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When the manager becomes an entrepreneur
Rome - (Ign) - A difficult challenge, full of risks, but, without a shadow of a doubt, successfully taken on. The story began when Valter Baldaccini, who started life as an engineer and not a businessman, decided in 1993, together with a colleague, Reno Ortolani, to buy out the company where he had worked for years as a top executive: UCS, Umbra Cuscinetti Spa. The company had been established 20 years before, as a joint-venture between the German FAG Kugelfisher and the Italian Gepi. Their aim was to enter the market of high precision bearings, in direct competition with the major American and Scandinavian manufacturers. In 1983, FAG became the sole owner of UCS and 10 years later decided in turn to sell it. It was at this point that Baldaccini decided to go ahead with a management buyout, then relaunching the company on an international scale, first with the takeover of the German Kuhn Gmbh from Stuttgart, and then of the American Northwest Gear Inc. The result was a group of international dimensions, present on the all of the world's major markets.
We asked Valter Baldaccini what drove him to change his role from manager to entrepreneur.
"My plan was extremely simple. I had realised that the company would have been sold to buyers interested in acquiring technologies and patents and then closing it. There was nothing personal in it; I simply wanted to save a patrimony of experience, quality and technology. It wasn't at all easy, though. Above all, there was the problem of loans from banks, who had no faith in the prospects. We won the battle thanks to a number of local businessmen. Umbria is a small region but has deep industrial traditions, and this allowed us to bring together good ideas and managerial skills in an extremely fertile local entrepreneurial fabric".
What role have technological innovation and product innovation played in the development of your company?
"Also in this case, the important thing is to believe in yourself. Let me explain: the technology of bearings and ball screws seemed to be right, in the sense that it didn't seem possible to significantly improve these types of products. Yet we were able to make further progress, working on durability, reliability and corrosion prevention, thinking above all of the aeronautical market. We developed innovative products, able to resist greater speeds, greater loads and greater vibration. The result was that we became one of the major suppliers of the international aeronautical industry. And this was the starting point for exploring new sectors and applications, to the point that we became a partner in the Italian project on artificial hearts, which involves dozens of research centres and companies".
And what strategies have you followed on the level of commercial development?
"It all leads back once again to the central issue of product quality. By working to realise ever better products, we have constantly improved our image. Our customers are extremely demanding and want the best. And we give it to them".
What are your main markets?
"We've got to the point where we now export almost 90% of our products. Our customers are in the United States, Germany, and now also in France. We have just renewed a contract with Boeing and we are also moving into the Japanese market".
And what challenges do you want to take on in the future?
"Above all, we want to widen our presence outside the aeronautical market. Our products can be used in a wide range of sectors, such as, for example, that of high precision machine tools".
Umbra Cuscinetti spa
Zona Industriale Paciana
06034 Foligno (Pg)