Gianfranco Baldo is the president of the company he formed ten years ago this June, Rollmac. He is looking forward to the anniversary and said that the current crisis aside ‘the industry is in good shape, especially the finishing end of the industry.

‘In Italy there is a high level of technology, good technicians and excellent organisational skills. Plus, we have the right products for our customers and have pollution under control.

‘The future should be good. Our competitors in the Far East and other third world countries still have to go through the problems Italy had’, he commented. Given that many of these new economies have still to implement much of the harsh legislation now found in Europe, Baldo may have a valid point, although it remains to be seen how many countries will implement legislation to the extent it is seen in Europe and North America.

Quality production has become the norm for many companies in Europe – it has to be the case for them to survive. And, it is something that Rollmac have taken to heart. ‘We were specialists in the finishing department when I started the company and, since I had worked in the leather industry, it was the obvious place to sell machines to begin with,’ Baldo said. ‘However, after a while I realised that we could use our finishing expertise in other industries and so we moved to sell machines and develop products in the textile and synthetic leather businesses.

‘However, we have no intention of abandoning the leather industry’, he said and, indeed, it remains Rollmac’s core business with 50% of trade coming from the leather industry. The other industries served make up the remaining half, but the leather business is by far the largest.

‘Indeed, the synthetic and fabrics businesses have helped us in the leather industry. There is greater quality needed and a machine works at greater speeds and with a greater level of automation.

‘There is a reduced level of personnel and tighter controls on the operation than in the leather industry. That said the demand for high quality machines in the leather industry is also growing. Tanners want better quality finishing, greater diversification in the types of finish effects achievable and a quicker turnaround.’

Thus there is a need for better quality machines, which coupled with the need for better service care all adds up to more pressure on companies such as Rollmac.

The way Rollmac go about achieving this is to allow tanneries to road test their machines, both at Rollmac headquarters in Trissino and in the tanner’s own buildings. There is more before sales help coupled to better aftersales. ‘Most tanners need to have the machine adjusted to meet their specific demands and all tanners want something personal – for Rollmac it differentiates us from the rest’, Baldo said. This is what Rollmac believe makes them different, they have products that are tailored to each customers’ personal needs.


‘Over the past ten years, finishes have changed from being very thick and plastic to being very light and almost invisible. This has meant that something like 98% of leather can now be finished by rollercoating, whether in the forward or reverse working mode. The recent innovation is the ‘Idea’ reverse rollercoater which can be used to finish soft hides and skins. Developed over ten years the new machine has light rollers and a good spreading action. It is being used by Colomer in Spain to finish ovine leathers.

Many tanneries in Arzignano use Rollmac machines. One is Conceria Faeda, who use reverse rollercoaters for finishing calf shoe leathers. I asked Domenico Cracco, the works manager, why they used Rollmac machines and he said it was because of the help Rollmac have given Faeda from the beginning. ‘In 1998, Rollmac solved many of our finishing problems and automated the line.

‘For medium/soft leathers, the company are very good. However, they still need to improve the Idea rollercoater to achieve a better finish. That said we did buy one of the first machines, so improvements may have been made already.’

What Cracco liked about the machine was the photocell inside the rollercoater to show when a skin had folded or rolled up. The operator can then stop the process and retrieve the errant skin.

It is just another addition to the continuing automation that is happening in the Italian industry. ‘The aim of tanners in Arzignano is to have more and more automation, while keeping the quality at the same level or higher’, Cracco said. ‘We need to increase margins but the main worry is the shortage of raw material. Production costs are lower in countries like China compared with Italy and, therefore, the increase in raw material prices affects them less’, he thought.

With sales all around the world, Rollmac are looking forward to serving the industry for many years to come and their tenth anniversary in June is an excellent time to show how leather finishing and indeed finishing in other industries has changed over the decade and how it is likely to change in the future.