MUSEOWEB dell'economia varesina

A. Molina & C. spa

Historical Profile

The establishment of the business and its early developments

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, Piedmont native Angelo Molina began a business based on the collection, packaging and exportation of goose feathers. Geese were widespread throughout the well-irrigated Novarese and Lomellina countryside and were already quite well-known for the quality of their down. In the early twentieth century in Cairate, Molina's son, Agostino, began marketing the raw feathers, but the enterprise was only regulated as a de facto company in 1927, under the name of A. Molina & C. In 1929, the company was transformed into a limited liability company, which included the founder, Agostino Molina, along with his cousins ??Francisco and Primo Molina, the latter of whom died the same year. Agostino's children, Angelo and Antonio, also later became involved in the company. Although the first mechanical feather selection machine (made ??in Germany) dates back to 1920, the company only introduced the first feather processing techniques, such as raw material dusting and selection, in 1930.

In 1938, trade in unprocessed hides for furs and gloves was also added to the company's activities: traditionally, in fact, individuals who collected goose feathers were also generally involved in animal hides.

After World War II, with the industry's technological development, the first complete processing line was introduced (which included dusting, washing, spinning, sanitization and selection). The domestic market began its post-war period of expansion and the demand for feathers for upholstered furniture (sofas, pillows, chairs) increased in the Brianza furniture district.

From 1952 to 1976

Agostino Molina died in 1952, leaving his sons Antonio and Angelo as equal owners. The company's family management was even reflected in their choice of where to live. Antonio and Angelo lived in a house built by their father adjacent to the company itself and their children grew up "breathing the factory air". They played with the employees' children and became familiar with the business by accompanying their parents to trade fairs.

In 1953, the company abandoned its trade in raw hides for fur clothing in order to dedicate itself entirely to the production of feathers and down for the new emerging sector of padding for technical sportswear, above all for use in mountain climbing. The Italian expedition to K2 in 1954 was accompanied by Molino down jackets.

During the 1960s, chemical developments and the appearance of products like foam rubber appear to have created some serious competition for natural padding elements. Antonio Molina died during this same period and his share of the company was equally divided between Agostino's children, Mario and Angelo. Even Antonio's widow, Angela Meana, got involved in the business. It was during this period that A. Molina & C. consolidated itself within the upholstered furniture industry. The sector of technical clothing was also evolving during this time, subsequently giving rise to typical Italian "fashion" clothing industry, in which goose down occupied a significant role. Over the years, the company underwent tremendous developments: in 1972, down production was doubled and a third line was added in 1974.

Angelo's son, Agostino Luigi Molina, joined the company in 1975 and gradually began to take control, becoming the majority shareholder by 1977.

Agostino Luigi was mainly involved in sales and it was his cousin, Angelo Molina junior who, being in charge of the manufacturing process, was able to give an industrial air to the company.


Tessilpiuma and the diversification of the product

In 1977, the down manufacturing process was integrated with the production of quilts and pillows as well: Tessilpiuma Srl was established for the management of these activities.

Upon the suggestion of Angelo Molina, the company decisively entered the bedding industry, offering high quality products, initially in terms of tailoring. This activity was entrusted Angelo Junior's wife, Maria Rosa Alberti, for the first time altering the family practice by which business functions were normally entrusted to men alone. The new company permitted Molina to get directly involved in one of its own production sectors and allowed it to become more familiar with the markets and their developments, something that would otherwise be quite difficult for a raw material producer to achieve.

On the other hand, Molina refrained from producing upholstered cushions for the furniture industry so as not to enter into competition with its own customers, or rather the processing companies. In 1981, Molina became a limited liability company, with Angelo Molina junior as president and Agostino Luigi as vice president. Production was expanded to include a continuous three-shift production cycle.

That same year, together with other Italian companies involved in the sector, Molina began promoting the establishment of Assopiuma, an association that would create the essential technical and regulatory conditions necessary for an industry and a market in which the quality standards were merely limited to respecting the safety and hygiene regulations.

In 1984, following various increases in capital, A. Molina & C. became a joint-stock company.

Maria Rosa Alberti joined the company in 1986 following the death of her husband, Angelo Molina junior. It was at this time that Antonio's son, Agostino Molina, assumed the role of company president.

During the course of 1987, the company Tessilpiuma srl was incorporated in order to better sustain it with the higher profits deriving from the sales of raw down for the furniture and clothing industries. Tessilpiuma nevertheless remained as a brand, thereby ensuring that the products would be recognized by customers.

