As everyone is well aware, 2020 has been a trial for new business owners and long-standing CEO’s alike. Forced shutdowns and economic disaster have impacted existing business and become a brick wall for potential startups. Amid the movement and chaos of COVID-19, have emerged the CEO’s who were able to keep stillness inside of them and transfer that positive energy to their endeavors. Meet Bruno Gasperini of Casale Vallechiesa Winery in Italy and Founder of Gasperini Organization Ltd in Ireland. I had the opportunity to speak with Bruno about his success and overcoming the adversity that many people faced this year.
Hello Bruno, welcome to Flackee Magazine. It’s a pleasure to have you with us today. Please tell us a little bit about your background as well as Casale Vallechiesa Winery and the services you provide?
Thanks, the pleasure is mine. I have always been passionate about becoming an entrepreneur since I was a child when I was producing and selling music albums to my school friends. My family has been doing business in the wine sector since 1880, and having reached today is a great achievement. For me, being an entrepreneur is a bit like being a modern warrior-hero, because especially in Italy you have to have a lot of guts and motivation to do business because of the bureaucracy that absolutely does not encourage entrepreneurs, on the contrary it destroys them. I started working in the family business very early, first in production and then immediately moved to the commercial function. It was one of the fundamental experiences for my personal and professional growth because it allowed me to fully understand our market, negotiate with people, the customer needs, emerging trends and the strengths and weaknesses of our company to work on. Today I find myself at the helm of the company which is located in Frascati, in the heart of the Castelli Romani, near Rome, which has become a consolidated reality and recognized as excellence at national and international level, having also received various awards and recognitions and exporting in more than 12 countries in the world.
Being a winery that has been carrying on a family tradition for over a century, what makes Casale Vallechiesa stand out from other wineries in your opinion?
Exactly as I said, our company has existed since 1880, and what in my opinion has allowed the company to become the reality that it is today was certainly the ability to evolve, anticipate times, and always be receptive to market changes and innovations. In fact, we invest heavily in research and development, clearly giving fundamental importance to the quality of products and production processes. For example, we were among the first in our area to have implemented a proprietary e-commerce site many years ago when everyone was still skeptical. We have also always given importance to the marketing and communication of products trying to convey our core values, in fact the elegant design and packaging of our products confirms this. We have won numerous national and international awards, starting with Gambero Rosso, Decanter, Wine Hunter, 5-star Wines of Vinitaly, IWSC, Bibenda and many others.
In addition to your business in the winery sector, you also head up Gasperini Organization Ltd, an international business consulting company specializing in investments, retail and wholesale trading. Can you tell us about this company?
Gasperini Organization Ltd has consolidated our role on the international market. With this company, of which I am the founder and owner, we mainly deal with consulting and business support for marketing and business internationalization, retail and wholesale trade and distribution of multiple products in addition to wine, and diversified investments across multiple sectors. We have decided to stabilize in Ireland as it is a business-friendly environment, very smart and dynamic from this point of view and clearly having several commercial relationships in the area.
An entrepreneur of your status has inevitably had to deal with adversity on your journey to where you currently are. Can you share a story of adversity and tell our readers how you overcame it?
In my family we have always fought for our dreams and our goals, since 1880 when the father of my great grandfather left the Marche, a region of Italy, to come to Rome to seek fortune bringing with him only the wealth of experience he had in the wine production and marketing sector. We have always faced challenges, one of my biggest challenges before COVID-19 was certainly the renewal of the business model and packaging, brand identity, brand positioning and commercial strategies. It was a so-called bet that proved to be successful because it allowed us to grow and expand, but I don’t deny that at the beginning it aroused many concerns due to the uncertainty and the investment that this brought. It was a bit like changing skin and we didn’t know if customers, consumers, partners would take it well and would recognize us having always been used to another image. Not to mention operational problems due to the format of the labels and bottles. Fortunately, our technicians were able to do a masterful job in adapting the bottling machinery and reducing the margin of error to practically zero. The project lasted more than a year and a half but I am really satisfied with the result, so are our customers.
The entire world has been dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. Meanwhile your businesses are thriving. Can you share what you’ve implemented to stay ahead of the changing times?
This has been a truly terrible year. A challenge never seen before. Our sector has been strongly affected because the entire catering, tourism and hospitality sector has been blocked with the lockdown and with anti-pandemic regulations. We have worked hard in this period to recover what was lost, cash flow and cost management was fundamental. We also had to change strategies and commercial channels abruptly in 6 months, which you can imagine how difficult it was, but we did well. Fortunately, the demand from the international market, although slowly, continued to exist and the fact of not being able to attend trade shows but being able to contact only online has accelerated the customer acquisition process so much that we were able to acquire new partners in the United States and Asia. In addition, we have managed to make important agreements with major players in the Italian retail sector and we have further implemented our online shop which has grown by 3 figures. Retail sales continue to be constant and therefore the mix of all these elements has practically allowed us to close the current year with an extraordinary increase in EBITDA of + 60%.
What is on the horizon for Bruno Gasperini?
From my forecasts, I believe the recovery will take place around March, but who can say for sure? In the hope that the vaccine will bring concrete positive results, we continue to move forward with determination and will. Meanwhile, many projects are in the pipeline and will include both the wine sector and other sectors such as Real Estate and well-being, at the beginning of 2021 we will launch the first but I cannot reveal anything yet. I can only tell you to continue to follow me to find out the next news that they will be really explosive.
There’s an old saying, “You have to go through your go though, to get to your get to.” Many of our readers are going through something hard, to get somewhere they’d like to be. What can you share with our readers that may resonate with their struggles in these uncertain times and offer hope of a brighter future?
Never give up! Use COVID-19 and the Anger of this moment as fuel to do more. Keep fighting and working hard, in these uncertain moments it is essential to sow and invest to reap the rewards when the right time comes. Be confident in yourself, prepare, develop, invest the time you now have to find new ways, new systems and new solutions and I am sure you will thrive; indeed, we will thrive!