“Diemme? For me it’s like a person”. The opinion and dreams of the company’s President Giannandrea Dubbini.
Giannandrea, would you define yourself as a manager or an entrepreneur? Pragmatic or idealist?
Entrepreneur. It is a vocation that I have always felt within me, ever since I played with my brothers among the sacks of coffee, I helped the workers unload them and prepare packs in the warehouse.
Of course I consider myself to be a pragmatic and rational person with experience in the field, but with varied ambitions, among which, a chain of coffee shops, where with expertise, coffee is brought back to centre stage. The dream is to see Diemme increasingly present in different cities, but not at any cost. There are some fundamentals that cannot be compromised: the product, the image and a unique style that has distinguished us for almost 100 years.
Namely, which style?
First of all, humility. We try and listen to those on the outside, to customers, to those who live coffee and transform it day by day. And specialisation: do fewer things better, studying and researching both the right products and the right way of communicating them. Therefore training. I am always saying it, to customers but, especially to myself, that the baggage of knowledge acquired through training has an enormous value that we carry within us always. This value is also economic, because, in time, the market will acknowledge it. Today there competition is very strong, and the wave of large structured chains will reach Italy too: so you cannot afford to improvise any longer, unless you want to be washed away.
You represent the third generation Dubbini family members. What personal imprint have you left on the company?
Undoubtedly, innovation, the drive to explore new entrepreneurial approaches that are however, linked to our origins as roasters. The opening and direct management of cafés allows us to get to know our customer, the end consumer and to improve our roasting business. Then full transparency, both in the relationship with our customer-partners and in the product. This can be seen in our labelling where we take great care to write everything: coffee origin, processing methods, percentages… In short, there are no secrets: for the last 90 years we have opened the production and other areas of the headquarters to everyone: customers, friends, coffee-lovers, and why not, to our competitors! That was a great day!
You have just celebrated 20 years as president…
Yes, I have been at the helm of the company since 1997. At the time I was a kid, a university student. Our father had already passed away some time before, the company was held together by a director and was going through a difficult period. I felt strongly drawn towards it, in the end it was my natural vocation because I have always felt a deep bond with the company and coffee, ever since I was a boy… Thus, I began to experience it, spending most of my time there… And, thanks to the support from my siblings, at 26 I became the President and CEO of the company. With great humility and sacrifice we got it back on track. For this reason, I always say that Diemme is strong, regardless of who is guiding it, and that it has great potential: it has always resisted, even through the most difficult times
And it grew during the economic crisis…
Yes, we grew in small steps, in a rational and controlled manner thanks to all components of the company. When things go wrong, certainty and safe landings are needed. This is what Diemme has done, purchasing from reliable suppliers with high quality standards, in the same way that bars, restaurants, pastry shops and even consumers do when looking for a reliable company. In 2009 we inaugurated the Diemme Centre, which also houses the new roasting plant. This investment probably gave us the significant extra drive for growth, together with a reliable, competent and motivated workforce.
What does it actually mean to be at the helm of Diemme today?
First and foremost, to experience the company. I spend many hours talking to the management; I like to meet customers, shake their hands, dedicate time to their projects: many of them call me for advice about an investment, a location or a new initiative to develop. This is how solid relationships between partners are built and reciprocal knowledge is shared. I then try to be present, to be informed on everything that is going on each day. I like to delegate to capable people… If I care about details and it is because I care about this company. Although it may seem a bit strange, to me it is like a person, and like someone you truly love, you respect, treasure, and care for it so that it grows healthy and strong… This is how I live the company. I do it with pride and satisfaction.
Is there something or someone that influenced you professionally?
Let’s say that I haven’t had a direct guide and a handover period, no one told me how to manage a business, and so, it took me quite a while to learn, even through my mistakes. In business circles, the person that supported me most and taught me the job was the sales manager for the company: a great character of the kind that no longer exists, Giampaolo Finardi, now in retirement for many years but to whom we are all still very attached.
At Diemme there has always been a continuity of values, transmitted from one generation to the next: the desire to do things well, with quality, to create a good product and, why not, one that is attractive, working with dedication and keeping up with the times. This is the legacy that I carry within me.
Do you have a phrase or quote that inspires you?
A phrase that often comes to my mind is: «Let’s not pretend that things will change if we keep doing the same things», by Albert Einstein. At times I manage to make it mine, but at others, it is like a persecution, because even within the company you can meet a thousand obstacles…There are dynamics, structures and balances to respect. Change is always difficult to go through, for those who implement it and for those who undergo it. Hence, this phrase pushes me evermore to try and go beyond the usual procedures, beyond the opposition.
Are there any changes on the horizon for Diemme?
We are on the brink of implementing an innovative project of training and dissemination of the coffee culture, opening us up still further to professionals and all coffee-lovers.