In the first part of XVIII Century a sheep-farming family left Maggia Valley (which takes its name from river Maggia) in Switzerland to settle in Pettinengo, Piedmont. Since in Piedmont they were used to call families with the name of their birth places, these Swiss people were called Maggia.
In Pettinengo a well organized system of local wool supply had established, thus knitting took the place of cloth processing and began to take an original shape. The new family decided to focus on pasturing and wool processing, as many other locals used to do. Also in Maggia Valley there was an ancient tradition of wool processing, which is even shown in a Milan customs tariff dated back to 1317.
In the first years of 1800 the old knitting and manufacturing technique was revolutionised by the first weaving looms and carding machines. It was in those years that the fortune of Maggia family grew thank to the actions of Francesco, son of Giovanbattista and Gaspare’s grandchild, who was a wool merchant and measurer (the equivalent of a modern surveyor). Francesco – born in the last quarter of the XVIII century – was both knit and cloth worker. In 1800 he already owned many knitting machines, but soon he bought a carding machine from France.
Around 1830 the first knitting handlooms began to spread out in France and since they resulted to be particularly suitable for the production of Pettinengo’s sweater, Francesco Maggia decided to buy two of them. After a few years Francesco’s son, Eusebio (1819-1870) began to work with his father, founding the business name “Francesco Maggia and Son” which lasted for over a century.
After the war of 1866 the Italian Army introduced knit doublets made through the brand new mechanical looms by the French company Fouquet. With the aim of keeping up with the times, the company improved its spinning technique thank to these new mechanical looms by Fouquet and the innovative spinning jenny (a multi-spindle spinning frame, 1870).
After Eusebio’s death, Francesco took over the family business. Even though his young age (he was only 13 year-old at the time), he proved his great entrepreneurial spirit by solving the lack of engine power in his factory. He achieved this goal when he bought a steam engine machine from Switzerland; it seems it was the first steam engine machine set up in the district of Biella.