We have seen it at the last Monte Carlo Grand Prix, when we have been contacted to our location from Sanremo by Alpine Renault, for washing 37 suits used by the drivers Alonso and Ocon, as well as by their mechanics. The brand has reached this level of excellence in just few years, opening not less than nine shops on the Riviera di Ponente. The only “secret” of success is a life dedicated to the textiles of the owner Franco Verroca, trained from a young age in his mother’s prestigious tailor’s shop in Cremona

Who would be able to wash thirty-seven dirty Formula 1 racing suits in one day and return them as good as new? Was an interesting question that resounded on Monday 23 May from the lobby to the management of the luxurious hotel in the Principality of Monaco intended to accommodate the Alpine Renault staff before the Monte Carlo Grand Prix scheduled for next Sunday, 29 May. Getting into details, these were clothes just used by the drivers Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon – the first one of Spanish origins and the second one of French origins – as well as by thirty mechanics-engineers for the Spanish Grand Prix, held the previous Sunday at the Montmelò circuit, just outside Barcelona: a big batch of overalls full of grease, the same quantity usually used inside a pit equipped for refinishing the engines and changing the tyres.

All over the Principality of Monaco, but also in the neighbouring France, such a pressing question is not answered for long time. Until, as it is frequently happening, and not only in the Formula 1 racing teams, we seek help from the Made in Italy. After all, Liguria is just within a stone’s throw away… “So that, we, Lavafrank of Sanremo, took care of it”. These are the words of Franco Verroca, 56 years old, originally from Cremona, with a lifetime experience in clothing and commerce, the creator and the owner of a group, the Lavafrank Group, which, over the last five years, has given a new and powerful boost to the textile maintenance industry located in the area of some of the main touristic destinations on the Riviera di Ponente.

A market intuition that immediately yielded the opening of a first shop in Arma di Taggia, followed by eight more collection points: three located in Sanremo, where they are ready to serve the clientele brought by the famous song festival, and then two in Imperia, one in Bordighera, one in Ventimiglia and one in Pontedassio, the last also used as a processing workshop for the entire group, which has currently a number of thirty employees. “It is important to underline that these are not just simple numbers for me, but skilled operators,” clarifies Franco Verroca, “hired one by one according to their experience and competences acquired in the sector.

This clarification can easily be used to trace the origins, both family- related and professional, of the Lombard businessman, who tells us: “My beloved mother, who passed away four years ago, was called Anna Maria Toselli, and her tailor’s shop was one of the most famous in Cremona, and hundreds of ladies for which she designed and sewed the wedding dress can testify. Furthermore, the same Mina, our great fellow-citizen, had the opportunity to use her services in the golden years of her career”.

“You can understand from here, continues Verroca, how, since my childhood, I grew up around the fabrics, learning to feel them, recognise them, compare them. It is the same professional skill that I am looking for among the company’s employees, because a perfect washing it is also influenced of the proper loads, and not just of the machines and technology. Let me explain: if I simply put a delicate silk shirt together with another garment with zips in the washing machine, just because they have to be treated in the same way, I am relying on the providence, since I cannot exclude a cut in the shirt caused by one of those zips”.

“All of this, clarifies further the entrepreneur, refers to the sense of a laundry inspired by craftsmanship principles. That means knowing how each washing is obtained by the combined action of a chemical product and the rubbing together of the different garments inserted. That’s why I always try to remember that we are a little bit like the goldsmiths: we are dealing with precious goods because they are unique. Two identical jackets that come out of the same factory, two years later are turned differently by the person who has worn them in the meantime, how many times, and how”. It is therefore not surprising how quickly and efficiently, thanks to all these skills, the Lavafrank Group has conquered such a large and important market in just few years. •

Detergo Magazine – Number 6, June 2022

by Stefano Ferrio