Alessandro Turatti shares a bittersweet story about his great-grandmother.
All of her life, he said, she had one wish: to see the sea. It never happened, and after she died, her family found an envelope where she had been saving money so her husband might buy a car and drive her there.
Today, as president of Turatti North America based in Cavarzere, Italy — the same town in the Veneto region where his great-grandmother lived — Alessandro spends much of his time flying around the world, representing his family’s equipment manufacturing company to its clients in the food and pharmaceutical processing industries. And he carries thoughts of his great-grandmother as he does.
“We are 20 kilometers from the sea, and she never got there,” he said. “Now, I travel the world.”
“We have been following the same path of the processing companies, so we moved to newer products like the frozen products, to end up in the fresh- cut market in the early 1980s,” said Turatti, who with his sister, Ilaria, represents the company’s fifth generation.
Over its history, Turatti has been a steady and strong presence in Cavarzere (current population 15,000), which was nearly leveled by bombs during World War II. The company is grounded in and committed to the community and vice versa — and it shows.
Alessandro’s father, Antonio, continues to serve as president and is all over the Turatti complex day in and day out, doing whatever needs to be done. Ilaria oversees the business office. Alessandro heads the sales force and travels worldwide to meet with customers, attend trade shows and otherwise conduct business.
Their houses are a short walk from the company. It’s not unusual for Ilaria’s 2-1⁄2-year-old daughter, Ginevra, to pop over in the middle of the day in the arms of her doting grandfather.
The company’s 100 or so employees also are like family,
Alessandro said. Many are the second, third or fourth generation of their family to work for the Turattis. It’s common to see multiple members of the same families — fathers, sons, brothers, cousins — on the payroll at the same time.
“Our main advantage is the skill of our workers,” he said. “So even if the workers can be cheaper in another area of the world, we will never be able to find the same skill and personnel that we have here in Italy.”
At the same time, Turatti’s products are designed to save customers labor costs.
“That is something that is very much considered by the processors,” he said. “They have the possibility to have a processing line with a very nice and clean layout without having too much personnel involved. And all of the different equipment is computerized.”
Turatti said the company’s global knowledge and ability to customize products to customers’ needs has been key to its expansion. Preferences vary from country to country, as the commodities that are processed do. “What’s requested in Australia is different from what is requested in South Africa or Argentina,” he said.
Turatti exports 80 percent of what it manufactures.
Seizing an opportunity
From heavy-duty systems that handle the sanitizing and disinfection of potatoes, celery root and carrots, to tomato-slicing machines and custom-designed lines, to steam peelers that remove skin from fruits and vegetables without damaging product or having to use chemicals while increasing yield, the company is growing.
The Turattis have bought property around them and laid slab for a new 21,500-square- foot addition that will give them more space to set up elaborate processing lines.
They’re also expanding with a line of ready-to-go machines designed for small- and medium-size processors.
Most recently, Turatti released a new continuous fruit sterilizer, Safefruit. It cleans and sterilizes the skin of various fruits including melon, watermelon and pineapple. The system uses hot water, but can easily be changed for processing products that don’t require hot water. It also includes a chlorination option.
“We get requests for different types of new equipment, and our technical department sits down and tries to find a solution that can be successful and also marketable,” Turatti said. “We have relationships with some of our customers that have lasted 40-50 years.”
And Turatti sees nothing but opportunities ahead.
“Some say that the fresh-cut market is almost reaching its own peak, but since we operate in different parts of the world, we see different products developed that mainly address the special needs of the country,” he said. “We think that there is a very large potential for brand new products in this market.”
And that spells opportunity. Said Antonio Turatti, “We have always been trying to do whatever anybody else did not make.”