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'The Reports of My Company's Demise Are Greatly Exaggerated'

August 2, 2000

Como, Italy - Giorgio Dalla Benetta, general director of E. Dalla Benetta - maker of sophisticated tapestries, embroideries and jacquard fabrics - wants to set the record straight. First, the ship isn't sinking, and second, he - and not a half-hearted business partner - is steering the ship.

Misperceptions about either stem from the fact that two years ago, the company was in a slide and had been operating in the red for nearly five years. His two business partners wanted him to sell, and Benetta said he felt obligated to appease them, even though he was convinced the holes in the hull could be patched.

While receiving unsatisfactory offers for the company, Benetta also received bucketloads of advice from friends and peers in the industry. ''They advised me it would be stupid to sell when there was still someone who wanted to work. They told me - and I felt this - even in a company in crisis, if there is one person who is keen to go on, the company will improve in one or two years,'' he said.

Courageously, Benetta followed their advice and bucked the grim outlook of both the company earnings records and his two business partners, who are no longer with the company. In two years, the company rebounded. With increased demand in the U.S. for Dalla Benetta tapestries last year and this year in Arabic centers, Benetta and his nine-member company expect the turnover to reach just below $1 million per year with no loss. Benetta runs the company alone now, but he said that he couldn't have made it back into the black without help. Textile manufacturers helped him by selling him quantities below their miniums. Secondly, when Benetta approached customers, asking them place discounted orders in advance, not only did they oblige, but they did so without demanding inordinate discounts.

''The customers did not take more than a five percent discount,'' Benetta said. ''They could've asked for 30 percent.''


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