Geico’s origins stem from the entrepreneurial spirit of its founders: Giuseppe (Pippo) Neri and Giancarlo Mandelli, who gave name to the company Neri & Mandelli.
Shortly after it was established, the first major partnerships were formed. In 1965, 70% of the company’s shares were acquired by Carrier Drysys group, which specialized in the production of auto body paintshops, and the company was renamed Drysys Equipment Italiana. In the early 1970s, after the financial crisis suffered by Drysys, the shares were acquired by the English company Haden, an industry giant listed on the stock exchange.
Due to the oil crisis and the tense political climate of the 1970s, Haden sold its shares to Pippo Neri, who founded Gecofin S.p.A. in 1976, and acquired 100% of Drysys Equipment Italiana, changing its corporate name to Geico S.p.A.
Pippo Neri passed away on February 4, 1994. Arabnia and his wife, Laura, decided to purchase all the shares that stood to be inherited, and gained control of Gecofin through a management buy-out transaction.
In order to meet the automotive industry’s demands, Geico joined Comau, a Fiat group company specializing in industrial automation.
Gecofin purchased 100% of Fiat Group’s shares in Geico, and Ali Reza Arabnia became the company’s President, Chairman and CEO.
Arabnia launched an overhaul of the internal processes to improve the company’s efficiency, and organized the first Innovation Day: a day where the company presents its strategy and future investments to banks, suppliers and stakeholders. At the same time, he launched a cultural revolution based on the values of responsibility, trust and belonging, and placed a renewed focus on the individual by investing in personal and professional development. These actions led Geico to become one of the industry’s world leaders in just 5 years’ time.
The new corporate strategy was reflected in the ambitious challenge posed by the launch of the Pardis Project, which aimed to create the world’s first paintshop that would be self-sufficient from an energy standpoint, with a 70% reduction in consumption. The target date set for Energy Independence Day (June 16, 2020), was achieved 3 years ahead of schedule, in 2017.
Geico established an international network known as the allGeicoproject, and took over the intellectual property rights and patents held by Haden Drysys in 2008.
These operations consolidated the company’s position as a world leader, and led it to close out the year with a record number of orders.
During the global economic crisis, Arabnia decided to focus all company efforts on innovation and resource development in order to render the company more competitive, and to catch its competitors off-guard once the market recovered.
This led to the establishment of Geico’s flagship research and development facility, called the Pardis Innovation Centre.
In 2011, the company established an alliance with the Japanese industry giant Taikisha. 49% of the shares remained in the possession of Gecofin, which was thus able to combine its own cutting-edge technologies and specialized know-how with the solid financial structure and wide reach of the Group’s worldwide offices.
Geico’s new headquarters in Cinisello Balsamo, which boasts large spaces dedicated to both technological and cultural innovation, was inaugurated on the 50th anniversary of the company’s establishment.
The new Pardis Innovation Centre, which, at 3,600 m2, was almost twice the size of the previous one, became the auto body painting industry’s most important worldwide research and development center. Recognized with numerous domestic and international awards, and highly focused on the use of renewable energy sources, it is the maximum expression of GeicoTaikisha’s innovative approach.
At the new headquarters, Gecofin created the ideal place for GeicoTaikisha employees to rediscover their physical and mental wellbeing: Laura’s Garden of Thoughts.
A 2000 sq.m area designed to develop the right side of the brain, which is associated with creativity, emotions and feelings.
With its constant concern for the wellbeing of all, following the success of the J-Next project launched by Geico in 2011 to combat youth unemployment, the Arabnia family established the Pardis Foundation in order to continue supporting local communities. The Foundation proposes innovative non-profit projects aimed at engaging people of all ages within the socio-economic context.
During the 7th edition of GeicoTaikisha’s Innovation Day, the achievement of the Energy Independence Day target date, originally scheduled for 2020, was celebrated 3 years ahead of schedule. GeicoTaikisha was the world’s first company to offer a zero environmental impact paintshop.
Thanks to the J-Next and Gate Bridge projects carried out by Geico and the Pardis Foundation, the goal of 100 young graduates entering the workforce was reached and exceeded.
GeicoTaikisha’s innate innovative spirit has led to the launch of the Smart Paintshop: the industry 4.0 project that has revolutionized auto body paintshops.
The project was awarded the SurCar Cannes Innovation Award for best research and innovation worldwide.
Ali Reza Arabnia passes the baton to his son Daryush, who at 36 years of age takes over the Group.
In sync with his father’s entrepreneurial philosophy, the new president will continue on the path of innovation with a particular focus on young people to address the challenges of the future of a highly competitive, cutting-edge industry.
A majority of shares in the group were acquired by the Arabnia-Neri family, which increased from 49% to 85.5%.
Arabnia-Neri family culture has always stressed the importance of the individual, the ability to cope with difficult circumstances, honesty in relationships and a sense of responsibility, which were also the mainstays of this strategic decision.