Manufacturing and Minor Inventions, more commonly known in South Africa as MAMI, was founded 41 years ago by Gianni Comoretto, with an initial investment of R 500. People in the security industry know MAMI as the South African company that designs, manufactures and supplies equipment for the security industry.
With a background in electrical engineering, Gianni started the company back when technology was only starting to make an impact in the security industry, with the idea that he could turn ideas into products. Over the years, he has designed numerous products, both for the security market and beyond. Some of these products include very long- and short-range remote controls, radio transmitters, GSM communicators, security systems such as alarm monitoring and perimeter protection and many, many more.
MAMI was the first company in South Africa to design and develop microprocessor driven wireless alarm panels and gate automation equipment. The success of these products lent themselves to commercialisation and were distributed and sold to the young South African security market. As to the success of the products, Gianni says there are many still in operation today, 30 years later.
Looking back, Gianni says the company’s real breakthrough moment came in late 1979 when he was asked to design an alarm system for the SA Post Office. The SAPO was having trouble with theft of equipment from exchanges, as well as cash theft at post office branches.
Gianni proudly notes that MAMI was the first to manufacture PIR detectors in South Africa, products that have become a standard in many security installations. The company also designed products to assist famers to communicate with their neighbours in dealing with farm attacks in South Africa.
And if you thought wireless alarms are something new in the market, Gianni will also tell you that MAMI developed the first wired and wireless alarm control panel in the country over 25 years ago. If anything made the company a part of the local security industry, Gianni says that entering the wireless alarms put MAMI on the map.
Built from the ground up
While there were people working with Gianni, he remembers that the company had no sales person, apart from himself, for the first ten years of operation. Gianni even taught his gardener at the time to put down his garden tools and learn more advanced skills.
The local security market was very reliant at the time on importing equipment, even small products like gate remote controls. Gianni decided this was a waste and went ahead and designed the first local remote controls. While the remote business was successful, Gianni’s drive to constantly develop new products and find other challenges meant that the company never took the lead in the local remote controls market, although its products certainly found their way into many businesses and homes.
In fact, he says one of the rules of design at MAMI has always been that the company would not copy anyone else, everything MAMI did had to be a step ahead of the current technology available, and it had to be practical in terms of what the product must do, what the market requires, and it must give people a reason to buy the product.
When MAMI moved out of its garage, it moved into a house in Regents Park , and soon thereafter Gianni bought the property next door and built the first formal MAMI office. In 1990, MAMI moved again, building a four storey office specifically designed for the company. Then in 2009 the company made the move to a larger building in Illiondale, where it is still located today.
A drive for innovation
The reason for MAMI’s continued success in the market is Gianni’s focus on innovation, something he says is guided by the mantra “not run of the mill”. This includes the products mentioned above, but also voice communication products and tracking technologies that are used in various companies throughout the country.
As with most (if not all) innovators today, the company has moved from hardware manufacturing to also include a range of software solutions that complement MAMI’s hardware offerings. One of the better-known software solutions in the market is its control room monitoring software.
Having a sense that the alarm and monitoring industries in South Africa were becoming saturated and stagnating, MAMI decided to diversify its product range with other areas in which it could innovate.More recently, MAMI has also diversified into the IoT space, making significant investments into Android hardware and software development providing products and platforms to make a difference in the education and e-learning markets.
Over the past 40 years, MAMI has been involved in over 430 design and manufacturing projects, many of which included sub-projects with variations on the original specifications. And while Gianni is retiring, the creativity that defined the past 40 years is not.
Gianni’s son, Xarion Comoretto is set to take the reins from his father after a number of years in the company. Xarion is also an innovator who designs ‘not run of the mill’ solutions for today’s market. Xarion says there are still many opportunities in the market for innovative new products. There are new concepts in monitoring and communications that the company will be bringing to the market.
Having built numerous products, and registered at least 20 patents that have made a significant difference in the security industry, Gianni says it’s time for him to let go and do the things that hard work and long hours at the company never allowed him to accomplish. He says he is fortunate that Xarion has the same passion and does the same things he did, only better. With this article Gianni wants to wish all those with skill, and above all, determination, to pursue their instincts through the thick and thin the industry goes through.
And while the company is diversifying into new markets and new innovations, it will certainly not be leaving security behind. A revolutionary new alarm panel will be released later this year which is sure to keep the MAMI brand top-of-mind in the local market, where it has been for decades.
Keep up with the latest from MAMI at www.mami.co.za or @MAMISolutions on Facebook.
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