PARMA, Italy—The Italian countryside sends shades of green to meet the bright blue skies. Passing through, perfectly symmetrical lines of crops fill the farms that serve as resident’s backyards. Italy is known for fresh ingredients that grace local markets and each dish. Parma Ham, one product grown in these rolling hills is produced by 156 firms in the region. Salumificio La Perla is one of these few businesses.
Brothers Carlo and Fabrizio Lanfranchi took over La Perla from their father 25 years ago and have been dedicated to the production of the “prosciutto di Parma” ever since. Their family owned business consists of the factory and a kitchen and dining space for guests. After a tour, guests are invited to sit and enjoy a meal consisting of prosciutto and a pasta dish. A bond and a sense of passion fills the building as members of the family scurry around. While one employee speaks of their product, they may stop to introduce you to their father, mother or distant relative as they pass by.
Considered the backbone of Italy, family owned businesses have persevered. More than 70% of Italian employees work for private companies with less than 100 employees, over 50% with fewer than 20, according to the Bank of Italy Statistics. Some of the better-known family companies are FIAT, owned by the Agnellis, Pirelli, an auto parts store, and De Benedetti, Italian industrialists, engineers and publishers. The size of these companies compliments the Italian stereotype that family is everything. When times get tough, most Italians look towards their family to aid them in their financial struggles. Family members are willing to do what ever it takes to ensure their family member can stay on his or her feet. Lately with the advancements of Internet, businesses find it hard to afford setting up websites and keeping up with the digital world, according to The Economist website. Many families are looking towards outside parties to invest in them and, unfortunately, losing part of their ownership. This is causing a slow shift away from what were traditionally all-family operations.