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Mermec, 40 million for Ferrosud: 'The Tesla of trains? We will make it to Matera'

Mermec, 40 million for Ferrosud: 'The Tesla of trains? We will make it to Matera'
photo: L'Economia/Mermec, 40 million for Ferrosud: 'The Tesla of trains? We will make it to Matera'
25 / 10 / 2022

Investing in the perfect storm, between Covid, war, and recession on the horizon. "It actually takes a bit of madness to do business in Italy..." are the words of Vito Pertosa who, along with Mermec, has decided to take over the Ferrosud plant in Matera, one of the largest in Europe but which has been idle for years, with an investment of 40 million.

Why invest now, at a time of uncertainty?

Partly for sentimental reasons, since in the 1980s, we started making parts for the Etr 500 in this very Matera plant. At the time, it employed about a thousand people, and now seeing it empty makes your heart squeeze: there is only one person who opens and closes it every day and, at 1 p.m., blows the shift siren to show that it is still alive.

How will you revitalize the plant?

Firstly, by investing in getting it back in working order. And then by bringing employment back, starting with the train orders that we have in our portfolio.

Even the order for the so-called Tesla of trains?

Yes, we won this prestigious order in Belgium for electric twin-engine diagnostic trains at 200 km/h and battery-powered trains at 120 km/h that we want to develop at this site.

How many people will you be hiring?

There is a plan for increasing employment, but we are certainly not tackling this investment to keep the plant empty: mine is a group of 2,000 people, and in 42 years of work, we have never laid off an hour.

The unions, however, would like as many hires as possible in the shortest possible time. How are you responding to their demands?

We are discussing with all the stakeholders, starting with the regions in the area concerned, Puglia and Basilicata, the trade associations, and unions, to try to find a balance. My goal is to give some hope back to these two regions that often see their young people emigrate to work. There was a great Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Zanardelli, who, in the autumn of 120 years ago, visiting Basilicata, said: 'Rather than expose myself, promise and not execute, I would like to execute the unpromised. An example is also for the rulers of our time.

By the way, what should the new government do to encourage recovery? Because it all starts from there.

The very first thing, in my opinion, is not to forget the campaign promises, i.e., a constitutional reform that gives stability to the executive, whatever it may be. Five years would allow reforms to be carried out without the anxiety of having to displease someone. It would also increase our reliability in interlocutions with the representatives of foreign countries since between one summit and another the Italian Prime Minister is the one who changes most often and therefore has difficulty committing to a negotiation phase. It would simply increase the country's rating.

Your group has always innovated. Why is it so important to do so?

Because knowledge has always been the spring that has allowed Italians to excel in the world. Even in institutions, it should be like that, but unfortunately, today communication counts more: to get on an electoral list sometimes it counts more to write a tweet. Why is it that if you have to hire a truck driver in a company, you first make sure he has a C license and how many years he has been driving, and instead for those who have to participate in decisions that affect the country, there are no requirements?

In companies, however, knowledge and know-how still count.

Fortunately. We are present in 71 countries, and I can say that Italian minds are absolutely among the best in the world. Unfortunately, they have realized this even abroad, as they shop around for our companies and our brains. So many Italian brands, only have the name, while the owner is abroad. I am all for attracting investment, but we must protect Italian-owned champions. If the headquarter and the company's CEO are in another country, it is much easier to reduce or close a factory in crisis. Since the word Italy seems to be at the center of the new government, let's hope that it translates into concrete acts.

 

Source: L'Economia

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