While waiting for the next IFERA Conference in Bergamo, we thought to provide a taste of the vibrant family business scene of the city. The first entrepreneur we would like to present is the Executive Vice-president of NTS S.p.A., a family business dedicated to the construction of moulds and the moulding of items made of plastic material, both thermosetting and thermoplastic.
Ladies and Gentlemen meet Marco Manzoni.

What NTS does and what’s your role?
Plastic is a gigantic industry that goes from the BIC pen to plastic components combined with carbon. NTS S.p.A. positions itself in the production of plastic materials with resin and reinforcing fibers, such as glass-fiber and carbon-fiber. This product is called “recomposite” and is sold to industrial solutions, as electro mechanic, automotive and electric engines, in a highly technical environment and mainly B2B.
I am part of the third generation of the business, together with my brother and my cousin. Currently I am managing the company together with my aunt, but the next generation is almost ready to get involved.

When you think about your business, can you talk about a long-term perspective?
Absolutely yes, as we are strongly involved in the succession planning, trying to manage it in advance and to maintain rationality with a special focus in keeping divided the two systems, the family and the business, as they have different characteristics and objectives. Indeed, we’ve coined a new mantra related to this process that we even spread throughout social media: “Company is a public good with private capital”. Our aim is to underline the conception of the company as a superior good, and business continuity as a crucial objective to pursue. If a family member will not be able to manage the company in the future, we will hire an external manager, as the company health is everyone’s main goal.

Family firms differentiate themselves from non-family firms as they value not only financial but also socio-emotional wealth? Do you agree?
Socio-emotional wealth is taken into consideration every day, always keeping in mind that the long-term objective is the company health. At the moment, we don’t have any “family agreement” on succession, since the company future governance is well oriented on my person, and all the board members agree on that.

A couple of funny questions now! Casoncelli* o Scarpinocc*?
I prefer Casoncelli as the taste of Casoncelli is not comparable to Scarpinocc. On one side, Scarpinocc contain very noble ingredients, to be considered environmentally friendly, as they all are discarded ingredients. On the other side, Casoncelli taste much better!

Polenta Classica o Taragna***?
Polenta Taragna is my favorite, I can easily eat it almost every day.

Family firms are considered more risk-adverse if compared to non-family firms? In respect to your experience, do you agree with this statement?
I agree, but only partially. Family firms handle risks every single day, but I agree on the general principle that they carefully evaluate each single expense, becoming somehow more risk adverse. Nevertheless, I would see it in a different perspective, as family firms decide to make an investment only after a deep analysis of all the connected aspects, and carefully considering the return on investments. This concept appears to me as something virtuous if compared to some extreme decisions taken from non-family firms in order to maximize their profits, not considering the long-term perspective.

Connected to the above question, family firms are also considered owners of a higher innovation potential but with less willingness to innovate. Do you agree?
The two questions are tightly interconnected. Proportionally, the innovation process in family firms is slower and less intense than in non-family firms, due to the risk ponderation. Moreover, before investing in innovation family firms think twice. Anyway, I still look at it in a positive way, less rashness innovation but always connected to the long-term orientation.
Personally, we adopt incremental innovation trying to guarantee continuity, a step by step process that allow us to reach unexpected peaks.

Berghem de hura (upper part of the city) o Berghem de hota (lower part of the city)?
Berghem de hura, no discussions. Even if the lower part of Bergamo is getting better and better, in the upper part we can find the historical roots as the city wall, part of the UNESCO heritage.

Val Brembana o Val Seriana****?
Val Seriana for sure.

A question that today you still haven’t answered… Something you would like to ask to family business scholars.
It would be interesting to understand the emotional aspects of family dynamics, as the concept of “envy”. A deeper knowledge on the emotional dynamics would increase our awareness on the topic and could help preventing problems during the succession process.
For example, all the partners of NTS S.p.A. are engaged in the ongoing project of stating, sharing and shaping a model based on our organizational values, in order to understand in advance potential future dynamics connected with intra-generational succession.

I believe this is very forward-looking and should be a diffused practice for all family firms.
Thank you for the very interesting insights gained through this interview, I hope to continue this conversation during the next IFERA Conference in June.
Sure, in front of a Casoncelli dish!

*Casoncelli: Stuffed pasta with mincemeat, parmesan, amaretti and other secret ingredients served with butter and crispy pancetta
**Scarpinocc: Stuffed pasta with breadcrumbs, cheese and other secret ingredients served with butter and parmesan
***Polenta: corn-based porridge served hot. Polenta Taragna is a cheesy version of Polenta Classica
****Val Brembana and Seriana: The 2 main valleys, one is shaped by the Brembo river the other by the Serio river (there is some competition going on here…)