15 questions for…

After 140 years in the railway sector, the family-owned Tenconi company has been moving into new industries. Its raw material, steel, remains the same, but its products are diversifying, and changes are happening in the company’s culture.

Mr. Beffa, what can you tell us about Tenconi?

Can you describe your company in three words? Passionate. Traditional. Innovative.


For more than 140 years, you have been successful in the rail business. Why change?

Our product and our culture were stagnating. We were in need of diversification and innovation.


What sort of corporate culture are you building?

I want my employees to know that they are appreciated, that they have opportunities for professional development, and that they will receive recognition for their achievements. I spend a great deal of time with my employees, and my door is always open. Motivated workers help the company move forward.


You had a number of other jobs before you joined Tenconi. Why?

I wanted to gain experience and know for sure that it was what I wanted. In a familyowned company with such a rich tradition, you have to give 100%, and you have to be certain that you really want it.


What is the best part of working in steel construction?

The raw material is always the same: steel. But the people and products are very diverse.


And what is the most challenging aspect of your work?

Dealing with price pressures, since our products are not patented.


How important is it that your company has regional roots in Ticino?

It’s part of our history. But it’s not as important as it used to be, since our market is outside of our region.


Which of the products you manufacture is your favorite?

The insulated steel fishplates that secure and insulate the tracks. The finished product is simple, but the manufacturing process is complex. We are one of the few suppliers in the world, and without doubt the best when it comes to quality.


How has it been possible to keep the company in the family for five generations?

Passion. Passion. Passion.


Which of your successes has been the most gratifying so far?

Managing to lead the company through a difficult period that included a global pandemic, a war, and high inflation.


And your biggest defeat?

I once held a job for three years just for the salary. Those were the longest three years of my life.


Who are your role models?

On the one hand, my former boss. Even in stressful periods, he always put people first and was able to maintain a good work-life balance. I envy that. On the other hand, my parents, because of the values they instilled in me.


As an entrepreneur, what is your biggest worry?

In a volatile environment like ours, having enough work for all of our employees.


What headline would you like to read about Tenconi?

Tenconi wins an innovation prize in 2023, and is again named the region’s best employer.


What advice would you give your successor?

You need to have a clear sense of the kind of legacy you want to leave behind. That makes things easier for you and your team.

Tenconi SA

CEO: Michele Beffa belongs to the fifth generation to lead the company
Founded in: 1871
Headquarters: Airolo and Cadenazzo, Canton of Ticino
Scope of activities: 2,000 products in a number of different metalworking industries