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Beginnings

In 28 January 1872, G.B. Pirelli & C. was incorporated in Milan for the production of articles in elastic rubber. It was the first company in Italy to process rubber, and it was the brainchild of the young engineer Giovanni Battista Pirelli. Born in Varenna, he was the eighth of ten children in a family of bakers. After his initial studies in Varenna and Como, in 1861 Giovanni Battista moved to Milan, where he graduated in Industrial Engineering from the Politecnico University in 1870.

Under his watch, the company expanded rapidly in Italy and abroad and the processes extended to cover a vast range of rubber products, including cables, miscellaneous items and, above all, tyres. Alongside his business activities he also played a key role in political and civic life, becoming a senator of the Kingdom of Italy in 1909. In 1904, his sons Piero and Alberto officially joined him in managing the company. This was a time of huge expansion both in Italy and abroad in the electric and telegraph cable sector and also in the production of tyres. Piero looked after organisational aspects of the company and dealings with the workers, while travels and contacts made Alberto aware of the importance of international relations and an understanding of foreign markets, and he soon became one of the best-known Italian entrepreneurs around the world. Upon the death of their father, Alberto became the managing director and his brother Piero became the chairman of the company, and they retained these positions also after the end of the Second World War.

In 1956, Alberto’s son Leopoldo became the managing director and vice chairman of the company. He was a man of great empathy, with a profound sense of entrepreneurial responsibility, and he led the Group for the following thirty years. These were times of great economic and social upheavals, and he was succeeded in 1996 by Marco Tronchetti Provera, who is still today the executive vice-chairman, and managing director of Pirelli.

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In 28 January 1872, G.B. Pirelli & C. was incorporated in Milan for the production of articles in elastic rubber. It was the first company in Italy to process rubber, and it was the brainchild of the young engineer Giovanni Battista Pirelli. Born in Varenna, he was the eighth of ten children in a family of bakers. After his initial studies in Varenna and Como, in 1861 Giovanni Battista moved to Milan, where he graduated in Industrial Engineering from the Politecnico University in 1870.

Under his watch, the company expanded rapidly in Italy and abroad and the processes extended to cover a vast range of rubber products, including cables, miscellaneous items and, above all, tyres. Alongside his business activities he also played a key role in political and civic life, becoming a senator of the Kingdom of Italy in 1909. In 1904, his sons Piero and Alberto officially joined him in managing the company. This was a time of huge expansion both in Italy and abroad in the electric and telegraph cable sector and also in the production of tyres. Piero looked after organisational aspects of the company and dealings with the workers, while travels and contacts made Alberto aware of the importance of international relations and an understanding of foreign markets, and he soon became one of the best-known Italian entrepreneurs around the world. Upon the death of their father, Alberto became the managing director and his brother Piero became the chairman of the company, and they retained these positions also after the end of the Second World War.

In 1956, Alberto’s son Leopoldo became the managing director and vice chairman of the company. He was a man of great empathy, with a profound sense of entrepreneurial responsibility, and he led the Group for the following thirty years. These were times of great economic and social upheavals, and he was succeeded in 1996 by Marco Tronchetti Provera, who is still today the executive vice-chairman, and managing director of Pirelli.

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