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70 years on Corsica

May 14, 2017
De Petriconi Demenagements, Ajaccio, Corsica, has been operating for 70 years. The company was started in Bastia in 1947 by Philippe de Petriconi and is now still run by his son, Vincent. Here, the company’s Operations Manager, Bernard Tangui, picks up the story.

In the 1960s the only competition in Corsica was a man called Mr Susini.  He was quite famous in Ajaccio at the time because he was the only person to have a brand new Citroën DS car.   Général de Gaulle visited Ajaccio around this time but there was only one decent car to transport him, so the authorities asked Mr Susini if he could drive the general around, which he proudly accepted.  After that, everyone in the town used to call the DS “General de Gaulle’s car”.  Vincent de Petriconi was extremely impressed by this story and it was one of the reasons he decided to expand the business to Ajaccio town in 1967.  Vincent de Petriconi has always driven a Citroën ever since. 

One of his first moves was to the 20th floor of Ajaccio’s tallest building.  At the time, there were no lifts, no electricity and, of course, no outside lifts.  So, Mr de Petriconi himself put candles on each landing of every floor all the way up to the top, so that his movers could work, even during the night time.  Fortunately, things have changed a lot and the company now has eight trailer lorries (each containing 100m3), seven 20m3 vans and four modern outside lifts. They don’t have to walk up the stairs any higher than the first floor these days.  The establishment also has a furniture storage unit of 2,000m² and another the same size in Bastia. 

Ajaccio is the birth place of Napoleon Bonaparte who is the idol of Mr de Petriconi.  Not a day goes by without him quoting the old Emperor.  One of his favourite sayings is: “A little drawing is better than a long speech.”  Who would disagree. 

As Corsica is an island, the company works closely with the three local ferry companies.  Funnily enough, the managing director of one of them, started his career as a mover employed by De Petriconi Déménagements

Today the Ajaccio branch has a staff of around 30 workers, many of whom have been with the firm for their whole careers.  There are even some families who have father and son working side by side.  Three of the staff are of official retirement age, but are staying on because they’re happy in their jobs. 

At their Baleone warehouse the security guard lives on site in a house built by Mr de Petriconi.  The current guard was actually born in the house, because his father was the guard before him. 

Over the last fifty years, Mr de Petriconi has been organising routes to consolidate different clients moving from Corsica to the mainland and vice versa. The fact that the removal vans are never empty reduces costs and has permitted the company to stay competitive.   

Today, Vincent de Petriconi is 76 years old and hasn’t yet made the change from French francs to euros!  The staff still calculates in double currency.  He doesn’t have Internet nor an e-mail address, nor a mobile phone either.  He works perfectly well by fax, landline and snail mail. He works seven days a week and has never taken a single holiday in the last fifty years.  He comes to work, even ill, and has the doctor do his visits at the office. The only time off he takes is once a week, on Sunday mornings, to go swimming in the pool over the winter and in the sea during the summer.  He has (finally) decided to retire in three years’ time, when he will be eighty years old.  His daughter, Marina, should take over the management of the firm then.   

Photo: Pierre Sanna (Operations Manager), Marina Depetriconi (Finance Manager), Pascal Rebillard (Sales), Jeanne Pinzutti (Secretary) Vincent Depetriconi (Owner) , Bernard Tangui (Operations Manager)

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