From the beginning of the last century, towns and cities of Northern Italy have been distinguished by the names of companies that have built themselves into the urban fabric of the pristine Italian countryside.
It was 1891 when Ercole Marelli started up a small factory producing motors and fans. With his great business skills he successfully developed the company, creating new technologies for various industrial sectors. This entrepreneur, from the town of Sesto San Giovanni in Milan, produced small electric motors, centrifugal pumps and transformers and, later, ventilators, centrifugal and propeller pumps, and car magnets.
He was also a knowledgeable promoter, creating social institutions alongside a great industrial centre.
At the same time in Vicenza the Pellizzari workshops were founded, comprising the first grain mills and early water pumps. Counting five workers, a half horse-powered Oerlikon motor and a lathe, Antonio Pellizzari founded the first workshop in 1901. This is a story about young, tenacious and farsighted entrepreneurs, and a story that spans more than a century of experience and innumerable changes.
Marelli Motori was created from the fusion of these two companies. The company name has Milanese origins due to commercial reasons, with its know-how arising from international trading and relations, and its plant site guaranteed by state support and collaboration. Over the course of the mid-20th century the histories of the Milanese company, Ercole Marelli, and that of the Pellizzari workshop, would merge, while partnerships would be created in Italy, which would specialise the work of production departments.
1891 Ercole Marelli (1) sets up its eponymous company, specialising in the production of electrical motors and equipment. A decade later the limited company, Ercole Marelli, starts the first Italian experiments into ignition magneto for spark ignition engines.
1896 Ercole Marelli starts producing air agitators (today's fans), which up to this point have been imported from the United States. In 1905 the company opens in Sesto San Giovanni (Milan), a large plant which, in addition to its fans, produces small alternating current electric motors, centrifugal electric pumps and transformers, and later, centrifugal / axial fans and pumps.
1901 The Vicenza Pellizzari & Figli workshop is created. (2)
1902 Giacomo Rossi graduates from Vicenza's Royal Institute. He returns to manage the company, setting up the construction of sulphur mills, which are based on an innovative procedure using ventilation.
1904 The first Francis and Girard type turbines are created. These have a vertical axis to control the mill and a flow rate of 20 litres per second with a five metre drop. The others, of the Francis type, have a flow rate of 400 litres per second, with a four metre drop. Both these technical solutions come up against excellent market opportunities immediately. (3)
1905 The first centrifugal pumps for aqueducts are created in Italy. These will operate the aqueduct of Vicenza for over 60 years.
1909-1918 Pellizzari is one of the 29 mechanics companies that converts to the production of orders for war purposes. It has direct relations with industrial mobilisation, which guarantees it will receive significant profits for re-investment after the war. The company joins the Projectile Cooperative of Padova, for military practices and labour, guaranteeing control of their own workers. In an agreement with the Italian Metallurgical Workshops in Naples, they transfer to Castellamare di Stabia. Following events taking place in Caporetto, the Venetian workshops must close or move away from the Po River.
The school protects the teaching activities suspended by the war, and sends back home the students, who have come from all around Italy.
From 1917, in collaboration with the Rossi Institute, Pellizzari makes its workers available to construct airplanes; at which time the school allows the commission of production in Pellizzari’s workshops in order to satisfy its commitments to the aviation organisation Turin. (4)
1919 The first electric motor is sold to Signor Ugo Braccini of Florence. Time of expansion of the main plant and the construction of new production areas: 200 workers in five plants. The first electric motors for pumps are manufactured.
1920 A new room is fitted for the testing of motors and transformers, a new cupola furnace for the foundry is installed, and a department for electric fans, electric pumps and electric mills is set up. (5)
Orders come in from the Navy, requesting fittings for prestigious civil and military ships. (6) Giuseppe Pellizzari continues to improve the irrigation sprinkler systems, which are then honoured at the Verona Trade Fair and in Rome.
1922 Patent by Professor Sartori for high performance, self-compensating motors with a power factor of 1.
1923 Giacomo Pellizzari becomes the protagonist of a number of social initiatives that are dedicated to the workshop employees and to the development of the urban environment. One of the first initiatives is the construction of public housing.
Antonio is born. (7)
1926 This is a period of great innovation in the field of hydraulics for the plants. The production of new motors for propeller and centrifugal pumps begins. (8)
1929 Prince Umberto of Savoy (9) visits Vicenza to learn about the functioning of Giuseppe Pellizzari's innovative irrigation sprinkler systems. As a result of this new technology, the Pellizzari companies obtain great results and recognition.
1930 Although this year shows a severe slump in sales due to the American recession, the factory is a robust business, with 1,300 skilled workers. In the five Vicenza plants alternators, transformers, generators, various machines for the business, turbofans and turbochargers are produced. A social security system is created, the company's mutual (10) aid organisation is created, offering free direct visits to the sick, in accordance with new legislation for benefits and citizen and worker's protection. A food shop is also set up, along with a cafeteria for workers and employees, to support a population exhausted through the recent events of war.