It is commonly said that the strength of a business group can be measured by its solidity and broad market performance. For 57 years, Pennacchi has been recognized for this, but above all for the values it defends and for its strong support of social projects. The Group operates in the retail and food services distribution segments; in industrial candy productions; and in agribusiness, focusing on the cultivation of soybeans, corn, wheat, and cattle breeding.
As part of its commitment towards positive environmental impact and to protect the megabiodiversity of Brazil, Pennacchi maintains an area of 25,000,000m² as a Private Natural Heritage Reserve, where is has recovered and preserved native forests and protected the fauna and flora of the region. This environmental preservation project is one of the many actions of non-aggression and preservation of the environment that the Group is involved in.
In addition, the Group supports the Crescer (Grow) Project, which provides free services to over 600 children and adolescents aged between 10 to 15 years in need of proper public education in Bahia, Brazil.
Mr. Paulo Hermínio Pennacchi serves as the Commercial Director of the Group and is President of the Grow Project. He is also Vice-President of the Federation of Commerce of his State, which integrates three different trade support institutions (Sesc, Senac and IFDP); is President of the Wholesale and Distributor Trade Union of the State of Paraná (Sinca); and is associated to Anpecom, the National Association linked to the Economy of Communion (EoC).
Here’s a little more about the Group:
The Columnist (TC): How did it all begin?
Paulo Pennacchi (PP): In mid-1955, in search of better living conditions for his family, my father Hermínio Pennacchi sold what he owned in the city of Ouro Fino, in the state of Minas Gerais, in the interior of Brazil, and moved himself with my mother Maria Aparecida and his 4 first children to a rural area in the northern region of the State of Paraná, known at the time as the “Eldorado of Brazil”. When the coffee plantations he was caring for were exterminated by a great frost, my father then began to work in a butcher shop, and later in the Municipal Slaughterhouse. A few years later, with the help of his eldest sons José Carlos and myself, he opened a small establishment, known as Tobacco Shop Ouro Fino, in honor of his hometown. Since then we have been growing, at the cost of a lot of work. Currently, the headquarters of the Pennacchi Group is located in the city of Arapongas, Paraná, Brazil, about 380 km from the capital of its State, Curitiba, and 580 km from São Paulo, the largest city in Latin America.
TC: What activities are currently being developed by the Group?
PP: We act as a wholesale distributor for retail, industry and agribusiness:
From a Distribution Center with 24,000m², we sell more than 3,000 items from about 180 suppliers, offering a mix for clients in different segments. Our strategy is to position ourselves with an efficient link, reducing distances between industries and resellers. Our differentiation is in fostering relationships, favoring closeness and partnership.
After we established ourselves as a wholesale distributor in the South and Southeast regions of Brazil, our Group decided to set up a candy factory. We started with exclusive dedication to the mechanical production of candy, caramels and lollipops. Some years later we promoted the automation of this industry, and started to operate with the latest generation equipment, expanding our production capacity. All of our lines are produced, strictly within the standards of food safety. We produce almost one hundred products in total consisting of both our own and third parties products, of varying weights and diverse flavors. Some are even exotic, with more accentuated flavors, to serve specific regions of the Brazilian market and other countries.
In the agribusiness segment, we have farms and a business center in the Cascavel region, west of the State of Paraná, Brazil. Through the adoption of modern practices and continuous investments in technology and modernization of areas and equipment, we have managed to achieve production rates above the national average.
TC: What is the Pennacchi Group’s commitment to environmental preservation?
PP: Brazil is considered a mega biodiverse country, where we find a great variety of species of fauna and flora, and one of the best climates of the planet, thanks to its important ecosystems. We know that each of the elements of nature has a role to play, and for that to happen, there must be balance. A great Brazilian writer, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, also inspired us, saying that “nature does not perform miracles, it makes revelations”.
With this in mind, since 1982 the Pennacchi Group started an environmental project western region of the State of Paraná, transforming an area of 25,000,000 m² into a Private Reserve of Natural. There, rivers, waterfalls, native forests and the fauna and flora of the region are recovered and preserved. This area also protects animals and birds that face the risk of extinction. A new project has also been adopted since 2012, with the implementation of the afforestation system with eucalyptus, in specific areas of all farms.
