ITALIAN TALENT — From blue-collar workers to managers to make “The Sunflower” bloom


This beautiful story is set in Porto Garibaldi, Ferrara, and talks about fourteen workers who founded a cooperative after the industrial laundry where they worked had closed down. Consequently, they decided to invest their severance pay in a new business. Today, after just two years, thanks to an important order, the turnover of the Cooperative amounts to almost 800 thousand euros per year.
Eleven new employees have recently been hired. 
The Emilia region way follows the example of the American Working Buyers


“We need a name that will bring us good luck – said the women while choosing the name for “their” industrial laundry after having faced a thousand troubles. One of the
women came up with the name “sunflower” (girasole) because its corolla follows the path of the Sun in the sky, which implies peacefulness even before prosperity.
The choice turned out to be more than lucky as a year and a half later, we are here to talk about the success and the growing turnover of the Sunflower Laundry based in Porto Garibaldi, Ferrara. It was founded “upwind” by fourteen blue-collar workers. Ready to be come managers, only to keep their place of work in that same territory without subordinating to the tough labour mobility regulations, they founded the laundry.
The reconstruction of this collective miracle starts in 2013 when the Health Services laundry (Servizi Ospedalieri) in Ferrara, one of the biggest Italian laundry businesses
with their four factories and nineteen subcontracting partners all over the country, decided to close their headquarters based in Porto Garibaldi. The idea was to transfer
115 employees to Ferrara, a town based 60 km away. However, as it often happens, the idea met with delresistance especially by those who would preferably keep their place of
work near their homes.
While negotiations were taking place and the questions on the future of their jobs were being asked, the employees in charge of maintenance were slowly dismantling and removing the huge laundry machines.
“That was the first time when we started talking about some possible solutions we thought we could use – says Piersante Luciani, a former blue-collar worker back then and the current Vice President of Girasole Laundry. – At some point, someone
said we could combine our two points of strength and make it  to start with and the only possibility the fourteen workers had was their severance pay that they received after having quit their jobs at Servizi Ospedalieri. They put the money together. Fortunately, also Legacoop offered their support through a cooperative fund, Coopfond. The
total sum gathered reached 500 thousand euros. The Girasole industrial laundry opened in March 2016. Matteo Tomasi became the President while Piersante Luciani was chosen for the role of the Vice President. The laundry started washing tones of linen for Lidigroup right away.
A year and a half later, we are dealing with reassuring figures. The number of employees has increased from 14 to 25, and the 2017 turnover is going to hit 800 thousand
euros again if not more. “In the meantime, we are studying how to become better managers – Piersanti reveals – and in order to increase work orders in summertime,
we started to work for beach resorts and hotels in the sea-side areas near Ferrara (lidi ferraresi)”.
The fortunate Sunflower of the blue-collar workers keeps blooming and growing following the happy experience of “Workers Buyout”, a formula that allows workers to buy the company they work for. Wellrooted in the United States, the formula
reflects the existence of the common ground between the Wall Street and the Working Class. They have confirmed that in Porto Garibaldi, Italy. •

Detergo Magazine – November 2017