Our history

Grandad Pietro had a bicycle store at Niccone and it had been known throughout the valley since the early 20th century. In September 1945 he began to hire out irrigation pipes and motor pumps to farmers throughout Umbria. Rumour had at the time in the Umbertide area — says Pietro Giunti, grandson of the founder and current Chairman that cannon shells had been cut and then soldered to make pipes: this wasn’t necessarily just a myth.

The shop was a sort of emporium serving small scale farming establishments of the time: from then onwards — and it seems light years away compared to current activities the long business adventure began and developed.

In the ’50s, to add to initial activities, as continuing irrigation was being introduced in Italian agriculture, the company developed an initial production line for steel pipes with quick couplings; two more lines were established a short time later.

But it was at the end of the ’70s that irrigation sys-tems began to be used by individual farms for different crops, as in the case of farms in the Emilia region where they were in use already 25 years earlier, although the systems were rather primitive. At this point irrigation evolved, became sophisticated and stopped using the pipes and turbines which had been used until then; a very important concept was introduced and it involved a method of irrigation management associated with production, and the Giunti company began to adjust to the different requirements on the national territory. For logistical reasons, it did so through three separate firms, each managed by a separate company and on Pietro each managed by a separate company and on Pietro indications COGEIR S.p.A was established at Caltagirone, I.M.G. at Pescara and CO.MI.R. at Perugia. The latter began to manufacture self-propelled irrigation machines as soon as they made their appearance on the market.

Ggiacomo Giunti e Pietro Giunti con l'allora ministro dell'agricoltura Giovanni Marcora
Giacomo Giunti and Pietro Giunti with the then Minister of Agriculture Giovanni Marcora
ingegner Pietro Giunti
ingegner Pietro Giunti

At that time Giacomo Giunti headed the group, while his son Pietro had his own company (S.I.UM, Societa Idrotecnica Umbra) at Bastia Umbra (Perugia), which was active above all in the field of commercial plant engineering; he left the company in 1974 to set up Giunti S.a.s., also at Bastia Umbra, which carried out external activities but parallel to the Niccone joint stock company’s. Those were years when the idea of using the products on a temporary basis was strengthened, to the detriment of the traditional ownership-based concept; the procedure by which equipment could be leased was ahead of its times, given that it now stressed actual requirements (at these latitudes the equipment was needed on average 30/40 days a year), giving rise to an apparent contradiction: the innovative factor lay in the idea of leasing, in spite of the fact that this kind of solution had been widely used by the older generations.

At this point, inevitably research became increasingly important and this also involved abandoning the single product approach and entering into a business dimen- sion which was mainly financial and which also involved design and development: there was a boom in automatic irrigation systems and furthermore the need to save water and energy began to be stressed, a prob- lem studied in Israel, then in California, in the Middle East, in the early ’80s, and now a common concern all over the world. The «drip» irrigation system replaced the «sprinkler» systems which had been widely used on our farms until a couple of decades ago.

Nowadays the drip systems prevail over fixed or selfpropelled irrigation systems which are less and less used: South Africa, Latin America and even China are introducing the new electronic systems and those using resins while mechanical systems are declining. This is easy to explain: in 1980 there were in Italy at least 35 firms active in the sector of mechanical irrigation, now Giunti has only one competitor (at Mantua).

In the electronics sector, the competition is now almost entirely foreign. The value of a niche business like this one needs to be assessed not so much on the basis of turnover, which is not sensational, but rather on operating income. Innovations are constantly introduced — Pietro Giunti points out — and the company now has four technical experts in California working on research and patents. Not all the 7,500 different items in the sector are manufactured, often it is more convenient to purchase some needed in connection with the production lines, items which are essential and mutually osmotic. However the range of items which are manufactured is impressive, with the primary focus being on pumping and control systems with combustion or electric engines and on accessories for all kinds of pipes and for microirrigation.

In addition to the four firms which date back 25 years, a more recent unit for the production of pumps was set up at Bastia Umbra and then, a very short time go, a new plant (S.A.B., the group’s sixth) was opened up at SantAngelo in Vado (Pesaro and Urbino) to manufacture plastic materials, Hydroflex hoses and items of a specific quality to meet the increasingly sophisticated and sectorial demand.

Then, through parallel activities which aimed at protecting brand autonomy, other firms were acquired between 2000 and 2001 that belonged to the Valducci SpA group in Cesena and which included six firms in Italy, France and Argentina: these were companies which were in troubled waters, but were strong in terms of markets and product. Management was completely reorganised, and this led to a revival of four of the firms, while the other two were shut down: the quickest way of obtaining results, in addition to other activities involving the creation of new products focused on reducing water and energy consumption.

Reparto Zincatura
Reparto Zincatura

The Giunti group is completed by two technical-sales units, one in Italy and one in France: the latter in particular is a joint-venture focused mainly on the foreign markets for machinery with special features.

And so this Umbertide-based company can be considered a leader in Europe in this specific sector. It further- more operates in the particular context of Italian farms, more operates in the particular context of Italian farms, which cannot be compared to those of the other European countries: the average is 7.5 hectares, the lowest, after Portugal, in the whole of Europe, roughly one fifth of the European average. Naturally, given the circumstances, the company’s activities are focused on exports.