We sit on the shoulders of the giants who came before us – a position that allows us to see further, thanks to the work of our predecessors to whom we should be grateful.
The timeless values of the Lavazza family have bridged the decades and have been the supporting structure across multiple generations in the family’s continued pursuit of excellence. The commitment to a strong work ethic, the willingness to make sacrifices and to look forward, even in the most difficult of times, has never wavered and these legacy values have been embraced throughout the family and the business for over 125 years.
Established in 1895, Lavazza is an Italian multi-brand group with a global reach and active in the coffee sector. It now operates in over 140 countries through its related companies and a wide network of distributors with 4,200 collaborators. The Lavazza family believes in strong, intergenerational values as strategic assets that bring success to the group and provide everyone involved in the business with a sense of personal success. All are united by the spirit of initiative, a shared approach to work and a love of the product that have all contributed to making Lavazza what it is today.
Strengthening the group for the future
Lavazza focuses on quality, research, sustainability and the important social and cultural connections that are created when people come together. Coffee culture is an important forerunner of today’s social networks and the continued pursuit of social well-being has been a recurring theme in the Lavazza family across the generations. Today, Lavazza family members are beginning to take a step back from operating roles to focus on the strategic role of setting the company’s future course.
This desire to reshape the roles of the family within the Lavazza Group began with the fourth generation in 2010. Until this time, management of the group had alternated between just two family members (the heads of the family), making the management process much simpler. With the addition of the fourth generation, there was a significant increase in the number of family members working for the group. The family recognized that this was creating both challenges and opportunities for the family and the business. There was a shared vision within the family that the composition of the group needed to change for the business to continue operating successfully in increasingly complex markets. There was cohesion around this vision. All agreed that the family’s primary role was to lead the way strategically while maintaining and protecting the group’s heritage and allowing the legacy to continue to grow and be passed on to future generations.
Sustaining the legacy continues to be the cornerstone of Lavazza Group and of the family. Corporate governance is the primary responsibility of an independent board of directors with varied backgrounds, skills and ages, who are key sources of support, along with family members who sit on the Board of Directors and the group’s management team. Members of the Lavazza family collaborate productively with the board as an overt expression of respect and as responsible owners who are operating in the best interests of the group’s stakeholders.
Through this professional collaboration, the core values of the business have been passed down through the family and have also been able to evolve, while never losing sight of the group’s founding principles.
An enduring family pact
‘Gratitude’, holding onto something more important than the interests of individuals, is one of the values that guides the group and is a key component of the Lavazza family pact. There are shared rules in the pact which cannot be compromised, including the delegation of operating authority to the group’s managers. The family board continues to reinforce the strength and cohesiveness of the company’s values by bringing forward ideas and proposals for discussion.
According to Mr. Giuseppe Lavazza, “The bricks and mortar of construction are in the hands of the group’s managers and employees. They are the architects and the builders. Knowing how to use the resources that are at their disposal comes from values-based knowledge, especially those resources that help to support the community.” These assets, including the Lavazza Museum, which opened in 2018, impart the magnitude of the group’s values by bringing together the group, the family and all of the group’s employees and collaborators.
Passing the baton
As the family and the business continue to evolve, the guidance for future generations is already being drawn up with the fifth generation in mind. These documents build on the work undertaken in the fourth generation. They highlight the ever-changing relationship between the family and the group, providing a more structured career path and allowing future family members to better understand both the reward and responsibility that comes from deciding to enter the business.
Mr. Lavazza likens the creation of a legacy to an artist who requires time to prepare before beginning to paint. For the group, this means that it is important to take the time to exchange professional ideas in a harmonious environment framed by reciprocal respect and patience.
As Mr. Lavazza says, “When we talk about looking to the future of Lavazza Group and staying true to our roots, we truly mean moving beyond conventional wisdom, simple perceptions and any notion that everything from the past is outdated and that anything new is not to be trusted.
“We have always seen business ethics as a baton to be passed from generation to generation, to be part of a story that is bigger than us. Each generation is called upon to contribute to the story and to make sure it continues to evolve. Ours is a story made up of people, places and projects that are focused on the future. Yesterday’s roots, today’s challenges and tomorrow’s horizon are equally fundamental to the way in which we choose to do business. What will not change are the timeless values that are the heart of our family and our business.”