In companies the numbers are important, but even more so are the people and the values that make up the corporate identity built day by day by those who founded the company.
This is demonstrated by EuroVast, a leading company in the tissue paper industry in Lucca: a successful entrepreneurial reality, which over three decades has been able to grow and structure itself to become, today, a perfect example of European smart factory 4.0. Few numbers are enough to give an idea of the size and dynamism of the group: 5 paper mills in Tuscany; 4 converting plants in Europe of which two in Lucca, one in the center of Great Britain (in Liverpool) and one in The Netherlands (in Oss, near Eindhoven); over 76,000 square meters of total production area; 4 own brands (Fior di Carta, Suprema, Buffalo and Bravo) that take 30% of production, while the remaining 70% is destined for private labels; turnover of 2020 of about 180 million euros, with growth rates in “double digits” in all the last few years.
In other words, there’s everything you need to trace a successful corporate case history; but it would be a partial and incomplete story, because the most precious and characteristic elements of EuroVast are located below this tip of the iceberg, in what could be synthetically defined as “the human factor”. This is confirmed in no uncertain terms by the undisputed protagonist, founder, president, CEO and deus ex machina of the group, Vincenzo Romano: “Fortunately work is not just a matter of numbers; we must defend the human part, interpersonal relationships: because what takes place in the company, along with my employees, is the biggest part of my life”.
Passionate about his work, Romano – of Sicilian origin – arrived in Lucca in 1991, taking the risk of launching a business in what is considered the largest paper district not only in Italy, but worldwide: the so-called “tissue valley” of Lucca, where the main manufacturers of technology for the industry and the most important paper producers meet. From here begins the adventure of EuroVast SpA: an increasing rise over the years and supported by the ability, vision and above all the extraordinary ability of Romano to connect with his collaborators. “As soon as I arrived at the company – remembers the entrepreneur – I gathered all the employees and I introduced myself: myself, my thoughts, my values.
I saw that I could be heard by almost everyone: they followed me, they were excited; in short, they embraced my project. A project made of great passion, creativity and a lot of work”.
In 1994, only two years after his arrival in Lucca, Romano introduces an innovative product that immediately becomes the main driving force of the growth and expansion path still underway: the “Rotolotto” first monoroll for domestic use, that revolutionizes the concept of kitchen roll bringing on the shelf a solution so far typical of the industrial segment. In 2011 it is the turn of another product innovation that confirms the vitality, the great charisma and the very clear ideas of Romano: the placemat roll, which marks a change in the habits and ways of using this product. In 2020, the Suprema range of sanitary rolls was voted Product of the Year: an important recognition that highlights the growth of EuroVast in the brand landscape. Today, the company has a production capacity of more than 150,000 tons per year and about 300 employees, with a constantly growing turnover.
But what are, in Vincenzo Romano’s opinion, the fundamental elements for an entrepreneur? “Quality, trust, responsibility, ethics, human value” is the answer. A “formula” based on three key concepts: “First of all – explains Romano – the quality of the finished product is essential, since it is precisely the quality that makes the company grow; and to achieve it you must be constantly attentive, full of curiosity for innovation, hungry for improvement: as it has been since I arrived in Lucca, I immediately realized the need to equip myself with a technical laboratory of analysis to be able to offer uniform products. Not surprisingly, in these 30 years, the company has always qualified itself as an enthusiastic interpreter of the most modern technologies for the production of tissue.
The second essential element is respect for those who work with you: people must be at the center of development, because every person who works well and is respected can give so much to the company with their commitment. Teamwork makes all the difference; a company becomes really big only if employees recognize it. And I really do love my employees”.
Thus we come to the third key element, on which Vincenzo Romano is peremptory: “Respect for the environment, which today represents one of the great economic and social priorities of the planet. EuroVast is pursuing a virtuous production policy through ‘green’ industrial investments, with the aim of a company with very low environmental impact. And also for the near future we have important projects in program regarding innovation and sustainability. It is a fundamental aspect, attention and protection that we owe to our children. In short, the strategic vision oriented to technology and sustainability will allow in the near future to welcome important results in terms of growth”.
The environment is a shared theme that unites Vincenzo to his son Umberto, general manager of EuroVast: it is to him that we owe the most recent interventions that – with investments of over 10 million euros – have confirmed the company as a model of eco-sustainability. “When Umberto arrived at the company – says his father – his very first action was to replace the latest diesel forklifts with electric motor models, as a precise signal of attention to all aspects related to the environmental impact”. From here, the path continued with great strides: the Dutch plant of Oss is a plant in complete energy autonomy, 100% powered by renewable energy; tha paper mill Cartiera of Villa Basilica has the first line in the world equipped with an innovative system of dehydration of the sheet of paper that allows a production increase of 56%, while reducing gas by 18/20% and electricity by 10%; the processing plant in Toringo saw the installation of a photovoltaic system on a surface of 10,000 square meters. , able to cover the entire energy needs of the plant and reduce pollutant emissions into the atmosphere; and many others are the “green” projects and investments already done for the coming months.
Umberto Romano says: “When I returned to the company in 2015, after several years of absence, I found EuroVast profoundly changing in every respect: structural, social and commercial. The result of an extraordinary path of 30 years of intense and uninterrupted growth, which represents a true entrepreneurial rarity. This, it must be said, makes the job easier: EuroVast today is valued by both suppliers and customers, both by competitors themselves and is considered the market leader. In recent years, then, we have focused a lot on the process of internationalization that is providing excellent results: both in the United Kingdom, served through the Liverpool plant, where our brand has now consolidated; both in The Netherlands, with a plant that has been doubled in 2020 and will enter fully operational in 2021 with a further, significant increase in production volumes”.
Still, it’s a fact that Umberto Romano found himself working alongside an extremely strong and charismatic entrepreneurial figure: how do you find yourself working together with your father, as the exponent of the “second generation”? “It’s beautiful: every day you learn something new and inspiring. My return to the company was full of emotion. And when, after having followed the converting for some time, my father proposed my transition to the general management, I realized that this happened because I had actually managed to make his management style, his vision, his values my own. In fact, being the son of the owner is not always easy: you need to keep your feet firmly on the ground. All the more so in a situation like ours, in which everything is already moving with a positive sign: entering such a reality is beautiful, but it is also difficult to be able to provide additional added value, improve what already works well. So I joined those who worked in the company continuing on the path already taken, adding small pieces, perfecting and developing the main areas (with particular attention to CSR, the development of our brands and internationalization) equipping us with new tools (such as our cutting-edge software), without making radical changes. After all, my father has a great dowry: although he can be considered an ‘old-fashioned’ entrepreneur, a ‘self made man’ who has worked since he was 16 years old, in fact he is much more evolved than most of the young people, which he very often exceeds in dynamism, in openness of mind, in harmony with the present time”.
“Even when we talk about investments – confirms Vincenzo – I should be the one who slows down, who pushes towards conservative choices; instead it is the opposite, I am the one to be the stimulus for new initiatives. What I would really like is to leave something beautiful after me, that can be a positive example.”