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INLAND INNOVATORS

Located over 100km inland of coastal cities like Genoa and yacht-building hubs like La Spezia and Viareggio, the Absolute facility is a self-contained hub of in-house innovation, automation, craftsmanship and friendly, family-style management.
I’m driving around looking for the Absolute shipyard, my instincts and my navigation app at war. There’s not a body of water in sight. A green sea of freshly ploughed fields is all
around me and the aroma is of farmland, not low tide. Feeling I must be way off track, I pull over to see what’s wrong. Suddenly, a truck loaded with Volvo Penta IPS engines passes me. Follow that truck, I tell myself, and soon I’m there. Sergio Maggi and Marcello Bè founded Absolute in 2002 in an area outside of Piacenza where the other major industry is tomato canning. After all, Piacenza is in northern Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, renowned for its local produce including ham, salami, cheese and pasta, as well as wine. This, plus the fact the Med is about 100km south, make it an unusual location for shipbuilding, but Maggi and Bè are locals and wanted to stay close to their roots and the hardworking local talent.
The two had met while employed at Cantieri Nautici Gobbi, but when the company was sold, they decided to branch off and establish a yard of their own. Four years later, looking for ways to increase automation in their production lines, they asked former boss Angelo Gobbi to join them at Absolute. “We started with nothing much more
than a good first boat,” Maggi says. “Going forward, we had an idea of what we wanted, but we didn’t know how to get there. Angelo is our visionary. He had the know-how and guided us to where we are today.”

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