THE EXPERIENCE OF THE CORONAVIRUS LIVED IN FIRST PERSON, THE MANAGEMENT OF THE EMERGENCY AND A LOOK AT THE CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES THAT EXPECT US. An INTERVIEW WITH RENZO LORENZI, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF CALPEDA SPA, PUBLISHED BY THE CORRIERE VICENTINO.
The pandemic was a tsunami, for our lives and for the economy facing an unprecedented global crisis. How long will the emergency last? Will the measures put in place to try to contain it be effective? How can damages be limited? The conjuncture between the health crisis and the economic crisis makes everything very uncertain and it is extremely difficult to make predictions. Yet right now, in the restart phase, commitment, trust and entrepreneurial courage are needed more than ever.
These are the signals that come from Calpeda, excellence of the electromechanical industry based in Montorso Vicentino, and from its managing director Renzo Lorenzi. He has experienced the coronavirus emergency twice, as a man and as an entrepreneur.
“Just in the days when the closure of production activities was announced – says Lorenzi – I discovered that I had contracted the virus and so I found myself having to manage simultaneously the worries related to my state of health and those for the company. Fortunately, I didn’t need to be hospitalized, even if it wasn’t easy. And I was forced to stay home for over 40 days before finally being negative. ”
What were the thoughts of that moment?
I was trying to figure out what was the right thing to do. Employee safety and their mood were the priority, so we opted for production shutdown, although we had customers who were among the essential activities and we could have kept the company open. At the same time, we concentrated on implementing all the Government protocols to contain the contagion, also anticipating certain measures. We still have a Covid-19 emergency committee that meets constantly and works not only to ensure compliance with the rules but also to always propose new ideas for improvement.
When did you start production again?
On April 6, we decided to reopen to provide goods to customers with Ateco code in the Government list. We started with a reduced team and then from April 14 everybody was working again. In hindsight, I can say that it was a happy decision, although very painful given the uncertainty of the moment and the bureaucratic difficulties. In this way we got phase 2 ready and then the response from the employees made me understand that it was the right choice. There was a desire to start over and a message of trust.
Which strategy have you identified to encourage recovery?
Calpeda is a healthy business. We have a strategic plan for the next ten years that will not be canceled, but there is no point in talking about strategies and budgets right now. Rather, it is necessary to put in place a new form of entrepreneurship that knows how to manage the company day by day, work with an order portfolio that has become very short and make very fast decisions. Flexibility is undoubtedly the password to resist.
In times of crisis, the values of an organization emerge and make the difference.
Certainly. In our case, I would put the quality of human resources and the competence of collaborators first. Furthermore, the digitalization process and the technological investments made over the years have proved vital. The efficiency of the management system and the ability to access data securely have allowed us to successfully pass the smart working test and continue to be operational in many functions.
In your opinion, what is the most urgent action that companies have to implement?
I believe it is essential not to interrupt the payment circuit. You must have the strength to say no to customers who ask to extend payments in order to be able to pay employees and suppliers in turn. It is not only an ethical and social responsibility choice, but also a strategic one. Nobody is detached, every business reality is part of a supply chain.
How will international markets change?
Markets are reopening but the whole world is in the same situation, indeed some areas are still in the midst of an emergency. We are facing a crisis other than that of 2009, which was financial in nature. Now we are faced with a market to be rebuilt, a structural change in society and services. Only by placing yourself on the market with products that have something more you can be truly competitive and seize new opportunities.
Crisis as an opportunity to think of a new paradigm?
I think so. It is time to give the term globalization a new meaning. Certainly this does not mean going towards closure: we are all interconnected, sharing knowledge is an indispensable value and many issues must be managed on a planetary level. But if we look at the economy, the enhancement of neighboring markets and short supply chains may constitute a new opportunity. Regionality can be a key to interpreting terms such as circularity and sustainability in a concrete way, a way to save resources and respect nature.
How do you imagine Calpeda in the coming years?
Increasingly oriented towards the research and production of extremely energy-saving products, focused on the well-being of employees and on the quality of the work environment.
I am thinking of the great entrepreneurial stories of our territory, of the captains of industry who have focused not on profit but on a project and a passion. They can still be a source of inspiration, especially right now.