Italian industry champion and IPM Essen ‘ambassador’ Silvano Frigo dies at 81

Silvano Frigo (right) attending the opening of the 1996 IPM Essen show. Pictured left is IPM Essen’s former director Egon Gallinis.

It is with a heavy heart that our correspondent in Italy, Arturo Croci and his friends Graziana Cerri and Enrico Delucchi share the news of the passing of  Silvano Frigo, hailed as a great champion of Italy’s ornamental horticulture industry. He was 81.

The international horticulture industry said goodbye to a truly inspirational figure on 25 April when Silvano Frigo passed away in Italy.

For thirty years, Frigo was a constant at the IPM Essen show in Germany, and Croci describes him as a kind person and one of his best friends, despite Frigo being his polar opposite.

While Frigo liked to plan all his actions in advance and look at the individual factors in decision-making, Croci says that during their lifetime friendship, he himself focused more on looking at things as a whole. They could be like chalk and cheese, but between the two friends, there was always a sense of mutual respect, trust and appreciation.

Frigo was one of the driving forces behind the high-impact Italian pavilion at the IPM Essen show in Germany, which until a few years, occupied nearly the entire Hall 6 and, year after year, easily spanned between 4,000-5,000m².

The Italian country pavilion at IPM Essen hosted between 80-90 companies from Italy’s thriving nursery stock sector. The mood was always upbeat. Industry veterans will remember the Piazza Italiana, where besides doing business, visitors could sample some great Italian wines, cheese, salami and pastries.

Born in 1942 in Brescia and a long-time resident of Desenzano del Garda, Frigo spent most of his working life involved in logistics, nursery stock and event organising.

Frigo studied law in Milan but did not follow his brother Giuseppe’s footsteps, who later became a constitutional lawyer.

One of his first jobs was with a transportation company. In the mid of the 1970s, he collaborated with the Italian Olympic Committee, making travel arrangements for athletes such as Sara Simeoni, an Italian high jumper who won an Olympic gold medal and two silver medals in the 1970s and 1980s.

In 1984, he became planning manager at houseplant grower Floramiata Spa where he managed to convince members of the Italian floriculture industry to use the then-revolutionary Danish trolleys for the transport of plants. In 1989, he left Floramiata but maintained his house in Piancastagnaio, where he frequently spent the summer.

Subsequently, he worked for one year at  Fiori del Lago and then took up a commercial role within Organizzazione Orlandelli.

Left to right, Ms Rosi, Silvano Frigo, Carmelita Cali, Arturo Croci and Silver Carnation recipient Karen Tambayong at the awards ceremony in 2021.

In 1992, Giampaolo Padovani asked him to expand the sales department of the Florcoop di Nebbiuno cooperative, which appointed him as managing director.

His time at Florcoop is undoubtedly one of the most successful periods in his career. With the support of the cooperative’s members, he grew the Florcoop brand in the horticultural arena at home and abroad, achieving excellent commercial results.

In 2010, he retires from Florcoop but remains connected with the industry.

In 2001, he is among the proud winners of Italy’s Silver Carnation Award. From that moment on, he is a member of the award jury and never misses one single awards ceremony.

One of Frigo’s last public appearances in the world of horticulture was at the 2022 Silver Carnation Awards, where he presented former Florcoop friend and employee Graziana Cerri with the award.

Frigo had been battling cancer. Croci phoned him a few days before his death, telling him that his health was deteriorating quickly, impeding him from driving his car and walking longer distances.

Silvano is survived by his wife and daughter, Armanda.



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