Feb 6, 2017
First employee of the month: Fabio Porzi #january2017

Let’s begin our journey into the beating heart of MCT Marcantonini Concrete Technology by sharing the life stories of our employees and, in particular, of one of the leading figures of the mechanical department. As a matter of fact, Fabio Porzi is one of the leading figures of our entire company. He has recently turned 56 and has worked for the company most of his life.
Fabio is currently in charge of the machine shop and, throughout his career, he has gone from being in charge of operational tasks to more intellectual tasks, showing his ability to adapt and to put himself to the test when faced with challenges, especially with the modern-day challenges that the company has to deal with on a day-to-day basis.
In fact, when we speak to him, we realise that his personal growth process is still ongoing, and that he has the same passion and humbleness of when, 40 years ago, he was a novice approaching the first job of his life at Marcantonini.
Like several other employees, he has witnessed the entire history of the company, or almost all of it, “without ever changing uniform”, making it hard to tell where the company ends and where his personal life, and his family, begins.

But first things first:

Welcome, Fabio. Tell us how your “love story” with the company began, since in some ways we could even consider it as such.
“It is a very long story, I was just a boy when I started out. After 3 years of mechanical vocational school in Foligno, my mother, who was already working for the company, asked Lamberto if he could employ me. Lamberto accepted, since my training profile was compatible with the professional positions available at the company and after that… I never left! So, together, we embarked on a journey that still continues today. I have grown a lot, naturally, and on a personal level as well, thanks to this company that gives us the opportunity to travel the world; to work away from home, to get away from your habits, so it has been a very important growth process for me. Yet, I have never been a “travelling worker”, in the sense that I was not one of those who always travelled for work or who wants to only work abroad; such figures are almost non-existent at our company, and I think this may have cemented my sense of loyalty to the company, which has then basically lead me to never question my working relationship with Marcantonini.”

But surely this attachment will have had some positive and negative effects on you.
“Yes, of course. I always say that I can boast having had lots of experience and having seen many places with Marcantonini. But I never had the chance to make comparisons with other work environments. I agree with and really appreciate our approach to production, the lack of basic “support” at the sites where we go to assemble the systems. The machines are put together at the company premises, piece by piece. And so, after assembling it here, it is the workers themselves, or some of them, who then assemble it on site. In this way, it feels like we know it better.”

So you are saying that the company does not apply the “assembly line” concept.
“Absolutely not. None of us specialise in a specific task, yet things are developing quickly now, and what was maybe fine until now will not necessarily be fine tomorrow… being dynamic is always important. Basically, from 2010 onwards, after the crisis, the company took a change of direction, which has been positive in my opinion, seeking to change certain habits. This doesn’t mean that everything we did before is no longer good now, but perhaps out of 10 things we are able to keep 6 or 7 of them, and we only change about 3 or 4.”

Yes, certainly. The world is evolving at a much faster pace now compared to the past and, as a result, the market is too. In my opinion, this means that it may be necessary to give up some of the time spent purely on work to invest in training each individual employee, on a constant basis. What do you think of this?
“Yes, I agree. Our managing director, Andrea, has understood this too, he knows it. I don’t know how long he has been studying this for, but he has made some changes and has introduced a new way of thinking, on an overall level, also relying on new collaborators who have had different training compared to the “elders”: the first that comes to mind is Luca Broccolo, for example. By “elders” I mean people like me, Edoardo Cerrini, Corrado Canalicchio, Marco Molinacci… although he is somewhat in between us and the youngsters. He has been here for a long time, but he is relatively young…”

Well, considering the fact that if you go past the company on weekends, his car is the ONLY one parked there, I would say that he has already made up for a few years with all the extra work he has done… he should be considered an elder too!
“Well, yes, Marco is… certainly not the kind of person who saves his energy, he is like a “machine”.

