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From grain to alcohol

Portrait

The first still made by FRILLI was nothing in comparison to the company’s latest distillation plants, which it exports all over the world. In 1912, the three Frilli brothers manufactured a copper still that was way ahead of its time.

Today, FRILLI designs, builds and supplies turnkey plants in close cooperation with its global customer base. Nevertheless, the story of its distillation machinery has not always followed a straightforward path.

“I joined FRILLI more than 40 years ago,” recalls Managing Director and Owner Aurelio Barbieri, who holds the majority of the company shares together with his son. “When FRILLI closed down in 1992, I took over and rebuilt it together with former employees. There used to be different subsidiaries in operation, but we set up FRILLI Impianti again. And this has remained our clear focus to the present day.”

The first few years following the takeover were extremely difficult without any strong financial support from banks, but Mr. Barbieri and his colleagues never gave up and managed to consolidate FRILLI and get it back on track.

“In 1996, we acquired our first important contract abroad,” points out Mr. Barbieri. “Other new orders started to come in, among them one for a large-scale plant in Austria, which boasted state-of-the-art technology that was hard to match in the market. We experienced a real boost when we started to design and install distillation plants in Turkey, then Russia and all former Soviet Union countries.”

Due to its expertise in distillation technology, FRILLI was assigned its first plant construction in Scotland. “We were bidding for the contract to build a complete plant. Despite strong competition from other plant manufacturers, we got the order. This turnkey plant for whisky distillation helped to make us known throughout Europe,” adds Mr. Barbieri.

Since those early years, FRILLI has realzsed a growing number of plants, including various projects for a number of prominent names. Bucking the market trend, FRILLI has been able to continue its growth scenario. “We currently handle so many projects that we can hardly keep up,” says Mr. Barbieri.

Today, the company generates turnover of between nine and ten million EUR, having increased exports to 95%. “Once we enter a market, we become a name to remember and secure follow-up orders,” points out Mr. Barbieri. “Currently, we are about to finalize projects in Ethiopia, Moldova and Russia, which we have secured through tenders. We do not aim to sell our engineering work but, likewise, we always work hard to realize the actual plant ourselves. We might be a small company with only 15 staff, but our technology ranks among the best in Europe.”

FRILLI’s plants are used to increase the value of wine by-products, molasses, fruits and grains with technology for any kind of alcohol distillation.

“We do not have a special core business but offer a broad range of solutions for small hobby plants for just 2,000 to 3,000 EUR as well as large-scale installation of 20 to 30 million EUR. With regard to distillation plants and applied technology, we are one of the top three companies in Europe,” stresses Mr. Barbieri. “As we are able to implement any kind of plant for any type of alcohol, we will use our expertise and know-how to continue growth in new and existing markets in the coming years.”

FRILLI is going to focus on other fields of engineering. Water purification, for instance, is an issue that will open up new market opportunities in the future.

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