Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A.

In 1995 when I first visited Generali it was Europe's fifth biggest insurer with revenues of $20 billion. It's now 2006 and Generali has moved up the size ladder to being Europe's third largest insurer (after Allianz and AXA) with $107 billion in revenues. My visit in 1995 was disappointing as I showed up at their head office in out-of-the-way Trieste only to be told they hadn't received my letter of introduction mailed more than a month earlier to then CEO John Franco Gutty. I was able to meet with someone but my tour of the building was limited to seeing a no longer used boardroom. You can read the 1995 story by scrolling down.

My 2006 visit turns out to be a waste of time. The head office is still the stately-looking four-story building (built 1885) near the waterfront with the worn-out looking Shell gas station still standing directly across the street. The front grand entrance is still closed with visitors having to use a very inelegant side entrance. There's no fancy reception area only a female security guard sitting behind a table that reminds me of a table used to play cards. I explain what I do and how I mailed a letter of introduction along with news clippings to co-CEO Giovanni Perissinotto a month ago. The guard calls up Perissinotto's secretary and then hands the phone over to me. Perissinotto's secretary says they never received the letter and nobody is available is meet with me. I explain showing up here 11 years ago and being told the same thing. My pleading to meet with someone falls on deaf ears as I'm given the brush-off by Perissinotto's secretary. Hanging up the phone I look over at the security guard, who seems surprised by the way I was dismissed. Oh well, life goes on. However, it makes me wonder if I'd ever entrust my insurance business to Generali seeing as how the company can't seem to handle simple mail correspondence.
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Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A. (1995 visit)
Trieste, population 200,000 lies in the far upper right corner of Italy. Actually if you look on a map you'll see it occupies a hangnail shaped piece on land. On the one side, the country of Slovenia butts up to it. On the other side, the Adriatic Sea and, on the end side there's Croatia. It's off the beaten path to get here but it's gotta be done because this is where Generali, the fifth largest insurer in Europe, calls home. Revenues in 1994 were US$20.7 billion, profit $398 million, assets US$63 billion.
Expecting a big, monster-size edifice in the middle of town I'm somewhat surprised to find the four-story, stately looking head office on the main drag along the waterfront located directly across the street from a worn-looking Shell gas station. Believe it or not, the building is a light pink and it's not that bad of a color. Embedded near the top of the stone block building are the company's name and the year 1831. Initially I enter via the grand front doors but I'm turned away by a guard and directed to a side entrance. Jeez, what's the use of having a front entrance if nobody gets to use it? Turns out Generali hadn't received my advance material and I get referred to Giuliano Pavesi from corporate communications.

Seven hundred employees work here and in several nearby buildings. The company was founded in 1831 and this structure was built in 1885. Due to having no advance warning of my visit I can't see CEO John Franco Gutty's office. I do get a look at the old boardroom, which features four chandeliers and marble busts of six former company presidents. With operations all over Europe and being somewhat isolated in their corner of Italy I was certain Generali would have a company plane. Nope. A small regional airport lies 20 miles away