Looking back to his childhood growing up in a small village in northern Italy, it was probably inevitable that Matteo Brusaferri would follow into the family business.
He remembers his tiny bedroom being dominated by an industrial drawing board, where his father Emilio Brusaferri and father’s cousin Silvio Genelli, would spend hours plotting out new designs for their massage and medical beds.
Several decades later and that fledging business this year celebrates its 30th anniversary, having established itself as a leading designer and supplier of equipment to the spa, beauty, podiatry and medical industries.
“In many ways it also feels like my birthday, having grown up alongside the company,” says Brusaferri, who turned 31-years-old this year.
Now as general manager, Brusaferri made it his mission to learn about the company from the inside out, spending time in all the departments, from accounts and HR through to sales and marketing. The recent opening of the new Dubai office to spearhead the company’s expansion in the Middle East was ‘his baby’.
Last year, Brusaferri also published the story of the growth of Lemi in his book Some Like it Comfy, which details how his metal-worker father ‘accidentally’ went from fixing tractors around the village to creating high-tech massage beds and eventually building a global business.
Brusaferri says: “Lemi was the first to make beds that enabled practitioners to stand up and not sit down. We also brought a strong element of design and durability to beds, and managed to successfully hide all the not-so-aesthetic component parts.
“The first bed my father ever made was discovered quite recently, still very much in use in a doctor’s surgery!”
With strong design ethics and capabilities, Lemi is known for being a powerhouse of innovation, with an ever-growing catalogue of products, and 60,000 beds produced each year for over 100 different countries.
At the recent CosmoProf trade event in Italy (where his father exhibited his very first bed three decades ago) the company showcased a range of six new forward-thinking table models.
These include the Verona Evo, a dual-use spa table which, thanks to its fully electric height adjustment, can be used as a massage table or a chair; and the Elba PediSpa, which follows the same elegant design as the Capri PediSpa, but with a thinner silhouette and more basic technology to create a better quality/price ratio for customers.
Brusaferri says: “We realised that we had a gap in our range for something that was high spec, but which allowed smaller businesses to offer their customers the unique experience of a Lemi bed.”
The company’s beds are still handcrafted with great care in their two village factories and carry the prestigious certification of ‘100 per cent Made in Italy’.
Brusaferri says: “Because of our very close, dedicated team and processes, we’re still able to guarantee a lead time of four to six weeks. It’s entirely bespoke. We don’t keep any premade beds in stock.
“In health and wellness, we’re entering a new era of increased personalisation. Clients who regularly go to spas know exactly what they want from a massage experience, and so our spa clients expect a high degree of customisation from us.
As well as the best quality Italian leather in a vast range of colours, Lemi offers additions that turn the massage experience into a multi-sensorial journey – from chromatherapy through to blue-tooth music.
So with 30 years clocked up, what’s next for the Lemi Group?
Certainly there are many more designs and customisations in the pipeline, says Brusaferri, with some “exciting new departures” to be revealed later this year.
As one of the leaders of the company with an eye on greater expansion, Brusaferri’s business schedule is unsurprisingly full on, with two weeks in four spent travelling internationally.
“Unlike my father, who didn’t have the benefit of the internet when starting out, we can take advantage of great marketing opportunities like social media.
“But I see wellness as a very human-to-human business. It’s based on building relationships, and so there’s really no substitute to getting out there and meeting our customers and future customers face-to-face.
“We can talk about how fantastic our massage beds are, but until you actually lie on one you can’t truly appreciate how wonderful they feel.”
Lemi’s passion also extends to how the company treats its employees, fostering a culture of wellness for all who work there.
“We’ve introduced a relaxation lounge and ensure that nobody works for more than two hours without taking a break. We have a gym and offer pilates classes at three different levels, as well as English classes,” says Brusaferri.
“When our employees are happy and well cared for, we know that that contentment shines through in their work for us. In the same way, we also design our beds with the comfort and needs of therapist in mind.
“If a therapist doesn’t enjoy giving a treatment on a particular bed, then that discomfort can truly be picked up on by the massage client.
“So when the therapist has an exceptional massage bed to work on, the client experience will be exceptional too. That’s what the Lemi difference is all about.”