By creating Fondital, Raffmetal and Valsir, Silvestro Niboli marked fundamental stages in the development of the Italian aluminium industry.
by Carlo Gennari
On Friday, December 22nd, Silvestro Niboli suddenly passed away, aged 84. Founder and honorary President of Silmar Group, he was one of the most highly regarded entrepreneurs, both in Italy and abroad, in the aluminium industry, where he spent over fifty years of a unique professional life characterized by engagement, energy, extreme attention to the human factor and to the territory, capability of interpreting changes and demands of a constantly evolving market. Great determination and a talent for spotting the future demands of a rapidly expanding market, finding a way to satisfy them, along with a personality supported by qualities of humility and pride, characterized the fundamental passages of the entrepreneurial history of Silvestro Niboli ever since 1963, when, aged 30, he began his activity, after a hard but formative apprenticeship, founding “Freddi e Niboli”. Afterwards, in 1970, with the foundation of Fondital, Niboli started the production of aluminium radiators in the new plant in Vestone, while the start of Raffmetal, now the European leader in the production of recycled aluminium alloys, dates back to 1979.
In 1987, with production diversification in mind, Valsir was founded, a company operating in the water management and discharge sectors, while 1993 marks the entry in the Portuguese group, Olivera and Irmao, and the beginning of activities with Oli Italia. The acquisition of Vestone-based company Marvon followed in 2002. These are just a few of the steps which led Silvestro Niboli to create a Group of companies acknowledged worldwide for the quality of their products. Companies which now have 3,000 employees, a turnover in 2016 of over 820 million euros and average annual investments adding up to over 50 million euro, figures which, better than words, represent the great entrepreneurial capabilities and the “vision” of their creator, the intuition of looking at the market and detecting its changes, the capability of recognizing the technical and productive potential of a given moment while guessing the forthcoming developments, of distinguishing future scenarios and anticipating product and process novelties conquering even previously unexplored markets. Just like when, in times now long gone by, he “converted” Russia into a reference market for the segment of aluminium radiators and of products for water management and discharge.
Niboli really considered his companies as creations and this awareness always drove him to be particularly careful when choosing cooperators, whose growth he supported both professionally and from the standpoint of personal and human values. A charismatic man, not very talkative, Silvestro Niboli knew how to enhance the qualities of others, making them resonate with his way of seeing things, with his values and concept of work. A father of seven children, Silvestro Niboli often used to say that he would not have been able to accomplish all that he did had it not been for his family, both the one he raised and the one he came from. He left his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren as a heritage the great task of making the group of companies which he founded continue in their growth while respecting the principles and values which he taught them. Another very strong tie, as he liked to remember, was the one with his territory, which went beyond the objective logistical and geomorphological difficulties. In Valsabbia, Niboli knew that he would have found people capable of sharing his own values, his roots, people with the capabilities and ingenuity needed to be by his side in his successful quest for constantly renewed goals. From the territory where it lies, the company takes, and to that territory it gives back; Silvestro Niboli took upon himself the responsibility of ensuring that his companies would become a wealth for the entire community, growing while contributing to the development and well-being of the territory itself and generating jobs. It was not by chance that he liked to say, “My roots are in this valley, my values are the same as yours and thanks to them I was able to reach goals which for me were unthinkable”.