Italy: The story of two sisters at Orsini & Damiani

"You cannot work in this sector if you are not in love with it, especially when you are a woman," explain Alessandra and Laura Damiani, the two owners of Orsini & Damiani.

Established in 1968 in San Benedetto del Tronto by partners Gino and Filippo, Orsini & Damiani now has its own 8000 sq m warehouse as well as three facilities for the collection, processing and packaging of fruit, offices and service areas and 10,000 m3 of refrigerated units.

The produce is cultivated on around 250 hectares generating around 9,500 tonnes of fennel (2,700 ton), cauliflowers (1,900 ton), celery (900 ton), red chicory (750 ton) and other 15 types of vegetables (2,700 ton in total). Fruit (130 ton) is only available in summer.

"It is unusual to find women entrepreneurs in this sector, as they generally are just the wife or daughter of the owner. We were lucky because we learned our job from our father, Filippo, so we already knew what to do when we were in charge. This does not mean things are easier, as we always need to be on top of our game, as there people waiting for us to do something wrong."

The Damiani sisters managed to combine tradition with new market needs and have even established their own company - "Kores". This word means girls, women and daughters in Greece and they chose it to underline their femininity, which must not be seen as an obstacle in a predominantly male environment, but rather as an added value. Kores is made up by men and women who manage produce processing and loading/unloading operations for Orsini & Damiani.

At the beginning of 2015, Orsini & Damiani also started handling some 'evolved' packed unwashed vegetables such as puntarelle, rocket, clean broccoli, broccoli flowers, mizuna, kale, cabbage hearts and turnip greens, which are sold mainly to Italian retailers and a few wholesale markets. 

In 2015, the company is expected to reach a turnover of €9 million. For the future, the sisters hope to gain more clients both at a national and international level.

"We are studying the new trends to understand them and be able to work better. Buyers are increasingly looking for high-quality genuine produce, so we need to take care of every aspect with the utmost care."

Orsini & Damiani managed to reinvent itself also thanks to the tenacity of the two sisters, who listened to the advice of those who preceded them and combined it with the sparkle of the young.

They do stress, though, that "in Italy, there is a lot of talk about of 'female entrepreneurs' and 'equal opportunities', but there is still a lot to be done. Everybody knows that women who occupy managerial positions have had to sacrifice a lot to get there. We thank our father because he taught us how to work hard, as nothing is free in this life."

The staff. Click to enlarge.

The two entrepreneurs feel team spirit and respect for the collaborators is also important, as the company could not survive otherwise. Every leaf, every fruit, is processed with passion and commitment.

"The most unpredictable aspect of our job is Nature. No matter how much we try to govern it, it can change things in an instant."

But, as the Chinese proverb goes, "when two sisters work together, mountains turn into gold."

Orsini Gino - Damiani Filippo Srl

Via 81a Strada, 12
63076 Monteprandone (AP) - Italy
Tel.: (+39) 0735 704051
Fax: (+39) 0735 704082

Author: Rossella Gigli

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