It is as if it belongs to another era: it is the press release of March 23th in which Filippo Marzaro, CEO of Arneg SpA, announced the extraordinary shut down of the company until April 3rd, then extended until April 13th. If one looks at Arneg today, 90% of people are back at work. “With all safety measures in place, of course – as Luca Masiero, sales manager at Arneg SpA, points out – And the very existence of such measures is here to remind us that no, it was not another era: only a few months have passed“.
A few months that significantly changed the market. “If one considers the presale and sale segments, one may still see a market with a lot of potential, just like a few months ago: retailers, even medium-small ones, still have their development plans that they did not cancel. In many cases though, these will not translate, in the medium term, into great opportunities for us producers. In other words, a slowdown in the projects kick-off is apparent and some of these projects will likely only begin in 2021. This means that we are to review all our analyses and business plans. What was true in January, is no longer true now, in May-June. The same applies to the on-going projects: everything has slowed down, since the usual working pace could not be maintained at the construction sites. Distancing, blocks, difficulties in assembling work teams, slow everything down. And this is of course another factor that contributed to send business plans down the drain!”
What maintained its activity and its expected rhythms instead is the service: “Focusing on the essential supply chains, we never stopped providing assistance”.
Orders get delayed, projects slow down, yet some level of optimism permeates Arneg: “My optimism originates from my memory of the crisis of 2008/2009 and of how well Arneg emerged from it. You must not think that that crisis was less severe. You may be that had a different perception, but for industry that was a tough “test case”. Back then, Arneg managed to make a virtue out of necessity and new business strategies, new offers, new approaches to the customer were established thereby allowing us to maintain some business continuity. Some of those strategies are still helping us today”.
An example? “Many commercial services both pre and post-sale were strengthened during that period and were aimed at offering a full service to the customer, not only the product, but also the lay-out, the design and the care for the premises. We initiated a collaboration with architects, which was unheard of for a manufacturing company. Furthermore, in those years, we introduction a service that now everyone’s talking about: we began offering energy audits in terms of consumption, possible savings and optimisation with direct measurements on our refrigerated counters. Such analysis today is routine, but it was not in 2008. In this, we are forerunners. Through these analyses, among other things, we opened the eyes of many users, by showing them that in a refrigeration system the largest investment does not lie in the initial cost but rather in the energy consumption and maintenance costs throughout its life cycle. This slowly changed the customer’s approach to purchasing equipment.”
What kind of projects are in your pipeline, to restart from this crisis? “It is early to openly talk about it, but we are in the process of reviewing some of our strategies, that proved more fragile during this pandemic and ensuing lock-down. I am confident that we will be able to seize opportunities, even from this crisis”.
Are you this optimistic? “Some elements worry me a lot: the overall economic situation and the fact that a portion of the population suffered a major shock from this pandemic: people have lost their jobs or have seen a significant reduction in it. This will no doubt have an effect on society as a whole. With respect to Arneg, I believe that, as in 2009, we will be able to seize opportunities and restart with a sense of pride”. After all, Arneg’s vision is “to dream with wisdom, ethics, courage and imagination”