Saturday, April 23, 2011

Protests in Italy to keep production open at Malaguti

This whole thing makes me extremely sad. I wish everyone the best out there and that they can convince the powers that be to give the investors the incentives to keep the factory open and for Malaguti Moto to come under new management. Some of these workers have put 30 years into the factory. I would go as far to say they love the scooters, some of them ride the scooters, and they love the brand more than even some of the family members. It's a sad situation for Bologna.

80 years of history will be going down the drain if a partner isn't found for Malaguti Moto. I'm also affected by all this since I have about $3,000 in backorders for parts and I get calls from the dealers. Multiply that by 100 and you know what is happening to the dealers across Europe and in Italy. I haven't sold a new Malaguti in the USA since 2005 and despite that fact every single day we sell a Malaguti part. That's because in America it's an Italian made scooter. Not some Chinese made Italjet or Benelli, not a Piaggio or Aprilia made in China. It wasn't about the brand, the scooter read MADE IN ITALY. To many Italian Americans, to many Americans that was a sense of pride. You will always have someone that wants to ride a bike no matter where its made, but when you ride a Vespa part of you takes pride its an Italian made vehicle. Maybe not in Italy, but abroad this is the case. A Ferrari or Ducati made in China would never sell. The fact that it's made in Italy is the selling point. If you don't get that then you probably don't own one.

Ask anyone who owns a vintage Lambretta. Why do they love a 50 year old bike that keeps falling apart and needs constant love? It's because its Italian, its Vintage, and it brings you back to an era where the design and quality was unlike anything else. They don't care if the parts are 300% more than a new twist n go scooter. If you can't afford to fix a Lambretta then you shouldn't drive one, you can go buy 10 Chinese brand new scooters for the cost of a Vintage Lambretta. Why do Americans pay $3,000 for a 50cc Vespa that still reads "MADE IN ITALY"? It's because it's the brand and the brand says ITALY all over it. Put a made in Vietnam sticker for an American on a Vespa and they might as well buy the Chinese scooter. This is why those "MADE IN ITALY" scooters are the ones Vespa brings to the US. Italian luxury brands are not GM or Ford. People care about where they are made. Yes, maybe to cope with the economic crisis you have to outsource some production to Asia, but the brand, the factory, and all of Malaguti needs to be kept in Bologna.

When I think of the town I think of scooters. I'm still waiting for more US investor groups or fund managers to contact us. I have put the word out that there are incentives, that Emilia-Romagna is open to many proposals, that they will help any American investors with the funding, helping negotiate the contracts, and the Union is up for foreign help. So all the pieces to the puzzle are in place except for the fact the owners are purposely not talking to foreign investors.

The truth is nobody is going to just show up with money and hand it to them. They will have to give up control and turnaround the company. Sometimes you have to burn something to the ground to rebuild it and this might be the case for Malaguti. It will just be sad if its like Benelli where you burn it to the ground and you end up making it in China instead of Italy.

What the Malaguti dealers looked like in Europe:
La storica azienda Malaguti ha deciso che da metà aprile cesserà la produzione di motorini nello stabilimento di Castel San Pietro Terme che impiega circa 170 lavoratori. Se al termine della cassa d'integrazione straordinaria previsto per il 31 di ottobre nessun acquirente avrà fatto un'offerta concreta l'azienda chiuderà i battenti mandando a casa tutti i dipendenti. La Fiom è scesa in piazza 20 Settembre per manifestare contro la chiusura della fabbrica. Presenti Sabrina Franchini, delegata rsu (rappresentanza Sindacale unitaria) della Malaguti, e Sara Brunori, sindaco di Castel San Pietro Terme.

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