History

1899

The beginnings

The story goes, and there is probably a lot of truth in it, that in 1899 a 15 year old workman, Giuseppe Marini, had to decide between buying a new suit or purchasing the necessary equipment for manufacturing his own bicycle and starting off his career as a constructor and entrepreneur.
He made the second choice, a decision that was to change his life and, in time, the lives of the local community and the industrial panorama of the area.

1909

Early recognition and the first forms of promotion
In 1909, the firm was awarded a gold medal at the United Trade Fair in Florence. A year later, another gold medal was awarded at the Fair of Modern Industry in Paris.
Participation in these specialized trade fairs was a clear sign of how the prestige of the Marini company had grown within just a few years. At the beginning of last century such involvement was just about the only means of promotion that a company could create for its products. In an age in which advertising was still in its pioneering stages, exhibitions offered a vital opportunity for introducing and asserting a brand name.At that time an important means of promoting the bicycle was the cycling competition. Among the first races, promoted by bicycle manufacturers, were the Tour of Lombardy (1905) and the Milan – San Remo (1907).

1925

The first engines and motorbike races

In the meantime, Giuseppe Marini had begun to fit 122.5 cc two-stroke single-cylinder engines to his bicycles, which operated on a mixture of petrol and homemade oil (later he used 175 cc water-cooled and then air-cooled engines). His four motorbike models, with or without gears, were the “Tourism” belt model, “Tourism” chain model, “Sport” and “Super Sport”. All were fitted with Eisemann magnets, Zenith carburettors and Hutchinson tyres. Sidecars were also produced in the workshop, together with a mixed range of mechanical instruments (including irrigation systems and mechanisms to prevent tractors rolling over). Keeping in line with his own commercial policy, Marini continued to compete in sporting events with his own professional team. After his cycling team, Giuseppe Marini started up a motorbike team. Home to great riders and important speed tracks and motor cross circuits and highly organized teams, Romagna has never had, paradoxically, a true motorbike industry, the one exception being Marini in Alfonsine, listed in the national manufacturers’ register from 1925 to 1929.

The birth of a great idea

People fondly recall that the founder of Marini was in a good position to realize all the pros and cons associated with manufacturing road building machinery by comparing them with the difficulties that his cycling teams encountered when racing on unpaved, dusty roads which were full of holes. Giuseppe Marini also had the chance to see, in the late 1920s, the asphalting work carried out by the Puricelli company on State Route 16, known as the ‘Reale’, which ran through Alfonsine. All the work was done by hand, the only mechanized equipment being the steam roller, driven by an operator who lived in a type of caravan, which moved from site to site. Horses were used to pull the cisterns of water needed to wet the dust and workmen spread bitumen with sprayers, buckets, brushes and brooms. Everything was done in a slow and rudimentary fashion.
Giuseppe Marini became passionate about the whole idea of transforming his engines for use on an industrial level and decided to apply them to road maintenance machinery. The company registered many new patents and by the end of the decade possessed as many as 32. The first machine was a bitumen sprayer, which operated using air pressure. When its straight-sided tank tended to deform because of internal pressure, it was modified into a cylindrical shape and this early sprayer remained in production, with some minor modifications, right up until the 1980s.It was only with the development of the motor vehicle in the 1920s that road construction and maintenance began to be of any importance. With the rise of fascism, the emphasis on motorization continued to grow and the role of private transport began to increase. Since the regime considered that one of its most important roles was to modernize the infrastructure of the country, the twenties were characterized by a frenzied updating of the national road network, on an enormous scale, and much effort was made to promote the use of lorries and buses with diesel engines. In 1928 the ‘National Autonomous Road Administration’ (Aass, later known as Anas) was set up to administer 137 state roads with a total length of 20,600 kilometres. Over this period the authority brought two thirds of the national road network to a level capable of meeting the new traffic requirements.
The length of the overall road network increased by almost 4,000 kilometres. Above all, Italy in the fascist years was well ahead of its time with respect to other European countries in terms of its policy of motorway building.Between 1923 and 1925 a motorway was constructed linking Milan to the surrounding lake district. In its immediate aftermath, other stretches were completed: Milan – Bergamo in 1927, Naples – Pompei in 1929, Bergamo – Brescia in 1931, Milan – Turin in 1932, Florence – Tuscan coast in 1933 and Padua – Mestre in the same year. The rapid building of such a complex motorway system provided a hitherto unforeseen demand for the car industry, even though, at that point, the motorway capability far outweighed the requirement for it. Only in the 1950s was the country able to put enough cars on the road and make adequate use of the motorways that had been constructed by the regime twenty years earlier.
In the midst of all this, Giuseppe Marini was well aware of the direction that he should take to develop his company. As early as 1930, Marini was beginning to sell abroad and was taking part in both national and international trade fairs, as we can see from the photos taken in Bologna, Foggia, Tripoli and Romania.
In a period of just a few short years, Marini witnessed tremendous growth.

