Here is an entire article from the Como Industry Magazine, which can be consulted in full by clicking here.


Article by Stefano Rudilosso

He measures every word. He chooses them carefully. He almost caresses them with a grace of yesteryear, with an oratory art that has that taste of profound classical culture. On the other hand, the mantra of Paolo Arrigoni, CEO of the homonymous leader company in the sector of polyethylene nets for agriculture and construction, is a Greek word: ethics. And it couldn’t be otherwise. He continually recurs in what he says but, above all, in what he has always done. That action aimed at good, that conduct and underlies every action, which makes ethics become the purpose. Like, for example, allowing a plant to be able to do what it was born for: “to live and bear fruit in a healthy way, without having to spend more energy to defend itself” underlines Arrigoni. Or, again, to avoid the use of harmful substances such as pesticides in agriculture. Thanks, of course, to its products, which protect the finest, most defenseless, most specialized crops. And together with ethics, in Paolo Arrigoni’s entrepreneurial and human philosophy there is another important word of Greek derivation: aesthetics.

The science of art and beauty. Because Arrigoni Spa products are not only ethical and useful but also beautiful. Paolo Arrigoni has a classical education, loves nature, is the son of a weaver and a pharmacist. From the very beginning: nature, health and … looms. But also beauty. How then to combine these elements, so apparently different from each other? From a reflection on harmony. Harmony, for a crop, is to grow and develop in a favorable environment. And the favorable environment, given that nature does not always exist or, at least, given that man, over the centuries, has changed the natural environment, Arrigoni has created it using innovative agro-textile screens that allow the plant to “communicate ”And to relate to the“ territory ”thus absorbing the very force of nature: air, water, sun. And being simultaneously protected from external climatic events and insect attacks. The environment, the favorable microclimate make the plant healthier and stronger. It therefore needs less treatments, less pesticides. It does not have to defend itself from climatic adversities and invests its energy in producing, fruiting, increasing healthiness and polyphenol content and contributing to modern and sustainable agriculture.

Dr. Arrigoni, let’s get to your company: you write that you have 60 years of experience because you have been making technical fabrics in polyethylene since 1959, but in reality you have been weavers for many years before, since 1936. What is the secret to giving continuity to the company , overcome a world war, oil crises and, today, a global pandemic?

I think that among the best characteristics of Italian culture there are those of flexibility and the ability to change. I am an entrepreneur, but our workers are also less rigid and more inclined to change. Our departure in textiles comes from my grandfather, who was director of textile factories for many years and in 1936, in Bizzarone, he opened our current logistics office, where he started together with my father Giovanni Arrigoni, who immediately flanked him. They dealt with high quality shirt fabrics and prided themselves on being suppliers of the Royal House. Textiles have always been subject to development and crisis cycles. I remember that in the 1960s, on the occasion of a period of crisis for the company, a friend and comrade in arms of my father, a chemical engineer introduced us to the world of new fibers, such as polyethylene that is born with Natta in Milan. Thus it was that the company began to weave the technical thread by thinking of a couple of applications: in agriculture such as anti-hail nets and for the harvest of olives, and in the field of packaging.

In the following years, with my entry into the company, I realized that there was a misalignment between the many products we made and the small size of the company. Hence the reflection about the need for specialization in some direction. Agriculture won, by virtue of my love for the countryside, for greenery and nature. Over the years we have expanded the range of products and the markets in which we are present, introducing production sites in Puglia, Veneto and subsequently in Romania. But always with the mentality of the manufacturer, that is, one who is very attentive to the quality of his product, he is equally attentive to improving the process, but is not entirely aware of the usefulness that comes with the product.

But despite being a manufacturer, over the years, you have well understood the usefulness of your product.

The real qualitative leap has occurred in the last ten years, thanks to the hiring in the company, on the research tables, of agronomists who have helped us to understand the usefulness of our products. I admit that it was a slow and steady revolution on the product that is still continuing today. Our flexibility makes us ready to accept the needs that gradually come to us from the world of horticulture and fruit growing. We started by studying how to solve the problem of insects, creating increasingly thick insect screens which, however, brought with them the difficulty of an insufficient passage of air.

These needs have led us to refine the studies related to the passage of fluids. Over time, different needs have arisen, such as the increase in temperature due to climate change which makes it more complex to cultivate in certain latitudes. So our product has gone from having an almost negative meaning, due to the prefix “anti”, such as anti rain, anti hail, anti wind, to become an element of improvement of the ideal microclimate for every kind of crop in every latitude. Our goal becomes to put the plant in the best conditions to produce.

Strong allies in the success we are achieving, in addition to climate change, are also the trend towards healthier and safer food and the European legislative production that goes in this direction. And Italy is a real training ground for us, because it is the country that applies the legislation more rigorously.

