It was another beautiful morning that was well spent exploring Verona a bit more. After some free time, our group met in our finest business casual to take the bus to the Consorzio Della Moda. Once we arrived at the company we were greeted and sat for our presentation. As I paged through the brochure given to me, I was impressed by the scope of the services the Consorzio offered. The Consorzio seemed very different than those that have previously been explored, particularly in terms of supply chain. Instead of being a distributor or producer, the Consorzio is more of a professional “fixer” that hovers above the supply chain. The Consorzio is an exclusive, private, business association meant to absorb the best resources of Italy and use them to help the small companies have a tangible network of skills. They are almost like a more varied version of a consulting firm, the middle men of what can be complicated business issues such as international expansion. The Consorzio has 46 members, most of them companies of production, and most of them small. The Consorzio links the companies with professionals who are capable of getting the companies what they need; they offer another link and partner in the supply chain. The Consorzio provides a myriad of services; they provide people for everything from managing the day to day logistics, to taking a look at the big picture. However, the Consorzio does not simply throw the company into the flames of a new business venture. Rather, they make sure the company has the proper training and infrastructure first. Of course, teaching a man to fish is much better than simply giving a man a fish to eat and the Consorzio aims to to build skills for real improvement. This is done in part by the Consorzio building up schools so that the schools have the ability to train businesses on specific skills. In a business sense, this helps companies who are members of the Consorzio be at their very best and in a constant state of improvement. The Consorzio is a success in Italy, companies need to apply to be a part of the Consorzio. The application process for companies also depends in part on what can the companies give to the Consorzio’s network. Even though there is an application process for the Consorzio, I think that the Consorzio would benefit letting more companies in. If they took in a couple of more mediocre companies and helped them develop, than perhaps they could become great companies with their own unique resources to share.
Economic factors are a huge source of impact for companies in general, particularly in fashion. Economic times are never stable, and when times are hard, cute clothes are no longer a priority. When customers become price sensitive, even a flawless supply chain will not save them. Consumers will turn to companies from China that are of lesser quality, but less expensive. The Consorzio is able to help companies prepare for harder times. The training and resources of the Consorzio helps companies be more successful in the long term. It makes sense that the companies who are members of the Consorzio have a better chance at surviving since the Consorzio offers so much in terms of resources and innovation. Since my generation lives in the shadow of the great recession, I was curious if the Consorzio had a game plan in place for the next time the economy takes a dip. One of the board of directors informed me that the companies are also told to focus more on the marketing; the companies need to let everyone in the world know how great their products are. In todays world that is based on perception over quality, I was not surprised by that answer. Although the Consorzio is an extra cost in the supply chain, the skills the Consorzio offers repays the costs time and time again. The Consorzio is the United States verison of the chamber of commerce: perhaps a more successful and well known one. Overall, it was an amazing experience to have a presentation from the Consorzio. I have never had the chance to hear from a company like that in person. I am curious to see how they will continue to help companies improve.