from the new center of Sassuolo, up to the stamp of «Bcorp»-

from the new center of Sassuolo, up to the stamp of «Bcorp»-

S assolo, capital of ceramics. Along the Pedemontana road, on the border with Fiorano, what you see at a certain point are the preparations for the new Kerakoll industrial centre. They make a hundred million investment, mostly destined for super-tech machinery. Practical effects by 2025, i.e. at the expected ribbon cutting: doubling of production capacity here, where the story began and where the head and heart of a family company that it remains so and, in the meantime, has (also) become a multinational with another 17 plants in Italy, Europe and the rest of the world.


The photograph of the work in progress may not be beautiful, but it is the most effective symbol of this stage of development. In the sense that today a bit of everything in the company is an open building site for growth. Perhaps even more than it has been for most of the (abundant) half century that has passed since its foundation.

It was 1968. Romano Sghedoni — born in 1938, still president — shuts himself up in the classic garage to design the first adhesives for ceramics. The climb to the markets begins there. Today, Kerakoll is the world's leading manufacturer of solutions for the green building. And in fact this is how it can be defined: The Green Building Company, with the definite article to underline not that it has no competitors, obviously, but that the benchmarks recognized. Also in the environmental field.

Demonstrating leadership are three lists. Two are closely linked to the specific business: the names of the major international builders and, above all, the architectural studios that count Kerakoll among their sustainability partner (there is practically the entire club of starchitects). The third list, on the other hand, is a sort of global register: that of the B Corp certification. Snubbed up until yesterday, more or less everywhere, today it is the coveted goal of a rather crowded race. Let's say that at the moment it is the only universal sustainability license. Kerakoll - and this is the news - has just obtained it, supported by Nativa. one of the first companies in the building-construction sector to be able to exhibit it.

Not a case. that there, within the Emilian group, the process actually began when factor B - let's call it that - was not yet even a fashion, let alone a card capable of making a difference in terms of competitiveness. Also on this level in Sassuolo they anticipated the market, and they did so thanks to what Fabio Sghedoni - son of Romano, executive vice president - recalls as an intuition he had a dozen years ago: we understood that sustainability was "the" road to the future, also for growth, and we set up a policy ad hoc creating our own ratings of eco-compatibility. served, the commitment greens it is now part of the corporate identity. clear that at a certain point an authoritative leap had to be made. The B Corp certification, which is added to being a Benefit company, is the natural closure of the circle.

This is to say that the so-called intangible factors of success now play a central role in the growth processes of companies. In Kerakoll they did not discover it yesterday and the result is that, today, the picture just updated with the 2022 data shows a group with 744 million in consolidated turnover (+ 25% on 2021 and even + 62% on the 458 million pre-pandemic), capable of producing 64 million in net profit and with proportional industrial profitability. It is true, Sghedoni admits, that the superbonus has lent a hand and that therefore 2023 will be a year of consolidation. But it will also be the year in which the new industrial plan will fully come into play.

Projects up to 2027

It covers the period 2023-2027 and the key chapter is investments. Between new factories (to stop at today: in addition to the doubling of Sassuolo, the construction of a second factory in India has already started) and the 3-5% of revenues regularly allocated to research & development, the budget commitment exceeds 300 million.

They are not few, much less in relation to the size. This brings us to the central point: the flywheel effect on growth. It takes a while to get Sghedoni out of the target in terms of revenues, and when he then says one billion by the end of the five-year period, the impression that he is exceedingly cautious.

The fact that here triggers one of the main commandments of the house. Sghedoni: Doing well is more important than doing it quickly. The rule was valid yesterday, when only Romano was in command. It is true today, that Fabio and his sister Emilia (the third brother, Gian Luca, who came out a few years ago) are rightly at the top shareholder and/or operational directors, joined by the new managing director Marco Zini since last March. It will presumably start tomorrow, with the full entry of the third generation (which is starting to appear: Andrea, Fabio's son, already works in the company). After that, a matter of nuances. It's one thing to hurry, another to run. And run what they have always done in Sassuolo. There have been accidents and errors along the way here as everywhere (even more so in family businesses: it is difficult to go through the generational transitions unscathed, or to find the right formula for governance). But this remains a company with growth rates, profitability and self-financing capabilities that make it (for example) one of the Champions de The Economy-ItalyPost, therefore one of the thousand best small-medium enterprises of the Made in Italy. And since she is in a hurry, in fact, she will soon be an ex: her consolidated turnover for some time over half a billion (the ceiling chosen for the analysis), that of the parent company (roughly the Italian businesses) the limit has bypassed it in 2022.

a dimensional leap with a meaning that goes beyond Kerakoll itself: with the large group of other former Champions due to excess growth, it demonstrates how the so-called condemnation of national entrepreneurship to dwarfism is not always an absolute truth. On the other hand, the reasons with which Sghedoni explains why the family repeats to the many suitors that Kerakoll is not for sale, and it is not a question of price, are. Simply (so to speak): For us, the best investment is reinvestment in the company. For confirmation, see the rate of return on capital item. The latest survey gave it over 15%.

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