Interview with Mr Antonio Staffoni

Mr Antonio Staffoni
Mr Antonio Staffoni
Santex AG, Santex Group
Santex AG, Santex Group

Established in 1982, in Tobel- Switzerland, Santex AG belongs to the Santex Group that brings together a number of highly specialized companies working in a variety of fields in the textile finishing sector. The Group through companies namely Cavitec AG, SperottoRimar srl, Santex AG, American Santex Inc, Santex India, and Santex Sanghai , focuses on the finishing of woven fabrics, especially those made of wool and silk, the treatment of knitted fabrics in all possible variations, the processing of nonwovens, and the coating and lamination of textile fabrics. The Group is represented all over the world and maintains a specialized service network in every continent to support its customers. Today Santex AG, which act as a headquarter for the Santex Group, has more than 800 customers worldwide. Backed by workforce of 145 employees, the company makes sales worth over CHF 70 million. Mr Antonio Staffoni is the CEO of Santex AG. He is a graduate in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Padova (1994). He began his career as a Trainee at So.ges. SpA, Italy (1995 – 1996). After that, until 2000, Mr Staffoni was Managing Director at Sperotto Rimar India Pvt Ltd. During 2000 to 2005, he was promoted to the post of MD of the parent company - Sperotto Rimar srl, Italy. For consecutive three years thereon, Mr Staffoni rendered the responsibilities as the Vice President and Head of Sales at Santex Group. Interviewed by Face2Face team, Mr Antonio Staffoni shares about key strategies and ethics that help Santex to be one of the most spectacular success stories in world of textile machinery.

Can we begin with a glimpse of milestones the company has reposed since its inception in 1982? What is world textile machinery market-size and share that Santex Group embarks in it?

1981, incorporation of Santex AG in Tobel, Switzerland

1984-1990, Santex AG grows steadily, doubling its turnover every year.

1996, Santex AG acquires Caratsch AG (machines for composites and lamination) and Villars AG (coating and laminating machines), merging them into the newly incorporated Cavitec AG of Muenchwilen, Switzerland. Creation of the Santex Group of Companies.

2001, Santex AG merges with Sperotto Rimar srl, Italy.

2005, Santex opens its sales and manufacturing facility in Qing Pu, Shanghai, China.

The world textile machinery market is huge and covers a great variety of segments, from bale opening to finishing and from nonwoven processing to synthetic extrusion.

The “Textile machinery division” of Santex Group, which groups machines sold under the brands Santex and Sperotto Rimar, acts only in a very small slice of it, which we can generally refer to as “dry finishing”.

There are no independent marketing figures available for this sector. We estimate to hold approximately 30-40% in turnover value of the dry finishing machines for knits, where we are considered the market leader.

What key strategies/business ethics does it take to be one of the most spectacular success stories in the business of textile machinery industry?

I must first of all mention that I come from Sperotto Rimar, and therefore I joined Santex relatively late, when its booming years were stabilising. I could see those booming years as a competitor (Santex and Sperotto Rimar were competing fiercely before the merger) and I often wondered how they could do this.

Having been for 7 years in Santex now, I think this company succeeded mainly because of 3 factors:

1) it focused on a particular technology segment (machines for knits processing) and put all its efforts into that only, in a moment when other companies, may be more technical- than market-driven, gave in to the temptation to do “a little of everything”

2) it introduced the concept of “full dry finishing” by selling not just one machine but a set of machines and the textile know-how to use them to achieve the best world standards

3) it always put customers on top. Not just in words: we really do it. One instance: most companies at that time did not (and some still do not) pay enough care to customer’s complaints on small fix-ups after erection and commissioning. Santex always took pains to achieve the maximum customer satisfaction, without looking much at the side of “was this included? Who should pay for this extra?”.

I think we can summarize that approach with the sentence “solve the problem first, discuss later”.

Describing in global context, what would be your words for present state of textile and clothing industry? How is this affecting your business?

I can only assess what is under everybody’s eyes: today’s textile industry is going through a horrible moment.

First increasing oil and energy prices, then credit market crisis have triggered a plunge in consumers’ spending in the USA and EU, which are still THE driving consumer markets for the world. This has badly affected the textile mills, which constitute our customer basis.

In 2008 more than ever, textile mills are confronted worldwide with reduced size of orders, higher price pressure, increasing energy and labour costs and minimal possibility to avail of bank credit.

I could hardly figure out a less attractive scenario for a textile mill to invest in capital equipment.

Published on: 27/10/2008

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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