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The sportsystem district
Rome - (Adnkronos Multimedia) - Moving on from the production of the traditional "gallozze", heavy leather boots with a carved wooden sole, ideal for working the land in the mountain areas, to the most famous ski and trekking boots in the world has not been easy. But the hundreds of small businesses in the area of Montebelluna, in the province of Treviso, 50 km from Venice, have succeeded with amazing ease, creating one of the most dynamic industrial districts in Italy. Even more surprising is that this revolution is the result of an all-American initiative, that of Bob Lange, who, in the 1960s launched the idea of producing plastic ski boots. His brand is today still one of the most famous, alongside those of Tecnica, Nordica and Dolomite, Montebelluna's three leading boot producers. They developed the idea with skill and experience, inventing a system to inject plastic into pre-assembled moulds. They then diversified, on the strength of four centuries' experience in leather working, with products ranging from ski boots, trekking boots and motorcycle boots, to dancing shoes, after-ski boots, ice skates and roller skates.
This is a time-honoured tradition: at the beginning of the 20th century there were 200 workshops in Montebelluna, and one family in eight made shoes, and after the First World War, Montebelluna consolidated its reputation for shoemaking. Increasingly high-quality mountain footwear began to be produced, then there were the first leather ski boots, and finally the introduction of injected plastic and international acclaim. Today, the industrial district of Montebelluna is a shoemaking centre of worldwide importance, with extraordinary industrial integration: over 400 businesses, almost 9,000 workers, and a turnover of around €1.5 billion, three quarters of which is realised on foreign markets. Alongside the famous brands known all over the world, there prosper hundreds of small and medium-sized businesses, dedicated to the production of materials, semifinished and finished products. Montebelluna accounts for 25% of the world production of skates, around half of the world's technical mountain boots, two thirds of after-ski boots, three quarters of all ski boots and almost all the world's motorcycle boots.
The secret of this success is probably in the great ability of the Montebelluna industrial system to adapt to market dynamics and technological innovation. The continuous product diversification which has characterised the district's history has deeply conditioned its physiognomy, causing the consolidation of winning traits such as open-mindedness and extreme mobility, above all with regard to a range of products in continuous development. The technical mountain shoe and the ski boot are the two typical products of the district, but there are also rapidly developing differentiated products aimed at different sectors of the market. The different type of businesses in the district has also had a determining role, as large companies with famous brands manage to successfully live alongside family businesses, small companies and craft workshops, which represent a rich induced activity made up of production units dedicated to joining, assembly and mounting, design, the production of laces, production machinery, and production of soles and uppers. No less important, moreover, especially since the 1980s, has been production delocalisation, which, developed with caution, has made it possible to outsource certain phases of product manufacture, in order to keep the final prices competitive, while leaving product design and engineering in Montebelluna.
Area: province of Treviso
Product specialisation: sporting footwear
Number of town council districts: 16
Surface area: 380 km2
Population: 108,000 inhabitants
Number of businesses: 428
People employed: 8,600
Turnover: 1,542 million euros
Exports: over 70%