Entrepreneur of the month: Giovanni Calabria, CMC Industries

A former canoe and catamaran national champion, Giovanni Calabria is no new to winning. In a little more than a decade of hard and inspired work he and his team have grown the family agricultural machinery business from a small local player to the global market leader of an expanding niche.
A text-book example of what Prof. T. Levitt (Harvard Business School) called “Hidden Champions”, he is driven by a relentlessly burning “inner flame” of passion.

At 40 years of age, Giovanni has already spent more than half of his life in the family enterprise, where he started before he was 20 as a part-time apprentice, soon enough taking up – upon his father’s untimely demise – full time commercial responsibility and finally driving the impressively steep international growth that in less than 10 years has gained them global market leadership.

CMC INDUSTRES (originally called CIEMMECALABRIA) was founded in 1972 by Giovanni’s father, Franco Calabria, a forerunner with sharp intuition and great mechanical skills, who saw the opportunity to bring automation to the cumbersome step between poultry farms and processing plants. Poultry farming was booming in the Northern Italian province of Brescia, where the Calabria’s lived surrounded by the natural beauty of the Iseo and Garda lakes, the agricultural traditions of the wine-famous Franciacorta area and the industriousness of what still is one of the lowest unemployment provinces in Italy. Yet, loading chicken onto trucks to transport to plants was still an inefficient semi-manual operation, stressful for both men and animals. Franco imagined and developed a gentle catching machine that would make the collection painlessly effective and reliable. Thus the enterprise thrived through the 80ies and the 90ies selling highly customized products to the local farms, with only sporadic attempts to reach neighboring European markets.

It took stamina and persistence – qualities where Giovanni and his team excel – to evolve this once local business to a global success. Supported by his brother Paolo – who has inherited the technical ingenuity of their father and looks after Innovation and Production – Giovanni poured his mind, heart and soul to building a worldwide portfolio of clients and developing the Sales & Service organization to serve them. He has done this with the passion, the focused dedication and the persistence that everyone who knows Giovanni has learnt to recognize as his key strengths and the secret of how he succeeds.

The turn of the millennium saw a more extensive and modular portfolio and an exponential growth of international sales in all continents, with machines that simplify poultry operations all over Europe as well as in Russia, Australia, the Middle East and the Americas an won Animal Welfare Certificates and Safety Awards.

To those who know Giovanni, this exponential success does not come as a surprise. He applies the same passion, focus, persistence and drive to everything he sets to do. Like sport, where his constant dedication led him to attain success in national and international competitions and until he decided that his primary occupation his earlier years first in canoeing and then in sailing; to this day he tries to catch the wind and sail out on the Iseo lake at least a couple of hours every time he can.

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