But let’s now talk about the “family aspect” of all this, tell us what Marcantonini represents for your family and what, in your opinion, the Porzi family represents for Marcantonini.
“I cannot tell the company apart from family, or even from my family. Because, anyhow, as I said earlier, the company has allowed me to grow. I have the distinct feeling that I have received a lot, and I know they also received a lot from me. And I can say this without presumption, since I am convinced that I will not be contradicted. There has never been a time in my life when I thought I would rather go somewhere else, or that I was growing tired… Ehm no, wait. There was a time when I thought of giving up, and I would like to stress this in particular because I am referring to a person who passed away a few days ago (Sergio Corradini, ed.). He told me he wanted to send me to Dallas to work on a system, I was 20 years old; I had only been working for 3 years, since I had served in the military for one year. I thought: “firstly, I don’t know the job”, I did not feel ready at all. Secondly, “I would have to go alone”. And finally, “I have never been on a plane before and the furthest I have been from home is Fano”, where I had just been in the military. I was not going to leave!!! The next morning he came back and asked me what I had decided to do: I repeated that I did not want to leave and that I was seriously considering leaving the company, because, in a nutshell, saying no to that person meant taking a different path than working for Marcantonini… he looked at me, turned away and left. He didn’t say anything about it after that… he worked for the company for 30 years, until 2002, but he never mentioned it again. Of course, apart from that episode, it wasn’t always a bed of roses, naturally… but I am satisfied with what I am doing now and with what I have done.
I have always thought that we need to show what we are worth before we can expect to achieve anything, in any situation in life. I feel that Marcantonini has always trusted in me, I have always felt part of the family and so, for me, there have never been any issues. I have always felt good and I never considered taking other directions.”

Going back to the change in the company, it must be quite hard to make people change their mentality when they have worked and lived with a certain mentality for so many years.
“Yes, indeed. I am convinced that the path the company has taken is the right one, although I am not sure that this direction is an easy one. First of all, for myself.”

Talking of this, would you mind sharing some technical details? Tell us about the tasks your job involves.
“I’ll start with this: the Marcantonini company was founded and developed in Passaggio di Bettona, which has approx. 2,000 inhabitants… and none of them knows what we do!!! So it isn’t that easy to explain… but I have found a very easy way: do you know Manini? The slabs, the prefabs they have there? We manufacture the machines that they need to make them!!! And if we say we make batch plants, people think “Oh, yes! You make cement mixers!!!”.

It is true, as a local I can confirm this. But what about you, specifically?
“I would like, and this is just a wish of mine, to organise people. But we could do a lot better!!!”

Well, leave others to be the judge of that. Certainly, if you did not do your job well, the company would have removed you from your position a while ago, don’t you think?
“Let me explain better: I have always dealt with the operational part of this job, the practical side, so for me it hasn’t been easy to “accept” the fact that a job can involve just organising the workers. And I have understood something new: it is important to have people who know how to do things, and do them well too, or even very well. But a person who knows how to make others do things, even without knowing how to do them himself, but knowing how they need to be done, is worth a lot more. The important thing is to give it your all, in everything you do, showing what you are worth: do your best, do your job well, if you believe in what you do, and be fully committed. And then… then you reap the benefits. Always!”

After working for the company for so many years, we know you well enough to be certain that you have a strong determination to keep going. What is Fabio Porzi’s next work-related goal?
“We talked about this earlier: I would like to improve my teaching skills. To learn how to impart my knowledge to my work team. It is a huge limit of mine, I am working on it a lot.”

We appreciate your humbleness, yet we don’t believe you are that “incompetent.” Rather than a limit, we should call it a weakness. How are you working on it?
“It isn’t enough to tell others what to do, people need to be understood and become responsible, in the right way and at the right time. It isn’t easy… I have a huge character flaw: I am not capable of understanding that everyone has their own way of doing things and, having a responsibility, I tend to leave little freedom of action. I expect my work team to do things exactly how I would do them. And things are not necessarily wrong if they are done how I imagined them, except in extreme cases, of course.”

