Paolo Sorbini, a pharmacist and father of Maurizia, Giuseppe, normally called Pino, and Alberto - now Director, Managing Director and Chairman of Enervit S.p.A., respectively - founded Also Laboratori S.a.S. in Milan, specialising in phytotherapy products imported from Germany. Such a decision was, one could say, in his blood as he came from a family of "apothecaries" in Montepulciano.
The late 1960s was a trying time, as the Italian lira lost value. It was time for the company to change, a time to focus on dietary research, a largely unknown topic in Italy in those days. Tac, the first low-fat sweetener was created and marketed.
Zelbio, in Pian del Tivano (Como province), became home to the first plant, which remains the manufacturing heart of Enervit S.p.A. and central to the company's close ties to a part of the country dear to Paolo Sorbini and his wife Franca. It is a pristine area with breath-taking views about 1000 m above sea level and a mere twenty kilometres from Lake Como.
The story of Enervit and the Giro d'Italia is a lengthy relationship of a love for "clean" cycling. 30 years of working together has meant 30 tours, over 100,000 in-competition kilometres, and 10,000 lab tests before, during and after races, with the ever present support of the famed mobile laboratory, the Giroclinica. This has been about providing real medical and nutritional support for the riders who give their all during three weeks of racing. The goal? Investigate problems related to nutrition and hydration, and help cyclist 'refuel' after cycling. Such studies have made a real contribution to understanding what the body needs to deal with extreme physical exertion. They have helped create new formulas and improved methods for consuming supplements and drinks.
Twenty years after the founding of Also Laboratori, Paolo Sorbini launched a new brand, called Enervit. This was the perfect pairing of "energy and life" (or energia and vita in Italian). The goal? Create a product range that had been specifically researched for sportsmen and women. This was remarkably forward looking as the idea of sports nutrition hardly existed in those days and was thought to have little or no impact on performance.
This was a remarkably busy year. The company had been involved in the Giro d'Italia for a few years by this stage and its love of sport now combined with its love for science, driving Sorbini to build a team of highly competent people and experts in sport around the Enervit brand to promote nutrition and supplements for sport using a scientifically sound basis. Sorbini's son "Pino" found inspiration in the French sports newspaper L’Équipe to suggest the name of Equipe Enervit for this future group of researchers and scientists. This idea was adopted as soon as it came to light. Over forty years later, this has become a very special team, with physicians, academics, and technical experts all involved in the research. It is also a tight-knit group that works very closely with champions to drive sports nutrition and supplements into the future. The focus remains very much those people who love physical exercise and looking after themselves.
Working with various athletes who competed at the Moscow Olympics in 1980 led to Enervit Protein, the first meal replacement bars for people looking to lose weight. The slogan adopted for this was Forti e Magri - strong and lean. This was a product precisely for people looking to be strong and lean. And this slogan soon became a way of life, even driving a publishing group, Gruppo Editoriale Fabbri, to publish a related encyclopaedia. Success also came with historic achievements, such as Sara Simeoni becoming the first woman to jump 2.01 m and Maurizio Damilano taking home gold at Moscow 1980.
Over the years, Enervit had the honour of being part of the feats of many champions, particular through the direct involvement of Equipe Enervit. 1984 saw the achievement of an amazing dream, organising Francesco Moser's Hour Record in Mexico City. This project brought key innovations to cycling. For example, new training methods were trialled, using a technological heart rate monitor, known as Testequipe, to conduct specific tests. But there were also the introduction of lenticular disc wheels to improve the aerodynamics of the bike created especially for the champion, and revolutionary approaches to nutrition. The result. Francesco Moser beat Eddy Merckx's record. His 51.151 took him into the pantheon of sport.
Cycling and more. The company became involved in football, working with Juventus. Dr Franco La Neve, the team doctor and a friend of Paolo Sorbini, sought the knowledge of the nutritional experts at Equipe Enervit to introduce the latest scientific knowledge about eating and drinking into the team. The approach was a personalised nutrition strategy. The Juventus players started eating properly, especially on training days. This improved their physical condition, with evident results. The team not only won the Italian league multiple times, but also brought home international glory with victories in European and Intercontinental Cups. .
The Mountains - with a capital M - brought an entirely new world to explore and true passion for adventure as Enervit supported Reinhold Messner in his bid to climb all the eight-thousanders. At the time, he was still four short, but he would reach those summits. He made history as the first person to climb all fourteen eight-thousanders on earth without oxygen. Messner's own love of science grew with his ascents in the Himalayas, as he overcame the problems inherent in mountaineering without oxygen, especially muscle fatigue and getting enough protein, water and salt back into his body. The scaling of the final peak by Messner in 1986, Lhotse, coincided with the completion of a study conducted by members of Equipe Enervit at base camp. This was anything but the end of the challenges and research, though. Further studies explored the provision of special foods and supplements for the crossing of the Antarctic, with the goal being to reach the South Pole in 1990. This was another success. In 1993, Greenland became the focal point, with a crossing from East to West. Finally, there was also a failed attempted to reach the North Pole in 1995. A turbulent Arctic Sea greedily gobbled up all the equipment. This was definitely a chance gone begging. But this is equally part of the sporting spirit.
