How did the passion for toy manufacture start in the Quercetti’s family?
By coincidence. The first one was my father, Alessandro Quercetti. At the end of the 40s, on his return home from the Second World War, he had to find a job. By chance he found a job in a toy factory, the Inco Giochi. That job would have changed his life. He found out to have a real passion for toys. He decided to open his own business in 1950.
How much and how your course of studies has influenced your ability to optimize your company production?
My studies have been fundamental for my role in the company. When I joined the company, 26 years ago, after graduating in Electronic Engineering, I immediately got to put into practice the concepts learned during my studies at the Polytechnic of Turin. In the first early years in company I programmed the machines for the production of the new moulds that would have updated the Quercetti’s product line, introducing
in the company the first computers. I proudly remember the first recognition we have received for training of personnel: the Japanese company, producer of the EDM machines in use in our company, awarded us for having operate the computerized machines for more than 5,500 hours in a year. A record at that time, even compared to most high-tech companies of the Far East.
How much did it cost you to decide to keep your production in Italy?
A lot. When all the companies, or the majority of them, moved their productions abroad, especially in China, we decided to stay in Italy to better follow all the changes in the market and to provide our clients with a fast and efficient delivery service. This is a great advantage for our clients: today we are able to deliver worldwide within 3 weeks from the order, compared to the 4 or 5 months delivery time of Chinese companies.
Distributors can purchase more products during the year without buying large quantities in advance: in times of economic crisis it is very important to meet our client’s needs which can therefore order the correct amount f products. Because we control all stages of production, our stock is reduced to a minimum; we produce according to the orders received. It takes a little be of insanity to choose to stay in Italy to make business: there is no single economic factor that would suggest to manufacture in Italy. Italy has the highest energy cost in Europe, taxation is so high that is effecting also good businesses (last year Quercietti paid in taxes more than 74% of the income), our labour costs per product unit is 30% more expensive than in Germany, the labour market is inelastic, credit cost is 3 times higher than in Germany, bureaucracy is penalizing and very complicated, laws are interpretable
therefore there is no certainty of judgment, etc etc. Italy is lucky to have an industrial structure full of very qualified and easy to find suppliers.
As a leader in the toy industry, what makes your company one of the best Italian brand?
We manufacture toys for children from 1 to 6 years old. Especially in the early years of life, children need to touch things, they need colours, movement rather than a console or a tablet. At first it seemed that the novelty of electronic games was meant to prevail on traditional games, then things have changed again. Today on the market there is a revival of traditional games that last through time and they cannot be undermine by technology.
Our games helps to build relationships with friends and parents; they add special value to life c o m p a re d to electronic games.
The famous pegs is the most representative product o your company. Could you tell us how this idea came about and how it has evolved?
In the 40s, in France, multicolored relief mosaics were in fashion. It was just a simple drilled paperboard, together with an outline drawing and many matches with coloured wax head to insert in the cardboard.
My father immediately understood the great potential of this idea and he patented it in Italy. He polishes the design and he improves the quality of the little nails: he uses plastic and he designs a hemispheric head improving the quality and the dimensions. The board is now made out of unbreakable plastic and it is available in new sizes. Thanks to this intuition and to the changes implemented, this simple game would become a global success.
In the 60s and 70s the Quercetti Pegs became a social phenomenon and, in a short period of time, it became a classic toys that has followed, and still follows, the growth of children and it entertains millions of kids around the world. Since 1953 we have sold over 50 million units, for a total of 15 billion of pegs. Even today, in the era of digital technology, this remains the most beloved and sold ofour product. Even today, pegs does not fear the “digital” competition. Indeed, it has been renewed! There it is, Pixel Art, a game of composition that allows to create portraits and artwork using thousands of coloured pegs and 9 pegboards. 10.800 coloured pegs are stuck in the pegboards forming a portrait; this is the same principle used in Pointillist art. The pegs come in six colours yet if you look at your creation from a distance, they will merge, as if by magic, to form an image with new colours and nuances, as if you were looking at a photograph. Today the line of Quercietti Pegs spans age groups ranging from 1 to 99 years: children can use their imagination playing with coloured pegs and, those who are not young anymore, can create artworks.
Did the company make targeted investments in order to maintain a high trend despite the economic crises?
You sell if you invest. In the past few years the company wanted to improve the productivity by increasing the number of moulding machines. Of course it’s also crucial to give the right importance to new distribution channels. E-commerce is becoming more and more strategic for our brand. Last year we won the challenge of integration of digital channels and retails. Using both virtual and traditional stores has drastically increased our sales and our popularity, besides approaching varied and young people.
Quality is one the company’s strength. How do you achieve quality?
All the work, from design of the toy up to packaging of the finished product, is made entirely in the only venue of Corso Vigevano, in Turin. The entire production cycle (concept, engineering, rendering, mould production, injection moulding, assembly, packaging, stocking, and shipment) is carried out in Italy with local personnel and we also develop allied activities in the territory. Being able to manufacture in Italy allows us to maintain our country’s know-how and, above all, allows us to control the quality of each product from beginning to end of production process. Besides trying to stop our competitors to copy our products. I am convinced that the added value of the Italian product will win over time, despite low costs and technology.
Magazine: Investo Magazine
Date: June/July 2014