MUSEOWEB dell'economia varesina

Rama spa

Historical Profile

The entrepreneurial training and the establishment of the business

In 1943, Carlo Rabolli and Antonio Magnoni, beef dealers in the Arno river valley, established the Milan-based company "Rabolli e Magnoni (RAMA) srl", which absorbed the assets of Rabolli's previous business.

In 1949, Rabolli resigned from his position as company president and the following year, along with two other partners, founded OMAS snc, a company dedicated to manufacturing slicers and other machinery for the meat processing industry.

Virgilio Cajani was the director of Rama up until 1953, when he was replaced by Pierino Carù, a native of Gallarate, who ran the company with the help of his brother Enrico. The Carù brothers also had extensive experience behind them in the field. In fact, while only in their teens and along with their mother and older sister, Enrica, they were forced to carry forward their father's enterprise after he died prematurely. The Carù brothers initially operated between Italy, Switzerland and Trieste, where they imported livestock from the east that had already been nationalized (the customs procedures had already been taken care of at the time of purchase).

The livestock was destined for a farm located in Cajello di Gallarate. They also ran a slaughterhouse in the Treviso area, as well as two butcher shops in Oggiona con Santo Stefano and Solbiate Arno. Upon joining Rama, they sold the slaughterhouse in Veneto and further developed the slaughtering, importing and marketing activities of the new facility, which already employed fifteen people. In 1959, just a few years after the Hungarian revolution, the Carù brothers signed their first national contract with Hungary's only state-run breeding and meat production company, Terimpex, which had about 15 slaughterhouses throughout the country. This collaboration lasted up until 1980. That same year, the company also got involved in wholesale sales of frozen meat and established a lasting business relationship for importing livestock with the Hungarian state-run company Terimpex, based in Budapest.

In 1960, they also began importing meat from Poland (through the state-run company Animex in Warsaw) and Austria, which was then resold on the domestic market, or else to hospitals or companies in the food processing industry.

Three years later, along with the companies Zerbi e Ronzoni and Perego, Rama was one of Italy's leading companies for purchasing frozen meat and importing live cattle from South America. During these years, contracts were concluded with the companies Swift and Cap, in Buenos Aires.

From 1971 to 1991

In 1971, Antonio Magnoni withdrew from the partnership, leaving it entirely in the hands of the Carù family. Pierino's son, Antonio, later joined the business and was followed by his brother, Marco, just a few years later. Antonio was mainly engaged in the sales department, while Marco went on to become involved in production and logistics. Enrico's wife, Luigia, on the other hand, took care of administrative matters.

In 1972, the facility on Via Cedrate in Oggiona Santo Stefano was enlarged and entirely renovated. The Rama registered offices were moved to this location three years later when it was transformed into a joint stock company.

Following the implementation of high duties imposed by the EEC on imports from countries outside of the European Community, the company suffered increased costs and accordingly geared itself towards the markets of Germany, France and Holland. The butcher shop in Oggiona Santo Stefano was closed and subsequently leased in 1987.

In 1988, Rama was contacted by SME Group, which was interested in creating the first Italian fast-food chain, which would be called "Burghy". The company thus became the only Italian producer of fresh hamburgers, which were not frozen and were delivered to the sales point three times a week.

From 1991 to the present

During the mid-1990s, beef sales underwent a significant shift as the industry's main buyers became large retail companies, thus resulting in a significant drop in sales to individual butchers.

This led to the meat being sold on the bone rather than in its final cuts (leaving butchers the job of preparing the cuts for the final consumer), while the company was still required to section and vacuum pack the product so that it would be ready for distribution and final preparation at the supermarket counter. The large retailers also required the preparation of consumer-ready, single-portion, vacuum packed products. The processing operations were therefore becoming increasingly significant and complex for the company, which immediately equipped itself with a strict quality control system and acquired ISO 9000 certification.

In fact, the concentration of all the meat processing stages within a single plant resulted in guaranteed control over the entire supply and processing chain, with hygiene and quality levels far superior to those of the past.

Rama was able to ensure its customers meat of exceptional quality by implementing a series of checks upon livestock farms. Pierino Carù passed away in the year 2000: Antonio Carù became president and Enrico's son, Roberto Carù, who had recently become involved in the company, was made managing director.

In 2001, during the crisis of what is now referred to as "mad cow" disease, Rama began restructuring its production departments.

The cold rooms were replaced and a new ground meat production system was created, which was primarily intended for Bestfoods Italia, a major manufacture of baby food under the brand name "Gerber".

In addition to adapting to the new health regulations, the company also began computerizing certain procedures, such as the weighing and marking of each cut, in order to ensure the fast and reliable tracking of the processed meat.

During these same years, Rama began outsourcing the butchering, deboning and distribution of the product, including vehicle management, maintenance and cleaning services. The number of company employees, however, remained at approximately 40 people.

Mainly targeting the large retailers, the company also got involved in supplying the high-level catering industry, offering products of exceptional quality, which were identified by the special brand name "Beef Experience".

In 2007, having reached its maximum production capacity, Rama underwent a dimensional shift by concluding agreements with other companies in the sector to compete with the Italian and foreign competition.

That same year, the company established a partnership with Unipeg sca – Italy's second leading player in the beef industry, whose shares were mainly owned by Italian farmers – for the purposes of streamlining the business and developing market penetration throughout north-western Italy.

Rama SpA sold this branch of the company to the newly formed company Rama Beef Srl, whose shares were held equally by Rama SpA and Unipeg sca. This operation would guarantee Rama Carni privileged access to the supply of cattle as well as a number of important synergies deriving from its partnership with a major industrial group found throughout Italy. With regards to its operational strategy, Rama Carni has shifted the slaughtering activities to its factories in Reggio Emilia and Pegognaga, while maintaining and strengthening its meat processing and sectioning departments in Oggiona. The Carù family still remains on the company's board of directors, with the presence of Roberto, Marco and Antonio (as president).