self-sacrifice of the women and men who often worked in difficult conditions and who never gave up, who did not let themselves be discouraged, and who, in times of difficulty, made an ever-greater, high-performance effort, determined to achieve the objectives, which this year were truly difficult. 2021 was also the year of soaring energy and raw material costs: from simple electricity to steel and aluminum, not to mention the difficulty of finding semi-finished goods. Factors that our national policy needs to pay increasing attention to. In 2021, we also revolutionized the Association's website, which has become an interactive portal where our members have access to a 24/24 online exhibition, 365 days a year.
How is uncertainty for the future being dealt with, especially in small and medium-sized companies?
Uncertainty is a luxury we cannot afford. There have always been market fluctuations but even the smallest of our companies has never stopped investing in research and development. We cannot afford doubts, we have an astronomical advantage over our competitors, but if we sat on our laurels, it would be the end of leadership. Next year, however, will see strong investments in market internationalization, giving the Association a new operational tool. The management of the last three years has given us the opportunity to find useful strategies and synergies to rationalize management costs and develop new partnerships. We have completed the “Uzbekistan project”, through which we held a workshop in Tashkent that confirmed, if proof were needed, that presenting ourselves in new markets as a production chain and not as an individual company definitely multiplies results. The Uzbekistan project was a test, which, as of next year, will be improved and repeated in other markets.
How is the collaboration between Afemo and IEG going?
Our relations with IEG continue to be a fundamental factor for us because, besides presenting ourselves abroad as a production chain, we also introduce ourselves as a "jewelry system" that sees all the sector’s operators gathered around IEG, which, with Vicenzaoro, is an absolute must. Moreover, Afemo is IEG's habitual partner in the organization of TGold, which, as far as trade shows go, is still unique and incomparable.
What do you expect from 2022?
First of all, a lot of work. The Association, as I said earlier, will have a new operational tool - the website - at its disposal, which will allow us to invest profits in promotional and commercial activities to the benefit of all Members. In a nutshell, AFEMO will not change its purpose but will, instead, finally have a tool that will allow us to have a free hand in choosing the most suitable operations for our development on international markets.
The next steps?
The next steps on the new international markets will obviously depend on the pandemic situation. For example, we would like to tackle South East Asia but, due to the health crisis, this is currently not possible. We will, however, be extending the Uzbekistan project to all the countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan). The modus operandi will be the same: understand the jewelry production situation, make an analysis of the operating companies and type of production - industrial or artisan - and then start a series of operational marketing activities, hospitality at the Vicenza trade show and then set up on-site missions.