Present in 63 countries of the world, the company whose sales team is led by Luca Salvatori is heading for new and even more ambitious horizons. The opinions of a great manager and the objectives of a business proud to be Italian.
Can you tell us the main reasons for the success of Aqquatix in Italy and the world, at a time when your firm exports to 63 nations?
The reasons for our success lie in three factors: Quality, Innovation and Staff.
All this means:
- products made with top class materials
- ever-present assistance where and when it's needed
- a well-structured and highly professional sales network
- training that goes side by side with sales, and separately too, thanks to our sister company European Aquatic Association (EAA), and other important partnerships, such as Wellink
- worldwide communication and marketing campaigns
- Innovation (a must!)
How does Aqquatix stand out in a market that is often slow, and also tends to low prices which are however sometimes excessive for the mediocre quality of cheap and functional products?
What you just said is a great distinctive factor which we should pay attention to now and in the future. Another fundamentally important aspect is innovation geared to research into new products (BPM Bike) and solutions (aXe programs) that can truly represent an essential path to be followed and linked to the aspirations of our operators, who are extremely motivated to grow the business. I can't deny that it makes us proud to see that our competitors wait to see what we'll do so they can copy us. Copying ought to be easier than inventing; but nearly always, mimicking a product while seeking to keep prices rock bottom completely destroys the principle of quality which, in our case, is a priority across the board and not limited to the product itself but extended to all the associated services, and an integral part of them.
As sales director, with a wide view of the market for water-based activities that goes far beyond the slightly conservative concept of mere swimming/swimming lessons, what areas do you see as profitable for swimming pools? And how is Aqquatix interpreting this new thinking by the most advanced operators?
Swimming remains an important part of the business, but we are realising that most people would be more willing to visit pool complexes (which are attractive in themselves) if they offered services dedicated to wellness, health and entertainment, in other words with activities practised Vertically and which are open to everyone, even people with a fear of deep water.
Together with the EAA, Aqquatix is extremely attentive to the new products on the market which are tending in this direction. Large new products such as the Star Treadmill or the Acquapole, smaller items like the Cloud Foot or the brand new Acquami method equipment; in this sector we are the firm with the widest product range in the world, but we continue to "invent"; new programmes which are being explored by our colleagues at the EAA: Aqua Cardio Training, or selected as being high in content - Aguamovida, Acquami - thanks to ideas from professionals who then join the EAA team, and new "entertaining" products also distributed by us (especially the German Wibit Sports).
What are the most imminent products about to be launched by Aqquatix, and how does your firm manage to implement services and revenue per club/ pool which are designed for the various "aquatic" target markets?
As well as carrying out its own research, Aqquatix - together with the EAA - is associated to Acquanetwork, which brings together some of the most forward looking firms and entrepreneurs in the sector and organises, among other things, meetings where we can compare and discuss innovative ideas that may turn out to be winners and above all profitable for every operator, in line with what we mentioned earlier.
Aqquatix plays an active role in this scheme and manifests its enthusiasm with the new generation equipment in the Advanced range, which is integrated with heart frequency monitors and other devices thanks to the Hosand system. In addition to this, there are specific projects concerning training, which we organise with the support of EAA's great expertise: not only highly innovative courses and peripatetic options, but increasingly online, via the aXe Programs, the brand new frontier to ensure at a distance the high quality of training and therefore of the product, throughout Italy and round the world. But we are already thinking about other new products for 2016, particularly in partnership with Wellink and the Piacenza Consorzio in Acqua.
Regarding your considerable experience as a company leader, what would you say distinguishes one large company from another, and how does Aqquatix reflect this in the face of international growth?
My view is that a company gains a "great" reputation if it has a well organised structure with a very clear Mission, a shared Vision and above all if it is capable of dreaming, of going beyond, in search of healthy ways to grow, healthy in that they improve margins while respecting moral values. This is our aim every day, and it runs parallel to our desire to involve high quality people in our firm and on the market, both within Italy and abroad, people who believe and share our ideas and can help us to develop new ones, because I am convinced that a Great Company should be able to listen and have the desire to grow. We believe we have many people on board with these characteristics, and we are very proud of them!
In your opinion, what are the most gratifying results so far, and what does Aqquatix intend to focus on in order to strengthen its leading position in Italy and the world?
One of the most important points in our scale of values is succeeding in building a cohesive team dedicated to achieving clear and shared objectives, and we are getting there. This really allows us to carry on dreaming up fantastic plans for our future. I believe that only with great teamwork can you achieve such incredible and unforeseen results. The prime example is what happened this year. During August and September we had a period of crisis in production due to an unexpected rush of orders, and thanks to teamwork and shared commitment we managed to get through it, albeit with a few problems too many for our clients. So, the Team first and foremost. then obviously we have to continue to offer product excellence and really focus on innovation. Alongside the determination to extend our brand, these are our objectives.
A winning model which we believe is the most appropriate and which Aqquatix is today working on (or will work on), also and especially based on your beliefs as a top manager.
We want to sell equipment to our clients, accompanied by training both technical and managerial, because for me, as Sales Director, there is no sense in selling today and that's that. We prefer to sell less, but WELL. I'd like to get a client onside "for ever". Every client has a world behind them, every client is a potential "seller" who can help us to grow by word of mouth, which I believe has a massive effect. And this is what Managers, Directors and Centre owners should also be doing: understanding that every client has an unknown potential. We should all be able to treat every client as if he or she was the ONLY ONE. This is the dream in our model of service!
And what do you believe is poor strategy for a pool seeking to develop in the years to come, and how can Aqquatix, together with the EAA, establish itself as an irreplaceable partner, by personalising its relationship with any pool?
To continue offering yesterday's solutions and little choice of activity, even if it's cheap, is the way to lose. We don't allow our clients to drift or "coast", but we support them, if they wish, from the moment they enter the world of Aqquatix: we can get the most out of the equipment by matching it to the leisure centre where it will be used, and guide all the operators in the team towards approaches which are in line with new business models, following the philosophy which places the client-host relationship centre stage. This second part is evaluated by the EAA, aXe programs and through collaboration with the best Professionals and respected organisations such as Wellink.
What new products can we expect on the market from Aqquatix in 2016, indicative of the company's long term goals?
There are various new products, which will enrich our 2016 collection: more technology content in our large equipment, updating of various models which are more than five years old, the new Wave range, which will replace parts of the "Flower" equipment line, and also the launch of some exclusive new products we have acquired through agreements with designers who are proud to be Italian: Acquabalance (a water beam), Hydrostride, a highly original and effective treadmill method, and the relaunch, with new related methdologies, of Water Up & Down. We are also focusing on increasing the number of our Collaborators, which will be crucial in achieving our new goals. We want to be the firm with a capital A for Ambition, the ambition to improve both in terms of quality, and in terms of double-figure growth as we have done in the last two years, expanding even further in the foreign market, with a solid base particularly in the American markets. In this expansion programme, the EAA envisages movement in two directions, with major developments at European level, and also in Latin American countries.
In short, we have the passion for growth, but we like to share this with everyone who chooses us as a partner and travelling companion.