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TRENDSPOTTING: FIRST PERSON

5 Questions for…

President of De Rigo REM, Alessandro Baronti

Alessandro Baronti

Named the new president of De Rigo REM—the North American subsidiary of De Rigo—in January, Alessandro Baronti brings over 30 years of optical experience to the company. He began his career path at Optyl Italia as a sales consultant for Luxottica Wholesale NA, moving through the organization to lead the U.S. sales market as the VP of sales for the Western region. Most recently, Baronti served as the VP of industry relations & education for Luxottica, for the U.S. and Canada, where he was vital in the development of the group’s educational messaging and training focused on business growth and retail value.

1. Please share a little background on your new role at De Rigo REM and what that involves.

Becoming the president of De Rigo REM has been the biggest, most demanding and rewarding role that I’ve ever had in my career. When you look at the position of De Rigo in the world we are ranked No. 3, but on the U.S. map De Rigo REM is not even in the top 5 today. That’s the reason why I took this job—because I love a challenge as well as the opportunity to grow, which I saw in this company. Thirty years of experience in the optical industry gave me the competence to prepare for this moment, and I’m going to take things to the next level at De Rigo REM.

2. What is your vision now for De Rigo REM?

I’m learning step by step, but my goal is to be in the top 5 ranking within the next three years.

We’ve already started this process by implementing some significant structural changes to strengthen the organization both internally as well as in the field. I’m all about the people, and am very grateful that I am stepping into a great culture. I truly believe that if you build the people you build the company, and I know I can’t do this all by myself. We start there and then we grow little by little.

3. What are some of your most valuable resources for the projected growth?

Pairing De Rigo’s international scope and financial backing with REM’s amazing culture and people has opened the door to an amazing gamut of benefits and opportunities for De Rigo REM and our customers. Not only did the acquisition create the largest family-owned distributorship in the world, it has allowed for us to bring the American market a stronger brand portfolio and product offering, as well as offer more innovative tools and business solutions for the independent eyecare professional.

4. What is your background with providing education to eyecare professionals?

In my prior position at Luxottica, I ran the education department and industry relations for almost two years. Within this role, I developed nine CE courses, both ABO- and COPE-certified. It was a great project because I firmly believe that training our people as well as educating our customers is crucial for our success.

5. Why is education so important—and what type of education will De Rigo REM offer the ECPs to help them grow?

Considering everything that’s going on in the industry with the consolidation, evolution, and managed care—you have to be a company that brings an alternative solution to the table. We want to help our customers really understand the product to increase sell-through—and identify how to maximize their business. We are developing training modules for ECPs that will be easily accessible and easy to follow, which we will be offering for free as an exclusive incentive. They will be located in an online toolbox that we will share with our customers.

A few years ago, one of my customers who is now a good friend gave me a great compliment. He said, “You’re the only person who, before we started to do business, invested the time in trying to teach me things and really help me understand my business. Making the sale was after.” I always tell my reps, “Stop selling by selling, start selling by educating.” That’s the philosophy that we want to really foster in this environment. —Erinn Morgan