The history and the family

WAY since 1880

With 4 generations of entrepreneurs, our family company has been in business through 3 centuries in the field of temporary architecture.

In the 1880’s Mose Vàj merged his furniture and theatre upholstery business with a company that specialised in ceremonial decorations and ornaments. In 1916 WAY was one of the first sole proprietor companies to be registered with the Milan Chamber of Commerce. The company was named WAY in order to distinguish it from the family, a touch of internationalism in a time before globalisation.

Virginio Vaj took over from his father in 1925. He developed the business by expanding into joinery, structural metal, Lighting and decorative images. He was the president of the Italian Upholstery Association and was involved in the renovation of the Teatro alla Scala and the relaunching of the triennial Milan Exposition in the Palazzo dell’ Arte in the post-war years. He started the stand construction business for the Milan trade Fair which was first held outdoors at Porta Venezia.

In 1948 he established new 5000m2 premises in via Bruto, Milan. He continued with this business during the 50’s and 60’s particularly in the established Milan Exhibition Centre in Piazza Giulio Cesare. WAY was the official supplier to Ente Fiera Milano (Milan Trade Fair body) from the beginning of the 1960’s until the late 1990’s. This involved the fitting out and furniture rental for a wide range of activities including Trade Fairs, Sector fairs, openings and unveilings and art exhibitions.

In 1958 Pierpaolo Vaj joined the company and worked with his father until his death in 1974. Under Pierpaolo the company underwent a significant growth in size which led to the acquisition of new warehouse premises on the outskirts of Milan. Outside of Italy the company developed its business in the European trade fair market which particular emphasis on the German market. The collaboration with Mero GmBh started in this period. Mero GmBh – a leading precision engineering German company – was the first company to develop the metal modular system for exhibition. Focus on foreign markets was not only about partnerships but also about sales. 5 theatres were prepared in Algeria and Malta and the company did it’s first overseas fitting out in 1985. WAY constructed and finished the Italian Pavilion at the Universal Expo in Tsukuba Japan, commissioned by MOE, the oversea department of Ente Fiera Milano.

Pierpaolo was also closely involved with ASAL, the only field association. He was the chairman for 21 years from 1985 to 2009, increasing the membership from a just a few to almost 300 members and organised the merging of ASAL with Federlegno in 1998. The business continued to expand in the specialist area of exhibitions and also into the congress, commercial and openings events as well as continuing with the furniture design and rental business and upholstery.

In 1980, WAY became WAY Spa, with Pierpaolo acting as president, with the company structure based and fixed around the Vaj family which is in perpetuity.

In 1994, Massimiliano and Giorgia joined the company, the former by collaborating with Pierpaolo as managing director and the latter as the director of BoD and manager of the production and technical development department.

In 2002, the company needed to expand and started looking for new premises. In 2005, the site in Rho was opened, Extending over a site of 25,000 m2, with offices, production and warehouses on 15,000 m2, the new site is only 2 minutes from the new Milan-Rho exhibition centre and 3 kms from the site of the 2015 Milan EXPO.

Growth was also experienced in foreign markets. In May 2005, after only 4 months of development, the company, thanks to a new unified exhibition fitting-out project, carried out an event in New York with an area of 5,000 m2. In October of the same year, the trade fair, called I Saloni World Wide, moved to Moscow with an area of 10,000 m2. The same project grew to 20,000 m2 from 2008 to 2012.

The international expansion process goes on. In 2012 through a partnership network, WAY has been able to continue the business of fitting-out in the USA, The Russian Federation, The United Arab Emirates, China, India and South Korea.