A customer-centric approach, direct human relations, clarity, and professionalism. We talk to Alessandro Gianneschi, who represents the second generation at the helm of a Tuscan firm together with his brother Cristiano, having taken over from their father Luigi
by Annarita Mariani
Gianneschi Pumps and Blowers is a snapshot of a successful Italian SME. A rare chance to take the market’s pulse. It stands for care and quality in business management, as is typical of Italian small and medium-sized enterprises. We spoke to Alessandro, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, about what it means today to head a company launched in the boom years with conscience, awareness, cohesion, and competence. «My father Luigi founded Gianneschi as an electromechanical workshop and we’ve kept up this tradition. Over the years, we’ve added the assembly, design, and production of electric pumps, autoclaves, and electric fans, which are our main products. After them came the marine boiler. My brother Cristiano and I have been working in the business for almost twenty-five years and we’ve split the tasks equally between us. He looks after product development and production, while I’m responsible for the marketing and commercial side of things». And the synergy works well: the figures are very interesting, marked by gradual and steady growth in terms of skills, products, and services.
Cristiano and Alessandro Gianneschi took over from their father Luigi, a man with highly innovative foresight who founded a company that is now a world leader and celebrated its first fifty years in 2019.
The Versilia-based company has more than forty employees. More than 90% of them are employed in Gianneschi Pumps and Blowers, the others in the Service and Support division. Its catalogue features 15,000 products for yachts up to (and over) 100 meters long, as Alessandro Gianneschi explains. «We started off catering to vessels between 10/12 and 45 meters long. Today our main target group is represented by mega yachts from 25 to 80 meters long, and even up to 100 meters. We’ve also done other work alongside our target market, developing the work boat section such as tugs, Guardia di Finanza and port authority boats. Lastly, another segment that is proving very satisfying is that of other accessory makers. It fills us with pride when our pumps are used for complementary systems, such as air conditioning or treatment and cooling systems. And so we’ve started supplying all the accessory manufacturers who produce water-sea systems. This is an important aspect. We don’t have many players or competitors on a global level, and this allows us to carry out a lot of customisation, entailing continuous product testing and constant additions to our range».
Speaking of testing and investment, last year you told us that you were finalising the changes to your management system and making improvements to the testing room. Yes, as we mentioned, 2019, the year of our fiftieth anniversary, coincided with one of the company’s best years in terms of its turnover, which reached approximately 13 million euros in the production division. With the pandemic, we lost around 20% of our turnover, but we still decided to put our foot down on the innovation accelerator. In 2021 we changed our company management. This is always a very delicate step, which also changed the company infrastructure. The other important aspect was the construction of a new testing room: this is because several of our products are certified with type approval by major bodies. What’s more, this allows us to continuously test new models, and to include them in the catalogue, which has now been completely renewed and has taken up most of our energy for a year and a half.
What’s the situation today as regards difficulties sourcing products, higher transport costs, and higher energy prices? In 2021 we recovered our turnover and this year our growth stands at between 7 and 10%, although we’re in the midst of this maelstrom of difficulties regarding the availability of raw materials and rising prices. Like many manufacturing companies working with the industrial supply chain, we always perceive trends in the nautical market a little early and have already picked up on the beginning of delivery difficulties from suppliers in the second half of 2022. In fact, between the end of 2020 and the start of 2021, we doubled the size of our warehouse. This has given us a bit more leeway. Delivery difficulties then inevitably tripled between 2021 and 2022. It went from about three or four weeks for procuring a component to fifteen to eighteen weeks, resulting in the now all too familiar delays. This is the biggest problem we’re experiencing at the moment on the market. The expansion of our warehouse has given us more autonomy than the industry in general, but not in 2022.
Gianneschi Pumps and Blowers is an important reference point on the international scene for the supply of pumps and blowers for luxury yachts, work boats, and small military vessels from 12 to 120 meters in length.
I can imagine that the foreign market is even more difficult to cater to. We’ve got two kinds of clients: yards and retailers. With retailers, we’ve tried to extend the stock visibility from 3/6 months to 9 months/one year. This solution allowed us to extend times, absorb them, and have all or part of the product available. With yards we work differently: we’ve gone from planning on sight to more long-term planning, while also benefiting from fewer difficulties in fulfilling partial deliveries for abroad. This applies to Italy, but as you rightly emphasised, it’s different for products destined for foreign clients. To avoid duplicate transport costs we have to accumulate the order in one shipment, but this isn’t always easy. Sometimes delivery might be put back due to the lack of a single unit. Collaboration, dialogue, commitment, and professionalism are what is needed in this situation, both from us and from clients.
What impact does the foreign market have on turnover? Our market is divided into 52/55% Italy, 10% USA, and what’s left is for the rest of the world.
So the USA accounts for an important part… Fort Lauderdale is home to the direct warehouse of our retailer, who always represents us at FLIBS.
GIANNESCHI PUMPS AND BLOWERS’ MARKET IS SPLIT AS FOLLOWS: 52/55% FOR ITALY, 10% FOR THE USA, AND 35/38% FOR THE REST OF THE WORLD.
We now come to one of your historic products: La Gigetta as it’s known to friends, or the double-impeller self-priming pump for the more technical among us. On the market since 2012, inimitable partly because it has been patented by the company, and above all revolutionary. Can you tell us about it? It’s successful because it’s a revolutionary pump. The concept behind the idea is as follows: on yachts over 60 meters, it was difficult to have a self-priming pump, meaning one that would draw seawater at a certain height – thereby overcoming it – despite the pump not being fully immersed in the water. And this type of pump was necessary to have bilge and fire-fighting systems, for example, both of which have different functions. The fire-fighting system requires very high water pressure, while the bilge system requires lots of water but lower pressure. We, therefore, took these two concepts and put them inside a double-impeller self-priming pump in a very functional design: 1.2 m x 300 kg. Gigetta is installed horizontally and this makes maintenance much easier. What’s more, we resolved the start-up moment – which is always awkward because it takes place empty – by inserting a mechanical seal in an oil bath, so that it lubricates and avoids dry movement.
All products manufactured by Gianneschi Pumps and Blowers are individually tested and only delivered to the customer after strict controls have been carried out. Each product is associated with a specific serial number that allows all components used in production and any spare parts to be traced back to it at any time.
But the Gigetta is just one of your 15,000 products, the most recent of which include the SKID Autoclave and SKID Boiler systems. Can you tell us more about them? They’re part of a journey that the company started in 2016, putting new automatic welding machines into operation. This means we now possess in-house skills across the board, touching upon several of our historical skills. Skid Autoclave, for example, includes a pressure tank, pumps, and electrical cabinet: all in a shell manufactured in-house. A product that takes us back to our manufacturing origins and completes our offer for the mega/Giga yacht and works boat side, offering us a few glimpses into the civilised world. A continuous, perpetual striving for completeness and meticulous perfection. Characteristics of an enterprise with an enviable dynamism. Alessandro and Cristiano are therefore part of a second generation capable, despite the hard times, of expanding the capabilities of a company that is a jewel of the nautical sector and an all-Italian source of pride.
(Alessandro Gianneschi, forward-looking tradition – Barchemagazine.com – November 2022)