The excellence in the production of products for house cleaning and personal hygiene

03/06/2014

Interview broadcasted, before Arix Group sale of Abrax shares in November 2015, during the TV show "Buone Cose"

Welcome back to Buone Cose. We are always in Viadana in the province of Mantua, at Arix plant. On our tour with Riccardo Melegari, General Manager of Arix, we're talking about sponges, but that's not all, because here we also have house cleaning cloths.
Another major part of our business that has to do with house cleaning is the cloths area; In this case, we have a process that has been a little bit industrialized, in the sense that we have sought to change our classic cloth envelope packaging, carried out manually, it into a film and a machine that has practically been adapted from a weekly newspaper packaging machine to a cloth packaging machine.

… what have we come to see you for? Because you are truly one of the Italian companies that—as far as we've seen on our tour—keeps an eye on the environment, keeps an eye on what is going on around you, keeps an eye on employment, because here in Viadana you basically created jobs, created work and even saved job posts, like your brother told us. Let's say that in 25 years the company has gone from 35 employees in Italy, especially in this area, to over 250. We're really proud because in this time of crisis, we haven't had a single hour of lay-off time, so that's a big deal.
Obviously there are subsidiaries abroad, but the subsidiaries abroad were established to serve other markets, and not to do mobbing or low costing. What I mean is that would've been our principle: to take over other markets. But all that glitters ain't gold… not always…because these aren't Italian cloths. These cloths aren't Italian; they are European, but they aren't Italian. These cloths were made in collaboration with a Spanish family that we started working with almost 20 years ago.
Unfortunately in Italy we don't have the technology that allows us to get such an advanced product. But it's Spanish so the production is entirely European and entirely family-made, although the company is quite large.

All these white boxes, after the product has been boxed where do they go? We see them going around up there. Is there a conveyor belt?
Yes, the box is filled by those machines and then taken through the air to our palletiser that we just saw. Given the large number of pallets that we handle and our production handles, this keeps us from having forklifts that go back and forth as if we were on the highway, with all the risks that that implies. And besides, everything is palletised, put on pallets for shipment, and there's an automated process for this too.
Let's say that there's an automated process. It's not just ours, I have to admit, because together with the retailing companies, such as Coop and the Major ones, as early as 15 years ago we started talking about it, so to avoid logistics costs and quite broad logistics processes—with the costs that come along with them—we sought a common denominator so that our warehouse and the retailers depots could use the same EAN codes and the same handling codes, obviously avoiding wasting energy and for streamlining.
So now we have to go see the brooms, because there's also an entire brooms and brushes range, a plastics division.

Thank you Stefano! The meeting with Silvano Melegari, Managing Director of Arix group continues on Buone Cose. You bought out an historic brand, Tonkita. Why, with what goals?
Well we bought it out in 2011; in fact, it's always remained here in Viadana despite the transfer of its ownership to someone from Turin, so the beating heart of this company has stayed in Viadana. Over the last few years our growth—within the company, that we have pushed through research and development—required a major brand, which was Tonkita. The company that wanted to sell it had for some time been on the market and we grew close to them and made this transaction. What's more, and I must say extremely interesting, wasn't so much the figures—which in fact we are already familiar with—but what we developed, because it was a company that invoiced 15 million and we brought it to 20 million. We also safeguarded employment, which is essential to us, because we grouped together all the employees that were at the Viadana plant at ours, and so they were all saved.

From Viadana you reach the entire world: how do consumer demands differ in foreign countries?
Consumer demands abroad are entirely different from those in Italy. In Italy there is a myriad of cleaning products on the shelf. Frankly, abroad there is more emphasis on certain products and therefore frankly it's a lot easier to meet the foreign consumer's demands as opposed to those of the Italian.
What can I say, we are decidedly cleaner than they are abroad… can we admit it? We sure can, if you just take the English for example, who have carpet that they keep in their house for a lifetime, clearly this undermines even our tools. However, I have to be honest, they are much more minimalist, more superficial in cleaning compared to us.

We are with Angelo Melegari. We've left the heart of Arix and have gone a few kilometres away in the car to reach this plant where Arix produces what?
Brooms, but that's not all. Cleaning equipment for the house: brooms, scrubbing brushes, dustpans, brushes and everything you need to clean house.
I know that later we're going to actually talk with one of the inventors of the broom.
So we'll ask him about history. Instead, how are brooms made today?
We start from the granule, the raw material that is virgin polypropylene that we buy abroad, where there are large plants that produce this material because it's plastic, so it comes from petroleum.
Then what happens? Then we transform them, this material is melted and dye is added based on the models and we punch it. Once punched, the bristles are then attached, which are also produced by a Arix in Poland. Broom bristles are made out of recycled plastic bottles.
Could you explain something else to me? Base is what you call the thing in which they are… support.
How do you come up with a support for a broom that works? That is, what characteristics does it have to have and how is it conceived?
There is a model maker that creates a model with certain characteristics that we know. Then there is the designer that also creates a design that people will like and the dimensions of the brooms… more or less they are this size (there aren't a lot of really big or really little ones) and then the width. We also have to see about cooling the broom, when it's punched, it has to have certain characteristics.

Now we are seeing how the creation and birth of a broom works. First we saw how the base is made, which then in some cases is cooled in water and in others isn't. And then when do you put on the bristles? It's really incredible… It's gotten to the point where the machine does everything.
Yes, a hole is bored in this and tuft bristles are inserted with a punch. The bristles are inserted using a small iron wire, they are nailed into the support and don't move around anymore.

I'll ask you the last question recalling to the broom that we have in our homes. Do people use this broom?
No, it's a characteristic of the broom.
This is a "more mature" broom, we say this because the end part of the wire is practically defibred to give the broom more volume so that it gathers the dust better. Then we have dustpans, different brushes… everything you need at home, for housecleaning.
Even the large brooms for the floor, the one with a cloth?
The mop, yes mops, too, of course.
But there are also different types, that is, not just with fringes. You even have ones with the cloth already attached to them? Yes, of course. We call it Strofì, it's still a mop, it just doesn't have fringes; it's a sole cloth that acts as a floor cleaner.
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