Talking with Patrizio Dei Tos means talking to a pioneer. Even when sustainability was not yet a mainstream trend, Itlas CEO was fulfilling the dream of bringing the forest into homes. Today, the Venetian company uses oak from the maintenance of Italian and Serbian forests to produce floors, overturning the common belief that forest maintenance produces only firewood. Before the revolution triggered by Itlas, the floors and wooden surfaces were mostly made with exotic essences imported from the Far East or Africa. For some time now, Dei Tos's intuition has been a happy example of the intelligent use of local forests, whose trees are cut down for normal maintenance and find their second life in homes.
How did the idea of bringing a piece of forest into people's homes come about?
For some years I have been looking for an Italian wood to create a unique floor. Then I realized that I had always had the solution in front of my eyes: the Cansiglio forest, an ancient forest of the Republic of San Marco which has one of the most beautiful and prestigious native Italian beech woods. It is just 25 kilometers from the Itlas headquarters and the trunks that are periodically cut to make room for the growth of younger plants became only firewood, mainly for pizzerias. Yet beech wood is so noble and resistant that the Venetians used it to create the oars of the galleys. I signed a public-private agreement with Veneto Agriculture, the body that manages regional state-owned forests, and in 2009 Assi del Cansiglio was born, a prestigious, totally Italian floor, capable of bringing nature into the home. Because the Cansiglio beech, characterized by knots and flames, manages to convey that feeling of physical and mental well-being that you receive every time you breathe inside the forest. A living material, a piece of nature in our daily inhabited space.
What is sustainability for Itlas, at a time when almost everyone says they are sustainable?
We started our journey when the word sustainability was not used with the broad meaning it has in this particular historical moment. It was the beginning of the new millennium and there was a lot of talk about ecological or environmentally friendly products. Certainly Itlas has had from the beginning of its history a particular attention towards the environment and human health, which derives in part from my vision of life and in part, but probably the two things are closely linked l 'one to the other, from the raw material of our core business: wood. Which is nature and life, which is renewable, reusable and which has the great potential to store carbon dioxide, becoming a CO2 safe for our planet. Everything that has happened in recent years has been a process, so to speak, spontaneous and at the same time due, because making our products using wood could only mean trying every day to find solutions that would allow us to continuously improve the quality and green characteristics of what we offer. And now that sustainability has become essential not only in the life of each of us but above all to be competitive on the market, Itlas is certainly at an advantage, having already traveled with knowledge of the facts and experiencing all the steps required to be truly sustainable. . From environmental certifications to product certifications, from the purchase of logs from controlled forests managed in a sustainable way to the use of vinyl glues with a very low formaldehyde content and water-based paints. A green vocation that led us to install our first large photovoltaic system already in 2010, which for years in this area has also committed us economically to support research and consultancy. We have a governance of sustainability and we make our data public through the sustainability report.
Imagine having a group of children in front of you, pupils from an elementary school, and having to explain to them what it means to respect the environment and to tell how Itlas respects the Earth. What words would he use?
Earth is our home. We live in it and we must take care of it to keep it alive and beautiful for as long as possible, so as to be able to leave it ready even for those who will live there after us. The Earth gives us precious things, such as forests, which must be loved and to love them they must be cared for, cleaned, freed from older trees, leaving room for new plants. Itlas buys the oldest trees that need to be cut and with their wood he builds floors and furniture to decorate the houses, trying to use also the splinters, the sawdust, the small scraps of the work. Without wasting any of the wood, which is a living, precious and beautiful material. To build our floors we use glues and paints that contain very low amounts of substances that are bad for both humans and the environment. We use the sawdust in our large boiler, so we produce energy without the need to use gas and on the roof of our factory there are many solar panels. All the people who work at Itlas have water bottles, which they fill with tap water, because we have chosen to eliminate plastic. And we drink coffee in paper cups.
How do you communicate the company's values? Is communication, in general, something you care about?
Communication has always been one of Itlas' cornerstones. It has been so even in the most difficult periods, such as the global economic-financial crisis and the pandemic period from Covid-19. During the first, in the years between the first and second decade of the 2000s, we chose to invest precisely in communication, while everyone pulled the oars on the boat. In full lockdown, with the factory closed, we organized direct social networks with architects, designers, healthcare professionals. From advertising investments to marketing, from the press office to the organization of events, from the website to social networks up to the company magazine, which is a registered newspaper, but I also add participation in category activities and those within schools : what sense would it be if we didn't communicate everything we do to the outside world? And I'm not just talking about products, the market and the acquisition of new customers, but about a growth path on the road to sustainability.
In what way do you think Itlas can be defined today as an innovative company, for which production processes and for which products?
I believe that we can define ourselves as innovative due to our constant search for improvement of the production process, oriented towards a model of “doing business” that has the ecological and energy transition as its goal. We want to be promoters of change. In the last year we have concentrated many of our energies in the desire to reduce any waste of raw material and the ECOS project was born, where the small wood scraps become a floor or a wall covering with immense value from both a technological and a technological point of view. environmental. Thanks to the choice of suppliers who work according to our same philosophy, recently the birch panels that support Itlas floors instead of glue use lignin, which allows products to be made with a quantity of formaldehyde much lower than what is required by the regulations. European and US.