Smeg says Australian subsidiary a highlight in 70-year history

Insights from export director.

The export director of Smeg, Emer Zavaroni, has described the creation of the local subsidiary as one of the highlights in the company’s 70-year history.

Zavaroni, who himself will celebrate 50 years with the company next year, was interviewed on-stage by Smeg Australia managing director, Jim Kalotheos at the company’s 70th anniversary function in Sydney last week.

“I thought it would be good to get some insight from a man who has been there for 50 of the 70 years that this business has been around – which is just extraordinary,” Kalotheos told the assembled audience featuring the leading electrical retailers who had travelled from across the country for the event.

“Emer was in Australia for the first time in 1971 and I was born in 1971 – it is mind-blowing,” Kalotheos said, before commencing a question and answer interview with Zavaroni.

“In the early days, did you see something that gave you an inkling of what was to come 50 years later?” Kalotheos asked.

“I was employed by Vittorio senior in 1969 and immediately after my first interview, I started that day. I was very young, I felt immediately that it was my second family and I fell in love with it. A few months later, Roberto joined the business and I started to feel that this business has a great future. There was so much love in the business and working so closely with Vittorio and Roberto, we could only succeed and at that time. Smeg and the Bertazzoni family was my second family and I could foresee the success in the future.”

Smeg Australia managing director, Jim Kalotheos and Smeg export director, Emer Zavaroni

“In 50 years, is there a particular moment that stood out for you?” Kalotheos asked.

“There were many moments of great satisfaction as every year we experienced double-digit growth. When we started in 1969, Smeg was a small company, but with the engineers and staff working up to seven days a week and 16 hours a day, we built a lot of friends and friendships. I met my first Australian in 1971 and he ordered from me in 1973 and then we started to listen to what the Australians were demanding. But there is one big moment of satisfaction – and that was in 2011 when we started Smeg Australia – that was the most important and unique moment. I had dreamed of that for a few years and I have our friend Andrew Cronin to thank very much for that – and he is here with us tonight. I remember at the beginning of 2010, I went back to Italy and said we need to create a fully-owned subsidiary and it was one of the best moments of my career.”

“What do you think is the essence of Smeg?” Kalotheos asked.

“A few reasons – first of all, since the start in 1969, the first words I heard from Vittorio Bertazzoni was ‘quality’ as well as ‘respect for the consumers’. We have never cheated our customers and it is very important to offer quality products and to respect your customers. In the mid-80s, Roberto said we must put the products into the kitchen where the family gets together, and not only good products, but also beautiful products. So we started to work with Guido Canali and in 1988 when we launched the first stainless steel oven, we started it in here Australia and within one month we had to air freight the products.

“Some people say you need to understand the past to look into the future, so what does the future hold for Smeg?” Kalotheos asked.

“New products. More innovation. Quality products. I think we have a great future. And I am sure you [our retailers] will continue to support us. We will never let you down because you will always have the best products in the market. If you look at the Smeg catalogue today, I think you will find so many lines of products to satisfy all of the consumers, and nobody else can match this.

“I appreciate your attendance here and you have done a great job for us. For Smeg, Australia is the most important country we have and it is especially in our heart. The Smeg family works with passion and we do everything we can for the Australian business.

“We will continue to come to market with innovation and new lines of products and next year you will see something new. Smeg is a family business and working with passion and the team will continue to work hand in hand, so thank you very much for being here and supporting us and we will support you.”

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