Almost a century of chrome16 May 2003
Stoppani started out as producers of chrome for the chemical industry in 1908 and, over the years, the company diversified into different areas, including the leather industry. Part of the global Stoppani group, Stoppani Sud were then established to bring together all the company's leather products under one roof. Today, chrome still remains the common denominator among the group's 14 companies. 'Chrome will always be a part of the leather industry', explains Eligio Stoppa, sales manager of Stoppani Sud. 'Chrome is needed to give a certain quality to the leather: there is no other element that will give leather its softness, fullness and physical strength. As long as a tannery has a good water treatment plant, then chrome can be used without a problem.' In the field of leather chemicals, Stoppani have expanded into the production of syntans in the past ten years. Today, under the name of Stoppani Sud, the company are one of the biggest syntan producers in the industry with an annual production of 20,000 tons. 'This was a good strategy for us to approach the leather industry in a different manner', says Stoppa. 'Our production of syntans has really put the company on the map. Because we have such a long technical background, our sales network is well developed and we are able to infiltrate almost any market. Stoppani are doing business in 68 countries, with 30-40% of our business originating from ten countries including Italy, Brazil, Argentina, China, Spain and South Korea. We are not a large multi-national company but our size allows us to approach each client as a personal service. Stoppani have five chrome factories around the world: two in south America, two in Europe, and one in Russia. This means that we can deliver all our products quickly and efficiently. We have increased the number of our technicians to 20 and they all come to Italy every year for a 2-3 week training course. In addition, all our agencies also have their own technicians, so we try to keep the same technician with the same customer. Good sales come from a good technical service, not vice versa. 'Many people think that chrome is just chrome. We've been manufacturing chrome for almost 100 years, so I always tell our customers to check other chrome products and compare. If a tanner uses a good base, then the quality of the leather is assured. The most important part of leather processing is from beamhouse to wet-blue: you cannot correct any problems later on in finishing. We pass on all our experience to our customers so they have an easier job. 'Business in Italy at the moment is two-sided: some parts are performing well and others are not. But the number of hides produced around the world doesn't really change, it just moves around. As long as we humans eat meat, there will be leather to tan.'