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Pirelli, an Italian in the World: Argentina

An Italian group has taken part in setting up an Argentine company in the past few days, as you may already have seen in the announcement…

These are the opening words of a letter sent by Alberto Pirelli to an engineer, Mauro Herlitzka, at 188 Calle Esmeralda in Buenos Aires. A copy of the letter, which was sent to Argentina on the Lloyd Italiano steamer Indiana, is now kept in the Archives of the Pirelli Foundation. It says a lot about the attention that Pirelli was already paying to Argentina over a hundred years ago. It was 9 November 1911 and Alberto Pirelli was keeping his trusted agent up to date on the work being carried out by the company for the production and distribution of “Italo-Argentine” electricity. The event well illustrates the company’s interest in expanding overseas on a number of fronts. Starting with Argentina, but also going further afield.

Primarily with rubber, in all its various forms. Tyres but also, before them, telegraph and electric cables. It all started with the connections that were made between the Italian islands in the 1880s, and continued with the cables that were laid on the floor of the Red Sea and then across the Atlantic, and the lines that were made to South America.

Pirelli arrived in Argentina with a sales agent in 1898. The next step came in 1910, when the company took part in the Exposición Internacional in Buenos Aires, which paved the way for the opening of a commercial branch with offices in the capital at Calle Esmeralda 940. As we can see from the letter that Alberto Pirelli wrote to Mauro Herlitzka a year later, the company’s interests had already moved well beyond rubber.

In 1917 came another step forward, when the parent company set up Pirelli S.A. Platense, which produced electric cables and started a whole series of expansions in Argentina. A new factory was built on the outskirts of the capital in 1919, and in 1921 a factory that was already in operation in Calle Costa Rica was taken over, making it possible to expand and diversify the range of Pirelli’s rubber products. These were manufactured from 1930 at the La Rosa factory in the porteño district of Mataderos. In 1948, after brief lull in expansion lasting just over a decade, Pirelli created Industrias Pirelli SAIC, which had the task of manufacturing cables, rubber items and tyres. But the company did not stop growing, for in 1950 tyre production moved to the Merlo plant. This was the outcome of an agreement on an equal footing with the US Rubber Company for the incorporation of the Compañia Platense de Neumaticos (COPLAN), which was taken over in its entirety by Pirelli a few years later, and which is still operating today.

The constant attention to quality has never waned, also as regards corporate communication and company welfare. This can be seen in the Paginas Pirelli, the monthly magazine that, from 1955 to 1975, helped make known the corporate culture of the parent company, together with news on what was going on in the factories and about the employees themselves. In addition to information about production, the Paginas also included news, for example, about the sporting activities of the Centro social y deportivo, as well as information concerning the family life of employees. The magazine periodically held photography contests for the employees and the winning pictures were given prominence in the magazine or on the cover. Cultural articles were published along with other ones about the company and, as the years went by, the format and the paper changed, and the names of the editorial board also appeared.

Argentina and Pirelli: a story spanning a century and more, and a story that still continues today. In 2021 Pirelli celebrated its first 111 years in the country with considerable new investments and the opening of a new motorcycle tyre production department. A significant step that, in just one year, increased the number of employees by 300, putting the number now at around 1,400. How right Alberto Pirelli was when he wrote, way back in 1911: “we trust that we have done the right thing”!

An Italian group has taken part in setting up an Argentine company in the past few days, as you may already have seen in the announcement…

These are the opening words of a letter sent by Alberto Pirelli to an engineer, Mauro Herlitzka, at 188 Calle Esmeralda in Buenos Aires. A copy of the letter, which was sent to Argentina on the Lloyd Italiano steamer Indiana, is now kept in the Archives of the Pirelli Foundation. It says a lot about the attention that Pirelli was already paying to Argentina over a hundred years ago. It was 9 November 1911 and Alberto Pirelli was keeping his trusted agent up to date on the work being carried out by the company for the production and distribution of “Italo-Argentine” electricity. The event well illustrates the company’s interest in expanding overseas on a number of fronts. Starting with Argentina, but also going further afield.

Primarily with rubber, in all its various forms. Tyres but also, before them, telegraph and electric cables. It all started with the connections that were made between the Italian islands in the 1880s, and continued with the cables that were laid on the floor of the Red Sea and then across the Atlantic, and the lines that were made to South America.

Pirelli arrived in Argentina with a sales agent in 1898. The next step came in 1910, when the company took part in the Exposición Internacional in Buenos Aires, which paved the way for the opening of a commercial branch with offices in the capital at Calle Esmeralda 940. As we can see from the letter that Alberto Pirelli wrote to Mauro Herlitzka a year later, the company’s interests had already moved well beyond rubber.

In 1917 came another step forward, when the parent company set up Pirelli S.A. Platense, which produced electric cables and started a whole series of expansions in Argentina. A new factory was built on the outskirts of the capital in 1919, and in 1921 a factory that was already in operation in Calle Costa Rica was taken over, making it possible to expand and diversify the range of Pirelli’s rubber products. These were manufactured from 1930 at the La Rosa factory in the porteño district of Mataderos. In 1948, after brief lull in expansion lasting just over a decade, Pirelli created Industrias Pirelli SAIC, which had the task of manufacturing cables, rubber items and tyres. But the company did not stop growing, for in 1950 tyre production moved to the Merlo plant. This was the outcome of an agreement on an equal footing with the US Rubber Company for the incorporation of the Compañia Platense de Neumaticos (COPLAN), which was taken over in its entirety by Pirelli a few years later, and which is still operating today.

The constant attention to quality has never waned, also as regards corporate communication and company welfare. This can be seen in the Paginas Pirelli, the monthly magazine that, from 1955 to 1975, helped make known the corporate culture of the parent company, together with news on what was going on in the factories and about the employees themselves. In addition to information about production, the Paginas also included news, for example, about the sporting activities of the Centro social y deportivo, as well as information concerning the family life of employees. The magazine periodically held photography contests for the employees and the winning pictures were given prominence in the magazine or on the cover. Cultural articles were published along with other ones about the company and, as the years went by, the format and the paper changed, and the names of the editorial board also appeared.

Argentina and Pirelli: a story spanning a century and more, and a story that still continues today. In 2021 Pirelli celebrated its first 111 years in the country with considerable new investments and the opening of a new motorcycle tyre production department. A significant step that, in just one year, increased the number of employees by 300, putting the number now at around 1,400. How right Alberto Pirelli was when he wrote, way back in 1911: “we trust that we have done the right thing”!

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