1935

Marini developed well in the period from 1935 to 1938, having the industrial characteristics of seriousness and good management. The products manufactured by Marini, particularly road building and agricultural machinery, have given such excellent results that they are well regarded abroad.The company premises, which were a few kilometres from the railway station, occupied an enclosed area of 3,342 sq.m., of which 1,081 were under cover.Around 1936-37, Giuseppe Marini designed and built a plant for producing emulsion by mixing hot bitumen and water (50-52% bitumen, 48-50% water, 0.08% caustic soda, 0.45 talloid – percentages which could be varied depending on the type of emulsion required). The plant consisted of tanks for the various components. The bitumen and water tanks were equipped with burners for bringing the materials to the right temperature. Then there was a mixer which amalgamated the components and produced the emulsion. The emulsion was used on roads as an adhesion agent between one layer of asphalt and another, or it was used for road repairs. The advantage of emulsion with respect to bitumen was that bitumen had to be sprayed at 130-150°C while the emulsion only needed to be heated to 10-15°C, and in summer months it required no heating at all.Towards the mid thirties, Giuseppe Marini purchased 150 hectares of land, called ‘Boccagrande’, near the Valley of Comacchio. On this estate there were several artesian wells which, apart from water, also contained methane gas. Marini devised a system for using this gas. At the mouth of the well he built an immersion tank, in which he positioned the edge of a bell that he had had specially made in his workshop. The bell had two pipes, one at the top for releasing the gas, and one at the bottom for releasing the water. The gas pipe arrived in nearby homes and the gas supply was connected to the cookers: this was the first experiment in the area to utilize methane gas.Giuseppe Marini also devised a small cereal sower. Then he made a machine for producing mastic asphalt, consisting of a cart on wheels which carried a heater for bitumen and a U-shaped furnace, insulated with asbestos, which had a rotating shaft on the inside with arms and paddles to scrape the furnace walls. When the paddles turned they mixed the bitumen with rock asphalt, forming a product called mastic asphalt. The rock asphalt was kept in jute sacks and, when it was stored in the warehouse over a long period of time, it hardened into a solid block. So before use, it had to be broken down – and to do this, Marini built a mill with hexagonal shaped pins. This mill consisted of a big screw device with a loading bin in the middle and discharge opening at the bottom, so that the dust could be discharged into a container and then put into the furnace along with the bitumen.
On the inside of the mill there was a set of pins fixed to the shell of the machine and another two sets of pins fitted to this large rotating disc, which crushed the big lumps into powder. The furnace with the mixing paddles was open all down the side, so that bitumen and pulverized rock asphalt could be loaded into it. When the mix was ready, the furnace was turned manually so that the opening, where the materials had been introduced, could now be used to directly discharge the mastic asphalt onto the road, where it was levelled out with wooden spatula-type tools.
Marini at that time was also building a small drum mixer, with rotating arms on the inside, and a burner for drying the aggregates.This period of inventive activity saw the production of a vast and varied range of machinery, mainly oriented towards the road building sector. It was here that Marini inventions and applications represented a true and proper “revolution”. At the beginning, however, these great changes were not well received by the giant road constructors of the time, who openly resisted the introduction of the new Marini machines and systems into their field of work. Marini’s reaction was to offer its machinery to smaller companies who were ready to welcome innovation. The extremely personal attitude Marini showed to its different clients regarding design and production together with its flexible sales service proved to be a winning policy, a quality which was to prove vital in many periods of the company’s history.This strategy continued with an efficient after-sales service, which often meant that the dedicated personnel who dealt with the maintenance of the machinery had to spend long periods away from home. These qualified workmen were specially trained to customize the machines on site so they could best suit the local working conditions.
In today’s terms Marini might seem to be a small enterprise, but at the time it was considered a highly respectable size. In 1927, the number of companies in the mechanical sector in the area of Ravenna was 1,014, with a total of 2,281 employees.

