After the Crespi family

1930-1951

Crespi family’s definitive exit from the business

In the first months of 1930, not finding solution to the crisis affecting the factory, a joint stock company that merged the cotton mills Benigno Crespi, Venetian and Tuscan Manufactures (BCVT,) that would later become STI (Italian Textile Factories), was established.

Now Banca Commerciale Italiana held the majority of shares. Benigno Crespi’s shares were ceded to Commerciale as well as the family assets, including the Palace in via Borgonuovo, in Milan. At this point Silvio had only to resign from the presidency of the Bank. At the end, he resigned on November 1, 1930.

The shock for the Crespi family and the villagers must have been immense, a slap in the face. The family, who had always been the ultimate authority in matters of work and social life, no longer had a say in anything.

The residents must have felt like orphans, without a sense of direction. When the Crespi’s left the village, the growth project that included the construction of new homes and greater civic autonomy was suspended.

The family came back occasionally, and although Silvio attempted to return to a decision-making role in the cotton mill, he wasn’t as successful as he had hoped. In 1936, a group of financiers from Venice purchased the factory from IRI, representing the Crespi family’s definitive exit from the business.

Bruno Canto

Bruno Canto was chosen to manage the business and the village. Just like Silvio, he came from a family that had always worked in the cotton business. In a certain sense, Canto accomplished in Campania what the Crespi family had done in northern Italy.

He became the solicitor for Manifatture Cotoniere Meridionali, a company of large textile manufacturers in southern Italy. Canto skilfully managed relationships with banks, insurance companies and the press, but between 1920 and 1930, he faced financial difficulties, strikes, shortages, and re-launching of the business, as did the Crespi family.

In 1929, the situation became so dire and the losses so extensive that he was forced to step down as managing director of MCM. The following year he was dismissed from all roles.

In 1934, he moved to the Veneto region and started up a cotton mill that was later acquired by a powerful financial group, the same group that purchased the Crespi facility two years later. When they decided they needed a strong manager for the new acquisition, Canto seemed the obvious choice.

S.T.I. under Bruno Canto

Arrivato a Crespi, Canto si trova subito a suo agio e si pone come obiettivo quello di operare in continuità con la famiglia che l’ha preceduto. Il lavoro riprende in modo più energico e l’atteggiamento di Canto con la popolazione progredisce piano piano.

Le case operiaie vengono migliorate, i servizi primari rispristinati. A occuparsi della vita sociale sono più che altro il fratello di Bruno, Gino, e sua moglie Gina. A lei si deve il cambio di nome della villa di Concesa che si erge sulla sponda milanese dell’Adda dove la coppia va a stare nei fine settimana.

Canto felt immediately at home in Crespi and his goal was to provide continuity from the Crespi family management. Production resumed at a vigorous pace and the residents’ opinion of Canto slowly improved.

The houses were maintained and improved, and the main services were restored. Bruno’s brother, Gino, and his wife, Gina, were responsible for social aspects. In fact, Gina changed the name of the Concesa villa on the Milan side of the Adda River, where the couple spent their weekends.

Fascism

Canto’s tenure as director coincided with the period when fascism reached its peak in Italy. The castle became the local headquarters of the Fascist party. Workers were forced to become party members, the town often hosted powerful fascist leaders and there were numerous parades in uniform.

Participation was completed when, in 1941, Bruno Canto published the propaganda magazine, Tessilia, a fascist name for which, intended or not, the village has been recognized for nearly three years.

String courses and colours of the homes

Among the most notable changes in the village during the Fascist period involved the workers’ homes, where the tile string courses were removed and the exteriors were painted red, green and white.

In addition, the farmhouse near the school was torn down. At the same time, several new services were added and others services from the time of the Crespi family were restored.

Post-war period

Crespi was not bombed in the air raids. Canto and his managers wanted to restore production and village life back to the standards prior to the war.

Prior to the race laws, Carlo Fuà was brought on to manage the factory. He was Jewish and was forced into hiding during the war. After, he returned to work with a temperament that bordered on authoritarian.

Canto planned a new square near the co-op store, which included shops, a cinema and a hotel, but the project never took off. Machinery was replaced with more efficient models in the factory, but the rest of the plans were suspended.