But this could also apply to the people in your staff. I think that it depends not only on people’s skills but also on their personality. Some need to be encouraged, some need to be free, and others may need a “kick” in order to achieve the same results…
“Oh yes, indeed… it doesn’t only depend on those who organise but also on those who do it and those who don’t. We need to make sure that everyone is given the best conditions to be able to work at best, because we all have our talents, which can be more or less evident. For example, there is a boy at the company who isn’t much of an expert in mechanics. He isn’t skilled at welding, and disassembling parts is also not his forte… but he is really good at organising work. We all have our skills. Depending on the degree of seniority in the department, everyone should be concerned in a positive way about what to do after what you are doing at a given time; new workers, instead, need to think about what to do in an hour’s time. Those who have been here a bit longer can think about what needs to be done in half a day’s time. Those who have been here for 40 years like me have to think about what we will do in a week’s time, or in a month’s time. Knowing what to do and which directions we will be taking, being prepared, organised and perhaps even getting ahead of the competition: this is how great results are achieved.”

 Fabio (on the left side of the photo, ndr) with Giuseppe Marcantonini, when he was "only" a young turner

Fabio (on the left side) with Giuseppe Marcantonini, when he was “only” a young turner

I imagine that it is part of your role to implement corrective actions to increase the productivity of the department, based on the materials available.
“Of course: organisation is the key to everything. To work with a mixer, I need to know when it will arrive, so I speak to Edoardo (Cerrini, ed.) He must be very precise when handing over the correct information, but at the same time I have to keep my department in check. In fact, if I have correct information on when the pieces will arrive, but my production process is not under control, it will all be pointless.
Andrea has been insisting on this a lot in the last year, year and a half. We went to Bologna to visit a company that applies this method, and we attended some courses so we can apply this new global vision of the company. Andrea is very determined to implement this new production technique, we are in the midst of a revolution…”

In this respect, could you give some advice to those who run the company, what would you say to them? What do you think needs changing and how?
“Well, I will start by saying that, perhaps it is just my impression, but sometimes I happen to think that my machine shop department is… not quite overlooked or underestimated but… I can’t seem to find the right words. We can say that engineers are everywhere, but in other departments such as mine or in the electrical workshop there are no graduates: our staff is very keen to work, but perhaps not particularly cultured or qualified.
We want to become the number one company in the sector: Andrea Marcantonini has chosen this path, and I am with him on this, even if we don’t always agree on everything. In the globalised world, in our market, there isn’t a big difference between surviving and being number one. This is why people of good will are not enough.
We are Westerners, in the richest part of the Western world where the cost of labour is higher: we have competitors who spend much less to produce. So we cannot overlook quality, since it is paramount for us. Therefore, good will is not enough in our sector. And it is painful for me to say this because, for me, a person of good will is a person who deserves all my respect, and I also consider myself to be a person of good will. But, in addition to that, we need quality, or at least a specific flair to adapt quickly and to improve!
It isn’t like 15-20 years ago, when technology could not be copied… with mass media being so popular now, technology is accessible to almost everyone. But people are not and their quality goes hand in hand with all this.
Over the years, Marcantonini has been a leading company in Italy, but I am not sure it still is; this is not enough now. Comparisons are to be made on a global level, as I said there is a fine line between surviving and being number 1. We have the potential to be the best in the world in our sector and we need to focus on quality people.”

