MUSEOWEB dell'economia varesina

Tessitura Valdolona Srl

Historical Profile

The establishment of the business

The company's history begins with the personal story of Pierino Ciapparelli who, from 1935 to 1952, held the challenging role of production manager for the manufacturing company Bernocchi, in Legnano.

After World War II, Eraldo Bernocchi offered Ciapparelli the opportunity to become a subcontractor for his company, while maintaining his position as an employee, in order to sustain the market's enormous demand for large volumes of threads and fabrics.

This resulted in the establishment of "Tessitura Valdolona" in 1947, which Pierino Ciapparelli founded as a limited partnership along with his partner Bruno Borsani, as well as three other limited partners who would be liquidated the following year. The company headquarters were located at no. 20 Via Cadorna in Olgiate Olona, and it was here that the first ten looms were set up. The premises consisted in a number of warehouses belonging to the sawmill owned by Pierino's father, Carlo Ciapparelli, which is still in operation today. In 1950, the company was transformed into a limited liability company and, in addition to the subcontracting business, began to produce its own articles, which included sport shirts, women's clothing, and pique knit clothing for children.

At the same time, the production of raw fabrics was also of fundamental importance, and the company soon began producing one million meters per year.

Towards the end of the 1950s, the expansion of the Milan-Lakes motorway came to involve the land upon which the warehouses of the sawmill and Tessitura Valdolona stood, thus forcing the location to be abandoned.

For about two years, Tessitura Valdolona ceased its production activities and became a commercial company, ordering fabrics from third parties. At the same time, work began on a new production facility with an adjoining house at no. 68 Via Piave, where the company moved in 1962 and resumed fabric production. Pierino Ciapparelli, the true heart of the company, was mainly involved in the production and marketing of the product, but also took care of employee relations. His wife, Teresina Maggi, helped with the company's book keeping and administration.

In addition to his business related activities, Ciapparelli also devoted a large amount of his time to teaching textile evening courses at the A.Bernocchi institute, and even held the office of mayor of Olgiate Olona from 1970 to 1977.

The business from the 1970s to the 1990s

During these years, the company continued producing large volumes, with up to one hundred looms being employed for production. The target market was the Italian territory: the excellent sales figures prevented the company from having to seek out customers abroad.

Pierino Ciapparelli's entrepreneurial initiative was not shared by his partner Borsani, who was less inclined to invest in the company: the consequent lack of upgrading eventually led to the obsolescence of the machinery (shuttle looms). Furthermore, this divergence of perspectives eventually led Ciapparelli to consider establishing his own business, which would have been called Idea cotone. This idea, however, did not materialize due to Ciapparelli's untimely death. Despite these internal problems, the business was rather successful during the early 1980s, a period which may indeed mark the company's moment of maximum profitability. As previously mentioned, Piero Cepparelli suddenly passed away in February of 1985. The company remained in the hands of his wife, Teresina Maggi, who took control of the business activities. Soon after, Bruno Borsani asked to be liquidated, thus resulting in a decrease in the company's capital resources. During these years, Teresina Maggi was assisted by her son, Alberto, who divided his time between the family business and his own profession as a plastic surgeon. It was at this time that the company entered a period of crisis: the lack of investments, which had resulted in the failure to switch from shuttle looms to faster more modern rapier looms, was taking its toll. The obsolescence of the looms, which required more intensive monitoring, resulted in the need for a larger workforce and greater expenses for the company.

In 1992, Alberto Cepparelli's wife, Federica Chierichetti, the daughter of an entrepreneur in the chemical industry with vast experience in the financial sector, decided to take her husband's place in assisting her mother-in-law, who had grown elderly. In 1995, she was appointed special legal representative of Tessitura Valdolona srl. The staff was reduced and the internal textile production ceased as the company was unable to remain competitive on the market using only shuttle looms. The production of the fabrics was outsourced, while the warping and other minor operations were carried out in house. Only a few looms were maintained operational for the purposes of preparing samples and small orders, which could not be outsourced.

The company strove to give a new impetus to its typical products: sports shirts and children's fabrics, especially for newborns. With this type of production, Tessitura Valdolona entered a market segment which was dominated by large groups, such as Chicco and Prenatal, and was able to find its equilibrium point.

From 2001 to the present

In the year 2000, these efforts at keeping the company alive risked being overturned with the onset of Chinese competition, which forced a large number of the company's customers to close shop. This quickly led to a collapse in sales and a new serious crisis for the company.

Just when the company had decided to close at the of 2002, Alberto and Federica Chierichetti's only child, Alessandro, after completing high school in 2001, decided to carry on with the family business.

He was able to count on his mother's experience managing the company, as well as on additional capital from his father, Alberto, who was happy to invest the revival of the company's fabric production. In 2002, a subcontractor in the Valdolona area went out of business and Alessandro seized the opportunity to purchase its looms, thereby modernizing his company's production facilities. Although the company continued manufacturing shirts, the idea soon arose to orient production towards the hotel industry: the only sector that allows for high quality production while at the same time requiring the large volumes necessary to resist foreign competition. It was in this manner that the company began targeting the final consumer: thus eliminating its role as an intermediate garment manufacturer, while circumventing Chinese competition, which was particularly fearsome in relation to the intermediate products of the processing cycle.

As of 2004, sales began to increase, resulting in a 40% gain by 2005 and a client base that is still expanding. More recently, the company has registered a new trademark, "Valdolona il bello del made in Italy", in order to provide itself with a tool to sustain its marketing activities.