1945

The Second World War: bereavement and destruction

At the beginning of 1946, the situation around Ravenna was distinguished by the deepest and most catastrophic disorder. Along the river Senio, the large communities of Alfonsine, Fusignano, Cotignola and Solarolo were practically non-existent.
Although Alfonsine was hit badly by the war, the Marini company had done all in its power to limit the damage. Before the Front Line arrived at the Senio, production was moved into an old building at number 10 in Via Roma. On the first floor of the new site the turners and fitters set up their new workshops, while the carpentry department went up to the second floor.
With the advancement of the Front, Giuseppe Marini had all the machinery in his workshop dismantled. Heaters, bitumen sprayers, road rollers, bitumen tanks, vibrating plates, automatic picks, irrigation pumps, centrifugal pumps, motor blowers and all other machines were camouflaged and hidden in the houses of farmers and friends; individual, unfinished pieces were buried in Marini’s own vegetable plot. In this way, by avoiding the sacking and destruction of the Germans during their retreat, the company would be able to quickly get back into production again once the war was over. And so, after having restructured the damaged workshops and having got the machinery installed once again, Marini was to resume its previous course.In the meantime, the Marini family suffered a grave loss. During the night of 5th May 1945, several men came to take Giuseppe Marini away from his home. The founder of the Marini factory in Alfonsine was never again to see his family.
The disappearance of the owner and figurehead of Marini was a hard blow for the company which, as a consequence, almost arrived at the point of closure.

1948

Official registration of the Marini Mechanical Workshop took place on 16th September 1948: the official document reads that “the company’s aim was to manufacture and repair road building machinery and engines in general”.
In this period, Marini – which already had 80 workers – began to sell through depots it had acquired in Bari, Foggia, Naples and Rome. With the same intent in mind, in 1950 Marini joined a partnership called ‘Roads in the South’, which in 1954 became CICSA, a relationship which continued until 1978.

A new era for Italy and Marini: ‘The Motorway of the Sun’

As we have already seen, Italy had never really had a good road network. In 1950 there were 20,220 kilometres of national road, 42,652 kilometres of provincial road, 99,748 kilometres of local road and 520 kilometres of motorway. An influential factor was the low level of vehicles on the road, which did not therefore provide the incentive for expansion.
The first stone was laid at San Donato Milanese by the President of the Republic, Giovanni Gronchi, on 19th May 1956. By February of the following year the entire Milan – Florence and Capua – Naples stretches were contracted out.The backbone of the Italian economic boom was in the process of being created and Marini was to take a full part in this project. In fact, Marini supplied the first 120 tph asphalt plants to SCCA. When these plants were seen to work well, the door was opened to the company from Romagna and strong relations were forged. Marini technicians went with the plants to modify them on site so that they could work to the best of their potential. Numerous letters from this period record the esteem that the management of the SCCA felt for Marini’s reliable machinery. It was noted that Marini plants were able to work day and night, uninterruptedly, without showing any signs of mechanical stress and, given the speed with which the motorways were being constructed, it is easy to see why Marini plants and machinery became indispensable for the vast projects.It was a long and difficult job. In December 1958 the motorway went to Parma, in June 1959 it got as far as Bologna and, in December 1960, Florence was reached.

After the demonstration of the reliability of its machinery on the motorway project in Italy, Marini also began to gain territory on the foreign markets. Its traditional eastern  European markets were joined by markets in the Mediterranean (e.g. Egypt) and Western Europe (France 1961, Switzerland 1963 and then Germany). In 1966 there was even a commission in China.
Alfonsine therefore became a place of pilgrimage for delegations of technicians from all parts of the world.

1970

In 1973 the company became “Officina Meccanica Marini di Marino e Roberto Marini and Co. Sas”. The following year it became a public limited company called “Officina Meccanica Marini SpA” which, in 1979, was shortened to “Marini SpA”. These changes reflected the growth of the company from Alfonsine. However, the Western world was on the eve of a great shake up and the growth of the world economy was about to be stalled after two decades of uninterrupted progress.

