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Family Business. Stories of enduring success and innovation.

Castelli was born in 1876, if we count the time when it was called Vittore Gianni, as the business was known when it was taken over from the eponymous Milanese owner by Maurizio’s father.

But since 2003 the brand has belonged to a company in the province of Belluno, Manifattura Valcismon. The Belluno-based company is certainly not a newcomer to the technical sportswear sector. Quite the contrary — the Cremonese family, now in its third generation, has worked in the textile industry since 1946.

sede-castelli

Founded in Lamon, by Olindo and Irma Cremonese, the company moved in 1954 to Fonzaso, where the headquarters are still located today. The turning point came with the couple’s son, Giordano, who loved sports, especially cross-country skiing, and initiated a true business transformation during the ’70s and ’80s that led the company to become a manufacturer of technical sportswear.Now, heading up the company together with Giordano are his four children: Dario, Alberto, Gioia and Alessio.
A love of sports and a passion for cycling are the keys to business success that have brought Manifattura Valcismon today to guide the Castelli brand.

 

dottoreDR. GIORDANO

Manifattura Valcismon, founded by Olindo and Irma Cremonese, began as a producer of wool yarn. Giordano, the only heir, joined the company during the ’70s and, thanks to his passion for sports, made the important decision to focus the company’s resources on sports apparel.

When were you introduced to the Castelli brand?
I’ve always viewed Castelli as a leading cycling brand, and I always followed it back in the day. I saw it both on athletes and at events such as trade shows.

I’ve heard that you met Maurizio Castelli in the past. Can you tell me about that?
I came into contact with Maurizio Castelli almost by accident. At the time, Mario Cipollini was our athlete, and during the Giro d’Italia he came to Bassano del Grappa after he had earned the cyclamen jersey.
The official Giro jerseys were Castelli, and Mario asked me if I could turn the jersey with a short zipper into a full-zip jersey.
I went to the company, which was not far from the stage, and had this “operation” done, but we used a zipper pull with our branding, since we couldn’t do otherwise, and the next day I brought it to him for the start in Castelfranco. When they saw the jersey, the Castelli lawyers were up in arms, ready for a legal battle. The whole thing ended quickly, though, because I got in touch with Maurizio Castelli and explained the situation. He understood, and from that moment we became friends. We saw each other at every trade show.
He died shortly after, in 1995, of a heart attack, and at that moment I wanted to buy his company, given how much I had always admired it, but it was not possible.

And then?
Castelli’s business soon began to suffer, and after insisting several times I managed to enter into negotiations and to buy the brand. For two years the brand stayed in Rosate; then we brought everything to Fonzaso to manage it and control it better.
With the acquisition of Castelli, the US office, Infuga, became ours as well.

Tell me about the company that you created with your parents, Manifattura Valcismon.
Manifattura Valcismon is a company that since ’72–’73 has focused on producing sports clothing. We made knitwear, tennis apparel, underwear, sweaters and a large amount of clothing for leisure and fashion. In the ’80s we produced a lot of fleeces and turtlenecks. Now, since 2007, we have also worked on a line that produces outdoor clothing.

When did you dedicate yourself completely your family’s company?
I joined the company in 1963. I had graduated from medical school a few years before, and for two years I worked as a doctor at the Feltre hospital, in general medicine. Before, I always spent a lot of time at my parents’ company, and when I took merchandise to the Feltre station (then it was common to ship by rail), I took advantage of the opportunity to stop in town and get together with my friends.
In 1963 I gave up the profession of medicine to dedicate myself totally to the company.

 

darioDARIO

The eldest of the four siblings, joined the company in 1989, at age 23 — after high school with a science focus, two years studying economics and business at the University of Venice, and one year of military service. He focuses on sales and marketing.

What caused the “spark” that triggered your love for cycling?
The challenges between Moser and Saronni, archrivals in the period between the ’70s and ’80s, were definitely what made me passionate about cycling. My father was a fan of Moser, so, just to be different, I became a fan of Saronni.
In my business career I’ve also always handled the trade shows, from Cologne to Milan, so living and working in this world has also contributed to my love for the sport, having been able to see its value.

How did you start at Manifattura Valcismon?
We were still a small company, so I started managing the full range of sales and marketing activities by myself. Then the company grew, and I began to delegate this function to others. Today I oversee a team of about 20 people.

DARIO, the eldest of the four siblings, joined the company in 1989, at age 23 — after high school with a science focus, two years studying economics and business at the University of Venice, and one year of military service. He focuses on sales and marketing.

What caused the “spark” that triggered your love for cycling?
The challenges between Moser and Saronni, archrivals in the period between the ’70s and ’80s, were definitely what made me passionate about cycling. My father was a fan of Moser, so, just to be different, I became a fan of Saronni.
In my business career I’ve also always handled the trade shows, from Cologne to Milan, so living and working in this world has also contributed to my love for the sport, having been able to see its value.

How did you start at Manifattura Valcismon?
We were still a small company, so I started managing the full range of sales and marketing activities by myself. Then the company grew, and I began to delegate this function to others. Today I oversee a team of about 20 people.

You are the person in the company who works most closely with the pro teams. What does a typical day at an event look like for you?
Over time, with passion and dedication, I’ve had to earn the respect and goodwill of the athletes and the various team managers, while always aiming to keep the athletes supplied and follow them in every race, helping to launch Castelli’s latest innovations.
I try to be present at every event to meet with our sponsored athletes, evaluate their top choices and talk to those who might be the next to wear Castelli clothing.

I know you’re a big fan of sports, including football …
I played until reaching the top amateur regional league with Feltrese, and as you know I am a big Juventus fan.
But I like every aspect of sports, and I get excited about all sports where there’s competition.

