Bricks and their future

Holding forth about the current problems of the market in general and about the difficult situation of the building industry will lead us nowhere. Much, perhaps even too much has been written about it already, and in most cases giving virtually “apocalyptic” descriptions.

Certainly the brick industry is suffering from two effects: the worldwide economic crisis and the cyclical economic downturn so typical for our production. Coinciding with each other, they put our entrepreneurial skills and our readiness to react in a positive way to a severe test.  

As for the global economic crisis, it is up to national governments and supranational bodies to find concrete and fast answers to the macroeconomic questions. Solving our sectoral problems, however, is clearly and solely the task of the entrepreneurs concerned. Much too often we let ourselves be carried away with speeches fraught with defeatism and resignation, putting the blame on external factors (politics, the market, alternative materials, standards, etc.) and refusing to search our own conscience in honesty. If our industry has to redimension itself in a slow and inevitable process, the protagonists and their distinctive individualism have to bear heavy responsibility.

In this context, using sales prices as a means of competition, a typically Italian phenomenon, and at the same time being chronically incapable of handling production capacities exceeding market needs will without any doubt entail seriously negative consequences: the impoverishment of the companies and the impossibility to raise the necessary resources for research and communication and for boosting the competitiveness of the product. This attitude will precipitate the decline and, eventually, the ruin of an ancient culture whose potential is still far from being exhausted.

At this point the lack of resources, the decline of the market and the uncertain forecasts could lead to pessimism and to the abandonment of many activities already initiated at the association level. However, just now, in this period of recession, it is strategically imperative to advance all necessary changes with courage in order to secure stability and progress – in a word: the future – for the brick industry.

Fortunately we do not have to invent something new. It is enough to follow with resolution the path chosen in the last few years. It has already produced important results, although it has become dramatically impassable due to the very long favourable economic situation and the subsequent severe crisis.

Concretely speaking, we must advance the following elements:

amalgamation of companies, in order to benefit from synergies between entrepreneurs and to create a dimension being able to act more functionally and competitively against the background of constantly growing complexity and selectivity

joint research projects with universities and expert centres, in order to develop new products and building systems to oppose an efficiently organized competition showing substantial innovation and vanguard propositions

communication, in order to sensibilize consumers and architects via the media, trade fairs and exhibitions, thus drawing the attention to the product brick which has been taken for granted for much too long

education and training measures, such as publications, seminars, courses and special master degrees for the employees of the building industry at all levels, who have been carelessly neglected in this respect and considered to be bound to the industry by “divine law”

reconcilement with opinion makers, in order to establish appropriate ties with them and through them to provide technical recognition and estimation for “building with bricks”

control of standardization, especially at European level, also and particularly through TBE, taking actively part as protagonists with targeted propositions

more cooperation with and between the companies, in order to make the association heard and to encourage its members to get involved with the association’s activities and to contribute actively to the continuation, extension and enhancement of the association’s initiatives


Catervo Cangiotti

President of the association of the Italian brick industry,

Andil Assolaterizi


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