The entrepreneurial adventure begins
I am Anna Nardi, CEO of Nardi SpA, with my sister and my parents. They asked me to tell a little about the history of our company.
The company was founded in 1990 from an entrepreneurial idea of my father and my mother. My father, when he was very young, went to work in Vicenza, in “Lima Trenini” and he worked in the molds workshop of “Lima Trenini” and there he got to know this world. In addition to the world of molds, I think he also learned what an industrial reality is and the importance of internationalization in the world.
After this experience in “Lima Trenini”, which lasted a few years, however, he had the need to get closer to home and so, very young, he opened a small mold shop near his home. From there began all his experience. After a few years he met another well-known local entrepreneur, they started working together and in 1990, for several reasons they decided to split the company and to have different experiences. So Dad began to think about entering this sector, which in the ‘90s was having great success. What characterizes the beginning of our story in those times is precisely the fact that father and mother got us involved in the choice that had been made, in undertaking this, this adventure together. Our answer was naturally positive and so it was not so much the dream of Dad, but it was the dream of the Nardi family all together.
After 28 years from this, from the beginning of this dream, we can say that we have reached a condition of which we are happy, we are a company that exports to 104 countries all over the world, with a turnover of about 50 millions euros, which we will achieve this year, 135 employees and an important growth prospect.
The money to start
The first sources of funding trace back to when dad opened the business close to our house and certainly came from the family savings, so he went to ask for some money to mom, dad and also to the sisters to be able to get started with this first activity. Surely they were little investments for the type of activity that was needed and also for those times and within a few years he managed to repay everyone and also to have interesting margins.
In 1990 instead, when we started with Nardi, surely we started from a different economical and financial situation, there already was some liquidity that could be used to get started and another part of financing was obtained with a request, with the access to bank credit. In those years the access to credit was completely different from how it is today, though. Very often the loans were granted by the bank manager, who was the one who had the power to decide on the disbursement of the loans and he based his assessments mainly on the financial statements and the company situation, but also on the character of the entrepreneur. So, I have to tell the truth, fortunately we have never had any difficulty in gaining access to credit.
A negative and a positive event
Certainly both positive and negative events occur in the life of an entrepreneur. The negative ones are the those who stick with you the most, because they are the ones that then maybe pull you down a little. In my case I have never felt demoralized, instead they have always been events that pushed me to do my best and to grow. I remember one in particular: when I went to work in the company, it was in the early 2000, and I went through all the phases in the company. So at the time I started from the purchasing office and quality control, insurance, I was the insurance / quality control and during an inspection of the certifying body, this engineer came to do this verification and at the end he was drafting the document, saying that everything was all right and I do not know where the conversation went, but at one point he said that he really did not understand why entrepreneurs put their stupid children in the purchasing office. It was quite obvious that at the time I was doing purchasing, because it had been the subject of verification and at first that sentence really hit me negatively. However, in the following days it was really a challenge for me, because I said: “oh well, I will show this gentleman who is the entrepreneur’s stupid child and I think that today I can prove that he was wrong”.
As for the positive event, I have to start from a negative event that happened around 2010, when the company was in a time of great change. Me and my sister took over the business management and in those years we needed to make many changes in the company, in the product and in the commercial process, because things weren’t going very well and we needed to modernize all the sectors. We were doing the annual meeting with the italian agents and one of these agents wasn’t taking these changes very well, so much that he really challenged us during this event, saying that we were doing everything wrong, that he couldn’t conceive these changes we were doing, that the company would definitely go in the wrong direction and invited us to review our position. In 2015, during the party that we organized for the twenty-fifth company anniversary, this very agent approached us, hugged us and said: congratulations you have exceeded your father.
Doing business in Italy
To explain why we must necessarily start from another concept, which is the concept of Made in Italy. Made in Italy means made in Italy, but in reality it is an international brand, it even seems to be the third best known brand in the world after Coca Cola and Visa and has a much deeper meaning, which is the meaning of “beautiful and well made”. “Beautiful and well made” means that in Italy we are able to produce things with a very strong aesthetic character and also very well done. This feature in Nardi is very heartfelt, we are keen to make beautiful products, design and even industrialized products, and products with the highest quality standards and industrialized while still respecting quality and excellence. We think that, in order to be able to transmit these elements to our product, it’s necessary to do things in Italy, to be able to communicate with suppliers and stakeholders who have the same values. And so doing business in Italy means being able to talk to people who have the same values and goals that we have.
The key traits of an entrepreneur
An entrepreneur cannot have specific characteristics, in the sense that every entrepreneur has his own characteristics and it is very nice to see how he manages to grow his company, reflecting his personal features. So we cannot talk about the features that an entrepreneur must have, but we can talk about the elements that must be respected in order for companies can be successful.
In my opinion the elements are fundamentally four: an entrepreneur must have a dream to realize, because this gives an identity to his company; he must have very precise and shareable goals to achieve, because if an entrepreneur doesn’t know what he wants and what to do to get it, it will be very difficult to get the right people to get there; he must have great respect for employees and collaborators, because only by having respect for these people you can motivate and involve them in the company activities; he must learn from past mistakes and therefore, as I previously said, do not get beat down, but take them as ideas to grow in the future.
The future for the new generations
Here I am touched on the living, because I have two children, one in adolescence, so that’s what I see that will be the worker, the entrepreneur of the future.
What I’m noticing in these years is that modernity, well-being and above all new technologies are making kids quite superficial. The information is easily searchable and usable on the web, everything is simple, everything is easy and even it is easily obtainable even by children. So the advice I can give to a boy/girl in this period, is to have a dream to achieve and have goals to achieve, just because they are the elements that give a purpose to their lives and also can give happiness at a time in which, if they can reach them. To study with great humility, to study a lot, but with a lot of humility, because in any case there is a big difference between knowing and knowing how to do. However, if you want to know how to do something, you have to start from knowledge and then study a lot. I advise everyone to experience abroad or at least get out of what is the family bubble, because it is really important to begin to approach the outside world without always having your back covered by those who can defend you behind. We must begin to be much more independent and have a more open view of the world.
And lastly, I suggest to give the right time for things to happen, because everything is not easily attainable, the things you want today do not happen tomorrow morning, you have to leave the right time for these things to happen.