De'Longhi S.p.A.

What does De'Longhi with $1.7 billion in revenues and 7,100 employees do? Manufactures a slew of household appliances including microwaves, portable heaters, air conditioners, irons, espresso machines, blenders. I'm a few miles from Treviso's city center (population 100,000) and the rain is coming down pretty hard as I turn onto a side street. Being so close to downtown I'm not sure if I'm going to find the head office for De'Longhi next to a factory or in a stand-alone building. My question is quickly answered as I come upon a large factory complex. I know it's the right place thanks to a large street level sign emblazoned with the De'Longhi name. Thankfully there's a large overhang at the guard booth so I can dismount and check in with the guard without getting drenched.

The guard hands me the phone with Valentina Zanetti, CEO Fabio De'Longhi's secretary, on the other end. I explain sending a letter of introduction along with several news clippings a month earlier to CEO De'Longhi. The helpful Zanetti says they never received the letter but, it's not a problem as she'll find someone to meet with me. The guard, who speaks little English, points to a nearby four-story building and says to go to the first entrance. The rain has subsided to a drizzle as I make a dash for the building. (*Note--due to the rain the picture that accompanies this story is a side shot of the head office). There's nobody inside the first entrance so I continue to the other building entrance. Three women are busy and it doesn't look like they're set-up to receive visitors. I stand around for a good 10 minutes before one of the women receives a phone call and then comes over and points me back to the other entrance. CEO De'Longhi's secretary is waiting by the door and I figure out what happened-- this entrance is part of a brand new addition of the building with the other being the old main entrance.

Roberto Ceschin, Group Human Resources and Organization Director, ends up being the one answering my questions. Including the factory and head office, a total of 900 people work here. Employee parking is free and plentiful, smoking isn't allowed in offices, there're no onsite recreational facilities and, there's no formal dress code. Management and workers eat together in the partially subsidized cafeteria. How's the food? Ceschin says its "good". The nearest freeway lies about a mile away with the nearest airport (Venice) 25 miles. Any unusual employee perks? Employees enjoy special prices on company products-10 to 20 percent off.

While Ceschin and I were sitting in a meeting room going through the questions there's a knock on the door and CEO De'Longhi pops in. He had seen my letter of introduction and wanted to meet me. During the conversation I ask if the company does business in the United States and De'Longhi answers, "yes" and goes on to ask if I'm familiar with Starbucks. "Of course", I answer. Well, CEO De'Longhi says Starbucks has De'Longhi espresso machines in their stores. Wow, though I'm not a coffee drinker that has to be quite an endorsement for De'Longhi products. I tell CEO De'Longhi that I visited the Seattle headquarters of Starbucks way back in 1994 when they had revenues of $154 million and only 200 retail outlets. Now, revenues total almost $7 billion and the number of Starbucks outlets number 10,000. (Click to read Starbucks visit).

CEO De'Longhi occupies a middle office on the top floor. There's a family picture on his desk but, the walls are bare and that probably has more to do with the fact he hasn't finished moving into the new office judging from the stacked boxes on the floor. What's the view when he looks out the window? The factory next door.

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