May 30, 2018

the interview | Sergio Antolini, Paglierani, CEO

Sergio Antolini is CEO of Paglierani, the Italian company specialized in the design and manufacture of packaging and bagging systems for solid products in powder, granulated and flaked form from cement, sugar, pet food, flour and chemical and petrochemical.
It’s a company globally known for their vast experience, high reputation and latest technological developments and innovations in ‘mechatronics’.
Founded in 1926 by the grandfather of brother’s Sergio and Alberto Antolini, and developed by their father Primo Antolini - born in 1921 – the Paglierani company works alongside that well-respected Italian milling manufacturer Ocrim.
Sergio is dedicated to the commercial activities while his older brother Alberto takes responsibility for the industrial aspects and for R&D.
Milling and Grain carried an interview with Alberto Antolini, the CEO of Ocrim in December 2014. Today we have the pleasure of reporting our interview with Sergio in his head quarters in San Marino.

Two brothers running two very successful Italian companies (Paglierani & Ocrim) must be unique and there must be a fascinating story behind your success. Can you explain how it all began?
My grandfather, on my mother’s side, moved when he was young to the United States during the First World War. He initially worked in the steel industry. However, in the town where he lived there was a big cement factory and he developed a friendship with the owner who gave him an opportunity to make and service whatever equipment was necessary to run his plant.
He took this authorisation upon himself to make a check weighing system and as a result the owner asked him to make a packaging system for his cement. My grandfather designed a value system which he gradually designed for the cement industry.

But how did cement packaging in the USA end up as milling in Italy?
He returned to Italy after the war, and around the years 1935-40 - which also became a terrible period of war – he reported to all these industrial people in Italy who were connected to one another in the cement industry and my grandfather then started the business for packing cement, gypsum, plaster and for all types of materials in Italy. In 1960 he decided to return to the USA to visit his brothers who were still living there. In the 1960's that was not a short trip. He stayed for approximately six months.
My grandfather had two daughters, my aunt and my mother. My father was a primary school teacher for 6 to 11 year olds. When my grandfather went back to the USA he gave the keys to his small work shop to my father, so when he returned he and my father, who left teaching, expanded the business to the fields of wheat milling and animal feedS.
Success was increasing gradually, year after year, where references were built up making Paglierani more and more recognized for reliable packing machines.
For sure Paglierani is the oldest manufacturer in the world with the same family and the same company.

How did you become involved in Paglierani and Ocrim?
My brother Alberto and I entered the family business in 1970 when I was 24 and my brother was 25.
It’s a funny story. We both became connected with Ocrim when I was 16 years old and I recall my father being asked by Ocrim to take up a very big job in Cuba where they had seven mills to build. After one to one and a half years I went to Cuba when I was 17 and travelled with the mill engineers To assist and gain experience and where i would spent two months each year in The following summers, this was the first connection with the company.
Soon after Paglierani started A relationship with Ocrim for different jobs all around the world. The then owners of Ocrim decided to sell to financiers. But this group which now owned the company faced a financial crisis. In 1985 Ocrim shares were given by the banks to a group of Cremona entrepreneurs to revive the company.
At that time our company, Paglierani, had a credit with the Ocrim company and The new owner proposed to Paglierani to converted the credit into shares. The first step was Paglierani with a quarter of the company’s shares which over the years became half of the company’s shares.
The controlling investors were from different fields and at a certain point in time there was a decision to sell the company and the land where Ocrim is today. In short, we gained full control just 10 years ago and started fresh. Alberto moved to Cremona to revitalize the company (very succesfully)

The company came in financial crisis. Why did you want it and how did you manage to overcome such a negative position?
Frankly speaking, when we took control we had two possibilities; one, to close the company or two, to put forward our best efforts and make Ocrim work. We decided to respect the name and respect the company that Ocrim has been. We made the sacrifice to keep the business intact. At that time, to give you an idea, the company had a turnover of €45 million with 70 percent of its manufacturing being out sourced.

But why not opt for the first option?
The point is this, this is our temperament for good or bad. We wanted to respect the market and the company’s clients. Not only that but respecting also the people who worked for Ocrim and its suppliers. It’s always easy to simply say ‘sorry’ to everyone but this shows no recognition to suppliers or the families of the workers. We were not of the opinion to take the first option.

Wasn’t this a risk?
Ocrim had a real interior potential because despite the defeat they maintained a good reputation, respect within the situation and respect of the clients. Alberto and I were close to 50. We had to start again. We have done our best. The market has regard for what we have done.

What advice would you give to others starting out on their own and trying to build a meaningful business?
You have to be prepared to be dedicated, you have to be prepared to suffer, you have to be prepared to spend time to the business and you have to find enjoyment in all the time you are committing.
There is a ‘key’ to open all doors. But success is identifying a good key and a good door. If so, in the end, you are on the way to success. But overall you have to be dedicated. While the financial aspect is important, the key investment is your time, your ideas and your thoughts. You have to invest over a long period of time to get the results you want. 
“To run athletes must lean forward
Stride is the result of this movement
To avoid falling athletes start to run”

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