Focaccia Group enters the world of ambulances and proposes an innovative sanitisation solution
For over 60 years, the Focaccia Group has meant attention to detail and innovation in special transport: people with disabilities all over the world, but also rescuers, know this well
We meet Riccardo Focaccia, Managing Director of the special vehicle fitting company.
An interview that traces the long history of a group and a family, too.
In the dialogue, in fact, we discover that it is from a continuous comparison with the people that the needs were born, then resolved by the invention of a particular product.
FOCACCIA GROUP, GENESIS OF AN IDEA
Focaccia Group,” says Riccardo Focaccia, “is a company that has existed for many years: in 1954 Carrozzeria Focaccia was founded by my grandfather.
Riccardo Focaccia has a clear idea of why the Focaccia company has developed so strongly in the disability sector: “the first answer is luck. Luck helps the bold, we are bold, so we have been very lucky from the very first moment”.
FROM CARROZZERIA FOCACCIA TO FOCACCIA GROUP: FLEXIBILITY COMBINED WITH INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION
The Group,” continues Riccardo Focaccia, “is the evolution of Carrozzeria Focaccia: in ’54 it was founded by my grandfather in Imola and specialised in repairing war remnants.
But it also specialised in transformation, because from those remnants we moved on to passenger transport and small buses.
However, the real genius of the family was my father Licio, who moved the body shop to Cervia, and it was he who had the intuition, in the mid-1960s, to make special conversions”.
Riccardo continues: “My father, analysing market demands, began to make special components and fittings.
Whatever type of request came in, he worked hard to make it happen.
I was born in what was a workshop, where we built one-off items rather than small series.
There was this incredible passion to experiment, and to find a balance between aesthetics, cost and functionality.”
“Passion drove our business, so much so that investments were always aimed at extending this design and production capacity.
I learned flexibility in that workshop: I remember in the 1980s, for example, the demand for a mobile clinic for veterinarians.
A demand well in advance of today’s mobility studies.
Flexibility, the ability to experiment and to change the sector has allowed us to become what we are today.”
Then came the years of awareness.
“The beginning of the 1990s was the time of the great selection.
Special vehicles for the disabled and for the police: to make the company grow we decided to specialise in these two sectors.
“Fiorella” was born, the most compact lift that is now distributed in 52 countries and is considered the leader in its sector.
I began to imagine an industrial reality.
Our skill was to find the right middle ground between the original flexibility and the ability to industrialise production”.
THIRD GENERATION OF FITTERS: A LOOK AT TODAY AND ONE AT TOMORROW
Today, after these years, what is your greatest satisfaction?
“When I fully joined the company, I thought: ‘let’s make vehicles for people with disabilities for everyone’.
My mentor was Henry Ford: we’ve been selling our equipment to the Volkswagen, Toyota and Fiat dealer networks for four years now… I can say that this is my greatest satisfaction.
It proves that we have succeeded: the disabled vehicle is now considered on a par with any other car, a requirement, a product option that car manufacturers must offer their customers”.
Is the “Fiorella” lift the symbol of your company?
“Yes, but the products have evolved even though it remains the most popular product in our group.
The reason we started with the lifter is that a low platform, built by hand, costs five or six times more.
Thirty years ago, it was unthinkable to work in that segment: today, with the numbers and volumes developing, we have come to offer products that are competitive”.
The Focaccia Group is not only about disability: you also work in sectors very dear to Emergency Live…
“This was also an intuition: we invested a lot in creating a Research and Development Centre.
There are more than 30 people within the company working to design, and manufacture our products.
Plastic, iron and electronics and build the world! The Research Centre certainly started with the disabled, but it then moved on to the Local Police, the Mobile Offices and a whole range of equipment that must of necessity be coordinated.
First and foremost, the set-up must facilitate work, and it must be carried out according to the characteristics of professional work”.
What surprises does the Focaccia Group have in store for us?
“We are looking more and more closely at the emergency sector and are entering the ambulance sector.
We’ve had a foot in the door for years, as many of our customers who provide transport for the disabled also work in the ambulance sector.
One project we are developing is environmental disinfection, which was originally designed for Carabinieri and Police cars, but is actually more useful inside an ambulance.
Next month an After Market system will be launched on the market which can be installed on existing ambulances and guarantees, with a laboratory certificate, total disinfection of the medical vehicle.
There are two main advantages: the first is that we work with hydrogen peroxide, which is the safety element, and the second is that the ambulance disinfection time is about one minute”.
We conclude with a more general question: what critical points do you see in the ambulance sector?
“The world has changed: first the pandemic, now the war and the production delays that have already started since the end of 2019.
If we add to these factors the new regulations passed by Parliament on green transition, I would say that we have created all the elements for a perfect storm.
But we have gone from coaches to cars, so what should we be afraid of now? Of going from cars to different cars? No. The important thing is to always look ahead.
Flexibility with a smile on your face: that’s the Focaccia Group’s winning recipe.”