2015 marks the 80th birthday of our Founder Sante Romano Zanetti: one of the pioneers in the field of terrazzo. Over six decades, Sante Zanetti has led Zanetti & Company Ltd. from its beginnings as a small company with 3 employees, to become a world leader in terrazzo and marble. Thanks to Sante’s vision and leadership, our company now employs over 50 specialists at its Bristol headquarters, and carries out work all over the world.
“I was born in 1935 to Gioachino Zanetti and my mother Beatrice, in Bristol. I remember the 10th June 1940 when Italy declared war. A furniture truck came to our house in Bristol and took all the Friulani from Bristol to a workhouse in Wincanton, Somerset. My sisters Domenica (13 years), and Luciana (9 years), together with my mother and myself stayed in the workhouse for 3-4 months until we were given a cottage to live in, as my father was one of the hardest workers on the farm.
We all stayed on this farm until 1947. At 13 years old, I went to work at weekends and in the holidays with an Italian from Sorro, making ice cream. The owner, Mr. Staffieri, became very attached and trusted me as he had no sons and only a daughter.
When he went to Italy on holiday, I was entrusted to organize the ice cream vans around the city of Bristol. On leaving school at 16, against my father’s wishes, I became a mechanic as I was not interested in pursuing a job in an office. After being a mechanic for nine months, I realised that the work was not well paid and so I went to work with the company my father worked for, Marble Flooring Specialists Ltd, as a trainee terrazzo floor layer.
My training in the ice cream factory with machines and as a mechanic proved useful, as in those days most of the terrazzo floor grinders were petrol driven. I was able to repair these on sites when they broke down.
In 1961 aged 26, we started a terrazzo business and built up the company. We then acquired Marble Flooring Specialists Ltd and Bristol Marble & Granite. This opened up further possibilities and I travelled the world sourcing other materials not then known to the UK, which eventually led to importing tiles from the USA, and Arenastone quartz from Verona, Italy.