- Business - Where Italian craftsmanship meets passion

By Dario Schiavo

Where Italian craftsmanship meets passion

Our Italy editor speaks with family-run Foresti & Suardi about its growth and expansion…

Foresti & Suardi’s headquarters in Predore

When a superyacht build is reported, very often the suppliers don’t receive much attention, yet they play a crucial role in the overall quality of the vessel. Craftsmanship and dedication are essential not only in the design and technology but also in the smallest components like handles, hinges, and fender terminal and step plates.

Here, we highlight a company that manufactures all these products in house, starting with metal casting. Foresti & Suardi, located in northern Italy, epitomises high-end craftsmanship. The shipyards it works with, both in Italy and abroad, value the quality and versatility synonymous with ‘Made in Italy’.

Foresti & Suardi was founded in 1961 by two visionary brothers-in-law, from whom it derives its name. Luciano Paissoni, the son-in-law of Mr Suardi, who now leads the company alongside his wife and sister-in-law, shares the story of this company that has carved out a significant niche in the nautical world.

“Suardi was the skilled technician [and] embodied the practical expertise, while Foresti, with his commercial acumen, possessed the instinct for business,” Paissoni says. “Initially, they operated as subcontractors, manufacturing belt buckles, a popular product in the region. However, they soon realised the potential of branding their own products. Their proximity to renowned shipyards like Riva and Rio likely influenced their venture into the boating industry. They began with portholes, expanding to skylights and oarlocks, eventually focusing their production predominantly on marine equipment. Gradually, their product range expanded, resulting in a diverse catalogue, with the majority of items manufactured entirely in house.”

Left to right: Dario Schiavo; MD of Foresti & Suardi Luciano Paissoni; and his son, Luca Paissoni 

Luciano Paissoni joined the factory in 1976, initially overseeing the mechanical aspect. However, he always felt a strong inclination towards commerce, as he recalls: “I vividly remember during one of those career orientation sessions at school, the school counsellor told my parents that I was cut out for this job, that commerce was in my blood.” Life took him in different directions for a while, but in 1986, he gathered the courage to leave the factory and, alongside a friend, ventured into setting up their own gasket production. However, his father-in-law presented an irresistible proposition that Paissoni couldn’t turn down: to take charge of the company and infuse it with his own vision.

So, in 1987, Paissoni assumed leadership of the company, finally giving its commercial aspect its due recognition. “Suardi had four children, two of whom were bought out, along with Foresti’s heir. My wife, her sister and I took over the reins of the company and have steered it to where it stands today.

Foresti & Suardi manufactures more than 85 per cent of its products in house. The only items sourced from external suppliers are electronics and glass components. Every successful company possesses a USP, and for Paissoni: “Our metalwork exudes a distinct charm, commanding a different presence in the market. It embodies the rigour we strive to uphold in each of our products, like windscreens, doors, boat drums and others artefacts, not forgetting, of course, the yacht lighting part in the Versari line.”

 The foundry

In just three years, Foresti & Suardi has doubled its turnover. “That’s true, and I have to say that I was very surprised. I am convinced that success, as in our case, can only be achieved through the work of a well-integrated team and the relationship of complete trust with our clients – and I am talking in particular about those we work with most has made us exceed even the most optimistic expectations. Furthermore, thanks to the invaluable contribution of my son Luca, we also started producing doors in 2021.

“I would like to clarify that the doors are produced entirely in house, we use external suppliers for the glass only. At the basis of everything, in the collaboration with shipyards, is the desire to work together, the willingness to support each other, and this synergy has produced excellent results. Foresti & Suardi is present on many boats.”

Over the years, in addition to product development, Foresti & Suardi has cultivated a philosophy centred on achieving total and unwavering customer loyalty. The company has garnered trust from all its clients.

Clockwise from top left: ceiling recessed lights, windshield, aluminium door handle and Tankoa foredeck custom pool

“Our distinctive business philosophy sets us apart as true partners to our clients,” remarks Paissoni. “Our growth stems from our unwavering commitment to fulfilling our customers’ needs year after year. We have never turned down a proposal, idea or request, which has ensured our stability without causing production disruptions. Leveraging state-of-the-art CNC machinery and hiring highly skilled personnel, we have achieved economies of scale and established favourable margins, ensuring smooth operations today.

How is Foresti & Suardi handling the slowdown in today’s yachting industry? “We are making major investments in new technologies and products. Furthermore, I believe that we simply need to wait for positive developments on the financial front: once these occur, everything will be able to return to normal. What I mean to convey is that, fortunately, we are far removed from the downturn of 2008.”

A visit to the Foresti & Suardi factory opened my eyes to the level of work, dedication and craftsmanship involved in boat parts that I honestly didn't realise involved such a high degree of design and workmanship. Long live companies like this one, which Luciano Paissoni leads, flanked by his son Luca. He is the first to arrive at the office and the last to leave. “It’s so nice to go to the company on Saturday or Sunday mornings, when I can focus and invent new solutions.”

Profile links

Foresti & Suardi Spa.

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