Giovanni Cottino was born in Turin in 1927 from a middle-class Piedmontese family, who owned a jewelry shop in the city center.
He attended the Convitto Umberto I and then Galileo Ferraris high school and graduated one year in advance despite the difficulties of the war period. After high school, he enrolled at the Polytechnic of Turin, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, where he graduated in 1950 with full marks at the age of 23.
The first work experiences are immediately characterized by the desire to seize as many opportunities as possible for professional development and economic growth.
At the beginning of his career, Ing. Cottino met with different challenges, ready to always seek for opportunities:
“I was looking for a job that would also allow economic satisfaction – he says – and I was willing to change to gain experience in several fields”. He started at Fiat, then he chose Solvay, a chemical company in Tuscany where he dealt with maintenance and then moved to Milan at Shell, a multinational energy company, to take care of Commercial activity and to learn the best sales techniques of a large company. “A skill that was very useful to me in following steps – he says”. He then moved to Florence for a short period in a textile company and then spent 6 months in London devoting himself to the study of the English language, demonstrating considerable foresight with this choice.
Once back to Italy he was hired by a Spanish company that produced engines for various sectors and he helped at relaunching the company which was facing hard times. He almost quadrupled its turnover, and since that moment the life of Ing. Cottino was inextricably linked to engines. It was the 1960s and household started to seek for appliances, blenders, washing machines, dishwashers all requiring a common element: the engine. Under Cottino’s leadership, the company’s market share grew and Mr. Cottino began to gain recognition in the sector and established himself as a serious and capable key professional by developing international relations, by automating production lines, and above all by acquiring new financial and management skills. Notwithstanding both excellent position and salary, a new aspiration has grown up over the years to start his own business.
With strong strategic vision, great motivation and solid experience in a sector in which he gained significant know-how, Ing. Cottino founded Plaset in 1975 in Turin, a company that produced pumps for washing machines and dishwashers. The entrepreneurial adventure kicks off with great and immediate success; Mr. Cottino expanded its activities to other lines of business both at an Italian and international level until he founded Ceset at the end of 1977 in the Asti area, a company specialized in the design and production of electric motors for household appliances in the white goods sector and for ventilation.
Foresight, ability to innovate and develop technology as well as to propose a complete range of products led to enrich the offer which, alongside Ceset motors and Plaset pumps, included components for air conditioning and heating systems thanks to the acquisition of Olmo a Caronno Pertusella. Turnover skyrocketed, the group had over 1.000 employees and became market leader by counting among its customers all the major manufacturers of international household appliances, such as Whirlpool Candy Bosch Merloni. In the 90s, when Ing. Cottino was about 70 years old, he accepted the proposal to gradually sell his companies to Emerson Electric, a leading American company in the production of engines, remaining in the company for few following years as a consultant. The reason for the success lies in the vision of Mr. Cottino capable of making his company innovative and competitive. A further step forward takes place in 1982 when he buys a recently registered patent for 2 billion Italian Lire that developed a much smaller pump than normal conceived according to the models used in aquariums and applies it to washing machines. It was an innovation that reduced the cost of pumps by 40% by reducing the weight of the motor. Turnover skyrocketed and Mr. Cottino is truly one of the great Piedmontese captains of industry. At the end of the 90s, Emerson Electric Appliance, an American company, strongly determined to enter the European market, knocked on the door and bought the whole group.
Cottino family still maintains a link with the industry and is in fact still in business with Trasma, the latest company founded in 1994, a market leader in the production of drawn copper wires, headed by his grand-daughter today.
Anna Maria Di Bari (1927-2002) born in Moncalieri close to Turin from a large southern Italian family, married Giovanni in 1958. Elegant and refined woman, a culture of family values, a lover of art and travel, she has always faced her role with elegance, determination and charisma, supporting her husband in his not always easy career path. The awareness of having an important wealth built with dedication, having reached the top of entrepreneurial success; her sensitivity towards the most fragile people; and the lack of children led her to start the ideal of “restitution” which contributed to the creation of the Foundation. Foundation – still chaired by him – active in philanthropic fields and focused in supporting the culture of entrepreneurship and strengthening the relationship with community, Mr. Cottino interprets the role of philanthropist in a contemporary way, focusing on young people with the will to transmit his values for a new responsible entrepreneurship. He bases his vision and his work on values such as innovation, excellence, a sense of rules and ethics and to face each challenge with passion, determination and optimism. He believes in family values and stands out for transparency, generosity and loyalty. He is always in search of talent, understanding the potential of each collaborator and amplifying their impact, and is constantly present to transfer the passion for things “done well” and the sense of belonging.