In 1988, a factory outlet store was established for the retail sales of down and textiles.

The introduction of synthetic fibres

In 1990, Agostino Luigi Molina succeeded his cousin Agostino as company president. It was he who first grew interested in alternative materials to down padding. Despite being an apparently paradoxical choice for a down producer, this decision allowed Molina to diversify its production and to enter a sector that the family had traditionally viewed as being in contrast to its original business activities. Meanwhile, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the company was able to exploit the possibility of obtaining Eastern European goose down: a high quality down which was nearly equal to the Northern Italian goose down, which had since disappeared, and an excellent alternative to importing Chinese down, which would only provide for medium to low quality products.

During the nineties, the company continued to invest resources in the modernization of its production facilities at Cairate and the need arose to create new spaces in order to open up to the emerging market of synthetic fibres, as well as to those of other alternative padding materials. In 1993, Molina purchased another production facility in Bergoro, where it began manufacturing a new product consisting of balls of polyester fibre. This material, whether pure (Rollofill HP) or mixed with down (Piumaroll), was used in the upholstered furniture market and sparked an immediate interest.

In 1994, Molina was the first Italian manufacturer to obtain Oeko-Tex "Confidence in Textiles" quality certification. This recognition opened up interesting opportunities for the company in relation to the Northern European markets, which were traditionally quite aware of health and environmental protection issues.

In 1997, the company also obtained UNI EN ISO 9002 certification: Molina was the first European company in the padding sector to obtain this certification.

It was during this time that Molina, in collaboration with other companies in the sector, opened its own space within the first big Swiss Outlet "Foxtown", under the name of "Casa Italiana". The establishment of other similar large shopping centres in Italy led Molina to open other retail stores, with a total of ten now present on the market.

With continuously increasing sales, the need for additional space was felt again in the year 2000. The company purchased a new building in the nearby town of Gornate Olona, which was initially intended to be used as a warehouse and now operates as a true production facility.


A. Molina & C. today

Molina do Brasil was established in 2001. The subsidiary is based in Joinville, in the state of Santa Catarina, and is specialized in the production of upholstery materials for local furniture and bedding companies. The decision was based on the opportunity to be present within a market where Italian products are highly regarded, thanks also to a large local population of Italian origins, and where labour costs are more or less equal to those of China, the products of which, however, are not imported to Brazil.

In 2004, the company established a new facility in Noci (BA), in the heart of the Puglia and Basilicata upholstered furniture district, in order to be closer to its customers in terms of offering better and more timely services.

In 2005, thanks to the renovation of its production facilities, Molina was able to emerge unscathed from the damage caused by the bird flu crisis, which also swept across Europe. In fact, the company later began exporting raw materials to both Italian companies that had relocated production to China, as well as to the Chinese themselves, the world's leading down manufacturers.

Furthermore, the production facilities' respect for the health and hygiene standards allowed the company to obtain a license to export raw materials and products to the American market.

During this time, A.Molina & C. significantly increased its exports to reach nearly 60% of its total production, but above all was able to create innovative products which were highly regarded by its customers. Today, by quantity, Molina has grown to such an extent that it is ranked amongst the top ten European companies in the sector. It has finalized contracts with Advansa group (formerly DuPont) to act as their European licensees for Dacron: a special hollow polyester fibre developed specifically for the furniture industry that can be mixed with natural down in various ways.

Molina also created the brand BioSoft for marketing padded products and padding materials made ??with Ingeo: a Pla fibre made up of lactic acid extracted from corn, quite similar to synthetic polyester but with ecological characteristics: it does not produce any gases or toxic fumes if burned and is 100% biodegradable.

Recently, the company's interests have largely focused upon fabrics for containing down. Due to increasing customer demand, the fabric has come to be considered a fundamental component of the padded article, and must allow air to escape while at the same time preventing the down from coming out. This is combined with additional demands for special finishes and flame retardant properties to meet the requirements of the latest of health and safety standards.

To this end, in 2006, the excellent profits and the development of the enterprise led the company to invest in the creation of a textiles centre in Gornate Olona, which would guarantee complete customer service.

On an international level, Molina represents Italy in the councils of the EDFA (European Down and Feather Association) and the IDFB (International Down and Feather Bureau), associations that bring together the major industrial and commercial companies operating in the down sector, for which Agostino Luigi occupies the respective roles of vice-president and Italian president.

As of 2008, A. Molina & C. had a total of seventy direct employees, as well as and twenty-five external collaborators.