Cristina Martini describes her vision of a company with over 75 years of experience producing and marketing plastic containers and pallets. For almost 50 years they have also been a leading manufacturer of pontoons and marina equipment
by Francesco Michienzi – photo by Andrea Muscatello
MARTINI ALFREDO SPA HAS A HISTORY OF INDUSTRIAL EXCELLENCE, INTUITION, INNOVATION, and expertise that goes back over three-quarters of a century. As well as being a leader in the plastic industrial containers sector, it also has a division that specialises in creating infrastructure and equipment for marinas. We discussed this division with Cristina Martini, the company’s president and the daughter of its founder, and general director Maurizio Scaravaggi.
Martini was the first Italian company to build floating pontoons in Italy, a pioneering move for pleasure boating at the time. Almost 50 years later, how much of that spirit of innovation remains?
We have been working on marinas through the Martini Marinas division since 1973, when my father, Alfredo Martini, applied his tireless research into new technology to his passion for the sea. This led to the first floating pontoon in Italy, built with a steel frame, and floats and decking made of recyclable synthetic resin. This instilled a great culture of respect for the ecosystem and the environment in our company.
To date, Martini Marinas has built over 2,000 structures for the coastal, lake, and river harbors, both in Italy and abroad. This is the natural continuation of my father’s pioneering and entrepreneurial spirit: teamwork, constant innovation, openness and attention to customers’ needs, and a focus on safety and technology are the key values that have always set our business apart.
Alfredo Martini, the company’s founder, was a knowledgeable businessman and sailor with an enormous passion for the sea. This led him to create the Marinas division, which produced the first pontoon in Italy with floats and decking made from recycled synthetic resin, respecting both the ecosystem and the environment. He was a true innovator, who loved to amaze people with his intuitive designs.
Martini has always been known for providing simple solutions to complex problems, such as mooring boats in all weather conditions. Have you introduced any new products?
We have accumulated vast experience in a range of applications, for example in cold climates with significant amounts of ice in the winter, but also very warm climates, with large tidal ranges and strong currents. New products we have created include floating platforms for tourist villages and, in this new Covid age, we have also received requests for small pontoons where people can sunbathe at a safe distance.
Which are your most important markets?
And how is your turnover divided between Italy and the rest of the world? It varies. In the past, our exports were worth just under half of our Italian sales, but in 2019 our foreign turnover surpassed our Italian income. Naturally, 2020 was a very difficult year, but we already have a large number of orders in place for 2021, both in Italy and abroad. We have done very well in the Netherlands, where we are very well known, Malta, Switzerland, and Eastern Europe, and we are also expanding in Croatia.
Martini’s research and development centre is the heart of the company based in Turate, near Como. It works to develop solutions that can hold all types of goods and meet the needs of all sectors.
Which projects are you most proud of?
I want to say the ones we haven’t yet started… Actually, we built a large, highly complex, and bespoke marina for a major client in Eastern Europe. We worked closely with them at all levels, starting from the architectural design and turning it into a range of tailor-made industrial products. The final result was excellent, and they’ve asked us to expand it.
To date, Martini Marinas has installed over 2,000 facilities at the coastal, lake, and river marinas both in Italy and abroad. The company prioritises safety and technology and was one of the first firms in the sector to achieve ISO 9001 certification.
Have you had any complex commissions that were particularly challenging?
We created a special made-to-measure product for a project in Israel: the very demanding client requested extremely strict performance checks on a completely bespoke product with special finishes. To certify it we had to design a prototype, which we subjected to a series of challenging load tests, both in the lab and in the water, at Lake Como.
All solutions are honed by the experts in the research and testing centre and subjected to rigorous testing and quality checks.
How is your organisation structured?
Do you create the designs in-house? Our team moves with the times, but we have a long and interesting story to tell. Those who choose our products are putting their trust in a company with almost 50 years of experience. All our solutions are designed by the experts in our in-house technical department and subjected to rigorous quality testing, and all assembly is carried out internally by our staff. Martini Marinas has always provided cutting-edge solutions for marinas that are guaranteed to be safe.
Maurizio Scaravaggi, what are the strong points of your products and range compared to your main competitors? We focus on quality and flexibility in our products’ applications, combining a structured and modular industrial approach with environmental sustainability and the option to customise bespoke products. For example, all our couplings are designed to avoid galvanic corrosion between the various metals in the marine environment, the so-called ‘battery effect’. Our materials are chosen specially, and are 100% recyclable and environmentally friendly: synthetic resin for the floating bodies, which is durable in a marine environment and resistant to UV rays; treated aluminium for the frame of the floats; hot-dip galvanised
steel for the load-bearing structure, stainless steel for the screws and bolts; and recyclable resin or (on request) sustainable Massaranduba timber for the decking. These materials mean the floating pontoons require minimal maintenance, and many of our creations have been in use for over thirty years. One development we’re looking at very closely is recharging battery-powered electric motorboats, which are becoming more popular on lakes and require special infrastructure on the jetties. Our team’s extensive knowledge and our long-term partnership with manufacturers of electrical equipment ensure we can meet our clients’ needs.
The firm sells a large variety of floating pontoons; the Strong and Middle series are particularly innovative. The product range has also expanded to include ultra-high-performance breakwaters and a new category of high-displacement jetties with concrete floats, including the Glossy model installed in Israel.
The Martini Marinas division is just one part of Martini Alfredo SpA, the leading Italian producer of industrial plastic containers. How do you balance the two parts of the business?
The pontoons were launched in 1973 as an ‘offshoot’ of the container production business – we used the containers as floats – before evolving into a business unit in their own right. The two markets are very much independent of each other, and the fact that container sales remain consistent during the year compensates for the natural seasonality of the Marinas division. However, as well as the materials, there is synergy between the two parts of the business in many areas: our operational capacity, maintaining a secure financial position, the certifications we have achieved, optimising staff numbers, and various technological factors.
A focus on environmental issues is integral to Martini’s culture, and it was the first firm in Europe to replace classic teak timber with the extremely durable and eco-friendly Similteak for the surfaces of its pontoons, fingers, and gangways.
(Martini Marinas, innovation in the DNA – Barchemagazine.com – July 2021)