In addition, the Group promotes the recycling of leftovers from materials generated by its companies (such as paper, plastic and other packaging), the treatment of effluents generated by the Industrial division, practices selective waste collection and has launched awareness campaigns to reduce the consumption of water, electricity , paper, and other resources.
TC: Regarding the problems of civil society, how does the Pennacchi Group seek to help?
PP: Our concern for the social begins with our own employees. Our companies offers gym with physical educator; medical outpatient clinic; coach assistance; agreements with medical clinics, kindergartens, schools and University; we offer courses, lectures and trainings; periodic health examinations; labor gymnastics; refectory; project to prevent breast cancer and prostate cancer, among others.
In order to contribute to the community, our Group supports the actions of the Lions Club and the Rotary Club, focused on social and humanitarian issues. The Group also support the Special School Lions Club, the Junior Achievement Association, the Londrina Cancer Hospital (neighboring city), the Neighborhood Justice Program and the Crescer (grow) Arapongas Project. Additionally, the Group also conducts campaigns to collect clothes, shoes and toys for the underprivilege.
TC: I remember that during our visit you made a point of showing us personally some of the Group companies. However, the moment you were most excited was when introduced us to the Grow Project. What is this Project about?
PP: Our Group is the main supporter of this initiative and I currently serve as the President of the Project. The Project serves more than 600 children and adolescents of both sexes, between 10 and 15 years old, with family income of up to 3 minimum salaries (about US$ 769). The project operates by offering different sessions, that is, we have students who studies in the morning and attends the Project in the afternoon, and vice versa, from Monday to Friday.
The project provides conditions for social, cultural, sports and community inclusion, aiming for the children’s individual development and preparation for the exercise of citizenship. Some of its services includes free tutoring, nutritional education, music classes, art classes, dance classes, mathematics workshops, as well as computer training. The maximum number of participants per class is 23 students. The library contains thousands of books from the most diverse areas that help in the development of reading and school work. Additionally, the project also organizes field trips for students and parents development and education among other services.
To get an idea of the cost benefit ratio of this Project, the average total annual investment is about $ 448,305.37 with a monthly average investment per student of only $ 73.85.
In addition to closely following all the activities of Crescer Project, I seek help from other entrepreneurs to maintain this important work, seeking donations directly. Another way is to present a National Culture Incentive Law, which allows Brazilian companies (legal entities) and citizens (individuals) to allocate a part of the income tax collected on such cultural actions.
TC: How would you define the word “trust” in relation to your conduct as an entrepreneur, and what you expect from people?
PP: The trust is directly linked to the transparency and honesty of the transactions carried out by the company and for everything we do. We expect this reciprocity from everyone who participates in our businesses, be they collaborators, clients, suppliers, or anyone else.
TC: What inspired you to support the Crescer Project?
PP: “My parents were my inspiration, and the first people who taught me how to serve. The Lions Club reinforced this characteristic in me, when I began to participate in 1972. In 1976, I was the president of this Entity, and actively participated in the construction of Casa Bom Menino (Good Boy Home), which served as a shelter for 27 years. In 2005, the Crescer Project was created, aimed at serving a greater number of children and adolescents, in this social transformation project. The partnership with Unopar University strengthened the project, and helped us reach current numbers with more than 600 students enrolled.
TC: What would you say to entrepreneurs and other people who still do not support social projects?
PP: “I would say that when we are willing to help, we actually receive much more than we give. Learning is daily and the realization of doing good to the other, of transforming lives, of offering opportunity, is immeasurable. It is worth contributing not only financially, but volunteering, serving and being together. It is something that enhance our being.
TC: Regardless of specific religion, do you consider that spirituality influences society in any way, in the search for a better world?
PP: Spirituality is fundamental in this process. It makes us more human, charitable, and helps us realize that we must leave a legacy greater than material goods.
If you are interested in learning more about the Crescer Project, download a copy of the content in English here.
If you want to know how to collaborate with the Crescer Project, please contact the Crescer Project directly, via email: firstname.lastname@example.org