Following the merger of De Rigo with REM in 2016, VCPN met with the newly merged companies’ two principals, Massimo De Rigo and Mike Hundert. Hundert is CEO and chief creative officer at De Rigo REM. After graduating from the University of Colorado, he directed the men’s professional ski racing tour before joining the family business at REM. Hundert also serves as a board member and vice chairman of The Vision Council as well as a chairman of the Vision Expo Show committee. Massimo De Rigo is responsible for the design and operations, and he reports to the president and CEO Ennio De Rigo. After his law degree, he worked in the company’s foreign subsidiaries. In 1996 he joined the company’s headquarters in Longarone.
JOHN SAILER: What is the strategy behind the merger?
MASSIMO De RIGO: For many years our presence in the U.S. was small, but my family’s strategy is we don’t do things unless we are convinced. We finally found the right company when we got to know REM. The merger is part of De Rigo Vision’s strategic plan for international expansion where the U.S. represents the biggest market in the world.
SAILER: What has been the outcome of the merger?
De RIGO: The first step went extremely well because we decided to close in Miami and moved to L.A. within the first 45 days.
MIKE HUNDERT: We’re ahead of our marks because we prepared well. We are in alignment philosophically, values driven; our respect for people and devotion to customer service are well aligned, and that has made the implementation go smoothly.
Today, there is no bigger family business in eyewear. We are the fourth largest eyewear company in the world, and it’s family. We have different values than other companies or those owned by private equity. We treat people differently.
De RIGO: Another similarity is our culture of product. We are focused on product, design, colors, frames. We want to surprise our customers when we present our collections, to be different, and I think we do it.
HUNDERT: The product teams report directly to each of us, understanding that product is at the heart of every other function in the organization. You can have great customer service and inventory management, but if you don’t have great product, the rest is for nothing.
De RIGO: At De Rigo Vision, we are focused on product and continuously making investments in the design and product division to be even more competitive in international markets. Our headquarters in Italy is able to design and develop winning product lines that are diversified in terms of taste and style but with a common denominator made of creativity, quality and elegance. Heritage and Italian style, which is appreciated all over the world, represents a unique asset for us.
“Now that we have the entire world covered, we’re in a position to represent the biggest brands.” -Mike Hundert
HUNDERT: Our brand portfolio tripled overnight. As we introduce brands Chopard and Lanvin and Dunhill on the higher end to Police, Escada, Nina Ricci and others in the middle and premium tiers we’ll bring American influence to the collections. Then we’ll add things to the global collection that are most appropriate for the U.S. customer. That product development process takes time.
The foundation to which Massimo refers is going to be built to attract bigger and better global brands to our enterprise. Now that we have the entire world covered, we’re in a position to represent the biggest brands in the world.
SAILER: How will the merged company differ from the two companies that compose it, and what is going to stay the same?
HUNDERT: What stays the same is the mentality, the people. Every single person at REM kept their job in this merger. There is not a group of people being dispatched from Italy to impose the Italian way on the Americans. They respect the reputation and performance of REM and want to make sure that it’s retained and built upon.
What will change is the breadth of product and the resources that will be added to our company to allow us to do everything bigger and better than we did before.
This is so special because of the people. We’re talking two great family businesses that have great histories in this industry