The PrimiDieci Society takes huge pride in having awarded Giovanni Colavita. Author Riccardo Lo Faro reveals his life story, his outstanding career achievements, and extraordinary family pride in the "PrimiDieci" book, where Giovanni speaks of the beginning of his career and his commitment to the development of what started as a small company he soon secured to today's international success.
(above) Giovanni with Ornella Barra and Stefano Pessina of Walgreens Boots Alliance, at PrimiDieci-UK Awards Gala, BAFTA, London.
Here's Giovanni account straight from his own words, a story that can undoubtedly be a source of inspiration and motivation...
“My interest in the family business came to me through my father, Leonardo. I owe him a huge debt because he involved me in the firm from my earliest years. It was the beginning of the 80s, I was only four years old. The packaging side of our Italian business was just taking off. I remember my mother, preparing at home the neckbands for the bottles and, for me, helping her was a game. I folded them, and she cut the threads to apply them to the bottles.
"The first bottle, which we still use today in the oil and vinegar set, was packed that way, by hand. It was stopped up with a cork using an ordinary wine tapper, then sealed with wax. A neckband was fastened to each bottle which was then placed in a box, which was also hand-made. A family business from A to Z. I was lucky enough to live through the various stages of the firm’s growth into the large-scale business it is today. I am grateful to my father for having nurtured in me a genuine love for the work and for our business. Although he used to tell me how delighted he was to see me working in the business, he would never have allowed me to do so if he had felt that I did so because it was the easiest option, the line of least resistance. He often told me that, in this case it would have been the wrong decision, not only ruining my own life, but also for the firm, as I would become a very poor manager. My father’s enlightened view on this was terribly important for me. I never felt that I had to go into the firm because it was expected of me.
“I must admit that my family has always taken good care of its staff. In the 90s, for business reasons, we needed to expand and we decided to move to Pomezia because the opportunity arose to take over from Unilever the biggest oil packing plant in Italy, with a productive capacity of 35,000,000 litres per year. We broke this news personally to our staff but, even although we assured them that they would keep their jobs at the new site and that we would cover the cost of the move, including costs for weekend visits to their families, many refused to move. “Everything we have is here”, they told us. Our staff had profound links to their land and many of them had worked for us for twenty or thirty years. We could have closed down the local firm and fired them all, leaving them unemployed, but that was the last thing in the world we wanted to do. So we decided to maintain some form of presence at Sant’Elia a Pianisi, and, even today, I still think that this was the right thing to do. From that time, even though we knew it was inefficient, we decided to maintain two firms. The main production was transferred to Pomezia, whilst Sant’Elia kept the part involving vegetables conserves in oil and other special products which called for more manual processing.
"A choice made not on economic terms but based on our desire not to forget our roots and the families that have worked with my grandfather from the very beginning. A desire to give something back, to be governed by the heart and not solely by business interests. And so, for as long as these people are still there, we will keep the plant open and only later on will we make any change, for reasons of business."
PrimiDieci Society, The World Network of Italian Excellence, presents its outstanding awardees, influential key authorities and unintentional role models across fields from culture to science, design to business, public service to the media, the arts, entertainment and more, whose exemplary careers inspire the young generations to excellence. Follow us! learn more.