Tell me something about the top cyclists. Who’s your favorite?
My favorites today are definitely Alberto Contador and Peter Sagan, and I’m lucky to work with them with our historic family brand. I especially like them as athletes because even though one is a climber who wins grand tours and one is a complete rider who is a strong rouleur and a sprinter, both refuse to sit in and wait but instead are always on the attack.

And your favorite team?
As to the team, I’ll use past tense: I think my all-time favorite team was Mapei. I believe the victories of that team, which we also sponsored, were truly unique.

What’s your dream, from a business perspective?
I’d like to be able to win the Tour de France with the scorpion, after having seen Ryder Hesjedal win the Giro in 2012.

 

gioiaGIOIA

The only woman among the four siblings, focuses on planning and purchasing. Although she deals with Castelli only marginally, she is involved in the most important company decisions.

Tell me about how you started at the company.
I graduated in languages and English literature from the IULM, when it still had a program in Feltre.
After graduation I joined the company, working with the Hummel brand — the world of football.
When I left football, I moved to purchasing.
At first I handled products sourced from third-party manufacturers in Asia — accessories such as gloves, shoe covers, rain jackets and so on. Initially there were fewer of these products, and I was able to manage everything myself, but as the company has grown we’ve become a larger staff, which I manage.
Then I moved to purchasing management in general, and I oversee the purchasing department with its four-person staff. For successful production, we need to have the materials on hand in sufficient quantities, or we will always be late.
For a garment like the Gabba, we have eight-week turnaround times for the production of the material, plus another two for delivery, so we always need clear ideas and accurate predictions of what is needed. The warehouse needs to be organized in a flexible manner to make sure production runs smoothly and without bottlenecks, which is not easy, and we’re often chasing deadlines anyway.I do not follow Castelli very much in my work. I do not follow the development of Castelli products very much in my day-to-day work. I deal with my brothers on company decisions, but I am not directly involved with the brand in terms of the creation of the collection. I deal much more with Manifattura Valcismon’s outdoor line, since I am a great lover of the mountains.
I hope the Castelli brand always continues like this, with steady growth and constant innovation. I’d like to congratulate the Castelli team, which is doing an excellent job. What I would like to see in this company is the same growth in the outdoor category. Now we need to work on extending our Karpos line outside Italy to really see significant sales numbers.

What do you think about the Castelli events?
The Maratona dles Dolomites – Enel is a wonderful event, and having Castelli among the main sponsors makes it even more so. There’s a special atmosphere, they’re good at closing the roads, and in that event the rider is truly the center of attention.
I’ve participated in the Castelli 24H several times. It’s always very fun and it’s a one-of-a-kind event. There’s both the race component and the community and friendship aspect.

What do you think about Castelli’s women’s line?
Style has always been very important to Castelli, and I really like the way Sonia and Maria Teresa see and design the Castelli woman. It’s definitely a vision of a sporty woman, committed to racing but absolutely without losing her femininity.

 

albertoALBERTO

deals primarily with the company’s information technology. He oversees company initiatives that involve computers and technology.

When did you join the company?
I’ve been at the company since 1994, when I finished my military service.
At first I worked for Hummel, the football clothing brand that we had licensed.

And the lines that you had in the past?
I was the only one in the family who loved snowboarding, and we had an external sales agent that sold snowboarding equipment, so I did my training there: first just snowboards, then also skateboarding and fashion.
I did this until 2002, the year when sales were taken in-house.
I handled orders, financial statements and sales.

Then after your experience outside the company, what did you do?
I returned to Manifattura Valcismon in 2008 and began implementing various projects related to information technology for the family company, while at the same time also following the family business of our holding company, in order to prepare it to move it forward in the twenty-first century as well.

 

alessioALESSIO

is the youngest of the four siblings. He is in charge of production for Manifattura Valcismon.

How did you start at Manifattura Valcismon?
I started my education right after high school, when we held a license for football clothing. I’ve always been a football fan, and until a few years ago I played on an amateur team.
I worked with the teams that we supplied as technical sponsor, and I handled the production of the products.
This training was critical. It gave me the technical foundation for the work I do today. I look after custom clothing, and I learned everything there was to know about screen printing, embroidery and materials.

How was the acquisition of the Castelli brand?
Since 2003 Castelli has been a Manifattura Valcismon property, but until 2005 it remained in Rosate under the supervision of a manager, after which everything was brought to Fonzaso, from the product warehouse to the operational departments, so Castelli was officially absorbed.
What we had previously learned from our cross-country skiing lines and cycling clothing was applied to Castelli; all our expert knowledge was used to rejuvenate the scorpion brand.
But it wasn’t a one-way relationship: Castelli’s research heritage, the passion of Maurizio Castelli for cycling, and everything that had been done at Castelli up until then were crucial. The research on aerodynamics, for example, was something that Maurizio had already invested in in the past.
Let’s say that we’ve contributed our manufacturing resources and our expertise; Castelli had a legacy of research, passion and renown in the world of cycling.

What do you do at Castelli?
In the production chain within the Castelli brand, from an operational point of view, I’m present at various events and I’m involved in the decision-making processes on which teams to invest in or on the creation of new clothing lines.

What does the Castelli brand mean to you?
I grew up watching athletes like Moser and Saronni, who wore jerseys with the scorpion. Today, determining the fate of a brand that has always been legendary for me is very rewarding.

Tell me about your passion for cycling.
I’ve always followed cycling. As a family we were always in this environment. With our company, since I was small, I’ve always followed and participated in events and met great athletes.
Plus, cycling is a sport that cross-country skiers like me practice a lot in the summer. Even our cross-country ski teams take out the bikes and train on the road when there’s no snow to ski on. So I do my granfondos too; I go to events and go out riding with friends.


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