Environmentally friendly technology and desire to start afresh

S.C. Costruzioni Meccaniche
S.C. COSTRUZIONI MECCANICHE, has been operating in the tanning sector for 35 years: after the pandemic, 2021 will be the year for a fresh new start, with large, modern, high-profile production site

In balance between eco-friendly technology and the desire to start again after the health pandemic that, in terms of figures and turnover, compromised last year. This is the attitude pursued by S.C. COSTRUZIONI MECCANICHE, firm headquartered in Empoli (Florence province) that designs, manufactures and installs auxiliary systems and equipment for several industrial sectors, especially tanning machines and purification plants.

In 2020, the Tuscan firm, established in the mid ‘80s and boasting more than 35 years of experience in the business, completed its move to Empoli’s industrial area, in a new facility of 2,500 sqm. featuring large spaces for production and handling, in addition to a practical road logistics, close to the highway. It has arranged its productions lines in order to achieve two precise goals, thus meeting the industrial world’s core priorities: environmental safeguard and occupational safety.

S.C. Costruzioni Meccaniche, Roberto Calattini e Fabio Scardigli
S.C. Costruzioni Meccaniche’s business partners, Roberto Calattini and Fabio Scardigli

Two objectives pursued with determination even in 2020, a fairly difficult year export-wise, due mainly to travel restrictions. “First of all – explained Roberto Calattini, one of the owners of the company – let me say that the quality of our equipment and machines is still excellent thanks to the support of the in-house technical department and of the fullyequipped mechanical workshop. In this way, we have managed to fine-tune production processes and to achieve top-notch standards in terms of reliability, maintainability and durability, thus earning the praise of prominent Italian and international customers.

As for the ecological sector, S.C. COSTRUZIONI MECCANICHE provides a well-established range of equipment for filtering and screening of wastewater, for recovering by-products and for recycling liming: for instance, our filters can be used in all sectors, but, at the same time, we can sell complete wastewater pre-treatment or treatment plants. With regard to the safety sector, on the other hand, for years, we have been providing chemical risk protection systems conceived for the tanning industry as well as for other activities: our customers and partners have praised our steady progresses, even technology-wise, thus confirming the quality of our hard work and of the efforts poured into these projects.”

What were the main consequences caused by Covid-19? “I think it was inevitable for everyone, therefore for us too, to have less orders and consequently a lower turnover in 2020, since the latter, as far as we are concerned, registered a drop compared to the previous year. The pandemic affected the economy worldwide, effectively blocking all investments, especially when it comes to large-sized machinery and strategic equipment. The spring lockdown stopped the entire mechanism, even if there was a decisive recovery in May, with regard to the relations with foreign countries and customers as well. Without the so-called second wave, we would have been able to limit damages, but now the situation is very complicated.”

On the other hand, what are the problems caused by the pandemic? “First of all, the impossibility to travel abroad, preventing us from visiting the customers and vice versa. At least until the end of 2020, there were too many obstacles, including travel complications and “quarantine” obligations that basically turned missions abroad into an unsustainable expense. Our export share amounts to approximately 30%, but, at the of the year, it will definitely be lower due to the difficulties experienced in foreign markets. As for Italy, we have registered better results. However, on the whole, our products, boasting a high added value in terms of quality, have not been able to benefit from the usually higher profit margins.”

How did you spend the spring lockdown? “We continued working, even in March, albeit at a slower pace, in order to keep supporting one of our core businesses, since depuration plants never stopped despite the decrease in the tanning activity. As for the rest, we tried to take advantage of the available time to focus on R&D projects, a field in which we constantly invest significant resources. In spite of the global impasse, our goal was to strengthen the market, monitoring the situation, while getting ready to get back on track.”

From your vantage point, do you expect an economic upturn in 2021? “Vaccines’ results will be decisive for the relaunch in every sector, not only in the tanning industry. The simultaneous upswing worldwide, that hopefully will happen this year, in the end should not disadvantage any country, but obviously it will take some time; I don’t think we can return to normal in just a few weeks. China got back to business in the closing months of 2020, so much so that, in late fall, their GDP was growing: they supply products of any kind, but relations with foreign countries were very difficult, even for them. Our travels to the East have reduced considerably, as well as their visits to our production clusters.”

Did you miss international fairs last year? “A lot, because they represent a point of reference and a meeting place for business players from all over the world. Moreover, there was a lack of money for investments, that in a niche sector like ours are fundamental, and that affected badly the turnover.”

At present, what are the trade fairs you could attend in 2021? “In theory, the first exhibition, after a year and a half, could be the Hong Kong fair at the end of July, followed by Simac Tanning Tech taking place in Milan, put off to the second half of 2021. In the meantime, we hope that the global economy manages to get back on track and that international trade shows can truly act as a jumping board for the economic upswing, without interruptions or risks of new pandemic outbreaks.”