Mr. Andrea Colombo
Could you elaborate on this history of Zaninoni Italy and more importantly the ownership of the company?
Zaninoni IFA S.p.A. was founded in 1979, when my father Angelo and my grandfather Carlo, together with other two families, Mazzucchelli and Adinolfi, took over a little transport company nearby to Bergamo. Today, after 40 years, the company is still driven by the same three families. The second generation is now working side-by-side with the founders, thus creating a winning synergy between young dynamism and decennial expertise.
Andrea, please tell us about your own career in shipping leading up to your current position in Zaninoni?
I grew up listening to my father talking about this job. I was fascinated by it and since secondary school, I was convinced and determined to put all my efforts into becoming a freight forwarder. After my studies in Shipping & Logistics in Genoa, I immediately started working in Zaninoni, and I went through the channels like everyone else, assisting on sales or handling groupage shipments. However, I soon realised that “Project Cargo” was the most challenging and rewarding wing of the freight forwarding industry, and I hit the ground running in it. I can say that working with people with 30+ years of experience is the best of the schools.
In what specific fields of shipping and freight forwarding are you active? Are you used to handling OOG cargoes?
Indeed. From the beginning, handling heavy/oversized cargo has been a routine job for Zaninoni. Some of our main accounts are companies involved in oil & gas, renewables, energy, mining, and construction.
We are also very active and well-established internationally for the iron & steel industry, from raw material to semi-finished and finished products.
However, as a logistics company, we are familiar with every means of transport, and we can offer our customers a wide range of services, from LTL up to full chartering of vessels or aircrafts, with a deep knowledge of customs and documents formalities.
Could you provide us with a few examples of project cargoes that you have handled?
- Full air separation plant consisting of 1 cold box unit, pressure vessels and compressors for a total of 710 tons-4440 cbm destined to the Khorasan Steel Complex in Iran.
- Reactor and pressure vessels for a total of 415 tons destined to the Qatar Fertilizer Co. in Qatar.
- Heat exchanger and parts, total 545 tons, destined to South Korea.
Italy is known, in particular, for customers who always take a very very long time in paying their invoices. Is that still so, and if so, why do you think that is?
The wise man says: “In order to succeed, you need to win a job. Then you need to complete it, and last you need to be paid for it.” We always keep in mind this mantra, which reminds us never to celebrate too early and to be patient, especially because it may happen that we have to wait up to 6 months or even more before considering a job closed with payment.
This is the situation now in Italy, and it will always be the same, especially today more than ever, with all the difficulties and delays caused by the pandemic.
By the way, we are proud to say that we have always been able to be a financial support, as well as a strategic logistics partner, for our customers, granting them good credit terms with our own possibilities, without ever resorting to the help of banks.
How is the overall situation for the Italian economy nowadays, and how do you find the logistics business right now. Is it very competitive?
The competition is very high nowadays. Besides the usual big global forwarders such as K&N, DSV, Deugro and so on, we find ourselves to be in competition with new freight forwarders every day. It is a tough environment but also a motivation to do better and better for our customers.
Where in Italy is your office located? Do you have offices abroad, and if not, do you then work with overseas agents or networks?
Zaninoni headquarters is located in Bergamo, right in the middle of northern Italy, which is in the top exporter regions of Europe. The position of our main office and warehouse reflects our client-oriented strategy, which consists in being also physically close to our customers and their needs.
We also have offices in Austria and Slovakia, mainly involved in trucking to and from Eastern Europe, and one office in Shanghai. Nevertheless, of course we often rely on overseas agents. Even if the general trend of Italian customers is to sell on an ex-works basis, many of our customers are used to shipping up to delivered door, and that is where it is essential to have a trustworthy partner. Being part of a network is fundamental for us in order to give our customers a full-tailored, global service.
Has the Covid-19 situation affected your business side of things, and how do you see the year of 2021 developing?
2020 has been a tough year. Nobody expected such a dramatic scene and that it would have lasted for so long. The city of Bergamo took the hardest hit in all of Italy at the beginning of the pandemic in March/April. So obviously, our first thought was for our staff to be safe and healthy. Besides one or two warehousemen doing shifts, we stayed home for a couple of months in a smart-work configuration, and we came back into the office little by little with all the necessary precautions and new procedures—sanitizers, acrylic panels everywhere, surgical masks and temperature measurement at the entrance.
Regarding the business, together with FEDESPEDI, the Italian freight forwarders association in which we play an active part, we tracked the impact of COVID-19 throughout the year. The result is that Italian FFs lost an average of 30% of the revenue in 2020. That is, of course, a very bad situation, but somehow we feel positive as Zaninoni closed the year slightly better than the average, and we are receiving some good forecasts from customers.
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