As from February 2021, AIdAM has a new President: Michele Merola, a young entrepreneur from Cassino, founder of TMP ENGINEERING. After his experience as Vice-President of the Association, he starts this new adventure, with many ideas and many projects in the pipeline, which include education, globalisation and at the same time a greater presence on the Italian territory, especially in Central and Southern Italy. Michele Merola told us about all this first-hand, showing us his idea of the Association for the 2021-2024 three-year period.
On 19 February, you were elected as the new AIdAM President for the 2021-2024 three-year period. Could you tell us something about yourself and your history in the association? You are not new to the association, since you were Vice-President of AIdAM during the last mandate. Talking about myself may not be very interesting for readers, so I will limit myself to the essential information. I am 38 years old and a mechanical engineering graduate; born in Ivrea, near Turin, I have been living in Cassino for almost 32 years. I am married to Martina, who is the person who puts up with and supports my work rhythms and the thousands of constraints which my activity generates on family life, and since a little less than a year I have been Piergiorgio’s father.
I founded TMP ENGINEERING 11 years ago, starting from a deep conviction that ideas are the only driving force behind our actions. In the AIdAM world, we can say that I am young but this is not my first experience. I joined the association at the end of 2013, I served my first term as a board member and in the last term I was Vice-President. I had the opportunity to take on an international assignment with the Presidency of ISCP, the Italian-Serbian Collaboration Platform founded in December 2013 following an AIdAM initiative with the aim of facilitating and increasing economic and cultural relations between the two nations.
You are from Cassino, near Frosinone, where you studied and chose to found your company, TMP Engineering. How will this geographical belonging affect your activities within the association? Do you have any projects in mind dedicated to companies in central and southern Italy?
I am proud of my territory and my origins. Even more so since in over 20 years of association I am the first president not from Lombardy. But I like to look at it in a different way: I am the first president from central and southern Italy. This result makes me particularly proud, but also aware that there are expectations. Certainly expanding AIdAM’s penetration at territorial level is a fundamental aspect, as our members are already distributed throughout the country. My election will certainly be a further stimulus, and I would like it to be so not just in terms of geographical location but also as regards opportunities for all small and medium-sized Italian companies operating in this sector. I would like my election to be an incentive to join the association, to get involved and to exchange ideas.
One of the first things you said as President is that you want to revitalise certain issues. Which are they and how do you intend to set about doing this? With regards to the globalisation and training of young mechatronics engineers, what are your ideas and plans?
My idea is that of a 4.0 association. Since our sector and our companies are promoters of innovation and technology, I believe that even the association must adapt in this respect. I would like to put participation back at the centre, and the search for new members with whom to share ideas and projects will certainly be the basis of my mandate. I would like to continue on the theme of education because it represents a fundamental point for our country’s system and for the future of our companies. The need for increasingly well-trained technicians is already a necessity today and will be even more so in the future. If we do not act quickly and incisively to “produce” technicians, we will struggle to sustain our companies in the future. Another point on which I intend to invest is globalisation, concentrating activities on those countries where we already have important partnerships and focusing on high-potential countries that can be physically approached by our members. Innovation will be another pivotal element, and I have a vision of AIdAM increasingly becoming the pivot of the debate on innovation and technology transfer. We shall encourage discussion and cultural stimulation of innovation among our members, but not only. We shall also promote targeted actions for companies using automation, machinery and systems. In fact, it is my intention to activate a container of ideas and projects which we could summarise with one word: “Let’s get to know them”. The aim is to involve the end user of assembly and testing machines through round tables and company tours, so as to bring together three perspectives. The viewpoint of those who supply components, those who integrate and build technological solutions, and those who then have to use them. I would like to be the promoter, as AIdAM, of the creation of an “ Industrialisers’ Club”, that is, a group of people involved in the development of automation processes in Italy’s manufacturing excellence. The aim should be to create content. The Club must be the main expression of AIdAM’s associative spirit, turning it into a real application dimension. Starting from needs and topics of common interest, this group will exchange experiences acquired in its own business sector and the application trends of new technologies, revealing strengths and weaknesses.
What would you like to say to those who are not yet AIdAM members to persuade them to join? What can the association bring in the near future, which is expected to be a post-pandemic period and above all a period of renewal?
Often companies are afraid to become members because they see themselves as too small and lacking in motivation to do so. The classic question I am asked is: “Why should I join AIdAM?”; I always answer in the same way: “Why shouldn’t you?”. I don’t have any recipes or secret formulas, but I am convinced that remaining alone and excluding one’s own company from sharing is a cultural reluctance stemming from the 80s and 90s, when market challenges were much more local and manageable by individual companies. The concept of ‘small is beautiful’ has protected our companies for a certain historical horizon, but today the challenges to be faced are important and the competitors are no longer local but global. Being part of AIdAM means sharing ideas, projects and issues which favour the growth of the whole sector, and therefore also the business for their own company. I can tell you my experience of why I became a member. My company, when it joined AIdAM, had been founded four years earlier in 2010. I started from scratch, I am proud to say, as I did not have a family of entrepreneurs or managers behind me who could have helped me in my choice. When I got to know AIdAM in 2014, I decided to become a member, and I started to attend and contribute to the life of the association without any fear of taking part and exchanging ideas. And it is precisely from these moments of dialogue, the possibility of seeing the sector not only with my own eyes, the possibility of being able to take part in initiatives that we could never have experienced as a company, that the growth of my company has come about. In the association, as in life, you cannot receive without giving. This is why I shall work so that AIdAM might offer opportunities to its members. Opportunities in terms of vision of the sector and where the market is heading, knowledge of technologies, training, visibility and business, and internationally. Clearly our aim and purpose will be to create these opportunities, but then it will be up to members to turn them into reality for their own business.