MAPEI - Materiali Autarchici per l'Edilizia e l'Industria (Autarchic Materials for Building and Industry), a company initially focused on manufacturing paints, was founded by Rodolfo Squinzi in Milan in 1937 with the help of his wife Elsa Banfi. The word “Autarchic” was then replaced by “Auxiliary” in reference to the use of materials supporting the building industry. The old headquarters in Via Cafiero, which employed seven staff back then, now houses the Corporate Research Centre of Milan, where research is carried out into developing new Mapei products. The first product to be manufactured, SILEXCOLOR, is a silicate paint that soon became one of the most popular in the entire Mapei range. The company than began focusing on manufacturing adhesives and products for installing resilient materials. Research, which has always been in the company’s DNA, resulted in the creation of ADESILEX, an adhesive for installing linoleum that evolved from Italeum.
PIANOLINA is created: a ready-to-use, magnesium gypsum-based skimming compound capable of lightening the load of installers. Sensing the enormous potential of ceramics, Mapei launches ADESILEX P, the first solvent-based tiling adhesive. Another successful product soon followed: ADESILEX PM.
Giorgio Squinzi, who graduated in Industrial Chemistry, was still a student when he began working for the company and contributing to its success by inventing a range of innovative products on an international scale. ADESILEX L1 alcohol-based adhesive for linoleum is introduced. It makes it adhere to the substrate, freeing installers from the burden of having to carry bags full of sand to the installation area. This is followed by ADESILEX P5, a bituminous solvent adhesive for tiled floors. And then by its successor, ADESILEX P7, an ultra-rapid-setting elastomeric adhesive, and ADESILEX P9, a super-adhesive for ceramic tiles which could still be used up to half a day after being mixed. ADESILEX P9 is still manufactured and very popular for its technical performances.
Mapei is projected into the future through KERABOND, Mapei’s first polymer-free cementitious adhesive. The introduction of KERALASTIC meant tiles could now be applied on various types of surface: from cementitious render to metal. SIGILLANTE 3433 silicone sealant – which we now call MAPESIL AC – is created for making elastic seals in ceramic surfaces. In 1971 Mapei captured everybody’s attention at Saie, an international building fair, by hanging a Fiat 500 from the ceiling attached to a tile by nothing more than Mapei’s ADESILEX P9 glue.
The first phase of internationalisation began in 1978 through the opening of its first factory in Laval, Canada, and the founding of Mapei Inc. and then Mapei Corp. in the United States. This coincided with the launching of the KERABOND + ISOLASTIC, the new system that allows ceramic tiles to be installed over plywood for the first time. Giorgio Squinzi took over the company from his father Rodolfo in 1984, with the help of his sister, the lawyer Laura Squinzi. Giorgio’s wife, Adriana Spazzoli, took control of the Mapei Group’s Marketing and Communication operations.
Mapei launches a new screed concept with MAPECEM and GRANIRAPID and introduces ULTRACOLOR. New solutions for refurbishing and repairing concrete and for masonry with the MAPE-ANTIQUE line are born. AQUAFLEX is the first ready-to-use liquid membrane for waterproofing terraces and balconies, which is soon followed by the revolutionary MAPELASTIC. The Mapei professional cycling team was set up in 1993 and dominated many international races for years. There was a generation change in the company in the late-1990s: the children, Marco and Veronica joined the company, thus renewing the company’s commitment to key sectors of the group: Research & Development and Internationalisation.
Mapei Sport Service is founded in 1997 and, in 1998, the Mapei professional cycling team triumphs at the Paris-Roubaix. In 2003 Mapei took over U.S. Sassuolo Calcio.
In 2006, MAPEI was the sponsor and lucky charm of the Italian soccer team when it won the World Cup for the fourth time. ADESILEX P4, KERAFLEX MAXI and ELASTORAPID adhesives are created for installing ceramic and stone, along with MAPEQUICK for underground and underwater environments. MAPETHERM protects our homes from the cold and heat and helps cut down on energy consumption, while MAPEGRID and FRP consolidate the structures of old buildings. For cementitious and resin-based industrial floors, ULTRATOP and MAPEFLOOR mortars arrive on the scene
Mapei’s subsidiaries grow year after year and with them the number of product lines. The factory in Mediglia, in the province of Milan, hosts now new production equipment, including a dedicated packaging plant using new, ecological plastic bags. The UTT Laboratory for products dedicated to the underground sector is inaugurated, along with a Mobile Building Laboratory dedicated to admixtures. Mapei is constantly focused on sustainability and formulating increasingly high-performance products. RE-CON ZERØ reflects this vision and is created to overcome the problem of returned concrete, an important contribution to a circular economy. A commitment to safeguard the environment and people's health that is also expressed through the commissioning of new manufacturing facilities using locally-sourced and eco-sustainable materials. In 2016 Mapei published its first Sustainability Report to share with its stakeholders the reached results.
The children, Veronica and Marco, who had already been with the company since the early 1990s, took over from their father Giorgio as the company’s CEOs in 2019. As well as them, the board of directors currently includes their cousin, Simona Giorgetta, and the lawyer Laura Squinzi as President. Mapei proves to be a solid but flexible company, capable of adapting to change efficiently while remaining true to its own history and corporate strategy. Thanks to a range of products meeting all the needs of the building trade with a particular focus on sustainability, durability and high-quality products, the Group continues to grow and invest, tackling new challenges with the same passion as always.
18 told tales illustrated by Carlo Stanga about Mapei and the solutions provided towards the successful completion of some of the most significant projects in Italy and around the world over the last 80 years.