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Leonardo Del Vecchio and the importance of ‘being the best’

Leonardo Del Vecchio was the best embodiment of Made In Italy entrepreneurial talent and leaves an example of work ethic to be inspired by.

reading time4 minutes

Executive Chairman of EssilorLuxottica, Leonardo Del Vecchio was one of Italy’s greatest entrepreneurs, represents the best embodiment of Made in Italy entrepreneurial talent and leaves an example of work ethic to inspire future generations.

Born in Milan in 1935, Leonardo Del Vecchio has always been an extremely private person and has only agreed to tell his story in the biography just published by Tommaso Ebhardt precisely to deliver in person his teaching and values: kindness, tenacity, hard work, talent, and heart.

An example of work ethics

Fourth son of an agricultural trader of Apulian origin (Barletta), who died before he was born, Leonardo – named after his deceased father – was entrusted by his mother to the care of an orphanage. In a few lines written on a blue sheet of paper, the woman asked the Martinitt boarding school in Milan to take care of her child because she had to work: ‘Since I have to go to work and have no one to whom I can entrust him, the little one would grow up on the street, and before any misfortune befalls him, I would prefer him to be admitted, also for a more accurate education.”

It was from that maternal gesture that Leonardo Del Vecchio drew his first great life lesson: work is hard work and sacrifice, but it is also a choice that generates dignity and inspires respect.

Luxottica, Agordo
Luxottica headquarters in Agordo

The eyewear king

His extraordinary career, driven by the idea of ‘being the best’, exemplifies this perfectly. In just two decades, in fact, from the small town of Agordo, at the foot of the Belluno Dolomites, he became the ‘eyewear king’ in the world, thanks to his intuition to create glasses complete with lenses and frames ready and available, as early as 1967, the year in which the Luxottica brand was born. In 1981, the brand conquered the US market thanks to the acquisition of the Avantgarde brand; in 1990, the company went public, and in 1995, Luxottica became the largest manufacturer and distributor in the global optical market.

An ever-lasting mark

Leonardo Del Vecchio died in Milan on 27 June 2022 at 87. His legacy is EssilorLuxottica, a billion-euro business empire with 80,000 employees, and much more. What we will undoubtedly remember about him is also his bond with the territory, his willingness to continue to help the community and others through his Foundation, and his generous donations to research institutions such as the European Oncology Institute.

Leonardo Del Vecchio and Mark Zuckerberg

In an interview during the pandemic, he urged Italians to never give in to anger and despair.

Humble and down-to-earth, he liked to say: ‘Not that I ever hoped or thought I would get this far. I got there from an initial idea that pushed me to be my best… and I calculated this path every day.’

Read more stories of Made in Italy companies that have won the world over from Veneto!