On the anniversary of the death of my father Fioravante Berto, co-founder of BertO together with his brother Carlo Berto, I would like to pay tribute to them both.
Fioravante and Carlo. Two brothers, a family, a Company.
A whole world if I think of a life of unforgettable stories, episodes, moments and seasons.
There has not been one day in my working and professional life when the inspiring presence of these two figures has not accompanied me: one from the depth of my soul, the other extraordinarily alive and active at 77 years of age.
A few evenings ago we were sitting in front of each other, Carlo Berto and I, and we had a conversation.
(This was nothing unusual, to my great fortune I often have the chance to talk with this amazing man, but the other evening I wanted to speak to him because I wanted to ask him some specific questions. I was thinking about my father but also about myself, the Society and the path we are following).
I would like to say straight away, before I start this lovely interview, that:
a) without Carlo Berto and the work he did with my father Fioravante ever since they founded the society back in 1974, the society as it is today would not exist and, professionally speaking, I probably wouldn’t exist either.
b) still, at 77 years of age and 58 years in BertO, Carlo Berto is a fundamental pillar of the society.
c) I feel an infinite sense of gratitude to them which I will never be able to repay.
With these lines, I am trying to express how privileged we are to have such a legend here with us every day, to speak with him and have him listen to us.
Furthermore, as you will see in this conversation, I still have a lot to learn!
Filippo: Uncle, tell me about when you and my dad started.
Carlo: It was in 1974 and everything started in a cellar….. we built it with our own hands and we wanted it to be big, it was our workshop.
It took a long time to build but it turned out well.
We worked for all the companies around and we never stopped to count the hours. There was a lot of work and we tried to do it all.
Filippo: When did you learn to do capitonné?
Carlo: As a boy. I started work after junior school and I went to a workshop where I learned how to do it.
Little by little I grew up, I changed workshop so that I was regularly employed then, together with Ante, we took the plunge and set up on our own.
And then I started to teach thee boys who came to help us.
It took a couple of years for them to learn, sometimes even more, capitonné is not easy.
Filippo: How many boys did you teach?
Carlo: Oh, a lot… (at this point he reels off a list of names, practically half of Brianza), then they all made their own way, opened their own companies, many of them are people you know.
Filippo: Tell me about your day in those years.
Carlo: A lot of work, a lot of fun too, but mostly work.
I used to play football and sometimes they came to call me in the workshop “Come here, we need you to be the goal-keeper” but I couldn’t always go, there was too much work.
Just think, we worked from early in the morning until about 7 at night, then at 8pm we went back to the workshop and worked until late at night.
And after that, guess what we did before we went home? We played ping-pong!
Filippo: And what about Saturdays and Sundays?
Carlo: Then too, often there was work to do and we did it.
But we had fun as well. Once during a game between carpenters and upholsterers, one of the other team, a guy who supplied us with the padding for our sofas, scored a goal and as the ball went into the net he shouted “this is a ricciolo”, the name of one of our sofas!
We all knew each other, we all did our own work and we all tried to do the best we could, always.
Filippo: What was it like working with my father during those years?
Carlo: Ante was really good, he had a strong character but he was a good man.
He knew how to do his work better than everyone.
Filippo: Better then you?
Carlo: We were different. Without the workshop and without working with my hands I was lost while he was also good at selling and dealing with other people.
Everyone loved your dad because he was good at his job and very helpful.
He was wonderful with our customers.
But he knew how to make himself respected… one day, in front of a customer who didn’t want to pay for a sofa which was already finished, your father nearly set fire to the sofa here in the courtyard!
Filippo: A couple of years ago you had a small problem with your ankle which left you immobile for several weeks, but instead of staying home you got a wheelchair and came to the workshop anyway. Why?
Carlo: I think the young people need my help and I can tell when they need a hand. I came because I wanted them to know that I was there.
Filippo: What do you think about the company today?
Carlo: I think it’s going really well, I see you do a lot of useful things and I see a lot of worthy people.
But Filippo, you should keep me a bit more up to date about what you are doing…
Let me tell you, my uncle Carlo Berto is right all along the line, including my shortcoming (but he was kind, he only mentioned one!).
And he is an example.
An example of a life spent following a dream which started when he was 19 and today, at 77 years old, he is still young and active, thanks to the energy of all of us but where his energy is still a driving force.
He is an example – human as well as professional – of a way of working in which he has always been able to put himself at the service of others, with simplicity and generosity: only in this way could two brothers have created BertO without quarrelling and separating.
An example for the young people in the workshop, the offices and the showrooms, who still recognise the value of someone who believed in the society in which they work…. Even before it existed. And who continues to improve it.
An example for me, he has so many virtues that I can’t even begin to name them all- but I must mention just one, his modesty together with an impressive capacity for his work.
We are all inspired by him, we all try to be worthy of the name which is written over the door of the Company, just one of the many gifts that Carlo and Fioravante have given to us.
Fioravante and Carlo Berto built the foundations of our Society and thanks to their teaching we are now building the BertO of the future. And this is from where our book took form, The Spirit of 74: 74 key words to live happily the passion for our chosen profession.
Get your copy of the book here >>>https://www.bertosalotti.it/libro-berto-spirito-74.html