“I’ve been there from the beginning,” says Mauro Solinas, Managing Director. “My father founded the company in 1985 after he and my mother started filling bottles at a time when demand for natural mineral water skyrocketed.”
It did not take long before the family and company were able to analyze the water extracted, and found it to be incredibly pure, originating from a depth of over 300 m, and deriving from 297 million years old underground stone.
“Once the quality of the product was established, building reputation and quality personnel became the top priority,” says Mr. Solinas. “They have remained so ever since.” After seven years in the production area of the company, Mr. Solinas began to take on increased responsibilities, eventually handing the manufacturing reigns off to his brother in 2000. He focuses now on goals, strategy, and the placement of Smeraldina in the market.
One key strategic move from Smeraldina is to keep its portfolio simple. This approach of less is more allows the relatively small company to retain a strong reputation in a competitive space by concentrating its time and resources effectively, and not spreading itself too thin.
Water from Smeraldina is offered in three variants: natural, carbonated, and lightly sparkling carbonated, with the foremost natural water consistently the best seller. One of Smeraldina’s core strengths is its small size in a big market. Its size grants it an agility and the ability to quickly adjust to changes or fluctuations in the marketplace which bigger players cannot match.
Without good people there is no company. This is something I am constantly aware of at our firm. Mauro SolinasManaging Director
Another is its reputation, built over the last three decades and crowned with a great success: At this year’s Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting, one of the most important mineral water competitions worldwide that took place in February, Smeraldina was awarded a gold medal for the best bottled water in the world. From global hotel chains to companies inside and outside of Italy, Smeraldina is part of an extensive framework of supply and demand.
Though the company’s major stable base of water drinkers is in Italy, the global market for mineral water consumption rises and falls, logically, with the weather. “When the weather is warm, people drink more water, and understandably they drink less when it’s cold,” says Mr. Solinas. “Still, we see a definite richness in the Italian market and expect it to be one in which we can grow for years to come.”
Growth does not, however, happen without innovation. Mr. Solinas reconceptualized Smeraldina water bottles in 2000. The goal was to create thinner bottles which could be easily transported yet still maintain integrity as the demands of travel are not always gentle. It was a change which helped to further strengthen the firm’s global brand and presence while also opening the door for further ideas.
Smeraldina is the only company in Italy to offer what they call Paper Water, their 0.5 l size; a completely unique offering created to help protect the environment and prevent the excessive use of plastic bottles. In 2005 a branch of Smeraldina was founded in the United States. This decisive move gave Smeraldina the opportunity to engage in different markets.
“All these initiatives are important for the company,” says Mr. Solinas. “New and improved structuring of the packaging and investment in the quality of the water are always on my mind, but it all means nothing if we do not uphold our brand name. This is what we live from.”
Looking forward, Smeraldina plans to take advantage of the shifts happening across all industry sectors, including the consumable water industry. This includes digitalization of many processes which have traditionally been manual. Smeraldina is also clear that it will invest in the things truly necessary for the betterment of the firm and the consumers it serves, rather than simply follow whatever is suggested to receive federal financial aid.
Beyond taking advantage of technological shifts, Smeraldina engages in its local community. It is a sponsor of the basketball team Dinamo in Sassari (Italy). This mixture of traditional community building and innovative marketing and strategy is a pillar in understanding the small firm’s success, though it does not give the whole picture.
“Of course, at the core of it all is the people,” said Mr. Solinas. “Without good people there is no company. This is something I am constantly aware of at our firm. It is an extreme privilege to watch the professionals we have working with us. They make the difference.”
Smeraldina ensures it employs, not only those possessing certain prerequired learning, but also those who will learn as they grow in their career. With less than 50 employees, Smeraldina faces the great challenge of finding professional people who can also come into a job ready and willing to work alone and independently.
“I look forward everyday to working with the team at Smeraldina. We are all happy to know that there are customers out there who find our product good and choose it regularly. This tells me that the work we do is bringing a positive result and is reaching the people who need and want it.”