According to a popular legend, at the end of every rainbow there is a pot full of gold coins.
In an ancient game played in village festivals, the blindfolded participant wields a stick and tries to hit a terra cotta pot filled with food specialities and sweets. The kitchen pot has always been a symbol of fortune, prosperity, joy, and family warmth. It is an object present in every home.
Every day, it is used for the domestic ritual of cooking. We entrust to it both the rich flavours of tradition and the recipes of our own age, straightforward, quick, with no fats. The kitchen pan, though an apparently simple product, is in fact a valuable object that has been given new qualities by contemporary materials and technology. Aluminium for better thermal efficiency, shock-resistant enamel and coatings, non-stick materials: hundreds of different shapes, millions of units for millions of kitchens.
The company "Ballarini Paolo e Figli S.p.A." was founded and grew in a small town near Mantua, named Rivarolo Mantovano.
The factory in fact opened in 1889, when Paolo Ballarini began his career.
His first workshop handcrafted metal products, such as bird cages, and, towards the end of the 19th century, items in coated or tin-plated metal sheet for the kitchen.
This is how Paolo began a crafts operation in the area of kitchen utensils. Soon he managed to increase production following a donation of small manually-operated machine tools for sheet metal working, from a family in Bozzolo that was closing down its business.
In later years, Paoloâ€™s son Angelo further developed business, to the point that he was considered the true originator of "Ballarini Paolo e Figli S.p.A.".
In fact, in the early 20th century, he increased the range of articles manufactured: Neapolitan-type coffee pots, frying pans, graters, footwarmers, bedwarmers and bathtubs.
The Ballarini family, who had developed considerable expertise in metal-working, understood that products for the home would see a great development in the future, and that it was necessary to plan the transformation from handcrafting to industrial production techniques.
The initial phases of this process coincided with the arrival of the new generation, but this was immediately followed by the difficult war years.
The period after the First World War was very important for the company. Angelo succeeded in adapting the skills and technology that he had been forced to apply during the War, in part during his work at the Caproni aircraft works.
In 1924, he began to build the new factory, and innovative new enamelled metal objects were introduced into the production range. This spirit of research and the willingness to invest in the company enabled it to survive the moments of market crisis.
Further impetus for development was provided by the introduction of copper as a material for pan production, adapting the existing manufacturing technology and processes used for other metals.
The Second World War slowed production and changed it in part, so that, when production recommenced full swing, the company invested its resources in the manufacture of items made by working aluminium and enamelled plate metal.
In this period its most significant products were cake tins, bedwarmers, backstrap milk churns, and coffee pots. Angelo Ballarini, the man who had done so much to project the company towards an industrial dimension, died in 1953.
Responsibility for manufacturing passed to his sons, Carlo, Sandro and Emilio, who for a number of years had been assisting their father in his project for company expansion.
In the 1960s, the aluminium pans market began to show signs of slowing. The traditional aluminium saucepans that for many years had dominated the kitchen were supplanted by colourful coated saucepans, following the invention of Teflon. In 1967, after a period of research, Ballarini made its first Teflon-coated pan, a piece that still today is conserved in the companyâ€™s historic museum.
The favourable initial results, the positive response from the market, and the companyâ€™s growing expertise in the preparation and application of non-stick coatings, laid the foundations for a new and important investment in 1973, which would be decisive in determining future growth: a plant for applying non-stick coatings, entirely designed within the company. The considerable technological and manufacturing potential of this plant (high productivity and very competitive running costs) enabled the product to be launched successfully on many foreign markets.
In the late 1970s, the fourth generation took their place in the company: the founderâ€™s great-grandchildren Giuseppe, Angelo, Guido and Roberto. They are now at the head of the company.
Specific demand from foreign markets led to the design and implementation of another technological investment, which completed the production cycle. A financial operation in 1980 permitted the purchase of a state-of-the-art plant for coating the external surfaces of pans. This made it possible to introduce new, very bright colours and shades that proved to be greatly appreciated by customers.
At this point, Ballarini was truly able to offer its clients all types of products, differentiated according to material thickness, colour, type of coating, and therefore, price bracket.
Successively, in response to demands from the different markets, which increasingly privileged high-quality products, a new, latest-technology plant was added to the already comprehensive manufacturing cycle, for the production of vitreous enamel. This substance is a top-quality coating material, exceptionally hard and durable, for the exterior surface of pans. Products of this type were in high demand on the market in Germany and France, where the concept of quality had already become a part of the consumer purchasing process. Very soon it was extended to other European and world markets by means of the companyâ€™s regular participation at the most important international trade fairs.
The market of aluminium pans with non-stick coating has reached a considerable size over the last 25 years. In Italy it represents 70% of the total market, while in Europe it accounts for 60% of the pans manufactured and sold. This significant quota is growing continuously, because consumers increasingly consider non-stick products as the ideal solution to their requirements.
The figures attained by Ballarini demonstrate its leadership role in the industry, and its great qualitative and quantitative contribution to the development of the market by means of products that represent a guarantee and a point of reference in Italy and world-wide. Today, Ballarini exports 74% of its production to European markets and other countries further afield.
Over 250 employees work at the factory in Rivarolo Mantovano, manufacturing over 12 million pieces every year. The recent arrival of Alessandro and Luca Ballarini offers a further demonstration of the familyâ€™s firm belief in the value of research, consolidating a tradition of over a century. Attention to product quality, along with environment protection.