Two great Italian stories from two small Italian provinces

Vittorio Tadei and Adriano Olivetti, Teddy and Olivetti: two Italian business stories of postwar provincial Italy. Two stories so different from each other but marked by the same Dream: building something great that could last in time, based on the sense of belonging and the shared vision of how a company should work, with a strong social and community-oriented mission. A story made of dreams that come true and become down-to-earth visions, stemming from the time and place it was “born” into, which however leaves a legacy of values still strong today.


“The factory cannot look only at the profit index.  It must distribute wealth, culture, services, democracy.  I think the factory for the man, not the man for the factory”.


This is one of Adriano Olivetti’s most famous quotes and maybe the best one that sums up and embodies his entrepreneurial vision. The company seen not only and not so much as a place of work that has to make profits, rather as a social institution whose main goal is to create the conditions as to make workers feel at home and thus fulfilled from an economic, cultural and human point of view. 



The dignity of work, social solidarity, a community-oriented dimension are the values that inspired and gave life to one of the most successful, and at the same time revolutionary and ahead-of-its-time, business experiences of postwar Italy. 

Still today that same business vision, those same words, sound like contemporary to us and yet not completely fulfilled, just think what they would appear 70, 60 or 50 years ago. Not to mention in the Italian province, from where those words and that vision came from. In Ivrea, at the beginning, they must have sounded as someone daydreaming, something too idealistic to be turned into anything real. On the contrary, they represented the solid foundation for a company that, starting from the most remote parts of the province of Turin, was able to become a large multinational corporation, without never forgetting the teachings of Adriano, son of its founder Camillo, who turned it into a true forerunner from a cultural and social point of view.

Who knows whether Vittorio Tadei was inspired in some ways by the example of such an amazing business experience, when he opened his first shop in Rimini in 1960s that will be later lead to Teddy Group. Nobody knows it, but considering the values that drove Vittorio’s actions (from a human and business point of view), you cannot but notice a shared “human” vision on business.  

There are many similarities between Vittorio and Adriano, between Olivetti and Teddy (and in the end it could unnecessary to repeat it, when looking at how they interpreted their own work), which give us the feeling of a shared view, the same view on business and work.  



Two restless and fearless minds who find inside their own business creation a meaning to their own life: for them it is not only a place where to work, it is family, a child, the love of a lifetime. A company to them is mainly a natural environment where workers must and can fulfil themselves, as they are its beating heart, the backbone, the purpose. Vittorio used to call it “the Dream”, Adriano “social vocation”, but the result is always the same: either a company is a social institution at the service of workers who look at it as a home, or the company takes on a strong social, community-oriented function, otherwise it is not a company.

After all, the initiatives carried out by the two companies founded by them are a clear example of their vision: from kindergartens for the children of employees, social housing projects, recreational and cultural time inside the company at the time of Adriano Olivetti, to the Corporate Citizenship Scheme, Gigi Tadei Foundation and the many other charity initiatives created and supported by Vittorio. 

Those are visible proofs of a shared vision of what a company is, which places man and his needs at the center of it: a humanistic dimension around which the meaning of life itself is being built. As well as the meaning of work. A meaning based, however, also on the idea that a familiar and people-friendly workplace, where workers feel comfortable with themselves and with colleagues, helps to create the best conditions as to make even corporate economic results benefit from it.



Maybe the province inspired their nonconformist attitude, which is another aspect they have in common: Adriano from Ivrea and Vittorio from Rimini both breathed the feeling for widespread standardization and the boredom typical of those who live at the borders of an empire and, from that, they drew their lifeblood to oppose inaction and start building two companies among the most visionary ones in Italy, rare and unique, going tenaciously against the trend. 

However, they also gave back a lot more to the provinces they were born in, giving thousands of people, workers and families the opportunity to fulfil themselves from a human and professional point of view in their own town, which they helped to give value to at an economic, demographic and social level. Vittorio and Adriano had their fate written in their own names, but built their victory in their own way, always standing for the weakest people, placing at the center of everything the dignity of workers, who first of all were human beings in their eyes. 


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