Marco Frezza, IBAG Personality for November 2019
Everyone has a story to tell! The experiences of members of our business community inspires these articles. We find out their journey, their challenges, their business philosophies as well as the underlying principles to their successes.
I spent last Sunday with Marco Frezza and his daughters at the sailing club in Ada. Marco Frezza is the Managing Director of Arrital Ghana Ltd, which he founded in 1999 together with a representative of Arrital Cucine, an Italian kitchen manufacturer located in Pordenone, Italy. Marco has been a pioneer in this sector. He was the first to design, import and fix customized modular kitchens in Ghana. In 2002, Arrital Ghana extended its operations to include the full range of domestic furniture (bedroom, bathroom, living room) and industrial installations (kitchen, laundry) for hotels, restaurants and canteens. Not someone to do things by halves, he also included the installations of all plant works required for projects, i.e. gas, plumbing, electrical and air treatment. Two decades later, the formidable Arrital brand is still associated as a premium brand with a clientele of estate moguls like Trasacco Valley, Taysec, Gold Key, Devtraco, Key Architecture, Meridian as well as companies and institutions such as the Kofi Annan Peacekeeping Center, Golden Tulip, Novotel, Best Western, the Peduase Government Lodge, Cargill, La Chaumiere, Peduase Valley Resort, Embassies and a host of individual home owners.
Humble Beginnings Marco on the right and his older brother Pino on the left with their now 97year old mother
Born in Genova on the 11th February 1960; during an era where electronic gadgets, social media and smart phones were not-existent; their generation grew up essentially on self-creative manual games, outdoor activities and sports, and were essentially happy with only two presents per year (one for birthday and the other for Christmas).
Jack of all trades
In 1979, Marco completed nautical school and started sailing as a Deck and Navigation Officer on the cargo vessel “D’Azeglio” with routes to South America. His passion for sea has always been evident throughout his life. But life had other plans! In 1984, Marco and his brother, Pino bought Cascina Zucco; a 17th century apple and cherry farm located on the hills of Mondovi’ which needed renovation and building works. He decided to dedicate one year to rehabilitate the farm while Pino, worked as an officer on cruise vessels to finance the project. One year became two, then three and Marco never returned to sea life. Contrary to the initial plan, in 1987 Cascina Zucco started to operate commercially as a restaurant and a venue for summer events. Significant of which, was an event to celebrate folk music – an annual gastronomic festival that lasted ten years. Eventually they had to let go of the farm in October 1997.
Marco and friends on the Catabayak
Being a sea kayaker, a mountain biker and sail boat lover, Marco put together his passions on the project of a catamaran designed for coastal journeys, equipped with sails, paddling cockpits with conical pairs and propellers. The Catabayak was presented at the October nautical fair of Genova in 1998 , but despite its innovative concept was disappointingly not immediately commercially successful. After planning an eco-regatta event with the participation and sponsorship of mixed crews from each region of Italy; Marco accepted the kitchen fabrication proposal to Ghana by Arrital Italy which was supposed to last for a term, after which he was to be replaced. Evidently, the narrative changed and Marco Frezza still runs the show in Ghana.
The Arrital Building
Since 2017, he lives and operates in his own building project at the railway crossing in the Airport Residential area. The building is hard to miss for road users who commute on that route; it has a YUGE CLOCK as seen in the image. The Arrital building has showroom spaces, offices, five apartments, a boys quarters and a rooftop terrace space of about 450 sq. meters designed and equipped specifically for private events.
The building, he believes is probably the first of its kind in Ghana with eco, green features; aerated ground floor, cellular cement blocks which are externally cladded with graphite polystyrene, a high insulation coefficient, low consumption RDZ cooling ceiling and dehumidification, underground gas cylinders and network to utilities, gas generation, solar panels for hot water and thermal cut aluminium double glaze windows. This project is one of his proudest accomplishments.
Once a seaman, always a seaman
Marco Frezza is probably the oldest member of the Ada sailing club still residing in Ghana. He has a curious mind and is amused by the world around him; he loves reading books; some of which his daughters consider as boring. He also enjoys spending quality time with his children (Dessi, Elena and Matteo). His children love his funny tales as well as his incredible cooking skills. They shared some of his most amusing stories with me over dinner at their residence.
Marco considers himself more of a dreamer than a businessman. At 59years, he continues to dream of a better world where poverty is scarce and where leaders execute projects which benefit all and not just a marginal few. He has zero life regrets and has never been afraid of making mistakes. In his own words “despite any strong guide lines, we cannot pretend to always be in control of our lives. Life often decides for us”. Even though he still looks youthful, in just a few months, Marco Frezza will turn 60. All readers are hereby invited to his birthday celebration.
Marco joined IBAG as an obligation and a reverence to his Italian heritage. Since joining, his network of contacts has significantly increased. As his contribution to the Association, he pledges to apply a 8% discount to the purchases of Arrital products and services made by members of the Italian Business Association of Ghana. He encourages business-minded individuals to join and grow the Association to the point where it can convert into a chamber of commerce and effectively serve the purpose for which it was created.