KNF Italy Celebrates 50 Years
Commitment, collaboration, trust.
In 1972, KNF Italy was born. We look back on this half-century of history in the words of Silvio Valente, the location’s first managing director at its head for more than 30 years, and with Andrea Amati, who has now taken as managing director in 2021.
KNF Italy is celebrating its 50th anniversary
The positive development with the opening of the first international location in France encouraged Group CEO Erich Becker to pursue the path of expanding into additional markets. Italy was identified as an important market as the north of the country was well industrialized and connected. With the support of the German-Italian Chamber of Commerce, all bureaucratic, fiscal and tax aspects were investigated in advance, and the choice fell on the city of Milan.
Mr. Valente, how did your activity in KNF begin and what were the main steps marking it?
I began my career at KNF in 1984 as an attorney and later became managing director. I was directly appointed by the Becker family, in the person of Erich Becker, to take the leadership of the Italian location. The office was in Milan, on Via Feraboli. When I arrived, I could find two employees. This was KNF Italia in the early 1980s.
It didn´t take long for the positive development to start: In 1986 a major Italian company commissioned us to place a large order for very high-tech special pumps for an experimental nuclear plant.
In 1997 the company moved to Via Flumendosa, also in Milan. Business was growing and with it the need to hire new staff and space for offices, product repairs and assembly area. So, in 2015 the move was made to the location where the company still resides today, in Cernusco Sul Naviglio (MI).
How has the company evolved in the three decades under your leadership?
I have seen many changes. The Group has grown significantly, we have opened new locations, invented and manufactured new products and introduced digitalization processes. KNF today is a global company with a network of 17 locations, ensuring the distribution of products around the world. But some things have remained the same. First and foremost, the Group has always been led by the Becker family, proponents of responsible management and sustainable growth.
KNF manages to maintain lasting business relationships. What is the secret?
I personally believe that the Becker family has demonstrated a vision and persistence, which is not so common these days. In my case, it was the esteem and relationship established with them that anchored our collaboration for such a long time. Then there are the relationships with employees. Some have remained by my side throughout my career, and I still have a genuine connection to them today. I feel I can say that employees find KNF to be a people-friendly, stimulating and future-oriented work environment. Customers and suppliers recognize in KNF a highly technical and reliable partner with whom they can develop customized solutions and lasting business relationships.
Since last year, managing director of KNF Italy has been Andrea Amati, who succeeded Mr. Silvio Valente as managing director of the Italian location.
Andrea Amati, how did you begin your journey in the company?
I remember starting my first day in the company with the feeling of beginning something important: it was April 1st, 2021, and I was starting a new journey within a company and an environment I knew very little about. The pandemic was still ongoing, the presence of people in the company was limited. This was not helping to begin the first fundamental social relationships with my co-workers. But at the same time, I had been invited to attend the Board Meeting related to the approval of the operating balance for the year 2020, which was being held online. I was struck by the warmth, welcome and attention I was given, always involving myself as much as possible. Work is always hard work but doing hard work can be enjoyable and full of satisfaction. This is how the first weeks in the company were for me, during which I began to get acquainted with the team and the activities to be carried out. I was always supported by Silvio Valente who, thanks to his high authority, was at my side in a supportive but discreet way, never intrusive, allowing me to fit into the organization.
What projects do you have in mind for the near future?
When I think of KNF Italy I think of a company that will have a continuing path of growth. It will be based on some optimizations, balancing and integrations in terms of workloads, resources and organizational processes, which will lead the company to hit the goals planned with the 2020 - 2025 strategic plan. We want to create a sales department with full drive, capable of operating on the four regions into which we have divided the Italian territory, preferring resilient macro sectors (digital printing, medical, environment, and clean energy) that are linked to important drivers such as information management, health, and population growth.
What approach will characterize your leadership?
I think that the KNF Italy team is composed of goal-focused, experienced and competent people. Therefore, I believe the applicable leadership mode is one based on delegation and example, with a view to developing an increasingly strong, involved and motivated team to represent KNF in the country. We will operate locally according to KNF's global strategies: We are ONE KNF.