Gemar – How We Learnt to Fly
From humble beginnings to the largest European manufacturer of latex balloons, the journey of Gemar is an incredible, elevating tale, fuelled by passion and pride. Our company dates back to 1902 but now four generations later, we may have expanded but the essence of who we are and what we stand for remains the same.
This is our story…
It is the curiosity and excitement of a 4 year old that sparks off this tale. Little Italian born Angelo Rocca moved to France at the end of the 19 th century as his family joined his brotherin-law’s business as a balloon craftsman.
For a moment, imagine the delight a 4 year old of today experiences when they are presented with a balloon. Now imagine the reaction of a child more than 100 years ago. With very little stimulation and limited toys, a balloon would have seemed like the most thrilling object in the entire world. This feeling never left little Angelo and he grew up knowing his life purpose.
As a young man of just 15 he had worked in the sales team and independently run the lab. Like a sponge, he was taking it all in and the knowledge and experience he gained only added to his passion. In 1902 Rocca was ready to return to his homeland and set up a latex balloon business in his home town of Casalvieri. He was just 18 years old.
Learning to Fly
The success of the company rose each year but the Rocca family were very careful to remain true to their routes. Angelo’s deep routed and child-like enthusiasm for all things balloon is what made his company unique from the very beginning.
Our company began trading past Italian borders and became a global brand. The high quality product, energy and personal service provided was what allowed this small Italian company to capture the imagination of millions of people world-wide.
In 1953, the Genesio Rocca company (founded by the second generation, Genesio), built the first 1000 meter shed and bought an innovative manufacturing machine shipped in from England. This transformation into the technical world of mass production was difficult for many similar companies at that time, but the Rocca family were always innovative. We were able to marry technology and yet remain centred to the core principles of the business, which is a challenging balance to achieve.
As the company evolved we needed to take on more staff to meet the growing demand. Soon we were the main employer in Casselveri and we recognised this as a tremendous responsibility; anyone that was invited to work for the Rocca family, were welcomed as part of our extended Italian family. This is still prevalent today. Those that work for Gemar are respected and valued. We want everyone who enables us to keep our business running smoothly to feel the same joy and passion about balloons as we do. We believe this passion is transferrable to the product itself and we see it in the eyes of the children. It reminds us each time of our founder, Angelo and his introduction to the magic of the balloon all those years ago.
Rising Above Adversity
The rise to the top is never smooth, and Gemar has experienced pain and tragedy throughout its journey; never more so than when Genesio died suddenly in a car accident in 1977.
He was the director at the time and such a terrible incident could have potentially broken any company but while we lost Genesio, we did not lose our love for life and for our business. Genesio’s eldest son was brought up as a child not only of his family, but the company. This enabled him to pick up the mantle and take the lead in honour of his father. The passion that Genesio passed down to him enabled him to continue to grow the family business while keeping it rooted to its values.
Gemar Rebrands for the New Generation
In 1990 we recognised the need for a rebrand and Gemar was born. The company continued to go from strength to strength and 10 years later, we invested in printing so that we could customise balloons to meet the needs of our customers and suppliers.
The range we now offer as a result is immense with over 100 colours, shapes and sizes. We listen to what our customers are selling and respond accordingly. We are also very aware of up and coming trends and aspire to stretch ourselves into the future.
We have distributers in over 50 countries and a not for-profit training academy teaching people the skills and joy of balloon art, with the aim of spreading the same passion and pride that we have instilled within us. Traditional balloon twisting is a skill and an art form, it is something we are working on a global scale to maintain and grow.
Four generations into our business and we are still proud to elevate any event to a Gemar standard; inspired each day by the passion and love of little 4 year old Angelo Rocca.