Firm Italian roots and experiences abroad

Leitner, a champion of made in Italy that slides through the clouds

When the news came out in the world press that Rome was going to build a cableway to link two highly-trafficked neighbourhoods, even those who are less acquainted with the industry immediately pinpointed Leitner as the ideal candidate for the operation. The South Tyrol Group (with a consolidated turnover of more than 726 million euro) boasts extensive experience and is famous worldwide for cable transport. Its name is not only tied to the mountains but also to modern cableway systems which, suspended high over cities, provide to major contribution to solving traffic problems and take on the role of links with underground railway stations and public transport hubs. Leitner is recognized at international level as a real champion of made in Italy, capable of winning large project contracts and competing on a par against fierce foreign companies. Suffice it to say that major world cities have placed their confidence in Leitner as a company providing reliability, competitive costs, fast completion and compliance with deadlines.
The company’s history began in 1888, when a mechanical engineer from Vipiteno (Sterzing), Gabriel Leitner, opened a workshop dedicated to agricultural machinery, material cable transport systems and hydraulic turbines. After the Second World War, with the winter holidays boom, the company started building cable systems able to transport people; in 1970, the production of agricultural machinery was replaced by that of snow compactors. In the ‘90s, the first foreign subsidiaries were set up; over 80% of company production is sold on world markets.
The history of the company president, Anton Seeber, can also be taken as a model of a champion of made in Italy, of a self-made man, with firm Italian roots and experiences abroad. After studying at the Bocconi University of Milan, with a short interval at Harvard University in Boston (Usa), in 1999, Seeber moved to Philadelphia, where he took his first important steps in the private equity sector, becoming an associate of Graham Partners. His first appointment inside the company, presided over by his father, Michael, came in 2004, when he became Chairman of Leitner-Poma of America based in Grand Junction, Colorado, the Leitner Group’s US subsidiary. In 2006, he returned to Italy, to Vipiteno, where he took charge of Leitwind, becoming the managing director of the Group company which manufactures and markets Megawatt class wind turbines; the only one to do so in Italy.
At the same time, he joined the Board of two other Group companies: Leitner Spa and Prinoth SpA, as manager of the urban transport sector and electrotechnical division. Since June 2016 he has been at the helm of Leitner Spa, the position which his father, Michael Seeber, had occupied for nearly 20 years.
Leitner cableways are to be found all over the world. Berlin wanted one, made for the first International Garden Exposition due to open on 13 April 2017. Another can be found in Mexico City, opened with the participation of President Enrique Pena Nieto. Its purpose is to relieve traffic congestion in the highly-populated Ecatepec de Morelos district. It is able to carry 3,000 people an hour, considerably simplifying and improving the lives of the city’s inhabitants and visitors. A big order has also come from Colombia, for an urban cableway in the city of Calì linking the Siloè favela and the “Canaveralejo" bus station from where the city’s public transport system starts.
The Group’s strong points are, as president Seeber explains, «the cutting-edge technology which permits reducing the emission of pollutants into the environment and ensures extremely silent running, a propensity for innovation and the ability to operate in extreme climatic and environmental conditions».
Care for the environment is a central factor in Leitner’s industrial strategy, which uses electricity to operate the cableway and is targeting wind power. Leitwind has developed direct-drive technology which currently also represents the technological heart of cable transport systems.
«We also perform a social function - explains Seeber -. In those cities where our cableways are operating, people are moving around faster and getting home earlier; consequently they have more leisure time». Indirectly, our cableways also help reduce the crime rate. By linking degraded neighbourhoods, people are able to move around more safely. Moreover our transport systems compete well with underground railways.  Cableways cost less and can be installed in just two years, which includes obtaining permits and red tape.
Group strategy aims at anticipating the needs and demands of customers.
Leitner technology has also been applied to create artificial waves in Surf Snowdonia (surf park) in Wales and for a similar facility in Austin, Texas.
The Group boasts 9 facilities worldwide and employs 3,000 people. Group members are Leitner Ropeways, Poma e Agudio (cable transport systems), Prinoth (snow compactors and multipurpose vehicles), Leitwind (wind power farms) and Demaclenko (planned snowmaking systems).
by Artemisia