Founded in 1920, Rivoira was one of the first companies in Italy to operate in the industrial gases sector. Celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, today Rivoira is part of the multinational group Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation. Over the course of a century, the company has been present through the Second World War, post-war reconstruction, the economic boom, the turbulent 1970s and the challenges of the new millennium.
Originally a family-owned company, Rivoira’s story starts at the beginning of the last century in Italy’s Piedmont region. Guglielmo Rivoira moved with his family to Turin where after the First World War he decided to start his own business. On 1st July 1920 G.Rivoira – Compressed Gases – Steel Cylinders – Chemical Products was born.
Producing initially carbon dioxide, oxygen was added in 1923 and in the second half of the 1930s, hydrogen, acetylene, methyl choride and nitrous oxide. Unfortunately for Rivoira, the outbreak of the Second World War turned its plans upside forcing the company to start again. Rivoira had to severely downsize its business and its facilities suffered extensive damage. Starting again from LPG, Rivoira soon found new applications in the industrial sector. Through various companies, Rivoira passed from the initial distribution in Piedmont to a national network and then expanded to Ecuador.
With world scenarios changed, and the Italian industrialist ready to take advantage of it, Guglielmo Rivoira takes inspiration from the US, who has established itself as a new world power, and signs an agreement with DuPont for the marketing of Freon refrigerant gases in Italy. Cyclopropane, gas used for anesthesia, and new welding procedures with argon and submerged arc also come from the US. In a few years the foundations are laid for a period of great expansion. The company grows in size, and the number of production plants also increase. The core business of technical gases is flanked by two other sectors: plant engineering and welding, which will have increasing space for several decades.
As the harsh period of post-war reconstruction passes to the boom years – an era that went down in history as an “economic miracle”, Rivoira makes a foray into the household appliances sector. In 1959, Guglielmo Rivoira was awarded the title of Cavaliere del Lavoro, an Order of Merit for Labour. As he grows older, he gradually leaves the reins of the company to his three sons Franco, Luigi and Stefano.
The 1970s are years of economic crisis and social instability. Rivoira is able to face it, maintaining a good economic solidity and low internal conflict. However, problems with cash flow and issues relating to the generational handover of the company saw a majority stake in Rivoira sold in 1973 to Egam, a public entity.
In 1976 the majority stake of Rivoira passed from Egam to another and larger state-owned company, the IRI. In 1985 there were more changes, and American Union Carbide, who would later become Praxair, acquired the majority stake of Rivoira in an equal joint venture with Enichem and SIAD. The Rivoira family left the company during this time following the passing of Guglielmo Rivoira and his eldest son Franco within weeks of each other.
With more production plants than ever before, and in advantageous position in terms of productivity and pricing, Rivoira takes flight again in the early 1990s. Under a new managerial vision, marketing, quality and safety are enhanced and systemized. As for the production side of things, its plants and welding sectors are closed and Rivoira focuses on gas only, with nitrogen playing an increasingly important role over time.
At the end of 2018 , Rivoira became part of Nippon Gases Europe, resulting from the acquisition of Praxair Europe by Taiyo Nippon Sanso. And on the eve of its 100th anniversary (1st July 2020), Rivoira was called to face a new challenge: to support hospitals in the health emergency caused by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the difficult period that the world is going to, Rivoira looks to the future with confidence.