Here the English translation of the interview.
MARKBASS GROWS BETWEEN TRADITION AND ENGINEERING.
On the eve of its 20th birthday, the company exports from Chieti to 60 countries.
A great passion for electronics and a strong business spirit. That’s the starting point of Marco De Virgiliis, general manager and founder of Markbass, based in San Giovanni Teatino in the Chieti area. The company produces bass guitar cabinets and amplifiers and gained a main place in its trade, together with the historical brands from UK and USA, thanks to many innovations envied by many competitors.
Markbass, founded in 2001, today has about 40 employees, € 10 millions turnover (2019) and produces around 3.500 amps/cabinets per month. It exports to 60 countries worldwide and won world renowned bass players like Marcus Miller (who signed a signature lineup he developed with the company), Alain Caron, Richard Bona.
Some people defined it as the “Ferrari of sound companies” in the green region par excellence.
“Our distinctive character is a pushed engineering process - explains De Virgiliis - we start with a first idea, we consider its feasibility during technical meetings with engineers and collaborators, then we proceed quickly”.
Everything started in 1996, when he decided to quit his job to found Parsek company, “because as a music and electronics enthusiast, even if I didn’t finish college, I knew there were new needs and trends in music, but mainly I wanted to be independent and design products my way”.
So De Virgiliis started assembling the very first prototypes to be offered personally just in Italy. “The first year I drove 120.000 km to sell my products - he remembers - often finding myself to decide to put gas in the car to go back home or buy a sandwich”.
After a brief experience with a partner from US, Markbass brand was born in 2001. Today it’s worldwide renowned for marketing neodymium speakers: using this innovative technology it’s possible to produce far lighter products compared to the traditional ones and, at the same time, high performance. Benefits are huge if you think a standard cabinet weighed 35 kg, but today we’re around 20 kg, effectively helping musicians who have always had the gear transportation problem.
“When I started using neodymium, nobody trusted me and they said sound wasn’t the same - he proudly points out - but today everybody uses neodymium. I was able to made my dream come true with no support behind me or family business experiences showing me the right direction in some ways”.
The very first years were characterized by an exponential growth. Marco De Virgiliis recipe, mixing creative approach and deep physics and quantum studies, turns out to be winning.
On the eve of the 20th anniversary, with many events scheduled worldwide starting in Los Angeles, Markbass expands its horizons with strings production, thanks to the acquisition of D’Orazio Strings, one of the historical Abruzzo strings manufacturers since 1859 in Salle, and with the launch of a bass guitars lineup, designed with the collaboration of many master luthiers from local laboratories who permanently joined Markbass team.
“Maybe not everyone knows that in the past Abruzzo has been the home of string instruments builders, so I decided to continue the history and tradition of these ancient master strings. The art of strings manufacture was born in this area and many big brands on the worldwide market have their roots right here. It’s a story made by expert hands, hard work, sacrifices and genius, all typical characteristics of people from Abruzzo. We merged this tradition with Markbass know how on production experience, innovative materials selection and top quality control”.
While being a medium size international company, Markbass is therefore focusing on craft and team spirit. “We don't have timecards to punch here (except for the production department), we have a gym and a bar. The company is for people - De Virgiliis loves to repeat - we’re a big family here. My role model is Adriano Olivetti, to me the human factor is essential”.
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