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MUSEOWEB dell'economia varesina

Fratelli Crespi Industria Grafica


The entrepreneurial training and the establishment of the business


Antonietto Crespi, born in 1904, was employed at the Gallarate company "Arti grafiche Cellerino". During the evenings, with the help of his brother, Luigi, he also operated his own small printing business out of his home in Cassano Magnano. This led to the establishment of Tipografia Cartoleria Fratelli Crespi in 1923, which was registered at the Chamber of Commerce as a de facto company ??in 1927. The printing works is located on Via Carducci, while the stationery shop is situated on Via San Giulio, in the same area of the city. In 1935, Luigi Crespi withdrew from the company due to illness and was replaced by his younger brother Gino, who took care of customer relations.

After World War II, Tipografia Crespi worked for local banks, such as Credito Varesino and Banca Industriale Gallaratese, as well as for local industries, which were mainly made up of scale manufacturers and mechanical-textile companies. Due to frequent trips to Milan from 1955 to 1960, the company also succeeded in obtaining orders from Credito Italiano and Assicurazioni Generali, who ended up becoming its most important customers during these years. Tipografia Crespi provided its customers with a so-called "commercial print package", which included business cards, stationary, envelopes and delivery notes. The company also offered publicity work, such as catalogues, picture brochures, calendars and agendas.


From 1965 to 1979


In 1965, Fratelli Crespi began introducing new lithographic machinery to replace the traditional lead machinery. The lithographic machine provided for improved printing speeds and significantly increased the number of copies printed per hour. However, this resulted in a number of initial technical difficulties, as well as the necessity for the company employees to be trained to use the new type of machine. In 1968, the stationery branch, managed by the brothers' sister, Rosa, and mother, Lucia Castiglioni, was sold in order to focus the company's energies on the typography business. That same year, Gino Crespi withdrew from the company and was succeeded by his wife, Rosa Castiglioni, along with their son, Claudio.

In 1969, Luigi's son, Antonietto, also officially joined the company, although he had in fact already been working there for nearly a decade. Soon after, in 1971, Gino Crespi's heirs withdrew from the business, leaving the management of the company to Luigi and Antonietto. Due to his training and expertise, Antonietto continued to focus on the technical aspects of the business, while his son, Luigi, dealt with the company's administration. In 1972, however, Antonietto's second son, Luciano Crespi, also joined the company after having completed his studies in mechanical engineering. In 1974, the company moved to its current location on Via Mazzel, with new buildings and new machinery. The company's move to its new premises also coincided with its time of maximum expansion, ultimately ending up with 25 employees. The work with the banks, however, began to decline due to the fact that the company had decided not to invest in continuous feed printing presses and was thereby unable to rapidly meet its clients' demands.


From 1980 to the present


In 1980, the company name was changed to "Fratelli Crespi Industria Grafica di Crespi A. & C. s.n.c.". The business purpose was also modified, but continued to include typography and lithography, as well as the sale of printed articles, above all for advertising purposes. The following year, the company was transformed into a limited partnership through the admission of the limited partners Emilia Ferrari (the wife of Antonietto Crespi), Gabriella Cardani (the wife of Luigi Crespi) and Daniela Mazzucchelli (the wife of Luciano Crespi). The company's final transformation into a limited liability company took place in 1983, with Antonietto Crespi as sole director. As general partners, Luigi and Luciano lost touch with the banks, as they were no longer local and the banks were more focused on other institutions. Following the company's move to its new location, its main customers were companies situated within the province of Varese and the upper Milan region.

The arrival of the computer and its typographic applications forced the company to begin a constant process of renewing and updating its machinery, in order to avoid ending up technologically obsolete and losing contracts. This technological evolution took place alongside a more gradual decrease in personnel, due to a number of workers reaching pensionable age. In 1994, Luigi Crespi hired a professional graphic designer in order to allow the company to better follow its customers by offering them complete graphic design services. Antonietto Crespi passed away in 1995 at the age of ninety. His wife succeeded him as sole director and, a few months later, the management of the company was entrusted to a board of directors, which was made up of Gabriella Cardani and Daniela Mazzucchelli. In 1997, Fratelli Crespi began the business of publishing books and periodicals.

This decision was determined by tax advantages, which allowed private individuals and local authorities, such as municipalities, to commission monograph prints at lower prices. F.lli Crespi's market was mainly comprised of industrial companies, and the recent crisis, combined with the closure of a number of local enterprises, decreased the number of customers, who were partially replaced by new orders from third parties service providers in the print advertising sector (consulting firms, advertising agencies, etc.). The production of commercial materials (invoices, letters, envelopes, etc.) had been decreasing, on the other hand, because the advent of the computer even allowed small businesses to become more independent.

F.lli Crespi, which now has sixteen employees, maintains active contacts with other typographies in order to be able to rely on third party assistance for dealing with production peaks due to concurrent orders. This is mainly necessary because, while the bulk of the work was once distributed in a more uniform fashion throughout the entire year and times could be programmed more easily, in today's market, production is concentrated at certain times of the year (ie. trade fairs) and the work is much more urgent. New customers are not actively sought out by internal sales representatives, but are rather acquired by word of mouth and thanks to the good name of the company itself. While not an immediate problem, succession is an issue that the owners are taking quite seriously. There are currently no plans to involve additional family members within the business. For this reason, possible solutions are being sought out in order to maintain the strength and potential of the enterprise.