Beyond recession with gape due moulds
Gape Due is approaching its fiftieth anniversary: it began its activity in the ceramic district 47 years ago and the adventure is anything but over. Its presence at the 2014 Tecnargilla testifies this: innovation in still coming through here, one of the companies which made the hystory of ceramic, providing a precious contribute to the realization of tiles, staying abreast with the innovations of the sector.
“We started – remembers Michele Gatti, the owner – when we were very young, as happened for many people in that period when building a company was easier on one hand and more adventurous on the other. I began from a professional school, then I worked for five years in a Marazzi workshop, where they realized the moulds. At the age of 22, with a colleague, I have decided to start our own business. It was 1966.
We have left a safe place and started again from my house’s garage. At first, we have been helped by a big local laboratory which commissioned us the work, but at that period there was a lot of it, the activity deve-loped fast. We have worked for third parties for mechanic’s workshops, then at a certain point we moved to direct contacts with ceramics companies. Then, the company began to grow, our first depot was 250 meters. We intercepted the period of maximum expansion of this industry, almost every month a new ceramic was founded, and it needed stamps, there was the neces-sity of producing and with very high edges. So, since the beginning we got a lot of work, well payed. We did progressively increase: 500 meters, then a thousand. In 1980 we have built the actual seat in Via Regina Pacis, launched in 1981. We have also opened another one in Formigine, which become victim of the crisis, we have closed it in 2009 moving everything in Sassuoto, without leaving any people at home.
We are more in a little space, but we wait for the upswing and we keep on working”. Today Gape Due employes al-most 70 people and realized up to 15 thousands of peaces per year.
The beginning is one of the classic and overwhelming ones of our district. But today?
“The ceramic industry is always needing moulds, we are working in a sector which, even if it has gone into crisis, has kept a wide clientele. It is true, however, that techno-logical innovations such as Lamina of System or Sacmi’s Continua, allow to avoid also the necessity ofmou lds. And other developments which could cause difficulties to us are on the horizon. Digital decoration, as an example, has not yet touched us, but the new machines, which seem able to apply glazes and create structures, can make moulds less necessary. We start from gypsum structures realized from ateliers, designer, artists. The digitalization of structures could bring away work from us, but above all from our satellite activities, which consists of creatives. We don’t know if these technologies will become established and how much, but we are always at the avant- garde, we did not ever neglect technological improvement and we have anyway a worldwide market, therefore I believe that all around the world there will be the needing of molds for a long period again”.
Moulds which are no longer the ones of years ago, you needed to study a lot:
“Of course they developed, above all due to the passage to big formats. Years ago there were little sizes, moulds were rather standardize, they were moved by hand. Today we realize moulds with a size of 2,5 meters and multioutput. The research and development are decisive: the moulds is no more mechanic, by now, it is a sophisticated machine which has to guarantee the uniformity in pressing to products with a big surface”.
From here on, how will develop the technology for enamels, in your opinion?
“The Big format will remain the priority and the tenden-cy also for tomorrow. I remember when it seemed crazy to think about 60×60 tiles, now they are practically the standard measure and we reach also a meter per side. I believe that everyone is going in this direction and only the companies which invested in technologies and inno-vation will be able to answer to the needs of markets, the others will fight only for the prices. The crisis, moreover, did emphasize this tendency”.
The crisis, indeed. Do you see it still going on, overtaken or in reversion?
through three really difficult years from 2009 to 2012. In 2009 everything did stop, there were no more requests nor work.
In 2013 things changed and we have seen a positive ten-dency, which seems to continue in 2014″.
What are you bringing to this Tecnargilla and how are you living Rimini’s event?
“The innovations that we will bring to the exposition will remain secret until the opening, also because until the last moment we are studying, making tests and then there could also be the possibility to bring more innovations. As far as Tecnargilla is concerned, it is not the exposition which will make us sell huge quantities at the very moment, obviously, but it remains one of the more important worldwide windows for ceramic technologies, it is one of the places and the occasions where the biggest part of your clients comes to visit you and this spares us from the necessity of going and visiting them one by one all around the world. It is still irreplaceable and we are participating with enthusiasm”.