Following two golds at the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988, this champion skier from Bologna didn't have a great year. His technical team turned to Equipe Enervit for help. He was soon back in incredible shape. Then, his determination and character carried him to triumph. In the 1991/92 season, he took home an impressive nine golds, including gold in the giant slalom and silver in the slalom at the Albertville Olympics. Tomba, the bomb, as he was known, became unstoppable and in 1995, twenty years after Gustav Thoeni, he brought the title for Overall World Champion back to Italy, winning 11 races.
One of Italy's other famed sides, AC Milan, also turned to Equipe Enervit. The experience gained by Equipe Enervit in numerous sporting spheres was made available to the backroom staff. The Milan training centre turned out to be a fertile ground for investigating those details that really make the difference in sport. The players were provided with specific nutritional advice and their levels of mineral salts and hydration were carefully monitored in games and training. It was a period in which the club took home numerous Italian and European titles.
A change of century and a new millennium didn't make a difference to the Group as it continued to explore new horizons and always looked forward. One of these was the Barry Sears Zone Diet. This brought a way of life, based on a specific scientific programme, that combined nutrition with movement. This marked the birth of the EnerZone brand, a product range specifically researched to help athletes lose weight and anyone achieve optimal physical and mental wellbeing. In 2008, the company officially changed its name to Enervit S.p.A.
Enervit took on another challenge. This time, though, it was a more financial one, as it started trading on the Milan stock exchange. The company applied to be listed and, between 7 and 9 July, Borsa Italiana S.p.A granted its approval and CONSOB granted a "no impediment" for the listing of ordinary shares on the Expandi market run by Borsa Italiana S.p.A.
In October, an agreement was signed with this great champion, bringing him into the fold. The specific reason for this was the toughest triathlon of them all, the Ironman World Championship Final in Kona, in Hawaii, where he finished 273rd out of 2000 competitors. Zanardi already had his mind on Rio 2016, for his second Paralympics. And the relationship with Zanardi grew stronger, especially through the involvement of Equipe Enervit. Bringing more success. On the verge of turning 50, Alex took home gold in the road time trial, silver in the road race and another gold in the mixed team relay, with Vittorio Podestà and Luca Mazzone. He's a legend, celebrated by the sporting world! And Enervit is always right by his side.
This was another key step forward. In May 2016, Enervit signed a 'competitiveness agreement' with the Lombardy Regional government, as part of a call for bids for a research and development project entitled R&D Barrette Enervit. Innovation was at the heart of this project. In real terms, this translated into building a new plant near Erba (Como province) to produce energy bars, which are seen as a practical way of meeting very specific needs. This is a truly cutting-edge facility, using the latest technology and automation to produce gluten and palm oil free products. This was a bold choice, as the company invested in the local area at a time when most companies are focusing more on approaches like outshoring. At the same time, this facility has provided a true springboard to the international market. The pillars for this development were experience, know-how, technology, innovation and a desire for a world that is more active, fitter and sportier. In body and soul.
This was the achievement of another major dream, offering an opportunity to bring Enervit products and the nutritional strategies that underlie their creation to Ironman across Europe. This is a truly remarkable opportunity that only IRONMAN, the apogee of endurance racing, could provide. The reach of this brand, owned by Wanda Sports Holdings, its superb organisational structure and its enormous popularity have given Enervit special access to multiple European countries.
The Italian company - expanding considerably abroad and proud of its all in-house approach in which each product is devised, designed, tested and produced internally – signed two top-level partnerships in the world of cycling: for the next 3 years Enervit will be Official Nutrition Partner of UAE Team Emirates and of Trek Segafredo Team as the Team's Official Supplier. This is the start of an exciting new chapter for Enervit, together with the women's and men's teams in the Trek-Segafredo family owned by Trek Bicycle Corporation, whose ranks as of this year will include the celebrated champion Vincenzo Nibali and Mads Pedersen, who at only 24 years has just become World Champion, and numerous new talents who have already made a name for themselves on the international cycling scene, including Giulio Ciccone, yellow jersey in the latest Tour de France. The agreement with UAE Team Emirates, a team consisting of champions from no less than thirteen countries, strengthens Enervit's presence and visibility in cycling further. UAE team, which aims to make its mark in sporting history with athletes of the calibre of Fabio Aru, the Italian champion Davide Formolo, the sprinter Fernando Gaviria, and the great twenty-year-old Tadej Pogačar, who took third place on the podium at the recent Vuelta España 2019.
Today, the Group's research, development, production and marketing of supplements and nutritional products has made it the market leader in the Italian sports supplements segment. An uncompromising approach to quality is at the heart of every product. In practice this means never stating something a product isn't. It means never inflating its potential benefits. It means never feeding false illusions. And this holds for everyone, from elite athletes to people just looking to keep in shape. As in the past, science always remains the benchmark. Drawing on this science (and experience) Enervit is now intricately involved in four major events: the Vasaloppet long distance cross-country ski race, Maratona dles Dolomites, the Nove Colli cycle race and, of course, Ironman. It also passionately works with and supports many Olympic and World champions, especially Alex Zanardi, Federico Pellegrino, Sofia Goggia and Daniel Fontana.