Panda Safety, “Safe at work, happy in life”

In the early ‘90s Panda Safety, company headquartered in Cisternino (Brindisi province), founded in 1979 by Luigi Gargiullo, was the first Apulian enterprise to ever get its safety and occupational footwear certified in compliance with the European reference standards.

Luigi Gargiullo

“SAFE AT WORK, HAPPY IN LIFE”: this is the slogan chosen by PANDA SAFETY, shoe factory established in 1979 in Cisternino (Brindisi province), a beautiful town in Southern Italy where the firm has settled down to grow and develop. This peculiar geographic location is by no means random: as a matter of fact, it was the result of the strong determination boasted by its founder and current CEO, Luigi Gargiullo, who has always believed in his district’s potential. In 2021, the company celebrates its 42nd anniversary: Luigi Gargiullo manages this successful family business with the support of his children, Francesco, Giorgia, Daniele e Claudio.

Before kicking off his own enterprise, Luigi Gargiullo was charged with monitoring several activities such as quality statistical control, services and relation with trade unions at Superga branch based in Triggiano (Bari province) that, even back then, was one of the most prominent sports footwear firms, renowned both domestically and internationally. “When the enterprise was founded,” explained Luigi, “we did not deal with the manufacturing of safety and occupational shoes, not yet; as a matter of fact, we started off by acting as subcontractors for major sports footwear brands, mainly Puma, to whom we supplied the finished product. In order to work together with these large companies, we had to, right from the beginning, feature cutting-edge equipment, machinery and technology as well as top-notch professional skills; we relied on the same organization once we started our own business.”

The turning point came approximately ten years after the foundation, that is, when the former EEC implemented the 89/391 directive – the latter a pivotal step in the process for the improvement of occupational safety and health standards, then validated by the Italian Government via Legislative Decree on September 19th, 1994, known as “Legge 626”. Hence the choice, in the early ‘90s, to turn the attention from sports shoes to the production of safety and occupational footwear collections. “We were among the forerunners in Apulia,” explained Luigi Gargiullo, “we were undoubtedly the first one to ever get a shoe certified in compliance with European reference standards. In my previous professional experience, I already dealt with this sector, given that, back then, Superga had the contract for the supplying of safety footwear to Ferrovie dello Stato’s employees: models featuring either soles in vulcanized rubber or the “Ideal” stitching technique, a completely different process compared to the current one.”

One of the ultimate goals constantly pursued by PANDA SAFETY lies in know-how strengthening and in product evolution: for that reason, over the years, it has been focusing the development activity on the upgrade of morpho-anatomical properties and on the enhancement of the protective function, so that the models can be perfectly suitable for any occupational context and working condition. Through the search for increasingly high-performance raw materials and components, the Company has managed to provide a product whose durability is guaranteed, and, thanks to top-notch quality standards – one the flagships of Italian manufacturing excellence -, the brand has gained the trust of several PPEs distributors and end users, both nationwide and internationally, now boasting a sales network encompassing more than 70 countries worldwide. A result that confirms the reliability of the articles developed by PANDA SAFETY.

“Such first-rate quality standards,” stated Claudio Gargiullo, Sales Manager/Head of Marketing & Communication, “help us meet the workers’ protection needs. To convey in the most effective way the features and performances guaranteed by our products, we have inaugurated our own web portal. One of the most interesting tools is undoubtedly “PANDA TV”, a gateway to the world of PANDA SAFETY thanks to a comprehensive video-gallery. This service gives to everyone to chance to discover not only how we ensure the safety and protection of workers’ feet, but also, for example, how our shoes are designed and manufacture. Therefore, a unique production process that merges the craft skills of our technicians with the efficiency of cutting-edge machinery.”

Due to the health emergency and the lockdown periods, the attendance to trade shows was suspended. The latest participation dates back to January 2020, in the Intersec international exhibition in Dubai. “PANDA SAFETY’s stand,” pointed out Claudio, “was among the most crowded. Our company is considered a benchmark in terms of Italian manufacturing excellence, as confirmed by the countless commendations we got throughout the fair and by the positive feedback collected, almost daily, via our social media.”

The Gargiullo family on the occasion of the company’s 40th anniversary.

However, there is another noteworthy event, occurred before the pandemic and remembered fondly. “On May 28th, 2019,” stated Claudio Gargiullo, “we celebrated the 40th anniversary in our beautiful Cisternino, in a location surrounded by a wonderful, centuries-old olive tree grove: a pleasant day, shared with relatives, friends, with the employees and their families, with suppliers and customers from all over the world. The video of the event shows the enthusiasm, joy and emotions of all the participants. The highlight of the celebration was the speech given by my father, the CEO: as a matter of fact, with his words, he managed to carry everyone on a journey spanning four decades, underlining successful achievements and projects for the future that will be full of satisfaction. I am sure of it.”