A declaration of faith, strength and vitality.
Words that reinforce the sense of belonging to a community, that of the Valenza gold district and Italy as a whole, and a heartfelt thank you to all those who are now allowing us to continue with what we are doing. With these opening words, Augusto Ungarelli, owner and CEO of the historical company, Vendorafa, tells us what it means to manage the seriousness of this emergency, firstly by protecting the company’s employees and, at the same time, trying to provide business continuity but with a change of logics.
«Our priority was to ensure the health of our employees who are like family to us. That is why taking the decision to stop production, even though we had orders to complete, was very difficult. It changes the way of doing business, but we are strong and, above all, alive, and the knowledge of being a recognized community on an international scale, with a reputation for beautiful and well done throughout the world, gives us the energy to go forward. Worries? Of course, many. Besides the danger of the situation and, I would underline, the priority of keeping our employees’ healthy, what is really driving us crazy is another enemy: anxiety, the fear that it may infect the entire community. This is the most devastating thing that we are experiencing. The momentary suspension of our activities also aims to transmit calm so that anxiety and fear do not become the number one enemy, which could provoke harmful behavioral reactions».
With a company of about 70 people, district ancillary services that involve about 2,200 people (source: Fondazione Mani Intelligenti), a jewelry sector that is exposed on the Chinese market (HK+CHINA) in export terms to the value of 600/700 million Euros a year (over 10% of our total exports, source: Federorafi), how important is systematizing these days? «Nowadays we must speak more and more about our world and explain the value of Made in Italy more decisively. We Italians are like a circus traveling around the world and putting on a show everywhere. We are a community that must feel alive and we must have beauty to transmit positive things by telling the truth. We are now experiencing a totally unprecedented event. With Sars we were all in Basel, fighting in the trenches. I can remember some dramatic moments. This a new reality that is making us face something that will have an impact. Before, we were a machine that continued to function. That machine has now stopped. But, as always happens, future scenarios repeat, as happened with Sars, because the bubble economy is in the soul of mankind. One thing I want to point out is the commitment undertaken with Fondazione Mani Intelligenti, which has immediately responded to the needs that we laid out when we founded it, that is, to give the district a future for new generations with cutting edge technologies. A total togetherness among all associate companies that has never been seen before. We asked ourselves: we make luxury jewelry.
Can we put the lives of our people at risk to make luxury? It is unthinkable. This was why we made the decision to momentarily stop production». Production at a standstill, sector trade shows postponed, physical stores closed. Are you considering new strategies to transform this particular moment into an opportunity? «We have suffered drastic disruption and, even if companies do work digitally, which can help to keep the community alive, I don’t think that certain types of jewelry can be sold on line. Then there are other complications, linked, for example, to connections, which are missing.
We are facing a new way of life, a new world, and, in order to deal with it, we must be united.
It is impossible alone. We are working as a community to overcome the fear. An estimate of the damage? Impossible at the moment. Of course, a closed nation does not consume. But let’s look on the positive side. Getting the machine working again will, of course, require a reboot period. The world is not the same as the one we had. Like all this on-line communication that is making us feel calmer. It is an enormous benefit, without which we would not have had this vision of the world which is making me change strategy in real time. By way of example. What does a dealer do at home? He opens this extraordinary means and looks for a contact. A positive contamination has been created».
What do you suggest for re-starting? «Everything must be re-considered when business re-opens, which will be less than budgets and estimates at the beginning of the year foresaw. But speaking of beautiful can contribute to livening the people up. The retailers, for example. If we don’t speak to them, if we don’t meet them, how will we manage? Strategic plans are made every fiscal year, we try to understand the ways that can help to react better and when that moment will be. Let’s say that, at the moment, we are sailing in unchartered waters». From your window onto the world, do you see any signs of recovery?
«Yes, signs are already coming from China where things have started to pick up. Of course, it is a very different country to ours with different conditions. Pragmatically, the Coronavirus emergency is over there and things have re-started. Even if only half the GDP is achieved, there is a rebound effect. In other words, I’ve survived and I will re-start stronger than before. I am Italian and proud of being so. I am doing what the Cura Italia decree is asking me to do and now we have to make our contribution. Starting from a big thank you to all those who are allowing us to still do what we are able».
VENDORAFA IN NUMBERS:
- Date of Foundation: 1951
- Location: Valenza
- Employees: 70 ca. Markets: USA - Japan - Europe
- Export: 80%
- Financial Statement 2019: Euros 17mln, ca.