Clients all over the world would not miss any new model of finishing machines produced by the family company from Mirandola. There are those who collect them in Germany naming them after emperors of a dynasty and those who, like in Ireland, make the traffic stop in order to lift one up to the third floor. That “fever” increased right after the current 484 model revealed its “magical” technology that allows the operator to work in a cool environment while the machine produces 20 degrees heat above the average temperature.
That day the traffic stopped in Dublin to have the 483 lifted up to the third floor.
If you add “Did you children know that…”, it becomes the beginning of a fairy tale where the 483 is not a robot like the C1-P8 from Star Wars but not far from it either. It is a shirt finisher that appears similar to a human figure if you only take a closer look.
The best part of it all is that it is not a fairy tale but on that day, in the capital of Eire, the traffic really stopped. The power of Barbanti, a family company that produces finishing machines not coincidentally in the same town where in the XV century Pico della Mirandola became a historical figure due to his mathematical and mnemonic incomparable genius.
Clearly, it is the air one breaths in Mirandola, in the province of Modena that fosters the inventive prodigy of those linked to calculations and technology. As it was discovered in that laundry in Dublin whose owners, righteous Irish people ready for everything in order to realize the dream they believed in, did not pay attention to expenses and permits as long as they could get the 483 into their company.
The crucial part of it was that it would be the Barbanti shirt finisher that had become famous all over the world as it was able to finish both dry and wet shirts perfectly. It was able to do it allowing high productivity per hour and great energy saving. An upstanding mix that alone could have been enough, without talking about all the other marvelous things that the machine included, not to mention the super efficient energy saving device, to make those “Dubliners” get all the necessary permits to stop the traffic in the capital city. It then really happened over the necessary time gap needed to download the machine, then lift it by means of a winch on the outside of the building until it got to the third floor of the shopping center where the laundry is situated.
The day I met Carlo Barbanti and his children Angela and Roberto, I discovered that their story is full of other fairy tales with a happy ending. It is about the 483, as well as its successor, the 484, a superstar at EXPOdetergo International 2014 which is the current star performer in the market where for over twenty years shirts finishing has been one of the most acknowledged cornerstones of this company in this prosperous part of Emilia.
On the other hand, it has been like this since the very 50s’. We are talking about the time when a mechanical craftsman Ilario Barbanti, tired of seeing flat irons with the cords broken due to their too speedy exploitation, constructed a prototype of a revolutionary machine called “a couple”. The name comes from two iron pieces heated up electrically over an inclined flat level so that the operator can alternate them until they get cold taking turns, with the possibility that while one cools down, the other comes back hot.
“What my father did was a momentous success – says Carlo, together with his wife Renata, always by his side in the factory– so when in 1975 I started running the company, I had in mind that illuminating example which gave me the right leap. More than just a leap, Mr Carlo Barbanti has taken a real flight in order to have his company be part of the most important world ironing brands, today Italy being world leader in ironing for years. The neatly aligned images of the company in an album-brochure like are the proof of it as they visually talk about the long march taken so far, with the presupposition to continue this way.
The beauty of the story is that, either for the pioneer form finisher Maxi 90, useful thirty years ago to start going abroad, or for the more futuristic variations of the 484, the lesson given by granddad Ilario with his “couple” always comes out. In other words, it was all about breaking through the market thanks to a mission of a company that starts by solving practical problems adapting the models to clients’ needs each time and to the working conditions from the productive, environmental and legislative points of view.
Either on the drafting table or directly on the field, it has been fundamental for a company like Barbanti to always be one step ahead. It was like this until the end of the 90s when the factory was producing machines on behalf of a gigantic German company, and even more later on, when it started to run on its own.
It has all been efficient if we only think that a model like 435 that optimizes the link between an easy use and high productivity guarantees an industrial laundry in Berlin to dry and iron 1.8 million shirts a year saving 80 thousand euro.
“The result is that we always love finding innovative solutions and being in advance in the market through improving ourselves constantly- Carlo Barbanti explains – because only in this way, maybe even surprising the clients, we can place our brand on a constantly excellent level”.
The 484 parabola, the latest jewel of the company, is exemplary and perfectly encapsulated in an infrared photo that Angela Barbanti takes out from a drawer explaining that “as you can see from the colors matching to determined temperatures, the operator works in a fresh and cool environment even if in strict contact with a machine that produces twenty degrees more than the average heat, guaranteeing therefore maximum results. How it happens is our secret that comes from an infinite number of laboratory tests”.
It is clear that if the Barbanti are constantly projected into the future, used to fighting against time, what they receive in return is an invaluable award called loyalty. As it happens for car collectors who do not miss any Lamborghini model, in the same way many clients all over the world wait with excitement for a new Barbanti model not only in the shirt finishers category but also as far as presses, toppers, ironing tables and any other kind of articles that make part of ironing industry. “One of our most loyal clients is a German entrepreneur – Roberto Barbanti reveals– who changes the name of every model of shirt finishing machines calling them in progression Carl The Third, The Fourth, The Fifth…, assigning this way a role of an emperor of ironing to my father who created them”.
Being ahead is taking the Barbanti to the point that even the earthquake which devastated Mirandola in 2012 did not break them. What is more, they only needed few months to reconstruct the factory from ruins out of use, moving the production temporarily into a warehouse in Sala Bolognese. Finished and ready products continued to come out from there only a month after the earthquake.
“To the point that – Carlo Barbanti says – some clients came to visit us just to see how it all had been possible. It was a dramatic situation but in the end it made us stronger than ever, and more aware of the precious time that life gives us”.
Via di Mezzo 78
I – 41037 MIRANDOLA MO
Tel./Ph +39 0535 20023 Fax +39 0535 26274
by Stefano Ferrio
Detergo Magazine January 2016