Bertola srl, a story through the eyes of an entrepreneur from Piedmont...
Livio Bertola is the owner of an engineering company, which employs thirty workers in Marene, in the province of Cuneo, in northern Italy. In 1995, Livio met the ideal of fraternity, he embraced and made it a way of living, not only at home but also in the factory, with truly amazing results, impacting the surrounding area. Livio has recently told his story on the Italian television channel Raidue, during the program "On the road to Damascus".
To us, he told some facts of his life, related to his company, witnessing the construction of a healthy social fabric, that goes beyond the walls of the factory.
"With all the employees of the company I have established a good friendship, which continues beyond the working hours. Several workers are Muslims. To them since the very beginning I proposed to live the "golden rule" proposed by Chiara Lubich and appreciated by all religions and people of good will: "Whatever you wish that men do to you, do the same to them." I've often been in the houses of my employees, led by a sincere interest for their situations; "Before meeting you – they used to say - "here in Italy we were only foreign people; today, after meeting with you this reality of the Gospel, we feel at home!”, "it is a sign, that something is being transmitted."
Some time ago, Livio became aware of a difficulty experienced by two immigrants. At that time, the business was not going very well, "but I wanted to trust God and I hired them. With the help of my family, we also managed to settle them in an apartment and provided some furnishings. For these young people, life has significantly improved, but also for the my company things improved: almost inexplicably, we got a huge job order, which allowed us to further expand the personnel."
Another day an unemployed person came, looking for a job. His appearance was uncertain, he was clearly experiencing some suffering. He had lost his parents and was practically alone in the world. "It was obvious that he was not the right profile – and indeed, it was not the right time to increase our head count! I was thinking how to explain my refusal, when a thought came to my mind: "He is the very one in major need to work! Why not give him a chance?"
Obeying to this intuition, Livio hired the young man right away, thanking him for his availability and warmly welcoming him for joining the company. The new employee was stunned. Later on, it became clear he was a drug addict.
"Weeping, he desperately told me his difficulties. Then, I tried to understand the situation and I personally went to the local public service for drug addiction. I knew that people seeing me in that place would have had weird thoughts, both about myself and my family. But in my heart the words of the Gospel were stronger: Whatever you do to the least, you will have done to Me".
The meeting Livio had with the social operators was successful, and both his and his family's support were crucial to allow the guy to regain his dignity and eventually fully recover. Now, he is working with the same community to help others overcome their drug addiction.
Even Bertola srl faces the economic crisis of our times. But can you live for the others, when everything else would lead you to do the opposite? "Of course, I try to expand my clients' portfolio, but mainly I try to have faith, aiming at building fraternal relations: this makes me feel in peace, without that kind of worrying, which once haunted me. So I keep knocking at the doors of people, that are referred to me". One day a huge business opportunity came along, it was so important that at the end of the negotiation, one of the manager asked: "But will you then be able to do everything? Look, it could be millions of pieces to be delivered every year!”: and to me, it seemed as if I were experience in some way the miraculous catch ..."