1985

In 1985 Marini machines were involved in a large scale project for resurfacing the runways at the “Christopher Columbus” airport in Genova. Work was carried out during the night so as not to compromise airport traffic during the day. This was possible due to the special features of two giant Marini plants, which the newspaper “Il Secolo XIX” called “slow moving mechanical dinosaurs” in an article published on 24 August 1985.On the same day, another article appeared in “Il Giornale di Genova”:Every night when the Christopher Columbus airport closes to traffic, the airport runway turns into an immense worksite teeming with men, illuminated with brilliant lights, animated with colossal machines and swept with the hot spray of liquefied bitumen. At six in the morning, hey presto, everything is back in place, just like in a fairy tale!
When the airport opens to traffic and the first plane comes in to land, it has the whole runway at its disposal, with all the markings already painted back in position. (…) Every night two convoys of machines renew 700 or 800 metres of asphalt surface, over a width of 4 metres – the total runway width is 60 metres and the length is 3,025 metres. These two moving giants work in parallel. A large, perfectly aligned, 50-ton scarifier moves up front, and removes twelve and a half centimeters of runway asphalt. After comes the drum mixer which swallows up the material left behind by the scarifier and mixes it with new bitumen and restabilizing additives. The material is then fed into the rotating drum part of the plant, where it is mixed at 170°C at the rate of 120 tph. The asphalt mix cascades onto the third machine in the convoy – the paver finisher, which spreads a homogeneous layer of asphalt onto the runway. The fourth machine, a road roller, passes over and compresses the new fuming runway surface. The true prima donna of the team is the drum mixer. It is an intelligent machine which can regulate itself thanks to its complex electronics – it stops, starts, protests when there is not enough material left in the hopper. (…) It has been designed and built by the Marini company from Ravenna and there are only two models in existence. It’s spectacular to see this silver dragon at work under the nocturnal lights of the airport.The image of this dragon at work had already been penned on 28th June of the previous year in “Paese Sera”, in an article describing the resurfacing work conducted by Anas on the main road arteries around Rome. The journalist noted: “The sight we witnessed yesterday was a leap into the future”.
In this period, both the national and international press dedicated innumerable articles to the machines produced in Alfonsine, in which its ‘revolutionary’ efficiency was highly regarded.
This admiration and esteem was also received from numerous public and private clients. Then, on several occasions, the prestigious Treccani Encyclopedia asked the Marini management and its technicians to provide descriptions and photographs for road building machinery e.g. ‘compactor’ ‘paver finisher’ ‘paving’.

1988

July 1988: when Fayat realized Marini was up for the bidding, they immediately visited the works and sent a team of experts to carry out a week-long audit. As soon as they received the results, the Fayat family began stringent talks with the Marini family. The most determined bidder was the founder himself, Monsieur Clément Fayat. It would appear that on the last day of negotiations he said to his team, “No one leaves the room without the contract – signed!” In fact the negotiations continued through the night of 27th July 1988 and the contract was finally signed at dawn on the following day”.
This was how the Fayat Group officially became the 80% shareholder in September, injecting ten billion lire of fresh capital into the company. Within a year, the remaining shares passed into Fayat hands and the Marini family continued to keep only a small, symbolic quota.
Pietro Marini was reconfirmed as General Manager and the young Jean-Claude Fayat as Managing Director, involved full-time in Marini management. Roberto Marini was appointed Honorary President of the company, a role that he kept for several months until his retirement in the Spring of 1989.

2000

A significant event took place in January 2000, when Marini obtained the prestigious quality certification ISO 9001, meaning that now its entire production process, from the design stage to the last detail of construction, is documented and certified to the very highest of quality standards.
Today Marini is at the forefront of industry, producing all its own high-tech components on site; only low-tech parts and processes (e.g. joinery) are done by outsiders. The 350-strong workforce consists of 200 shop-floor workers and 150 office workers, technicians and managers.The plants Marini produces are ‘continuous mix’ and ‘batch type’, the latter having the biggest market. At the beginning of the nineties, Marini designed, patented and built the EMCC (continuous counter-flow type), an environmentally-friendly plant which keeps polluting emissions to a minimum. This was preceded by another great Marini invention in the eighties: ART 220 (Asphalt Recycling Travelplant) which, among other things, relaid the runways at the Christopher Columbus airport in Genova.
The asphalt plants today can be considered a ‘mature’ Marini product. The fact is that nowadays entry into this market is much more accessible than it was in the past and so competition is also far greater, in virtue of the fact that component parts are more readily available on the market. However, what makes Marini’s strategy continue to stand out today is the following unique combination of qualities: its high level and wide range of plants, its capacity to custom-make any plant to suit the client’s special needs, its ability to produce high tph production plants and its world-famous rapid and efficient after-sales service of manpower and spare parts.As far as the road building sector goes, the production of rollers has now been abandoned, on the grounds that these technically simple machines were not a strategic marketing tool for Marini. All other ranges have been redesigned and renewed, for instance the track-mounted and tyre-mounted finishers; also scarifiers have come back onto the production line (highly technological and specialized machines with limited competition). Nowadays it is in the road building machine sector where investment is being concentrated, with the aim of producing high numbers of high quality machines.
Sales are another determining force in the Marini company. Its traditional strength at an international level (today 60% of sales are abroad), has expanded onto the Chinese market (which comes second only to the Italian market), and also onto the American market (above all with paver finishers). Other areas of expansion and consolidation are the Middle East, the Mediterranean basin and Europe. Strategic production agreements have been made with local companies in China, Argentina, Russia and Romania. The detailed rationalization programme which was activated in the eighties has given rise to an efficient, determined sales network which is represented by agents and dealers in just about all countries of the world.
This is a company which has lived through the history of twentieth century Italy and been influenced by world events. And throughout this time it has never ceased to represent the best that quality and reliability have to offer.Marini is the expression of hard work combined with intelligence plus inventiveness combined with technical and entrepreneurial skills. From the small workshop of the founder, where machines worthy of medals were made, Marini has grown into one of best examples of Italian quality throughout the world.At the beginning of the 2000s, important overall strategic reorganization of production procedures was carried out in Alfonsine with the creation of two distinct operational divisions: one for road building equipment and the second for asphalt plants. Likewise, two separate units for research and development, design, supplies and suchlike were created.
The idea for transformation came from the top management of the Fayat Group, and with their creation of a ‘Plant and Road Equipment Division’ they have put together and efficiently coordinated all the companies in the Group that manufacture products which fall into these categories.
To better understand recent transformations, let’s start with the road maintenance machinery sector. Distribution on the international market has seen great change in terms of both quality and quantity, and distribution networks and branch offices have been set up and consolidated in America and Great Britain.
In 2003, a reorganization programme was implemented based on the guidelines of the Toyota company, aimed at the production of self-propelled machinery which was thought to have a big market future. The programme was aimed at slimming down and making production more flexible, saving time and energy with a highly efficient on-line assembly process for the machinery. These improvements took six months to come into operation and the changes were conducted under the guidance of an experienced external consulting company. The restyled work environment is more fluid, orderly, safe and comfortable and the workforce, which actively and willingly took part in the renewal processes, are satisfied with their new, advanced operational culture.

