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We have decided to publish our August 2020 PANDA SAFETY newsletter on a very significant day for us. 21st of August is World Entrepreneur's Day; a very special occasion to pay homage to the Founder and current CEO of our company: Luigi Gargiullo. In the few lines that follow, we will, therefore, try to describe the man behind the entrepreneur and how the dream of a country boy has become a very solid production reality.
Luigi was born in 1944 in Brindisi and, since an early age, he was introduced by his father to the rural art and to that set of knowledge and attitudes which are typical of the agriculture areas of southern Italy. It was there that Luigi grew up and forged his character, among sweat and calluses. He was a silent boy with an intense desire for revenge and affirmation. He was aware that the 16 daily working hours in the fields, under the sun or with the rain, would have been only a phase of his life, a period of training, in order to learn the Values of the farmer's life.
1963 was a crucial year for him. He took his diploma as an Electrical Engineer, which was an extremely sought-after professional figure and in fact, once he got his certificate, Luigi found his first job in Triggiano, a small village near Bari. From the very beginning, however, a strong need for change began to grow in him, which, together with a marked entrepreneurial attitude, led him to coin a motto, a sort of mantra that he would repeat to himself from that moment on and which well expresses and describes his thoughts:
"The STAEDY job is a STUPID job"
The permanent job, so much sought after and coveted, soon turned into a limit for his ambitions and so, driven by the desire to make a further leap forward, he began to consider the possibility of emigrating to Canada which, at the time, seemed to be the place where to look for success and prosperity. He managed to obtain a work visa from the Canadian Embassy and, at the same time, he participated and won a public examination that could guarantee him employment with the Italian National Post Office. While he was pondering which of the two paths to take, he was offered to work for SUPERGA, the company based on the hill of the same name in Turin which, at the end of the '60s, was undoubtedly the largest and most important shoe factory in Italy with a daily production capacity that exceeded 40,000 pairs.
At the end of 1967, he signed a contract with SUPERGA which lasted 12 years. He obtained endless certificates of esteem from the management as well as career progressions. Thanks to the specialization course in "Statistical Quality Control" held at the University of Milano-Bicocca and an initial period of employment in the Turin
plant he was entrusted with the planning and management of the production department of the newborn factory in Triggiano which he supervised until the end of the 1970s, that is to say until the moment he decided to undertake his own entrepreneurial adventure. In February 1979 he set up CALZATURIFICIO PANDA SPORT.
In the beginning, the full production capacity of the factory was focused on the production of sports footwear and thanks to the dense network of contacts developed in previous years, the company produced sporty footwear for the then well-known German brand PUMA. The cooperation ceased after about ten years when PUMA decided to relocate the production chain to countries with cheap labour.
Luigi was able to transform the loss resulting from the interruption of supplies to PUMA into an incredible opportunity! Between the end of 1989 and the beginning of 1992, he decided to reduce more and more the production of sneakers and focus on a new market segment, in which the typical MADE in ITALY high quality was missing: safety and occupational footwear. This is how the PANDA SAFETY brand was born. From the very beginning, it was extremely successful, especially in those Eastern European markets where Personal Protective Equipment had just become mandatory after the introduction of the European Union Directive 89/391 concerning the implementation of measures of occupational safety and health. In the following years, thanks to their attractive design, high-quality standards and unique comfort, PANDA SAFETY footwear have managed to win the trust of many PPE distributors and users, both nationally and internationally, and have been marketed in more than 70 countries around the world, generating an annual turnover of almost 20 million Euros.
Just a few months after the Business 40th Anniversary Celebration, Luigi is still in the lead in PANDA SAFETY management offices at the Cisternino headquarters with an incredible wealth of experience resulting from his 57 years of work, but always looking to the future of innovation. He works every day surrounded by a team that esteems and appreciates him not only for the visionary and daring entrepreneur he is, but also and above all for being a humble and kind man, who is always available to everyone.