Olmes Ognibene

A love for mechanics, the vision of an entrepreneur: this is the story of Olmes Ognibene.

«Mechanics was my passion. In 1947, I set off to create something we didn’t have then. We needed tractors. No one was making tractors you could drive on the road. This is how we started: 10 workers assembling car and war vehicle components to build vehicles that didn’t exist before.»

Olmes Ognibene was born on March 14, 1923 in Fazzano, a small hamlet under the municipality of Correggio in the province of Reggio Emilia, Italy.

 

In this land that would one day become the famous Motor Valley, Olmes began to work as a farm hand with his family and, between the late 1940s and early 1950s, founded the company that still bears his name.

foto di Olmes Ognibene in divisa arruolato nella Regia Marina Italiana / photo of Olmes Ognibene in uniform enlisted in the Royal Italian Navy

Drafted in the Italian Navy and deported to Germany

 

In 1942, during World War II, he was drafted in the Italian Navy.
On September 12, 1943, he and his comrades were captured by the German army in Pola, in the Istrian Peninsula.

 

He was deported to Germany, initially sent to a concentration camp and later transferred to a commercial farm as an Italian military intern. Interns were prisoners who had refused to adhere to the Social Republic and were segregated and forced to hard labor.

The return home and beginning of the entrepreneurial journey:
this is how Ognibene Power was made

 

Olmes was released in May 1945 after the war ended and had a daring trip back to his homeland, a moment that marked the beginning of another adventure. Once home, he put all his efforts into the business that would grow to become a world leading multinational company in the mobile hydraulic industry.

 

He started the business together with ten workers.
From the 1960s, Olmes traced the road for the innovation of agricultural vehicles. He converted war materials and assembled them with car components to create the first street-legal farm tractors.

 

Over the years, Olmes’ ability to anticipate market needs led him to gain the required skills and resources to manufacture hydraulic cylinders and steering units, two key products in mobile hydraulic applications.

 

In 1999, Olmes, already Knight of the Italian Republic, received the decoration of “Commendatore Ordine al Merito” of the Italian Republic.

 

Olmes died on November 26, 2017 at the age of 94 in his home in Bagnolo in Piano, leaving behind the legacy of his passionate work and ability to lead the company as a family to wife Amneris, son Claudio (now president) and daughter Cristina (now vice-president).

 

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“La frusta sul cuore”: Olmes’ auto-biography book

 

This autobiography book, the title of which translates to The Whip on the Heart, is a memoir of Olmes Ognibene’s life from 1942 to 1945. These three years changed Olmes’ life as well as the fate of humanity.

 

The Second World War was unfolding in those years, a conflict that from 1939 brought bloodshed to Europe, pulling it into the vortex of violence of concentration camps and causing a major setback in human progress.

 

In these pages, Olmes provides an account of his experience and the fate of Italy in those dark years of warfare. He lived the despair of the concentration camps and survived the injustices of the Nazis and the bombs. He experienced the humiliation of being turned into a slave, but also discovered the meaning of life.

 

Like millions of Italians, he was snatched from the countryside town he had never left before and catapulted into the terrifying game of war. He fought to survive like many of his fellow Italians, and reluctantly became a hero.

 

Read the book

foto di copertina del libro La frusta sul cuore scritto da Olmes Ognibene / cover photo of the book La frusta sul cuore written by Olmes Ognibene

“Ho creato il mio mondo”: the book of Olmes Ognibene’s entrepreneurial adventure

 

“The book is an invaluable piece of the puzzle that helps historians to reconstruct the history of Emilia in its transformation from a land of peasants to world capital of agricultural machinery and mechatronics.”

 

This is how Davide Nitrosi describes the book “Ho creato il mio mondo” (“I Created my World”) in the preface. The book is Olmes’ narration of how he set off his adventure with “very little money, too many needs, lots of inventive ideas and—not to be underestimated—plenty of support.”

 

The book is an unvarnished account that moves at the pace of a sharp memory and written with the humility of a man who used his creative capabilities and adaptability to nurture the growth of his company day by day until it became one of the companies that defined the economic identity of the Emilia region.