At the end of the '60s Lino Manfrotto was a photo reporter in Bassano del Grappa for Il Gazzettino and Il Giornale di Vicenza. He was also engaged in industrial and advertising photography. The photographer’s studio equipment was cumbersome, heavy and did not facilitate the work of professionals. The market offered a wide range of studio flash-units and quartz illuminators, but completely neglected basic accessories such as stands, booms and clamps.
Thus, with the help of a collaborator, Lino Manfrotto made his first products, including a light and sturdy lamp stand, that was finally high enough. For a couple of years he produced just a few pieces to meet the needs of his photographer friends. Later he decided to present them on an international level, obtaining his first significant order from a Swiss distributor.
The garage became a production workshop. It was there that the first Manfrotto booms, telescopic rods and other stands were manufactured. He soon realized that the production capacity was insufficient to address all the orders from customers.
In 1972 Lino Manfrotto met Gilberto Battocchio, a technician working for a Bassano mechanical firm. The commercial and product soul had meet his technical counterpart. It was an all-important moment. Battocchio’s arrival turned Lino’s product into three-dimensional solutions. The two made a great team, and within just a few short years they had created a leading enterprise on a world level.
In 1974 the first Manfrotto tripod was launched. Innovative, light and versatile, Manfrotto tripods and stands achieved success in many markets. Articles such as the Superboom, Autopole®, and Superclamp® became an important part of every photographic studios all over the world. And the competition? They followed and copied, but were unable to match Manfrotto innovation, quality, performance and service.
The Group grew, and in 1986, Manfrotto already had 6 production sites in Bassano, he then expanded to Feltre, establishing another 5 plants in the space of two years.
In 1987/88 the Avenger brand was established and started production, responding to the needs of photo and cine markets. Product quality became the hallmark of this range, which could withstand extreme use, rough atmospheric conditions with high load capacities.
Innovative, quality products with worldwide brand recognition and a vast distribution network encompassing 140 countries with top-level personnel, attracted the interest of international investors. In 1989 the entire Lino Manfrotto shareholding was sold to the British Vitec Group plc, a multinational company listed on the London Stock Exchange. At the time it was operating in the broadcasting sector with American, German, English and French subsidiaries.
1992 saw the purchase of the French company Gitzo, a leader in the sector of tripods and heads for top end amateurs and professional photography.
In 1993 the American company Bogen, specialized in the distribution of photographic material in the USA, was purchased.
In 2004 the distribution company Bogen Imaging GmbH was launched in Germany.
In 2005 Kata, an Israeli company leader in the videocamera bags sector, was acquired. In the same year the group was also given licence to distribute National Geographic photographic bags.
In 2006 two new groups to the Bogen Imaging distribution network were added, one in Japan and the other the United Kingdom.
In 2010, Bogen Imaging changed its name to become Manfrotto Distribution in all of its territories which at the time were: Germany, France, Italy, UK, Japan and the USA. In the same year two new Manfrotto Distribution companies were created, based in Shanghai and Hong Kong.
In 2011 the company acquired the Lastolite brand, leading manufacturer of backgrounds and light stopping equipment for the photographic and video industries. Lastolite also became the distributor of paper backgrounds with the Colorama brand.
From Today forward
In recent years, the advent of digital technology has profoundly changed the photography and video sectors and is creating millions of new photo enthusiasts. Manfrotto has anticipated this trend and is capitalizing on its own experience in order to promote new solutions for photographers and videographers worldwide.
In 2010 Manfrotto underwent a brand evolution, expanding from its core among hobbyists and professional to the new photographic enthusiasts population of the “social recorders” – consumers who approach imaging through smartphone and smaller cameras, and for whom photo and videos are a key social currency to share in the rising virtual meeting place of social networks. With the help of a renown advertising agency the brand moved from its core of “Proven professional” to the more inspiring and exclusive promise of “Imagine More” – Manfrotto thus started its journey to become a Power Brand.
“Manfrotto Imagine More” spells out the mission to serve the imaging creative community in expressing and exploring their imagination more fully, whatever the level of technical competence. This mission is guiding the company into new products like LED lights devices, accessories for iPhone® photography, new video shooting solutions, new bags and gear equipping solutions that will serve many more imaging enthusiasts and professionals around the world – whatever their level of skills and gear, and whatever their imaging missions take them.