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The ex Roland factory rises like a phoenix with the new brand Dexibell to produce digital pianos

by Francesco Prisco

In music, according to some, pauses are the most important thing. The same could even be the case for the musical instruments industry: tomorrow morning the ex Ronald Europe facility in Acquaviva Picena (Ascoli) will resume operations after a 20 month break.

It will be operating under a new brand which aims to quickly establish itself as synonymous for quality digital pianos -- Dexibell, which has the added value of Made in Italy. In its heyday, the electronic products made here --from keyboards to the famous electric accordions -- made appearances onstage with prestigious clients such as Queen and Bon Jovi.

But we know that the crisis always shuffles the deck and as a result, two years ago, the Japanese conglomerate Roland Corporation decided to close the factory which had been active since 1976, at the end of 2013 it employed 149 people.

It seems like something you would see in a film about multinationals escaping from an economically unattractive Italy, but then comes the twist with the face of Fabrizio Sorbi, owner of Proel, a company specialized in the production of audio systems for performances with €32 million in turnover (70% exports) and 70 employees.

It was Sorbi who in October 2014 signed a deal with the Japanese for the purchase of Roland Europe. He has a three year investment plan of €3 million (€1.8 million in 2015 alone) and, exactly one year ago, hired the first 18 engineers from Roland’s former workers, asking them to focus on possible new products.

Thus Dexibell was born, a startup that by September of next year will employ 60 workers, and will close the first year of operations with €5 million in turnover.

“The product that we chose for the relaunch of Roland in Acquaviva,” explains Sorbi, “is the digital piano, an instrument that represents a segment of the market worth €155 million globally.”

Bringing us to the debut of Dexibell Vivo, the “True to Life” digital keyboard technology that combines 24 bit - 48 kilohertz sampling and physical modeling with original algorithms.

“The first models,” tells Sorbi, “will be marketed in the United States through large specialty retailers.” Dexibell aims to be innovative in this arena as well: “We have decided to streamline our business,” clarifies Sorbi, “skipping the traditional channel of distributors and working directly with dealers.”

The second instrument destined to come out of the Acquaviva site is a digital grand piano, and the group plans to go from keyboards to guitar amplifiers. The ambition is to compete with giants like Yamaha, Korg and Roland itself, and to get to a point at the end of 2018 with turnovers around €14 million.


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