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Fiocchi Ammo - An Interview with Carlo Fiocchi
The Godfather. The Sopranos. Pop culture’s presentation of Italian family businesses here in the US – particularly ones that somehow involve firearms - isn’t always flattering or glamorous. But is this presentation realistic? Or could the reality of a multi-generational Italian family business actually be better than the movies? Better yet, is there one that could even be called a true American success story? To answer those questions, the folks at LuckyGunner.com recently caught up with Carlo Fiocchi, a 4th generation Italian ammunition manufacturer. What we learned surprised us…and if you’ve watched either The Godfather or The Sopranos like we have, then his answers about Fiocchi ammo will really surprise you too.
In this article, Mr. Fiocchi opens up about his family’s history during the allied bombing of the Fiocchi’s family plants in northern Italy during World War II, how the Fiocchi family thinks about business and ammunition, and even what Mr. Fiocchi thinks about his American competitors like Remington and Winchester. . . . so let’s get started, capisci?
Through gatherings like the annual family Christmas dinner, which they still observe to this day, Carlo Fiocchi was steeped in family legend and reared in the vocabulary of small arms ammunition from a very young age. “My first memories of life are in the ammunition business, from as early as 3-4 years old,” Mr. Fiocchi, now 54, warmly recalls through a thick Italian accent. Fiocchi Munizioni, the 100% privately held Italian parent company, has had its share of setbacks since it was founded in 1876 by Giulio Fiocchi.
During World War II, he explains, “we were basically occupied after 1943 by the Germans and the plants suffered tremendously from air raids.” Thankfully, as the 2nd and 3rd generation of Fiocchi’s have told him, “the family decided to reach into what was left of their savings, pour it back into the business, and rebuild – which was not atypical for other European family businesses at the time,” recounts Mr. Fiocchi.
While the destruction wrought during WWII almost eliminated the Fiocchi family from the ammunition business, their resilience and desire to rebuild created somewhat of an opportunity for them: new factories, new technology, new equipment.
Engineers at Heart
Mr. Fiocchi explains that while his passion is in sales, marketing, and building his brand in the marketplace, his family has traditionally been one of engineers: “My family members are almost all engineers. We produce or design the vast majority of our own machines in our internal design shop. Our engineering department creates the specs, the dies, and the prototypes.”
The customers, he points out, are ultimately the benefactors of this product-centric approach. For example, Fiocchi is NATO-certified which means they can supply all the NATO militaries and police forces: “This is an advantage for us because our factory can produce ammunition that is proven.” When asked if that means ammunition sold to the United States civilian market is of similar quality, Mr. Fiocchi responded, “Yes, they are ran from the same production lines. It makes no sense [to split them up] if you consider the costs between making it well and not so well.”
In 1983, Carlo Fiocchi and his family decided to bring the Italian heritage and NATO-spec quality of Fiocchi Ammunition to the American domestic market. From 1983 until 1996 Mr. Fiocchi worked to create a beachhead in America for their product before taking a break to consult for third-parties in the firearms and optics markets. As the reigns passed in 2005 from the 3rd generation (who still consult for the company from retirement) to the 4th generation, Mr. Fiocchi’s younger cousins called him back into the business to lead the US market sales.
Since that time Mr. Fiocchi has been a busy man: “We have grown over 500% since 2005.” At a time when many employers are cutting their payrolls, this growth has been good for Americans in Ozark, Missouri where Fiocchi America employs about 90% of their work force (the rest are in Nevada). We asked what percentage of Fiocchi ammo that is sold domestically in the United States is actually loaded here, the answer to which you can see in the breakdown over on the right. In a nutshell, more than 75% of the ammunition sold by Fiocchi in the U.S. is loaded here in the U.S., a statistic not widely known in the arms industry.
After only a short time, anyone who speaks with Mr. Fiocchi can tell that he has a commanding grip on the domestic ammunition market; his prestigious Italian speech almost melts into boyish excitement when he starts discussing new product development, the speed at which markets currently change, and the measures Fiocchi America employs to meet those changes head on. However, his tone of voice became almost reverential when he spoke about his American competitors like Remington and Winchester, “who I respect immensely.”
