A history of Italian entrepreneurship
The location sprang up in the 70s as head office, warehouse and sales department of SIT S.p.A, a company that produced car transmission parts.
But this was just the final stage in the history of this epic family that came from a great dynasty of Lombard entrepreneurs, a peculiarity that is intrinsically tied to Italy’s history, starting from the Restoration period and the post-war Boom, right the way through to the present day.
It also allows us to get a close-up picture of the people from the Bergamo Alps, who are driven by modernity and industrial production and always one step ahead of the rest of the country.
Just like a black and white film, we’ll briefly tell you the story of Italy’s industrial history, filled with the entrepreneurial visions and manufacturing evolutions that were based on intuition and the need to adapt, leading to a never-ending growth of commercial realities, from Brembilla, to Milan and, later, the rest of the world.
Skilled artisanal woodworkers from the Imagna valley, the S. family moved to Brembilla towards the end of the eighteenth century. They mainly produced textiles, going on to create mould buttons and buttons that would become the core of their future production. It was precisely this family who introduced this activity to the area, successively giving life to the button-making district of Bergamo.
Artisanal craftmanship and woodworking
The first company was founded in Brembilla, in 1838 by Martino, who went on to launch a series of production transformations that would take the company into the modern era. In fact, in 1868, Martino moved to Milan and, in April 1881, after a period of reorganisation , he opened his first button and wood turning workshop in the Lombardy capital. Their success was helped by the Esposizione Industriale (Industrial Exhibition), organised in Milan that year, which brought Italian and, particularly, Milanese production, under the international spotlight, especially in the mechanics, textile, paper and clothing sectors.
These were tumultuous years of frenzied economic growth and Martino, entrepreneur and artisan, introduced his two sons to the business. One oversaw the production and the other managed the sales of the products, expanding the company’s activities, which allowed them to hire their first employees.
In 1895, Stefano returned to Brembilla to be closer to his family and, after the death of his father, the two brothers reorganised the company. Stefano opened a small workshop in the same town, while Fiorino, went to Milan to direct the workshop’s sales and technical department.
The century began on a wave of entrepreneurial dynamism. Against a backdrop of an increasingly active Milan which, according to the figures of the time, was home to 19% of the country’s industrial workforce.
New workshops were established and, in 1906, Stefano opened a small factory at Ponte Val di Cava, where the company still has offices today. Meanwhile, in Milan, they continued the family tradition with the inauguration of a new passementerie factory.
All this led them completely away from the now obsolete artisanal work processes of the district, embarking on new production lines, which were still, however, similar to their original products, like technical wood meccano accessories for yarns and threads, threads and textiles , and the development of the car transmission parts and pulleys.
The S. family invested in German electrical machinery and modified them directly with patent 191, which introduced a mechanism that doubled the operational speed of the lathes.
Between two wars
The family’s circumstances changed after the First World War with the premature death of Stefano. His brother Fiorindo, who only had daughters, continued to follow the company, establishing a new once called S. Martino, whose partners became the sons of his brother: Camillo, Fiorindo, Stefano and Giacomo.
This decision was a springboard to growth, thanks to the different abilities of the brothers, who continued working for the company until the Sixties.
The Second World War did not cause to much economic damage to the company. The reconstruction of the damaged infrastructure, especially in Milan, was extremely rapid and the textile sector soon returned on an upward trend.
The economic boom and the birth of S.I.T. Spa
To face the increased productivity, the company structure was changed with the establishment of S. Spa, which led to the modernisation of the factory and its equipment.
The textile accessory market was undergoing consistent growth, with many requests coming in from overseas. In the 1950s, the mechanical transmission sector developed considerably, changing its sales policy to an agent-based system and also heralding the beginning of a number of collaborations that allowed the company to approach the Russian and Chinese markets. One of the biggest changes was the use of plastic materials that were increasingly gaining ground, eventually completely replacing wood.
The Sixties saw a new phase in the production set-up of the company, with the mechanical transmission department becoming an independent company, which was already well on an upward trajectory in an ever-expanding market.
In 1967, this led to the establishment of S.I.T. Spa (Società Italiana Trasmissioni) and, in the 70s, Via Watt became an industrial complex that was home to the warehouse for the various car components. Today, this building is Megawatt Court.
The transfer of power
The third century saw the company pass from the fourth to the fifth generation, with changes to the production activities.
In 2009, S.I.T. Spa, closed its production line and warehouses in Via Watt 15.
Today, the complex is one of the best conserved examples of industrial archaeology in the city, and has been used as an exhibition space since the end of 2016. But, in reality, it’s more a ‘site’ than a ‘space’, filled with history and details that recall its manufacturing past. Requalified and fit for use once more, Megawatt Court restores an important landmark in the city’s history to Milan.