If you are a regular gym member, you may have heard Technogym and even used their gym equipment, but the chances that you may have heard the name ‘Nerio Alessandri’ are so slim. Well, he is the founder of Technogym, a company which nowadays is one of the most popular gym equipment firms in the world. They have more than 50 million users in lots of countries. Nerio Allesandri founded his company in 1983 and today, they make different products from free weights to rowing machines.
It’s already provided stationary bikes, treadmills and more gym equipment for many Olympic Games and also provide facilities for the Tokyo Olympics. Formula 1 and football teams, including A.C. Milan were also sponsored by Technogym.
The company is currently worth about €2.2 billion ($2.4 billion) and because it became public on the Milan Stock Exchange in May 2016, the stock price has risen by 156 per cent.
Talking to CNBC, Alessandri said that being self-funded allowed the business to expand in a sustainable manner in the early stages. It preserved a stable cash flow by asking buyers to pay half of the price of the products first, and then the other half upon shipment.
In reality, he claims that it was only 12 years ago — about 25 years after the company began its business— that Technogym took over private equity investments.
Much of the success of the company is attributed to “sustainable” and “profitable” production.
The Humble beginning
Before Nerio Alessandri found fame and started rubbing shoulders with Bill Gates, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, he started building the first samples of his exercise equipment in his home garage near Cesena, Italy.
Born in a farming family, Alessandri explains in his book “Born to Move” how he has been raised up by parents “who didn’t make a lot of money but had a lot of modesty and dignity.”
He states that “rapidly catching on that wealth was an issue” for his family, so when he was 10 years old, he started to help his family by getting an evening job packaging fruits in his grandfather’s depot.
He says how a rich school friend asked him for tips on the best portable stereo model to purchase, which was “all the buzz” in Italy in the 1970s. Nerio Alessandri then purchased it from his friend for half price when he got tired with it, renovated it, and sold it for profit.
Alessandri did the exact same thing with the Caballero scooter and Volkswagen Golf car: purchasing, renovating and selling them for even more money.
How Technogym launched
Not long since finishing high school, Nerio Alessandri was impatient and decided to develop a company of his own. Originally, he reexamined his lifelong dream of being a fashion designer and then sent a letter to the famous Italian artist Giorgio Armani, who was establishing a shop in his city.
Alessandri never heard back from Armani, but when doing his day’s work, he became aware of the world of fitness after visiting a local gym and finding out that it only operated with very simple equipment.
By seeing a chance to put his design plans into action, he began designing equipment in his dad’s garage and, at the age of 22, he established Technogym.
As demand for his gym equipment began rolling in, Alessandri left his day’s job and, as Technogym outgrown the garage, he transferred his growing company to a former mattress factory.
The essence of culture
Nerio Alessandri said that another reason behind Technogym’s growth is its emphasis on culture.
He tells CNBC that his intention was to “create a legacy for the next generations” which would be made possible by a strong tradition.
Much of this has to do with sustaining “curiosity” and “enthusiasm” for company, he said, driving “constant improvement,” and he has also emphasised the importance of being genuine and transparent.