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In Memory of Vincenzo Casillo

When my friends from Italmopa asked me to write something in memory of my father, I was at first reluctant. What could I, his son, say about him, if not just praise his humanity? My affection for him, as a father, might render anything I had to say monotonous, and perhaps devoid of objectivity. Was it not better to leave such a task to those who had known him in his other guises?

I decided, then, to consider him as a business man, and write about him as if he were a colleague who I had admired and who had taught me everything and guided me to where I am today. Such a reflection could also be useful for other business men.

It’s true that he was my colleague, my business partner from the moment I had the honour of entering the firm, that hot Summer of 1983. Still waiting to finish school, I was 17 and he was 44 and from that moment we worked together for 20 years.

We channeled our energies: his know-how and experience, my youthful enthusiasm; his patience, my exuberance; his silences, my shouts; his professional style, my forceful nature.

We worked together with reciprocal pleasure.

His capacity to give space to young people, giving them responsibilities even when there was a risk of disaster, allowing for mistakes without interfering or criticizing, permitted me, by brothers and sister, my cousins and countless other young colleagues, to grow and develop in the firm. I believe that he was one- of- a -kind in the context of the business sector generally and Italian family firms specifically, to believe in the ‘new generation’. And for me personally, and many other young people who grew up under him, this is something we would like to thank him for and to remember him for.

Another significant trait that he handed down to the next generation, regarding his business acumen, was his belief in the importance of innovation. This was a commitment that revealled itself from the very beginning, when as a young man just turned 20, he built one of the first reinforced concrete grain silos in the south of Italy, up until the end of his career, by which time all the plants in the Casillo Group were using innovative technological solutions.

My father also distinguished himself as a businessman by expressing respect and regard for his business rivals. This allowed the Casillo Group to move forward on its own strengths, without riding on the back of the misfortunes of others, working together with competitors by tightening alliances of a business and commercial nature.  My father was convinced of his policy of  harnessing energies, joining firms together by creating partnerships and agreements, and again, from this, much can be learnt.

Thanks to his foresight, my brothers and I have developed the capabilities necessary to work in a complex society with capital investments external to the family. This has led to a clear distinction between ownership and management and, as a result, an increasingly efficacious business format.

This tendency to join human resources, to set up firms, to increase volumes,  is today the leading management trend in other sectors of the economy, but should serve as a model for our own sector too which, particularly in this period, needs to concentrate its energies, to create stronger societies and to redefine profit margins that otherwise risk collapsing.

Finally, I would  like to praise the essential equilibrium of my father. He was always a man with his feet on the ground, he neither despaired in the difficult moments nor let his head be turned by success. His ability to assess people correctly and to interpret the historical and economic climate in the mid to long term, in other words, his foresight, allowed him to become a forerunner in the field.

I could go on and say much more, but I will stop here.

I hope I have captured something of this business man of few words, none of which were ever superfluous. He measured out his words with wisdom and they will remain in our hearts forever.

Francesco