But reading the data from the AUB Observatory (AIDAF, UniCredit, Bocconi) promoted by AIDAF, UniCredit and the AIDAF – EY Chair of Family Business Strategy in memory of Alberto Falck – the strong need of the province of Varese – characterized, a a bit like the whole Italian territory, with a marked wealth of family businesses – it is also a forward-looking vision that ensures solid business continuity, beyond the generation of the founder and a governance that allows the constant growth of the company even beyond the borders of the territory

The 3,561 family businesses in Lombardy, an important part of which are located in the province of Varese, together generate a turnover of 319 billion euros and employ 1.2 million employees (57.8% of the total).

“The theme, however - explains Giovanna Gregori, managing director of AIDAF, the Italian Association of Family Businesses - is the personal data: more than 1 leader out of 4 (26.7%) is over 70 years old and 27% is between 60 and 70 years old. Only 16.8% of family businesses in Lombardy have a leader under the age of 50, a figure which has halved over the last 10 years, going from 28.2 in 2010 to 16.8% in 2020. As proof of this progressive ‘aging’ of the Observatory reveals that only 1 out of 3 has an ‘under 40′ director, while 2 out of 3 do not have one. The latter figure has worsened - comments Giovanna Gregori – going from around 55% in 2010 to 73.4% in 2020.

“Furthermore – details the AIDAF Managing Director – another number to be considered is that of the presence of women at the helm of local businesses, whose presence on the board of directors is still limited: they are absent in almost 50% of Lombard SMEs, with no no significant change in the last decade”.


Entrepreneurs, be salmons (and not farmed trout)”. Word of Mid Cap investor

The territory of the province of Varese is also decidedly interesting in terms of the potential attractiveness of private capital, a source of investment that is perhaps still viewed with too much fear by entrepreneurs “Partly because they feel satisfied with the size they have reached – explains Giovanna Voltolina mid cap investor – also partly because they fear the entry of an international investor who they fear might ‘snatch’ their control, not understanding instead that a good financial partner as well as capital can bring organizational know-how, governance and the ability to compete successfully on markets expand”.

The theme is therefore – as in a marriage, Voltolina exemplifies – the choice of the right partner while to the Varese entrepreneurs who aim for the solid, rich and transgenerational growth of their company, he gives advice in ‘four words’:

1. Growth: the number 1 goal of a company, whether small, medium or large, must always be growth. A growth built on sound foundations in terms of investment/turnover ratio and with a long-term plan (and not instead, as sometimes happens, with a 3 or 6 month vision)

2. Innovation: companies must be promoters of innovation projects internally The SME must itself be an incubator of ideas and projects which, within itself, can deal with daily operations and not apply them as theoretical models.

3. Margins: in order to remain competitive on the market over time, a company must express adequate margins; margins reflect in a very simple way if the business model works.

4. Salmon: differentiating yourself is not a sin, quite the contrary. The true nature of the entrepreneur is this, like a salmon, he swims against the tide, works and works in an original way and against habits, customs and schemes.

“So I think that in order to be attractive in the eyes of an investor who doesn’t just want to park his capital in a company and then reap its fruits (as long as there are) at the end of the year, – explains Giovanna Voltolina - but those of a mid-cap investor who intends as well as making money, supporting the company in its governance and organization, also towards international markets with the aim of a solid and marked growth, better to be a salmon, rather than a farmed trout, which gets fat ( as long as he can), following the trends instead of triggering them, in his pond, but still there he remains”.
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