From the heartfelt story of Carla Luisa Lucca Contaldi, a picture emerges of her husband, Giulio Contaldi, who in the 1960s took over the lead of the company created by Ing. Enea Mattei. As tribute to the man who firmly believed in this industrial company, he recognised the potential of rotary vane technology and started the international expansion, which leaves his children, Giulio and Silvia, with a leading global group in the compressed air market.
Alongside her husband Giulio Contaldi, Carla Contaldi has seen the successful growth of Mattei, both within the Italian market and in its expansion to markets overseas. Carla Contaldi was the partner in life both privately and professionally of the man who made Mattei great in the eyes of the world, whilst maintaining a close relationship with the historic headquarters in Vimodrone and the employees. Together, the Contaldis have passed on their passion for this company to their children, who will now take it forwards in the name of family continuity.
From the 1960s onwards you held positions of great responsibility in Mattei: what did it mean to you to be at the top in a period when the work of women was less recognised than today? How did you balance being a woman, a mother and an entrepreneur?
I started working at Mattei in the sales department and immediately was joined by Sandra Bruni Mattei, who having been recently widowed, had to return to the company to carry on the work started by her husband. For me, Sandra’s courage embodies the ideal of a working woman. We immediately hit it off and created a relationship built on mutual respect, to the point that she often asked me for advice and entrusted me with tasks on some commercial aspects that went well beyond my duties.
In 1962 OMIC acquired Ing.Enea Mattei and Giulio Contaldi entered the scene...
Giulio had inherited a family business which sold diesel engines for motorised compressors that had excellent relations overseas, especially in the UK, and was a supplier to Mattei. Once again, Mrs. Mattei was visionary, recognising him as the person to whom to entrust the reins of the work started by her husband in 1919, with just one duty, to maintain the historical name of “Ing.Enea Mattei”. Giulio, an intuitive man and a skilled entrepreneur, immediately saw the potential of the rotary vane technology in the compressor market. Furthermore I was very attached to Ing. Enea Mattei and I passed on both my passion for the product and the company to him, only further reinforcing his convictions.
You have first-hand experience of the relationships with customers and distributors: how important is it to grow relationships directly and how have you seen them change over time?
With increased competition and the advent of the Internet, the company’s relationships with its customers and distributors evolved accordingly, moving from what at times were very close direct ties, to new commercial relationships that were faster and more immediate. With my husband I travelled around the world getting to know at first-hand those who had chosen Mattei compressors, to be able to even better satisfy their needs. Today new technologies offer many opportunities and the sales dynamics have changed; it’s therefore right to take note of change and adapt to keep up with the times.
How was it to lead the company alongside Giulio Contaldi?
I’d like to emphasise that it was not I who led the company next to my husband, but it was he who led the Group successfully and I always supported him. Giulio was a true Italian entrepreneur, determined and passionate; who believed in an innovative product that was still relatively unknown at the time, and he made it become great in the eyes of the world. We have worked side-by-side for over forty years, sharing not only a private life; every morning we planned our working day ahead, but it was me who banned us from talking about work at lunch with the other directors and at dinner with our family, because for Giulio, Mattei was everything.
Now the baton of the company has been passed on to your children Giulio and Silvia: what is your wish for the future?
I wish for Mattei to continue its path of success in the name of the Contaldi family for at least another 100 years. One of my grandchildren has already declared that he will one day work for Mattei. And I must confess, I was really touched and excited.
[From Issue 14, Vane Magazine, March 2019]