Interview with Massimo Stella, 42 years old, third generation in Estel Group. Since 2012 he has been Sales Director, but he attaches greater importance to teamwork rather than to his role. So, no conflict with the previous generations and maybe right the dynamic balance and also a daily debate on strategies, communication, people and products are the reasons for the success of this company, now in the top 20 in Europe, that celebrates its 80th anniversary.
Since it was set up, what are in your opinion the key steps that brought Estel into the top 20 companies in Europe? Would you follow the same path now?
The turning-point coincides with the entry of the second generation to the company in the ‘70s, when this craft firm changed into an industry; another key moment was the entry into the office furniture industry at the beginning of the ‘80s.
In the early 2000s the company has further developed through an in-depth analysis of a design-oriented culture and the ability to carry out tailor-made approaches, mainly demanded by the major customers. The forthcoming path will be marked by an even higher travel speed.
What are the company principles, which lead and mark out Estel worldwide?
Estel is steadily in the making, watching and analyzing the actual facts and the evolution of the market on a global scale, in order to find the right answers as regards the product. We are now a leader in the office furniture sector in a quite different context: the static condition of the workplace has been questioned in companies of all sizes; the possibility to work anywhere entails the necessary adjustments of the whole working environment. Technology is the driving force behind this major evolution and that’s why Estel has increased its investment in R&D.
Design is no doubt another crucial aspect: we don’t consider ourselves just “mere” furniture makers, we can also offer comprehensive, space-planning solutions.
First-rate design and research are also Estel’s success factors, how many energies and resources, in per cent, were necessary to achieve the intended purpose?
The new ways of working dramatically changed the design approach and the office space planning.
Research has always been a strategic factor for Estel. In our planning approach the worker is at the core of the creative process, that’s why our range of furniture is no longed divided “hierarchically” (executive, clerical, etc) but by function.
By the collaboration with architects, interior designers and a professional team, Estel can be a leading company in the Smart Office sector, with high quality level products bond in terms of materials and design.
Estel has also launched the “pleasure of agile working”, through the claim “Italian Smart Office”; how many of your costumers in Italy and abroad follow the Smart Working approach and how many have a more traditional attitude?
Compared to the United States, the pioneers of smart working, our country is definitely limping along, but 2016 was a turning point thanks to the new law. Among UE countries, only England, German and the Scandinavian countries are far “ahead” but just in numerical terms.
It’s a meaningful change of mentality. Workers are becoming flexible and “nomads”, willing to “give up” habits that were once rooted like personalization and dimension of their own territory.
You fit out some of the major Headquarters all over the world, how is your view of Italian Smart Office accepted? Which differences do you find in the culture of work and ways of working in the other countries?
In countries, where there is already a “smart” approach, you deal with stakeholders already fully formed in the subject, while in other countries these theories are still little known and arouse curiosity and interest. So, the commercial approach changes considerably, for instance, in the US the design of products is more emphasized while in the Far East they are rather spreading a more complex concept.
Companies like ours cannot do without flexibility, for it has an impact on our identity: we can offer serial products yet with customized measures and finishes. It is essential in an international context where taste and ways of working may differ a lot.