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MUSEOWEB dell'economia varesina

Fratelli Alberti


The roots of the enterprise


Being obliged to perform military service at the Frera motorcycle factory, Faustino Alberti, originally from Campo San Martino in the Veneto region, first moved to Varese during the First World War. Upon returning to Veneto, he began repairing agricultural machinery for the Breda family.
In 1937, without ever having settled permanently and driven by increased job opportunities, he moved back to Varese and opened a bicycle shop on viale Belforte.
Faustino's children eventually followed their father, at different times: Alberto, a teacher and later an employee at Breda's central administration offices in Milan, as well as Antenor, Arnaldo and Adelio, all of whom worked at Macchi. One of his daughters, Lina, also came to Varese in 1938 to work at the Cornelia tannery.
At the cycling shop, a small machining business also began, which later led to the development of the first prototype machine for use in the production of footwear and leather goods. In 1945, the company Barenghi in Milan, an importer of German leather processing machinery made by the company Fortuna, asked the Alberti family to manufacture a chamfering machine, providing all of the necessary equipment, which would later be paid back in labour. Alberto Alberti was persuaded by his brothers to leave his job at Breda in order to take charge of the administration of the family business.
In 1949, the company was registered at the Chamber of Commerce and its partners included the brothers Arnaldo and Adelio, as well as Antenore's wife, Emma Pierobon, who died in 1947. Arnaldo dedicated himself to public relations and commercial aspects, while Adelio remained in charge of production and employee relations. Emma Pierobon was also involved in the company's administration. As early as 1948, the F.lli Alberti company made an attempt at crossing the national boundaries, negotiating with a local company for the purposes of exporting to Argentina.

The business during the Fifties and Sixties


The company was extremely active during the period of the economic boom.
From the 1950s, production was divided into two broad areas: that of machinery for manufacturing footwear and leather goods and that of motors, which was mainly undertaken due to the three brothers' shared passion for motorcycle racing.
In 1954, the company began manufacturing motorcycle engines. There were many local businesses in this sector that made use of the F.lli Alberti services. These included the company Ganna, in Varese, followed by Parilla, Guzzi, Binachi, and even Harley-Davidson-AerMacchi.
That same year, the company became a general partnership and the number of employees rose to a total of nearly 50. At the beginning of the 1960s, however, the automotive sector was progressively phased out in order to entirely devote the company's energies to the much more profitable leather working machinery sector.
During these years, in fact, the company obtained its first patents for modifications and improvements made to the machines.

The seventies and eighties


In 1975, with the help of the F.lli Alberti company, Adelio opened his own business for manufacturing cheese knives, a product that his partners did not get involved with. This decision was explained by Adelio's desire to provide his five children with an opportunity to continue with an industrial activity, a possibility which he believed the F.lli Alberti company could not offer due to the large number of nieces and nephews who would be inheriting the company once its founders retired.
In 1978, Arnaldo withdrew from the company, leaving his shares to his brother and sister in law. In 1981, Adele's son, Luigi Alberti, succeeded his uncle Alberto as administrator and the company went back to being a limited liability company. The F.lli Alberti company continued to do well during the 1980s, actively participating in industry trade shows and increasingly focusing upon exporting its products abroad.
At the end of the 1980s, however, Emma Pierobon's withdrawal from the company, combined with the need to liquidate her 50% of the shares, forced the company to continue operating on a smaller scale. This situation was further aggravated by additional local and foreign competition.

From the 1990s to the present


The crisis for F.lli Alberti began in the 1990s, with the outbreak of the first Gulf War. Foreign competition was especially taking its toll: the decentralization of footwear and leather manufacturing to countries with low labour costs eliminated the relative advantage offered by F.lli Alberti's more technologically advanced mechanical production systems.
For this reason, the decision was made to open a subsidiary in China, together with a partner from Hong Kong, in order to lower production costs and, above all, to establish a direct presence within a market that at the time was manufacturing nearly 80% of the world's shoes. Another way to combat the ongoing crisis in the sector of industrial footwear manufacturing machinery (for which foreign sales had dropped by 45% over the last few years) was the sale of spare parts. F.lli Alberti, in fact, owed nearly half of its sales figures to the production of spare parts.
The Alberti family continues to be a strong presence within the company, as its 25 current employees include Adelio's five children, as well as two sons-in-laws and a daughter-in-law.