Forty years spent working in same area have enabled the Negri family to interpret trends and to “act in advance” when necessary. Via services that have come to include home delivery, one-price stores, supplies to eateries and rest home contracts
It’s nice to think that in the Polesine area (north-east of Italy)where So.Ve.La. is based, residents at the Castelmassa, Fratta Polesine and Villadose rest homes are regularly supplied with linen from the same place that used to clean their own clothes and blankets some 40 years ago. This goes to show that when there is a real business culture it can inspire changes that are always in sync with the changing times. Whether it’s a ticket with “paid” stamped on it, or an almost invisible “chip” located in the right place.
It’s basically what the story is all about, from the glorious “basic dry cleaners” of the 70’s that sprung up in town squares across Italy, to the sophisticated electronic identification systems for clothes now used by laundries. From an era when “dry” and “wet” were two very separate worlds, to the present-day where they tend to live together in companies that are becoming more and more versatile and leading-edge.
If a bright economics student from university, with an interest in the real changes that have taken place in this country, was to focus his attention on Italian laundries, So.Ve.La. (acronym for Società Veneta Lavanderie) in Via Calto 341, Ceneselli (Rovigo) embodies the past 40 years of revolutions, big or small.
This hypothetical student, driven by the best intentions, should also be reminded that So.Ve.La is located in a special place. The heart of the Polesine area where the land is a sort of jewel box of treasured water, lying between two of Italy’s most important rivers, the Po and the Adige. Water that flows, fertilizes and produces energy, as the home page of the So.Ve.La. website very wisely points out. Showing from the very start how this story is rooted in an economic culture based on natural resources.
Ornella Viola, who opened her dry cleaning store in Ceneselli in the early 70’s and was soon enthusiastically joined by husband Mauro Negri, had always been well aware of this. The company was initially called Negri Express — a name that is still used for the dry cleaning stores — as a part of the So.Ve.La. group. Its winning features soon emerged, and started with full awareness of the needs of the inhabitants living in the surrounding area. To the point that Mr Negri’s laundry soon become the place where people from a large slice of the 60 km Polesine area would go, and where the company’s vans would pick up dirty linen and deliver clean linen. A service-oriented way of thinking that was applied in an extraordinary way to an important city like Bologna in the 80’s and 90’s. This was where Negri opened six “one-price stores”, two of which were dry cleaning facilities and four delivery centers only. A small yet efficient “commercial chain” that was later sold successfully.
A dynamic approach and an ability to interpret shifting market needs continue to be the trump cards that So.Ve.La. holds up its sleeves. Over the past 20 years this company has progressively changed its growth strategies. First by offering a quality service to restaurants and eateries in the area, where about 80 businesses are regularly supplied with table linen that has been washed to perfection. Then, two years ago, Federico came up with the idea of investing in a service to rest homes. It turned out to be a winning idea, because the So.Ve.La. mark offered a guarantee as did its leading-edge “closet management” service. Simply put, a standard, flat rate for each and every rest home resident in agreement with the rest home. The organizing work that lies behind this simple, inspiring principle uses bar codes for instructions on how to clean every single item of clothing. Followed by ironing and mending services which are memorized in the garment’s chip.
Yet So.Ve.La. has no intention of stopping here. Mauro Negri and his wife Ornella Viola have handed down the family business culture to their son Federico who is now committed to renewing the prestige and reliability of a brand that is always being updated to keep up with changing needs. In fact, the production of clean linen is now divided equally between laundering and dry cleaning. Thanks to the full range of equipment and services that make So.Ve.La the “historical” mark that it is.