“When we sell a product, our job has only just begun”

ICL’s Technical Managers Around The World
Paolo Cozzi

3 mins

When it comes to keeping plants and turfgrass in peak condition, ICL has the best specialist teams all over the world. Although ICL is a global player, we firmly believe in a local approach. Different countries have their own climate, their own challenges and therefore need different solutions. That is where the expertise of ICL’s Technical Managers over the world comes into play. We asked them about their backgrounds, motivations and specific challenges in their market.

Paolo Cozzi would not describe himself as someone who’s typically Italian. “I am more of an alpinist, I like ice and snow. My ideal climate would be a maximum of 25 degrees in the summer and a real cold winter.” As a Technical Manager, Paolo is responsible for Ornamental Horticulture in Italy. He describes himself as a ‘lucky man’. Within the team of technical managers at ICL, he is one of the most experienced. “I joined in 1997, so I am one of the oldest. I started as a sales manager and eventually became lead sales manager for Italy. Eventually my colleague Gianni became responsible for the figures and the budgets, so I could focus on the technical aspect, which I like more.”

Growing plants and trees has always interested Paolo. “Before starting university, I already knew what I wanted to do, although in the beginning I would have preferred to work in forestry instead of ornamental plants. I started as a production manager at a nursery stock in Pistoia, close to Florence, which is one of the most important production centers in Europe. I worked there for eight years before I started this job.”



Thinking of Italy, it is easy to imagine why the climate is top of mind. Last summer, images of dried-up rivers and once green fields were all over the news. “The temperatures were five to seven degrees higher than average compared to the last ten years,” says Paolo. “We used to have springtime. Coming out of winter, step by step, there would be a gradual increase in temperature. However, from March this year it went up from 20 degrees to 30 degrees and then 35 or 40 degrees, lasting until October. A very long, very hot period. Which means: a lack of rainfall causing a lack of water, a decrease in water quality and an increase in the level of salt, chloride and sodium sulfates. And then there’s also a war, inflation and a lack of materials going on, leading to increased prices of peat, plastic and energy. It’s hard stuff.”

The impact on plants is massive. “It’s really difficult to fight against this kind of temperature,” says Paolo. “The only thing you can do is give them as much shadow as possible, and try to decrease air temperature with frequent sprays of water.”



Paolo does what he can to help the environment. Years ago, he started working on reducing the leeching impact of producing plants by using controlled release fertilizer (CRF). “In comparison to water soluble fertilizer, they have far less leaching of nitrogen, phosphate and so on. I asked the university to do a study on differences in leaching when growing a single, simple plant. Using CRF, there was only 4% leaching, a difference of 30, 40 or sometimes even 50%. This has been my main focus during the last decade.”


Frequently being in touch with his colleagues from other countries, Paolo sees a lot of differences. “There’s a completely different approach to greenery in Germany, Denmark, France or the Benelux. We have a continuous exchange of technical information. For example, potting big plants that come from the open field is unusual in The Netherlands, whereas in Italy it is common.” With all his years of experience, Paolo knows how to deal with cultural differences. “Whenever a colleague comes over from Central or Northern Europe, he won’t be allowed to drink cappuccino in the afternoon. Just a joke, of course.”



When asked of his greatest achievement at ICL, Paolo doesn’t have to think hard. “It’s having built a marvelous team who are not only colleagues but friends first,” he says. “Me and Gianni built it year by year, step by step. That gives me great satisfaction. Growers trust us as the most knowledgeable, senior and professional company on fertilizers. We are not only a sales force but a technical force who help growers in every step of their problem and provide a continuous back-up. When they buy fertilizer from us, our job has only just begun.”