Let’s talk about Nuova CEV. How did it all started?
Our fortune usually derives from the fact that someone breaks something; everyone knows that crystal is very fragile and therefore… we are called on to reproduce it. In this case our history started after someone destroyed much more than crystal, when the whole of Italy had to be rebuilt and everyone had to roll up their sleeves and start from scratch… that is, after the Second World War. That’s how the CEV – Cooperativa Empolese Vetrai (cooperative glassmakers from Empoli) was born, a company that now has over three hundred employees. Up until the 1980s it produced glass in its various forms before passing the baton over to the Nuova CEV that sprang up in 1985.
What’s the difference between CEV and Nuova CEV (nuova = new in italian)?
Nuova CEV was born with a new “old” idea: instead of turning to industrialization, to the first successfully experimented robots, or to serial and mass production, we decided to exploit the skills of our master glassmakers and engravers. Today we no longer concentrate on glass but instead, on crystal, devoting our work to small numbers in the pursuit of the highest quality of the items produced. In retrospect, this choice is what saved us – while twenty or so other manufacturing companies, all much larger and better structured than ours were forced to close after making the opposite decision.
That choice was not easy to understand some years ago. A curiosity: you are always speaking as “we”…
It’s true, I always use the term “we”, not as the royal plural, but because I am not the big boss…in a “healthy” cooperative there is no big boss and nobody who feels that way. I am just the chairman and have been for a long time.
How long have you been working here?
I began in 1990, before I turned thirty, I was appointed chairman by the other shareholders even though I was the youngest member; in a cooperative, elections are usually held every three years to renew the Board of Directors and therefore the chairman as well…and also in this case…. I have survived. And to think that I entered the Nuova CEV for the purpose of opening a data processing centre in the company. Instead I found myself doing a new job, rather, a thousand new jobs: in addition to being a glassmaker and glass grinder I have done everything. I consider myself a “spin doctor” and the “historical memory” of the company as by now all the founding members have since retired.
What’s different in a cooperative company?
A cooperative is a strange undertaking, very different from a private company, as in fact, it works like a small republic and its representatives, who are elected by the “people”, are called upon to give life to those executive figures that actually plot the company’s future. It is similar to an enlarged family, with lots of children who grow up and as they grow they probably “drive their parents a little crazy”, with perhaps a prodigal son here and there, and also a son of a….in short, a real family. And as with all families, at least once a year there’s a great party to celebrate the fact of all being together.
Tell us something more about that party?
In the past, what seems like eons ago, we used to hold mega parties in beautiful villas with sumptuous dinners, animation for the children and entertainment for the adults, with numerous official guests and all the family members of each shareholder. Now that the crisis is upon us, just like good parents we have sized everything down, even though we never miss out on the pleasure of spending time together in front of a dish of delicious Tuscan food with a glass of good Chianti in our hands to share a few desecrating jokes true as all true Tuscans do – well, to tell the truth there are a couple of foreigners among us but they have already been converted…
Aside the party, how is the job?
I love my job as it takes me in contact with workers all over the world, and in line with my travelling spirit, I like to have personal experience with the habits and customs of our customers in the most exotic and most far away countries. At times we have had to supply decorations designed especially for the wedding of an Arab princess, or a Sultan, and just the fact of producing personalised bonbonniere (fancy sweet-box) for these events gives our company an important breath of oxygen. We indirectly come in contact with famous brand names and high-profile personalities, whose names we cannot mention as we work for them, making perfume bottles, home furnishings, and lamps etc., and because we produce cups and trophies that we then see on TV in the hands of the winners of the Gran Prix, world cup skiing, tennis, golf, football and many other sporting championships.
So you are related in some way also to sports…
Personally, as a historical fan of Empoli Calcio, I am honored that the Nuova CEV has produced the various trophies assigned to footballers who have since become famous, such as Montella, Di Natale, and Giovinco, to name some of the most recent. And once, on occasion of a meeting between Pope Wojtyla and Bill Clinton in world vision, my mind boggled when I suddenly noticed a splendid lamp from our own production sitting on the table between them.
Which are the plans for the future?
What is the future of our company?
Whatever will be written down by those who will come after us.
President, Nuova CEV
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