Well, talking about the company’s life, tell us your best memory and your worst.
“The worst memory was definitely in 2006. Unfortunately there was a victim, an external worker who came here to do maintenance on a warehouse that had been mounted not long before. He was quite an expert in his field but he had the misfortune of falling from the roof. Even if the company had no responsibility for this, it was a really bad time for all of us… But I have lots of good memories too. I know Paris better than I know Perugia, for example, thanks to my work trips. I cannot think of an episode in particular, although a few customers contacted Lamberto after a work trip to congratulate the company for my work. I am very proud of this. I speak of the past a lot, since I no longer receive such compliments… because I don’t go on work trips anymore!”
It would be nice if the staff in my department congratulated me once in a while, but no one likes to be an adulator…
“Eheheh… I don’t really know. I have a good relationship with everyone, I am not an “evil” boss. I think that a serene environment is important to achieve the best results. My team is also not always the same, it changes frequently. As I said, there are always work trips involved… actually, going back, this is what I would say to Bosky (Andrea Marcantonini’s nickname, ed.): Bosky, don’t always send away the centre forward, the strong one…otherwise we are in trouble here at the company!

Talking about sports, your great passion… let’s move on to your private life and this great passion of yours. At the company many have discovered this passion through the Bosky football team. Tell us something about it.
“This is a rather easy question, actually it is quite clear. I have always loved sports. When I was young I wasn’t able to play football “seriously”, since in Passaggio there was no football club. When I grew up, not much in height of course (he laughs, ed.), we were always playing games with friends and, at the company, we often played five-a-side football. We also did a company tournament once, in Pontevalleceppi, organised by me: machine shop, electrical workshop, mechanical engineers and software designers. The mechanical engineers won… and I still haven’t gotten over it!!! If you go to the office where Fabio Mearelli is, he still has that Cup on his PC… just the one, but he still keeps it in full view after all these years!
Once, in the summer, we decided to have a seven-a-side tournament, so I told Andrea. And he answered “let’s do the UISP seven-a-side tournament”… he said this quietly, which is how he usually speaks!!!”

Hold on a minute, about Andrea: now that he has also started eating every so often and that he has stopped smoking, he even speaks louder!
“It’s true, you’re right! My mother also told him that he has the build… well, going back, he told me he wanted us to do the UISP championship. I spoke to Molinacci about it and so the Bosky seven-a-side football team was born, in 2007 after a dinner at the party in Passaggio di Bettona. I played a lot, of course, and I took part until 2 days ago. I always say that football is for young people… and until 2 years ago I was still a boy, now I am a manager. And so I changed sport.”

In addition to football, we know you practice other sports. Tell us about it and tell us… how you manage to keep up with this pace, despite the years going by. Give us a few tips, since we are younger but not as fit as you are…
“Even when we played seven-a-side football, or previously, I always went running, mountain biking… we can say that, today, it has become fashionable to go mountain biking in the hills, or even on remote paths, I used to do this in 1991… anyway, in the last 2-3 years I have been focusing on running. Fast long-distance running, mainly 10 km. With good results too…


Fabio in its “racing version”

So how did you realise that you had picked the wrong sport when you were little!
“Absolutely not. I don’t think I made any wrong choices, I am doing well now, and that is what matters. What I am doing now, I certainly would never have done when I was 30, but there is no point looking back at the past. Now I concentrate on speed a lot, because as you go along speed gives you agility and makes you feel good. But my focus is not just running, I take good care of myself to stay healthy. The important thing is to be confident about what you are doing at that time. When I was younger, about 22 years old, I also took part in weightlifting competitions, for example…”

But you didn’t answer the question… tell us some of your secrets, some tips…
“I believe that success goes hand in hand with in-depth learning and curiosity. I have found my balance in practising sports, or most of my balance anyway, and I do it to feel good. But I do it my own way, with my rules: for example, I would never manage to work out without having a stopwatch on me. Because I cannot do sports without having an objective, a goal or an opponent. I do it to feel good, but without any of this, it doesn’t feel right.. I could never do jogging. However, as I said before, this is true now, it is like this now, but tomorrow who knows, something could change and I could change with it.”

Perhaps this is precisely Fabio’s secret, the key to his poise, or at least this is what it seems, to his constant smile and energy, just like a young boy. His strong motivation to renew himself every day, to set a goal for himself every day, and a reason to look forward to the alarm clock ringing at 6 o’clock in the morning. An energy that is the daily lifeblood of our entire company.