New name, fresh start

by Emily Wilson
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A year after purchasing a majority share in Golfetto, the Bernardi family of Italy has renamed the company GBS Group S.p.A. and merged the Sangati Berga business into the new company, creating one Italian grain and milling engineering firm with three distinct brands.

Besides having several tax advantages, the move concentrates administration in one department and consolidates manufacturing, according to Bernardino Bernardi, managing director of GBS Group.

The Bernardi family now owns 75% of the new company, with the remaining 25% controlled by Interbanca, the merchant banking arm of Banca Antoniana Veneta.

Mr. Bernardi's brother, Renato Bernardi, is president of the new company. Another brother, Roberto, oversees the North African market.

Company management also includes a new generation of Bernardis — Lodo-vico, Davide, Roberto and Cecilia, the children of Dino Bernardi, and Cecilia's husband, Davide Cuzzuol. Each is involved in a different aspect of the business: Lodovico, grain handling; Davide, financial; Roberto, milling; Cecilia, marketing; and Cuzzuol, rice milling.

"They are my five fingers," Dino Bernardi told World Grain during a recent visit to the company's headquarters in Padova, Italy.

Having the two generations working together at the same time is particularly important, said Lodovico Bernardi. "The Internet is changing the world and influencing the milling industry faster and faster," he said. "We have the chance to combine the experience and enthusiasm of the older generation with the younger generation's familiarity with new technologies."

The combined history and experience of the three established milling equipment brands — Golfetto, Berga and Sangati (thus the GBS Group) — also will enable the new company to deliver better milling plants, Lodovico Bernardi noted. "We are in the business with over 70 years of experience," he said.

The Berga company was founded in the 1950s by another Lodovico Bernardi, the younger man's grandfather and the acknowledged "spirit" of the company, who worked up until the day he died in 1996. The Golfetto and Sangati companies were both founded in the early 1920s. (The Bernardi family purchased Sangati in 1989.)

Today, all three brands have a distinct place in the marketplace, each with its own "area of influence."

Sangati Berga's core customer base is in such regions as Brazil, where the company has a manufacturing facility, as well as China and Egypt. Golfetto's core base is in North America, particularly the United States and Canada, and Northern Europe.

The company currently has three manufacturing facilities — in Padova, Italy; Treviso, Italy; and Fortaleza, Brazil — but will break ground on a fourth, in Manfredonia, Italy, in early January 2001. When complete, GBS Group will employ about 450 people in Italy and another 110 people in Brazil.

The former Golfetto manufacturing facility in Via Temanza was sold earlier this year because the company "needed a different kind of workshop," according to Lodovico Bernardi. "The workshop in Via Temanza was surely clean and good looking, but lacked many features to be a good industrial factory, especially internal logistics and space."

The equipment from Via Temanza was moved to Sangati's enormous manufacturing facility in Padova, which also serves as the new company's headquarters. That building, some 31,000 square meters total, now manufactures both Golfetto and Sangati milling equipment, particularly roll stands.

The company's 29,000-square-meter workshop in Treviso, located about an hour from Padova, is equipped with state of the art, automated laser cutting and machining equipment. This facility also manufactures ship loading and unloading equipment and some rice milling equipment. The workshop in Brazil manufactures related flour milling equipment such as plansifters and cleaning machines (but no roll stands) and some rice milling equipment. The new manufacturing facility in Manfre-donia, in southern Italy, will produce milling equipment and accessories.

The total investment for the new workshop will be about U.S.$9 million. The facility will be fully automated to reduce labor costs, the company's largest expense.

Mr. Bernardi stressed that all "technically relevant equipment," such as roll stands, will continue to be manufactured in Italy, in order to control quality standards.

Although Golfetto was already ISO certified, Mr. Bernardi said the entire company will have ISO certification by next June.

While restructuring the company this past year, GBS Group has not been idle. Several projects are under way, including a starch facility in France; a mobile, combined ship loader and unloader in Poland; two ship unloaders in Saudi Arabia; as well as milling projects in Italy, Egypt, Iraq, Mexico, Sweden and China, including a U.S.$100-million milling project in that country.

In addition, the company added a line of rice milling equipment, and is currently developing a new roll stand, which should be introduced in 2001 and marketed under both the Golfetto and Sangati brands.

"The industry needs competition," Mr. Bernardi said. "We have a tradition here. We have knowledge of the market, we have the technical knowledge and we have strong brand names. Now we have the structure, too. Our goal is to create a closer exchange of information between us and the customer."

Mr. Bernardi added, "We also have a lot of experienced people and young and passionate people working in the company."

Key staff members include Massimo Bellisario, Sangati Berga technical dept.; Sergio Michelotto and Luca Michelon, Golfetto technical dept.; Walter Lampugnani, area manager, China; Gianni Polin, area manager, Egypt; Pietro Barbalarga, area manager, Far East and Northern Europe; Francesco Piacentini, area manager, Central and South America; Carlo Braggion, area manager, France and Germany; Radamez Gobbo, area manager, Italy; and Sergio Di Pasquale and Carlo Silvestrin, technical millers. CETEC, led by Gerald Richardson, is the company's exclusive representative in North America.

With such experience, "we were and will be here a long, long time," Mr. Bernardi said.