Friday 17 September 2021 is the date marking the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Giuseppe Spezia, founder of the company named after him.
The son of vine growers who, while owning just two hectares of vineyards, were able in the 1930s to have both their children study all the way to their High School diplomas, Giuseppe was one of only 7 students to attend the very first class of the newly opened ITIS technical high school in Piacenza. He registered in the first Board of mechanical engineers of the province of Piacenza and, in 1990, he was celebrated by the School on the 50th anniversary of the first class of graduates.
He began his career immediately after the end of the Second World War as a salesman for the firm Agricola Piacentina, which sold SAME tractors and was based in Via Veneto in Piacenza, practically the city centre today, but back then, still a countryside area with tractors coming and going, outnumbering cars in the low traffic flow of post-war Northern Italy.
In 1949 he decided to start his own business returning to his native Valtidone, having agreed with Cav. (“Cavaliere”) Bensi, his former employer, that he would only sell equipment and not tractors, a promise he always kept.
|The first metal sign, still visible today at the entrance to the modern factory|
He dealt with early-days agricultural machinery at a time when mechanisation essentially boiled down to tractors – which meant a huge step forward from animal traction: even back then, he was already looking forward to the future and to industry innovation. His choice markets were the hilly and mountain regions from Val Nure to Val di Nizza in the Oltrepò area south of the Po river. He soon became a specialist in soil labouring machines.
|Giuseppe Spezia, first from left testing a plow|
In the early 1950s, in partnership with Luigi Bozzi, he also opened a workshop to provide service for the machines he sold from his own company, realising that the availability of spare parts and repairs would be key to becoming a market leader.
|The first workshop, 1952|
|Plate to be affixed to the machines|
In 1954 a fortunate meeting with Cav. Silvio Nardi took place: Giuseppe was fascinated by the legendary quality of these plows but sales to private individuals were forbidden as the company at that time had an agreement with the farming consortia that distributed its products throughout the national territory. Giuseppe then rode his Isomoto 125 motorbike all the way to Perugia to ask the company whether they’d be willing to sell him second-hand plows and bought six. After two weeks he had already sold them all, so he returned to Perugia to buy another twelve. The sales manager, amazed by this performance, asked him if he would be interested in visiting the plant, a huge facility that employed over a thousand workers. During the visit, they happened to meet “Cavalier” Silvio to whom he was introduced. Informed of his amazing sale performance, Mr. Nardi asked him:
-Spezia, would you like to sell our new plows?
-I know that you have a standing agreement with the Farming Consortium…
-Cerulli tell me, how many ploughs has the Piacenza Consortium sold this year?
-Spezia if you are willing to sell my new plows I’ll be happy to give them to you!
Thus began a lifelong collaboration and personal friendship with “Cavalier” Nardi with whom he would go hunting in a local reserve during his visits at a company – a flagship of agricultural mechanics in the Country.
|Giuseppe Spezia adjusting a wheeled plow|
In 1968 he managed to talk the manufacturers into building the first hydraulically controlled hoe to cultivate the inter-row area. It was his first, triumphal step into the world of vineyards and marked the creation of an extremely successful best seller for Nardi.
In the open field, he has always looked ahead to innovation and the future, too, contributing in 1980 to the development of the first Italian round baler with chains, Wolvo, a lightweight machine with limited power absorption and suitable for hilly ground.
In 1987, at the time of my graduation in Mechanical Engineering, he asked me if I wished to carry on the family business:
-Of course! I have never thought I would do anything different!
-Then you will start your own company separate from mine, and you will do your own things independently, you have your studies to back you up and you’ll have to think up new machines, design them and build them: you can rely on our workshop to help you do it. Just one piece of advice – do not be all-encompassing as I have been all my life: choose one crop and focus on that one only.
I liked viticulture so I followed his advice.
Giuseppe Spezia passed away on 13 November 1994, leaving a huge void but also the memory of the respect and esteem he inspired in all those who knew him.