The origins of this company are very special but were actually a happy accident, one of those examples of occurrences that changed the destiny of an entire family in the difficult post-war years. The principal personalities of this adventure are two brothers, Francesco Paolo and Santoro, who worked hard, sometimes even foregoing a regular salary in order to provide for themselves.
Francesco Paolo, the eldest of the brothers, began his career at a cooper’s shop where he performed his work diligently, even though he had a different vocation. What he most dreamed of was engineering, and his goal was to work in a workshop.
He had the opportunity when the owner of a successful mechanical workshop in Marsala hired him as an apprentice. Francesco Paolo was at last on course for his desired profession. With dedication, commitment and passion he perfected his knowledge by studying the books he found in the workshop, and in this way achieved his dream of becoming a specialised mechanic first of all, and later a workshop manager.
For his skill, intelligence, honesty and dedication, he soon became the focal point for the company, and he visited the Milan Trade Fair every year to learn new techniques and innovations in mechanics. From those occasions he took inspiration to design new devices, such as a machine that could pack the same quantity of pasta in an hour as that packed by hand by eight women in a day.
Later his brother Santoro was also taken on by the same company, but the real turning point arrived only later, in 1954, when during his honeymoon Francesco Paolo stopped by in Turin as a guest of relatives. He found himself walking past a scrap yard and an old lathe caught his eye.
It was a double prism lathe built in 1901 in the US and it had been used right up to 1954. Driven by his inborn instinct for engineering, he immediately understood the potential that the machine could have if it worked perfectly. With great foresight, he saved it from being scrapped, and with the money he had set aside for his honeymoon he decided to buy it and have it shipped to Marsala. Within a few months it had been repaired and put back into operation.
That lathe marked the start of Terranova S.r.l.
The two brothers did not have the necessary capital to set up on their own, but by applying skill and dedication, they worked on two jobs: during the day they continued their activity as employees, and in the evening, they thought about how they would organise their lives, and planned their future.
The territory of Marsala, especially on the south side, was surrounded by many tuff quarries (in part still today), where there were thousands of quarrymen who, in those days, extracted the tuff with a cleaver (axe), using just the strength in their arms.
The Terranova family, who lived in that area, realised that the construction of a tuff-cutting machine could be an innovation that would greatly alleviate the hard work of the quarrymen, and it would also enable them to achieve their great ambition: to create a brand new machine.
After having acquired the lathe, which in their hands became a true jewel, still functioning today, it was necessary to organise a workshop and find the remaining tools.
With the help of some friends, they solved this problem too: some friends lent the Terranovas a welding machine and a drill, other tools were purchased, and a true company was set up.
The only available time was in the evening and on holidays: the two brothers dedicated this time to the construction of their first tuff cutting machine. Subsequently they decided to resign from the previous company and were able to build the new machines full time. Many tuff cutting machines were built and sold. Even though they had been patented, they were soon imitated by other companies on the market.
This innovation gave a new impulse to the quarries and consequently encouraged building development in the entire provinces of Trapani and Palermo. Meanwhile, orders were growing and it became necessary to move the workshop, which had become too small. So with the family’s savings and the company’s profits, a plot of land was purchased and a new warehouse was built with a more modern workshop and new offices.
Francesco Paolo’s memories are as clear today as they were then: the inauguration took place on 6 February 1960.