Annalisa Milani FAMI SpA

Annalisa Milani, co-owner of FAMI SpA, underlines how is the contribution of all the collaborators when moments of crisis occurred. The company is a set of values to be shared at all levels.

The entrepreneurial adventure begins

I’m Annalisa Milani and I’ve been working in my family’s business almost my whole life. I deal with foreign trade, so this is my role in the company. FAMI was founded in 1929, founded by my grandfather, the grandfather on my father’s side who was then helped by his sons to build something that today has become significant at an international level. It must be noted that my grandfather was a very, very shy person, of few words, very strict, obviously related to what those times were. But he has always been a very stubborn person, very determined and it was that determination, that together with the help of his children, led him to be a successful entrepreneur.

The money to start

When my grandfather started his business adventure, there was absolutely no money, it was a period of extreme crisis. But my grandfather knew what he wanted to do. He had the skills and knowledge and was able to work the iron very well, because this originated, however, from an experience he had previously had, with a previous job. Therefore, he exploited his ability and his desire to make himself useful, initially for some families, but then also for companies, and turned it into what became his business. A very particular anecdote that has always been told to me, is that his customers didn’t pay him with money, but with goods, like a chicken, a piece of cheese or something else. The point is that there was almost no money at the time. So, there have been some significant difficulties when he started.

A negative and a positive event

Surely the two episodes are connected, in the sense that for me and not only for me, a negative episode was the global crisis that struck us in 2008 and that gave us, really brought an important stop, after years of positive trends.

FAMI is a company that produces industrial furniture, fittings for commercial vehicles, we have many activities and sell assets that are not of primary necessity, so this crisis has caused cuts to what is our main product. When this crisis arrived we obviously had to somehow protect ourselves. One thing I remember is that we also asked our employees to make sacrifices and to actively be part of this company, and one thing that amazed and impressed me and I remember with great pleasure is the fact that all our employees, on that occasion, and not only on that occasion, showed us that they feel the company a bit like theirs and so were very, very close to us.

As I previously said, this negative thought is, however, associated with a positive one because in that phase of crisis our company was facing a generational change, so the third generation, which is mine, was coming forward and with hesitation, with some fear, a little of inexperience in some fields, so we encountered a bit of difficulty.

But looking at what is the history of the company we really felt that we had to work harder, roll up our sleeves and carry on what the people two generations before us had created. It would have been too sad to see it just vanish because of a crisis, rather than because of some decisions that were taken and turned out to be wrong. So, we rolled up our sleeves and we believed in it, we really believed in it, because the passion, which was passed on over the years at first by my grandfather, then by my parents was so great and was our strength to move forward and to always believe.

Doing business in Italy

I am Italian, I have always been and I will always be. So I feel this my own, although it is clear that the entrepreneur doesn’t always have an easy life in Italy.

The key traits of an entrepreneur

There are two fundamental characteristics, which I believe an entrepreneur must have: one is the passion for what he does and the other is empathy.

I believe that without the passion for what you do and want to do, any idea is bound to die, even the best ones. If they are not, they are not nourished and cultivated. Passion is absolutely necessary, because being an entrepreneur today means succeeding, having the attitude to make considerable sacrifices. Therefore, the passion for the work is essential.

Empathy is another talent that I really like, because it’s not only being able to communicate verbally, but it is also being able to get in touch with the person in front of us, on a slightly more human level, a little more intimate one if we want, and I believe in this thing, I really do, because one thing that is fundamental to me is to always understand who is in front of me. For an entrepreneur this is definitely important.

If I should then add a third feature of modern entrepreneurs, I would say that the entrepreneur nowadays must also be very, very curious. We live in a very dynamic, fast world and curiosity is essential. But we must be curious not only of what happens outside the door, but also of what happens on the other side of the world, because nowadays what happens on the other side of the world influences us, in our daily life.

The future for the new generations

A message that I can give to young people, from the bottom of my heart, is that of not having, of never fearing, of never being afraid. Obviously, this thing is to be seen both from a working point of view and from a personal point of view. So, from a business point of view, don’t be afraid of traveling, to move and don’t be afraid of “no”s. Don’t be afraid to be contaminated, to have, to connect with people who have ideas different from yours, because it can still be an opportunity. Do not be afraid to express yourself, to show yourself as you really are. However, always be genuine, don’t be arrogant, because this is something that in the long run penalizes. So always have great serenity, confidence in yourself and therefore always believe, but always one step at a time.

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