Natalina Merlo 1929-2021

We have received the sad news that Natalina Merlo, co-founder of Italian telehandler manufacturer Merlo, passed away last Tuesday aged 91. She died peacefully at home in the company of her family.
Natalina Merlo

On leaving school in 1948 she began working full time alongside her father - Giuseppe Amilcare Merlo - who had established a metal working business in the centre of Cuneo in 1911. She had spent time helping out at the family business since the age of 13, but now took on the company payroll and administration duties, while her brother Amilcare was put in charge of production.

In 1964, Natalina and Amilcare teamed up to establish a new Merlo company to manufacture equipment at a facility in the town of San Defendente di Cervasca. In February 1972, the roof of the factory building collapsed under the weight of snow, following a particularly heavy storm. A number of employees, including Amilcare, fell from a height of eight metres in the collapse, but miraculously, there were no serious injuries. The employees worked around the clock and with the support of their bank - facilitated by Natalina, who looked after the accounts - to completely rebuilt the damaged building and get it back in production.
The first Merlo telehandler, the SM30

Throughout the years she worked alongside her brother helping build the new company into a major vertically integrated global manufacturer, sharing the decision making and management of the growing company. Merlo launched its first telehandler, the SM30, in 1981 and then went on to introduce a string of innovations, including the first telehandler with side mounted power unit in the form of the first Panoramic model in 1987. It also produced the first Merlo ROTO 360 degree telehandler in 1991.

Today, Merlo employs more than 1,500 with revenues in excess of €500 million a year, with 90 percent of production exported. In 2014 the two siblings received the honorary citizenship of Cuneo/keys to the city with a ceremony in the city council chambers.
The two siblings are recognised by the City of Cuneo

She has been described as a woman with a reserved character, and impeccable elegance, who loved nature, the mountains and travel. She remained an active director of the company as the third generation of the family took over the day to day running of the business.

A colleague said: “She had a continuous and fundamental presence in the company and a deep respect for all those who are part of it. She will be remembered by all Merlo employees as a great person, who was always available and attentive to others. She will always have a place in our hearts.”

Her funeral has taken place and was attended by family, friends, employees, local dignitaries and covered on the local TV news.


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