Daring, determined and down to earth. More than 30 years ago, Piere Paolo and his brother Andrea founded Hermanos Meneghello, a company that began distributing food for the hotel industry on a small-scale, and which today is the main supplier of Italian and Asian products on the island. They cannot remember a time in their lives that they haven’t spent together. And that is precisely the secret of Meneghello’s success: the balanced pairing of these two brothers from Verona (Italy).
How did Hermanos Meneghello get started?
We started at the end of the 80s. We were running two restaurants in Ibiza and, by chance, we started producing fifth-range foods, such as frozen pizzas, for other restaurants. And we got to a point where we had to ask ourselves whether we wanted to dedicate ourselves to producing food or to hospitality. And we found that we really enjoyed being suppliers. That evolution lasted about 15 years, and during that time we were always trying to improve. For this reason, we began importing food from Italy too, 16 years ago. Then we started importing Mexican and Asian products. We expanded our catalogue, very carefully selecting each product. We were very clear about the quality we were looking for. We had experience in the hospitality sector, I had worked as a chef for 14 years, and that gave me the knowledge I needed to choose the right products and advise our customers.
How would you describe Hermanos Meneghello?
We are very daring. We have risked a lot… we firmly believe that whoever does not risk does not win. We can work hard, and we are always looking for ways to improve. We have managed to make our company operate as a fine-tuned machine. And our team has a lot of synergy, which is what is most important for us.
Our team has a lot of synergy, which is what is most important for us
Tell us about what is happening at present in Hermanos Meneghello…
We have fulfilled a good part of what we wanted to do, but we are continuously evolving and always in transformation. We are trying to achieve an increasingly standardised work system. Selling a little more or a little less is not so important to us. What we care about is quality.
And what can you tell us about the future?
We don’t actually ever look to the future. We started something without knowing where it would take us. We put a lot of energy and strength into the project, we make sure of that, and sometimes you end up having more adventures than you expect. We cannot ask the future to bring us better things, because we have already had too much. But I think that what you have in life is the result of the energy you put into what you do. People who speculate about what they want can end up disappointed. We are going to continue giving it our all, as we have been doing until now, and the rest is to be seen.
The company has evolved to the point where you now also distribute fish…
‘Meneghello Fish’ has been very satisfying for us. We started selling fish five years ago. We have a significant partner in this area: Videla. Meneghello – Videla is the best combination possible for the distribution of fish. We started very slowly, because we couldn’t allow ourselves to bite off more than we could chew. And today, our facilities for fish are impressive: we have set up a fleet and personnel exclusively for this line of business, and we offer spectacular quality and service.
You always have to have a plan B to ensure you can resolve a customer’s issues
Your clients always mention your service and commitment…
I think you always have to clearly know what your job is. Hermanos Meneghello is a company that provides services. I know that when a customer calls me, it is because they have an issue they need help with and it is my duty to always help them resolve it. That is what we are for. There are people who can finish their day-job and go home and sleep soundly. But we can’t do that. If a customer calls us, we will be there for them, no matter what time they call. This year we are going to have someone on duty at weekends, because we don’t like saying ‘no’ to our customers. The companies that choose us for their supplies have us as a partner. And we feel part of their team. You always have to have a plan B to ensure you can resolve a customer’s issues, because in hospitality, anything can happen. And this is almost a motto at Meneghello. Any means justifies the end resolution of a client’s issue.
How do you and Andrea share the work? What does each brother focus on?
I don’t think there has ever been a period in our lives that we have not spent together. We are only one year apart in age, so we’ve gone to school together, gone out together, worked together, travelled around the world together and now we run the company together… Our relationship is not very normal. We sometimes fight, but it never lasts longer than 10 minutes. We could say that I am more ‘the visible face’ of Meneghello: the one who sells and talks to the chefs… My brother’s role is more mixed: he is more in control of the company, he looks for suppliers, makes purchases, negotiates… Our roles are complementary. And we work with Juan Marí who helps us manage the company—he is the sanest person in the company. We are like lions and he is the tamer…
I don’t think there has ever been a period in our lives that we have not spent together
You work with customers from Ibiza and Formentera. What differences do you see?
Formentera has the added difficulty of distance, but we are very well structured to deal with it. An unspoken rule in our company is to treat all our customers equally. Ibiza is easier, because everything is more at hand, but if a client from Formentera needs anything, we will get it to them as quickly as we can.