2005

This operation received an important recognition when, in January 2005, the German company Bomag was taken over by the Fayat Group and the German technicians were very much impressed by the reorganization of the machine production in Alfonsine.
The acquisition of Bomag led to a gradual integration of the Marini and Bomag Road Equipment Divisions, until October 2006 when the machines built in Alfonsine began to bear the Bomag name and became part of the Bomag distribution network (with the consequent incorporation of the North American and British branches).
Great changes have taken place in the asphalt plant sector too.
In April 2003 production underwent changes in China, when Marini purchased the whole packet of shares of the joint venture with a Chinese partner, together with new land, hangars and equipment. This was the creation of MFL, Marini Fayat Langfang.
From 2005 to 2007 reorganization of the entire industrial process took place in Alfonsine, with the redefining of external procedures and an increase in 50% in overall production (from 50 to 75 plants per year), which is still expanding. In these three years, the six distinct production divisions were renovated one by one – both the internal structure and the external building.
As a result of this reorganization, added to the restructuring that has been implemented in the Road Equipment sector, production flow has been improved and equipment has been modernized to increase efficiency.
In the plant sector, one of the great recent innovations has been a new family of plants, the ‘Top Tower’ models, which were introduced for the first time in Paris at Intermat 2006. At the same Fair in 2003 Marini proudly received the Silver Medal for the Innovation for its self-propelled cold recycling plant MCR250

Today

Nowadays special attention is dedicated to new ideas and techniques in the design of low energy asphalt plants, which consume less fuel and are more environmentally friendly, because this is considered to be the way forward for the company.
This reorganization programme has resulted in a considerable expansion of the market which, for the year 2007, represented 35%. Consequently, this has meant great employment potential, resulting in a rise of 20% in the workforce, a quarter of the new recruits being engineers with University degrees.
As regards sales, the company has an increasing regard for internationalisation, which has led to the setting up of Fayat Polska in Poland in July 2007, Fayat India in November 2007 and Fayat Middle East in Dubai in June 2008. These structures have the Fayat name but their operations are managed and controlled by Marini.
The sales offices have also been subject to reorganization and renewal over the last few years. An intense promotional sales programme was successfully geared towards the Italian market in 2005 with ‘Open Day at Marini’. This two-day event continues to be repeated every two years, aimed at presenting the company’s most significant machinery, and it is also a good chance for present and former workers to meet up and share Marini experiences.
In recent years Marini has concentrated its resources on developing new asphalt plants, such as the innovative e-TOWER, conceived by consolidating the design principals which brought success to its parent plant – TOP TOWER. The e-TOWER reflects, in its every single detail, the continual dialogue which the company continues to conserve with its clients.