How did the introduction of “Industria 4.0” happen within your company?

“Industria 4.0” meant greater participation and greater accountability of operators. It shortened the chain of command. For now, it is implemented only in the Putignano plant, while in Schio we have just started it and it is limited to one department but plans to extend it are planned. The third step will be the factory in Romania. In Puglia it was enthusiastically welcomed by our young collaborators who are certainly more accustomed to interacting with computers and they appreciated the abolition of the piece of paper that went around in the company. It has given operators greater awareness, in addition to the fact that we now have an important amount of data that allows the company to be able to make more informed decisions. Industry 4.0 must certainly be an active subject to give results. It is not just a technical question of installation, you need to know how to use it.

Research & Development plays a very important role in your business. How much do you invest in this sector and, above all, how?

More than how much we invest, I prefer to talk about how much return the investment in Research & Development has. Without spending much, we have a huge return because none of our competitors in our industry do. We also have excellent returns from collaboration with universities. I confess that I am a fanatic of the world of agriculture because, at all levels, the people who work in this area are healthy inside. It is the opposite of the world of finance, which very often exasperates the numbers and creates bubbles of nothingness. While here there is a lot of concreteness. It is wonderful to see the enthusiasm of university teachers, passionate people who enjoy seeing a positive result and being able to spread a new cultivation method. You think, just to give you an example, that we collaborate with a professor who has created new cherry varieties and he feels like their dad. It really is a healthy environment.

You are present in 72 countries around the world.

To be honest I have to say that we have 72 flags. Some small ones, because some of our products that we have called Advanced Agrotextiles are one of a kind. Fortunately, our competitors are a bit behind. So customers from certain remote areas for their specific needs can only turn to us.

How do you internationalize your product and business?

It has been a long way, using very traditional systems in the past. At the beginning there were the fairs, from the Italian ones to the European ones, and then fairs in distant countries and after having made them ourselves we made use of distributors that we support by sending our images and, above all, our agronomists as technical support in the stands. . Today, moreover, we are very present in the specialized press. Our communication budgets do not allow us to communicate on the general media, but we do so strongly on the sectoral media and with the push of the covid we have accentuated the social media of which I almost ignored the existence, because personally I do not appear anywhere.

But we see that especially Instagram and Facebook have an excellent following. On social media there are those I jokingly call lazy users, who prefer the flow of images to reading texts.

Today we also pay close attention to local technical meetings, gathering farmers from a certain area and our agronomists make a customized presentation based on the needs encountered.

What is sustainability for you?

Sustainability is leaving a possibly better world than the one we have found. I always tell our young collaborators that we are lucky enough to offer healthier food and less pollution. I believe that in addition to being sustainable it is also a beautiful thing, useful and ethical.

Let’s talk about training: where do your collaborators come from? Can you find them trained or do you have to do it yourself?

We have excellent relations with the university and are able to collaborate. Unfortunately, I see a strong shortage of viable vocational schools in our sector. In Como we have our beautiful Setificio, which had and still has an excellent reason to exist. However, I see a lack of professional institutes that dialogue with companies and seriously prepare them. Before I spoke well of Italy, but now I want to speak ill of it. With us we go too far to watertight compartments: for our system or studies or works. In many foreign countries there is indeed a strong collaboration with companies and there is the obligation of annual internships.

We too must insist on creating greater interconnections between schools and businesses in order to combine a proper cultural education with an approach closer to the world of work. However, I would like to express strong gratitude to my team and my collaborators, who with skill, enthusiasm and dedication support me in this beautiful project.

Speaking of projects, do you want to reveal a future one?

I can say that the company will continue in the plant welfare sector because we believe there is still a lot to do. But, speaking of elasticity, we are imagining what to do when we grow up, what topics could be interesting for the next few years. Up to now, animal welfare has been somewhat neglected. European legislation is studying this problem and it seems that the new agricultural aid package could give rise to important changes in legislation in the livestock sector. For example, in the poultry one, where it will be proposed to give an external space to the birds that can ensure better living conditions but of course it will have to be a confined space to prevent contact with migratory birds. Here, too, the aspect of reducing the temperature will not be negligible and I think that our next period may include these new applications.

Finally, a message to young people?

Fortunately, in recent years the arguments about the well-being of the planet, which is the well-being of each of us, are becoming more pronounced. If we all have a non-ideological but concrete approach to these issues, we will be able to have a healthier life that avoids the excesses of consumerism. Today we have to improve our enjoyment of life regardless of the cost of things: breathe better, eat better, love nature. I think this period is processing this new thinking. So I return to harmony which, in my opinion, should be the very lighthouse that should permeate our actions.