Many Americans may not realize it, but Fiocchi actually has a long-standing partnership with Hornady. “We have a great relationship with Hornady. They are a family business also and I think our cultures of honor and integrity are a great match. We both have a family reputation to uphold and besides, they just make a top notch product.” While Fiocchi currently loads Hornady projectiles into a variety of cartridges, Mr. Fiocchi recalled how they started by loading the Hornady V-max bullet into the 5.7x28mm cartridge for FN Herstal and quickly moved the partnership into more product lines. Additionally, Fiocchi loads Sierra projectiles into a number of their center-fire rifle cartridges.
The Future of Fiocchi
When we asked Mr. Fiocchi where he wanted to be in 10 years, he said with a laugh, “At the beach, but that is never going to happen because it isn’t in my nature.” When we asked Mr. Fiocchi to tell us where he envisioned Fiocchi USA in ten years, he proceeded to launch into a long list of initiatives and product launches, centered mostly around the non-toxic market, that he estimated will keep him busy for at least seven to ten years. Here is a brief overview of what to look for from Fiocchi:
Law-Enforcement Product Line - Fiocchi has developed a frangible FMJ round with a compound core (instead of lead) that is approved by the Fish & Wildlife Service which they plan to build a law-enforcement ammunition line around.
Reloading Guide for Non-Toxic Ammunition - Fiocchi is currently developing a thorough at-home reloading guide for non-toxic ammunition because working with non-toxic primers requires unconventional combinations of components and assembly processes. Look for this to be released to the US market in the next 6-12 months.
Cowboy Action Product Line - Fiocchi plans to release a complete line of cowboy action products by 2011, starting with 45 Long Colt, 44 Special, 32 S&W Long, and 30-30.
When asked about the future of Fiocchi as a family business, he disclosed, “Since it is a 100% family business, matters are always politically delicate. . . . but the upside is that instead of focusing on the next quarter, we focus on the next generation when it comes to investments, strategies, and marketing.” He seemed convinced that their current product lines, combined with their cutting edge non-toxic innovation, will keep the next generation of Fiocchi’s with plenty of work on their hands, “We actually have 5th generation Fiocchi’s working externally right now, even though none of them currently work in the family business” (which is apparently part of their secret formula to holding the family business in tact across generations).
Oh . . . . and Mr. Fiocchi’s answer to our question of how he spends his days? Remember, this is a 4th generation Italian ammunition manufacturer who fits the part: tall, dark, handsome, thick accent, and an expensive pin-stripe suit. We expected to hear about late meetings in cigar-filled rooms with fellow international arms dealers, leisurely flights on private planes to private yachts, or perhaps even skydiving and driving Formula-One cars. Instead: “I don’t sleep a lot,” he replies and then proceeds to layout a schedule that usually starts with emails at 6am in his office and ends around 1am with phone calls to his cousins in Lecco, Italy discussing component production, supply chain management, and new product innovations. As the interview drew to a close, it began to make more sense. This is a man on a mission – a man with his name on the box.
Background on Fiocchi Ammo
Fiocchi Ammo was established in 1876 by its founder Giulio Fiocchi. Known as a world leader is small arms ammo, Fiocchi offers an array of products that suit the needs of target shooters, hunting enthusiasts, and the armed forces. Fiocchi's products range from center-fire ammo for rifles and pistols, rimfire ammo, components like primers, and a wide product line of shotshells. Outside of Italy, Fiocchi Ammo also has a presence in the U.S., Hungary, and Great Britain.
Fiocchi has received a number of awards for their undying focus on quality. Some of the awards that Fiocchi has achieved include the NATO AQAP-110 Certification, the ISO Certification of the Environment Management System, and the UNI EN ISO Certification of the Quality Management System. The company is headquartered in Via Santa Barbara in Lecco, Italy. Lecco is also the location of Fiocchi Ammo's main manufacturing plant.
Fiocchi Ammo is still entirely owned by the founder's family after being in business for over 130 years!
Calibers Offered By Fiocchi Ammo
As seen on Fiocchi's website:
Fiocchi Ammo For Sale:
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