May 20, 2018
the interview | Nicola Lorenzo Finco, CEO, Mulmix
Today, the business is overseen by his son Nicola Lorenzo Finco and has become a major supplier and leading manufacturer of grain handling, storage and cleaning equipment. Mulmix quickly became a national milestone in the area of milling equipment and in 1975 became independent.
This was the breakthrough it was looking for, which allowed it to focus on complete milling projects both within Italy and more importantly abroad - from on-farm storage solutions to deep water ship unloaders and everything in between that related to grains and cereal processing.
Since 2008 the company has been run by charismatic CEO Nicola Lorenzo Finco who brings ‘spirit to the steel’.
Mulmix does not have the profile of a large, global supplier in the milling industry, yet it is operating throughout the world successfully. What is the key to that understated success?
56 years ago, we belonged to a group of companies in the FACCO group, one of the biggest producers of cages for poultry in Italy. While other companies increased and developed this business, Mulmix was a branch concerned with constructing silos and small feed milling units. Today, we have developed three distinct areas of operation - storage, which accounts for 80 percent of our company’s output, to feed to seeds.
Our numbers might not compare to other silo producers, but we are completing between 20-30 complete turnkey projects each year. From Egypt to Peru we offer complete solutions for mills, storage and handling system right from the drop-forged chain conveyors and bucket elevators through to the complete machines for feed manufacturing and seed cleaning.
Our factory is complete in its own right, and this is where we do all our pre-assembly with support from other partner companies in Italy. Our company is currently making big investments in equipment for its silo production facility, with laser cutting technology and sheet handling systems. It’s an investment of €5 million.
You’ve been the CEO for over 20 years now. How have you seen things change in that time?
Good question. The company in the beginning was mainly working in the national market within Italy and some selected countries. Now what we have done is take a very strong international view. Today, the international market accounts for 70 percent of turnover.
In that time has the technology changed greatly for you?
Technology has changed things a lot. We are looking for quite big projects with big machines and big engineering requirements. And in this time, we have increased our competence in big projects, in our facilities so today we are doing some quite big projects.
The biggest changes that Mulmix has gone through has been moving from the smaller-sized projects to medium and now large-sized projects. All the time the top projects for the turnkey - not just to produce machines but the experience in the projects and global expertise.
How is the company motivated in this direction and engagement? Is Mulmix ‘artistic’ in its vision?
We try to give a sort of spirit to the steel. It’s very easy to say it is cold. We want to give it a heart and have passion for it. That is important to me and I have been able to give this passion and an atmosphere to the group.
With that in mind, what does steel bring to the grain?
We have been specialising in grains in storage conditions. As I’ve said we need to have some sort of spirit in the project but it is very important to understand that this is not just knowledge of the steel but what you’re putting inside it. For two years now, we have had a technical agronomist to study grain stored in silos. This is a new service we provide to customers to give support to customers so that they understand the relationship.
The two things are 100 percent related.
We must have the competence and the knowledge in the right location to address climate and aspects of humidity and drying and to have global knowledge in order to provide the best engineering support we can.
We are also talking about mycotoxins and we participate in lots of conferences on this issue. We connect with universities, governments and the World Food Programme.
Where do you see the future in grain storage?
Refrigeration is something out of our scope at present, but we need to explore its potential.
I believe we are the final link of the production chain and the first link in the manufacturing chain. It is very important to have the knowledge to know all that’s happened from the seed right through to the storage. We need to have this knowledge of the chain if we are to provide quality storage.
The future is in cryogenics and we are studying and working in co-operation with others to build our knowledge. We are partners with other producers in this area. We are the ones that have to address the problem and we expect to find the right solutions with the people who have that knowledge.
What do you consider the biggest issue the grain, seed and feed industries face globally?
The issue for the future is food security. Storage is of course the beginning of our processing of agriculture production and their transformation into food and fuel and I believe for any country there has to be a strategic storage policy.
If you remember there have been revolutions over bread and the lack of it - because they couldn’t provide grain as they didn’t have so much stored. It’s a political question for many countries who have food security problems – grain storage, from that point of view, is one they need to consider.
Storage is the first link in the chain of the food industry that follows - if we don’t have good grain storage then can there be good food to follow?