PADUA, Italy — High-end printing is an artisans’ job in Italy. For those books, the gluing and the binding of the pages is predominantly done by hand.
But at Editoriale Zanardi, a prestige book printer in northeast Italy, even the management fell into its workers’ hands last year, when they bought out the company that had employed them for years.
Zanardi is one of the dozens of small and medium-size enterprises in Italy that were brought to their knees by the economic crisis, but whose employees trusted in their companies enough to invest their unemployment and severance payments to create cooperatives and start producing again.
This kind of bonding together to weather Europe’s tough economic times has grown more common, not only in Italy but also in Spain and France, all countries that take pride in maintaining small, often family-run businesses.