Imagining the shape of things to come. This seems to be the story of SCARPA and of the Parisotto family, a story that is seventy years long. A path rich in memories, traditions and experiences now focussing on the future where nature, fun and uniqueness are the reference points to detect tomorrow's winning products, for “no place is far”.
Going over the company history is like travelling through the evolution of Italian society in the last seventy years while discovering the remarkable intuition and special sensitivity of the Parisotto family, a family driven by the ambition to transform mountain and working boots, useful products in their own rights, into cult objects, the symbols of Italy at its earnest: performing, refined and wholesome. In the beginning there was craftsmanship and slowly maturing skills owing to determination, the accumulation of technical and managerial competence, actions dominated by a strong sense of time. In the old days becoming a master took long years, lots of passion and an innate ability to create an emotion: this is what SCARPA's work is all about: the seduction of the unexpected.
SCARPA: the roots of a dream.
The history of the Parisottos is rich with encounters amongst the soft hills, the olive groves and the vineyards of Asolo, a land often mentioned in history books for its natural vocation and no mere chance. A town, an area among the most beautiful in Italy, an enchanting place whose character seduced celebrated people such as Eleonora Duse, Pietro Bembo, Robert Browning, Giosuè Carducci, Igor Strawinsky, Ada Negri, Gian Francesco Malipiero, Ernest Hemingway, Carlo Scarpa, Freya Stark, Wilma Neruda and many, many others. It is in this context rich with suggestions and intersections that Luigi Parisotto begins his apprenticeship with the best craftsmen shoemakers of the area. In 1942, at the height of the world conflict, he finds work at SCARPA, a company started in 1938 by Lord Rupert Edward Cecil Guinness, second Earl of Iveagh, a land owner in Asolo, a wealthy Anglo-Irish businessman who was the Rector of Dublin University between 1927 and 1962. The Anglo-Irish Viscount lived in the beautiful house formerly owned by Eleonora Duse. A rich, intelligent and eccentric man, what we would nowadays define as a philantropist and a “border intellectual” - such as a member of the Guinness dynasty could afford to be - he had decided to gather the best leather craftsmen to establish the Società Calzaturieri Asolani Riuniti Pedemontana Anonima, hence the acronym SCARPA. It was the year 1938, the same year when biros, nylon and xerography were invented.
The early Fifties see the turning point: Luigi, Francesco and Antonio Parisotto decide to start their own business wholly based on craftsmanship in a place overflowing with symbols: the old stables owned by the Curia. The family at work becomes a working community in the communion of people and things: the perfect human communion. The first Parisotto family brand is born: San Giorgio, in an ideal continuum with the traditions of their land, their culture, their creed. Thus starts the family entrepreneurial activities in a convivial climate, in harmony with the master shoemakers and the whole of the Asolo community. In May 1956 there is a further turning point: the acquisition of the company where Luigi had served his apprenticeship, SCARPA. The commitment is a hefty one and commits the whole family financially, too. The adventure is not an easy one and the market is very risky. However, thanks to the commitment of seventeen master shoemakers, the strong determination of the three Parisotto brothers and the unquestionable quality of their products the shoes made by SCARPA gain great popularity in less than ten years. The challenge is successful and the quality of SCARPA products keeps conquering new markets. In 1965 an Italian-American from Boston discovers the superior quality of SCARPA shoes and thus begins the great production for the North American markets.
In the Seventies exports make up 60% of the entire SCARPA production reaching various parts of the planet from Europe to the Americas, from the Far East to Oceania: SCARPA gets established as a quality brand in a story where no place is really far.
Around the end of the Seventies new and ambitious plans take shape earning SCARPA international acclaim for quality and innovation. Two products in particular, the RALLY alpine skiing boot and the GRINTA high altitude mountain boot fast become favourites with sportsmen who recognise them as exclusive and unsurpassable products. The GRINTA becomes the boot of choice for numerous alpine and scientific expeditions on the Himalayas (14 peaks, i.e. all of the so-called 8,000 of planet Earth), in Antarctica and also for the armies of various European and non European countries.
In the Eighties the second generation of the Parisotto family, too, is ready to reach top management level: Sandro, Piero, Cristina, Davide and Andrea Parisotto start working side by side with their parents. This is the breakthrough that records what could be termed as a technical evolution process from a pre-existing situation towards a more marked innovative turning point. Such breakthrough is defined by the Terminator boot, the first Telemark boot made entirely of plastic materials. Further confirmation comes from the alpine skiing boot made of pebax F1. We thus witness the conspicuous emergence of the kind of role played by the new generation with the adoption of a business model focussed on research together with knowledge-based economy.
Creating, imagining and innovating starting from tradition and the company's cultural wealth: this is the true soul of SCARPA. Experience, accumulated know-how pervading all products, down to the everyday ones. Like Marco Polo in Calvino's Invisible Cities reminding us that “without stones there is no arc”, SCARPA knows that without creativity there is no innovation. This is strategic thinking that becomes operational: the ability for connecting an overall vision and the single detail, the awareness and the experience, the know-how, for doing is part of thinking and of creating.
What SCARPA is living today is a true revolution triggered by the introduction and the combining of high-tech materials with sustainable products that are the outcome of research of the utmost sophistication. The creation of these products shares values such as physical and psychological comfort and quality, but also protection from external agents and from the difficulties generated by the environment. Thus, materials with eclectic surfaces and skins, able to activate reactions of cause and effect and surfaces contributing to the maintenance of temperature, protective, resistant to all kind of solicitation and stress enter our everyday lives: where no place is far, where every place is defended and respected.
The narration of the history of SCARPA is enthralling and inspiring for it is born out of a unique and unparalleled cultural context. This Italian story is one of sacrifice and success, of hurdles overcome in true entrepreneurial spirit: it is a story of enterprise culture. Using the ability to synthesise the development of creative competence, a gradual innovation typical of continuous improvement and revolutionary change answers an ethical need for a new way of conducting business, with an eye to people and not only to the market. SCARPA takes corporate social responsibility very seriously: a lynchpin for the company's sustainability and the stake-holder network it is a part of. This radical change of strategic and managing perspective, aiming at making the company ever more attentive to the needs of all interest groups (fellow-workers, clients, suppliers, the community and the environment) to create and strengthen relationships that last, has a significant impact on decision making and its implementation. This is the key success factor for SCARPA, a company that knows how to mobilise resources and consent for an offer system rich in worth and values. Human capital is for SCARPA the ultimate resource: fellow-workers, distributors and clients all willing to commit as actors in a process that recognises them as such, listens to them as such and sees everyone as a protagonist in this success story. Individual and social responsibility based on strong ethical aspirations indissolubly coupled with strong foundations and a heightened critical sense. This responsibility makes SCARPA essential, effective and, what is most important, a winner.
SCARPA is currently a world leader in the production of mountain shoes offering a 360° range, directly employing 160 people in its two Asolo facilities, with a further 250 indirect employees operating around the Montebelluna industrial district which covers 60% of the total production totalling 500,000 pairs of shoes and boots. The company currently produces the following lines: Telemark, Alpine Skiing, High Altitude (plastic materials) and Mountain, Hiking-Trekking, Outdoor-Walking-Travel and Climbing. The turnover for 2009 reached 38million euros, of which 75% outside Italy, where SCARPA operates directly with its own branches through a highly specialised distribution network.