An interview to Roberto Geminiani, co-owner with his brother Battista of Fratelli Geminiani, a leading company in the construction machinery sector
Diggers, dozers, crawlers, dumper trucks... and mountains of earth. There’s enough here to light up the eyes of any child with a passion for toy earth movers... only these are the real deal. They’re the giants of Fratelli Geminiani, a company with a long history in the earth-moving sector that’s decidedly above the norm in terms of the wealth of expertise acquired over the decades. But these “toys” are certainly a serious business, not least for the importance of the earth-moving projects that they are called to work on. Roberto, who runs the family business with his brother Battista, reveals the great passion he has for his work in every word. Indeed, it takes a unique passion for such demanding machinery to be able to grow a company boasting such a concentration of technical and mechanical professionalism.
Ours is a very long story, which began back in the 1930s with the transport of gravel using horses. Then after the war, my father expanded the business to the earthmoving sector on an industrial level, taking on ever larger projects. In 1966 the company purchased its first 360° excavator …and since then we’ve been constantly expanding, especially regarding our commitment to ongoing improvements to our fleet of machinery.
Our watchword has always been “versatility”: this has meant diversifying the sectors in which we can work, and as a consequence we’ve constantly upgraded our skills, expertise and equipment. Our unique proposition is the extent and variety of our fleet, which currently totals 25 machines, all Komatsu: without doubt it’s a major commitment, and it’s an unusual choice for a company like ours. But it does mean we always have the right machine whatever the job requires. And having such a large fleet of vehicles means we can respond quickly to customer needs.
Well, this is one of the aspects that make us truly special: we’ve always handled all the ordinary and extraordinary maintenance on our vehicles ourselves, carrying out all kinds of work and repairs on our machinery. The upshot of this is we both have a really intimate knowledge of the issues concerning both potential breakdowns and the wear and tear of each of our vehicles. And this has been possible because first and foremost both I and my brother’s abiding love is mechanics!
It comes from our great shared passion… much of what we know we’ve drawn from our years spent in the world of motorcycle racing in the 500 World Championship class, when we were rubbing shoulders with some truly outstanding personalities from the world of motorcycle racing – people who’ve written its history. We use the mechanical expertise we learnt then every single day, and this allows us to carry out work swiftly every time there’s a mechanical problem and ensure our fleet remains in tip-top condition. I don’t recall a single time when one of our machines broke down on a job!
On these machines, a good lubricant for the hydraulic system is absolutely essential for improving precision of movement and driveability. For example, on a Komatsu excavator, it means being able to optimally manage not only movement but also the micro-movement of the bucket. You really notice this in winter when the oil is cold, as the oil you’ve chosen really affects how the machine handles! These are important details you won’t find written in any excavator’s use and maintenance manual … you learn them on the job. Also without a doubt using the correct oil greatly reduces wear and tear on vehicles. And if our machines are efficient, then the whole company is more efficient too. And this gives you a competitive edge.
Execution times are fundamental for us, because if you can shave just 30 seconds off a particular process it can really make all the difference! And we’re proud to say this is one of our major strengths. If you have to move a million cubic metres of earth to create some reservoirs for instance, your vehicles must be up to the job. You can’t risk them breaking down. Only a high quality lubricant gives you these guarantees and lets you carry out necessary repairs between one building job and the next and so ensure work continues uninterrupted.
Yes, for sure. Over the years we’ve been able to test many different types. We’ve always made it a rule to analyze the spent oil we remove, so we can record technical data along with everything we’d already felt while using the machine. This allows us to have a complete picture so we can choose the best product. We’ve found that Pakelo lubricants provide us with many effective solutions, especially for gearboxes, hydraulics and reduction gearboxes on our dozers. You can see that the products are the result of research that's yielded genuine progress and also offers reliable results at affordable costs... you can see the difference for example in the lower number of copper particles in the gearbox discs – a clear indication of the amount of wear – and this can be significantly reduced by selecting the right lubricant. Also, if we need something specific, we can always find a staff member in Pakelo ready to help, to listen, and prepared to work with us to identify the best performing product for the specific usage situation we have. Not all companies offer their customers that degree of personal touch.
Well, there are many things… We’ve enjoyed a very fruitful partnership with Komatsu Italia for many years now. Over the years, we’ve also enjoyed direct relationships with many other earth-moving equipment manufacturers. And several times now they’ve actually entrusted us with test-driving prototypes of their new vehicles to get our opinion on their performance. For them, this means they can gain insight into the driveability and real-world productivity of a vehicle while it’s being used. For us, it’s a nice recognition of the depth of our expertise and many years of experience. But there’s more. Many of our clients book us for jobs even a year in advance in order to be sure we’re available for their projects!
And then of course I get a lot of pleasure from the “torpedo” motorbike I'm building in my garage. Drop by and see me and I’ll show her to you!