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Macchiavelli: ‘Today, like 50 years ago, what allows us to excel is pursuing innovation’

This is the last installment dedicated to Macchiavelli, a Bologna based company specialized in the production of compatible capsule for the main systems on the market. How is Macchiavelli’s production set up and how important is tradition to them? Let’s find out from Davide Macchiavelli, the company’s chief executive.

Davide Machiavelli

Have you ever thought of producing machines that make use of capsules?

“We have tested some proprietary systems, but it’s a business we’re still not convinced by. One of the reasons is that these systems need to be evaluated by taking into account the whole sales model: it’s not just about creating the machine, it’s about bringing to the market a whole new business model that is capable of meeting the needs and tastes of the consumer.”

Which capsules do you use in your kitchen?

“I use the ones we make, filled with good coffee. Which is a matter of preferences. I enjoy coffee with a high content of Robusta, I like Arabica less, despite it being more premium.”

How does the production work at the factory level?

“Our organization is based on continuous shifts and is the result of well-established company practices, structured around the goal of maximizing efficiency. It’s a system that strives for quality in every activity and production stage in order to maintain consistency in all phases, both by day and by night. What we’ve been doing for years is to teach the importance of quality to all of our employees, from the warehouse workers to the cleaners. This is how we succeed in creating a safe product: our excellent staff is essential and we invest on it, it’s not by chance that we call them our ‘assets’. You can buy machines and facilities but the people make the difference.

Lastly, looks also play a role: we live in a world in which aesthetics are important, especially in Italy. For this reason, we have incorporated a design element in every process and even our automated machines are becoming better looking. And since we’re Italian and we’re good at food and design, combining these is kind of second nature. That’s why we’ve invested in the development of our headquarters from this perspective as well: working in beautiful spaces helps efficiency and people’s well-being.

Clearly, this is also true of our products, since a beautiful capsule will be more attractive for the customer. We all taste with our eyes as well as our palate.”

A whole section of your website is dedicated to “working with us”, this means you keep growing.

“Yes. Last year we hired 12 more people. We are mainly interested in employees with a technical background. We are headquartered in Bologna, the home of packaging and automation. It’s a dynamic region and this means that the companies are often fighting over the best engineering talents. I have to say that Emilia-Romagna is still a good place in terms of employment and over the years its mechanical industry has evolved a lot. In the seventies, Bologna used to produce all kinds of motorbike engines, from Ducati to Morini and Minaralli: it was an incredible time. We’ve been able to convert this experience into today’s production of automated machines, especially with three large companies: Ima, Coesia and Marchesini, which are expanding all over the world. And, even though we’re smaller, we play an important role as well. There are a lot of growing companies that have invested in innovation, which is, as always, the key to overcome the challenges of the future.”

Macchiavelli starts in 1972 in the production of bicycle accessories: do you still make those?

“Not anymore. At the time we were a tiny company and we produced accessories, mainly for the children segment: mudguards, crankcases, knobs and so on. We became an important company in the accessory industry because we created new and beautiful objects. This mindset allowed us to open up to other industries. Even then we worked towards developing innovative proprietary products, filing a patent for a new mudguard for city bikes called VIVO, designed by Gianni Bortolotti, one of the top 10 industrial designers in the world, from Bologna as well. The VIVO mudguard included led lights and an internal storage battery that allowed the lights to remain on even when the bicycle stopped, unlike traditional dynamo systems. We had also designed an electromagnetic induction dynamo to eliminate friction while pedaling.

Even then, despite fewer resources and smaller facilities we didn’t want to settle and we strove for excellence.”

From a great past to a fantastic future.

“It’s always important to remember where you began, that is why we care about our tradition. At the same time, we think of the past as a bridge to get to the future. Today, like fifty years ago, what allows us to excel is the pursuit of innovation. Today’s challenges, however, are different from the past: the world is constantly changing, the competition is stronger, and it is essential to be efficient, reliable and, above all, to be able to anticipate the trends and the technologies of the future. However, I am convinced our corporate culture will allow us to be a leader in the coffee industry and beyond.”