19 May 2024, 15:10
By Furniture News May 19, 2016

Pasquale Natuzzi

Pasquale Natuzzi is the chairman and CEO of Natuzzi, Italy’s largest furniture house, and the player with the greatest global reach in the upholstery sector, offering a broad collection of sofas, armchairs and home accessories. Pasquale is one of the world's most iconic and renowned Italian entrepreneurs.

How did you enter the trade?
My father was a skilled cabinetmaker, my mother ran her own shop – it was in my DNA. After a few years with my father, I started working as a young apprentice in an upholsterer’s workshop. Seeing this craftsman at work – his dexterity, his gestures – made me fall in love with what would become the job of my life.

Who was your inspiration?
My father passed me on his passion for handicraft – the pleasure of creating and building beautiful things. My mother gave me the basic rules of business – respect for the customer, prompt delivery, quality of service. Seeing them always working had a great influence on me as I grew up. With this sense of responsibility, and with the example of parents like mine, in 1959 I opened my own business too – Natuzzi was born.

What was your career high point?
In 1993, Natuzzi was listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). It was an extremely important event for the Natuzzi Group as a whole – after years of hard work, commitment and tenacity, this important step provided the definitive confirmation of our worldwide success.

... and the low point?
In 1973, a fire burned down the production plant in Matera. I lost everything, including documents attesting the company’s credits. I had only debts. We had to start from scratch.

... and the turning point?
In 1980, when Macy’s in the US displayed a Natuzzi sofa for the first time. We had unbelievable growth and built incredible long-lasting relationships with consumers. According to some independent research, Natuzzi is the most recognised furniture brand in the world among consumers of luxury goods today.

Describe a typical working day …
I travel around the world for six months per year to show my collections. The trips are also an inspirational source of ideas that I share when I come back home to Apulia. I never work less than 12 to 14 hours per day, and the thing that gives me strength is coming home, knowing that there is my family waiting for me. The company is everything to me. It’s an overwhelming passion – a moral value that I share with those who work with me.

If you had to start over, you’d probably pursue which career?
No question about it. If I had started over, I would have done the same again – I love my job! I remember the cover of our first annual report in 1993, after our quotation on NYSE: “Loving our work has made us the leading craftsmen in the world.” It is true. This work is a mission, to create value with integrity for our customers, employees, and shareholders.

What date on the business calendar do you most look forward to?
I look forward to all the fairs we take part in around the world. It is always exciting to see our new products, which are the results of many months – and sometimes many years – of work being presented to our customers and witness their reactions first hand.

What is the most important issue affecting your business right now?
Here, in the district of upholstered furniture of Puglia and Basilicata – in the fashion district of Prato, in Tuscany, too – the phenomenon of undeclared work is sadly present.

For a long time, many companies of the sector have completely outsourced their production – by laying off workers, permanently or temporarily – thus getting prices that are by far lower than a standard industrial cost.

It might appear a legal business model, but it is really based on illegality. To offer products at such low prices, in fact, the contractors almost always work illegally, both in terms of tax and security.

What company do you most look up to?
Moncler for the mood of brand, Toyota for the work organisation and innovation of industrial process.

What would you most like to change about yourself?
Sometimes I would like to be a little bit less tolerant.

What do you enjoy most about working in the trade?
Since the beginning of my career, there has been a permanent feature at the heart of my actions – passion. I’ve dedicated my life to this job and I always stay focused on customers’ needs, following a vision that blends design and function to create harmonious living. Building a brand is not easy. You must have a soul and keep consistent with the brand identity and personality in each single detail.

In our style centre located in Apulia, we develop new concepts and home environments. We stretch our effort from product design to retail formats, communication, packaging and after-sales service. The style centre is a lab where we develop projects, not just products.

Leave us with an industry anecdote please!
When I was 18 I got involved with a girl, going against my father and my family’s opinion. I left my family’s house and moved to Milan, looking for a job. An artisan wanted to offer me work, but only after finding out what I was able to do and how much I wanted to earn. I answered: “Put me on trial, then you’ll decide my salary.”

Three months after, this man began to dream of a bigger company where I would be his business partner. I didn’t accept because my mother implored me to come back home. I mention this episode in order to encourage new generations to put themselves to test before demanding something.
 

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