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When I sat down recently for coffee with Ugo Ginatta, franchisor of Dallas-based Paciugo, I couldn’t wait to ask him why he chose a name that’s challenging to spell and just as difficult to pronounce. Just in case you don’t know, it’s pronounced pah-CHOO-go. And they sell the world’s most glorious varieties of gelato!
Turns out it’s not the name he expected to use for the retail Italian ice cream concept that he’s now franchising across America, but it was a last-minute decision. Shortly after arriving in Dallas–he had moved his family from their native Turin, Italy in 2000–he gave a creative agency some money to develop a logo and a name for his business. Several months later the agency had failed to deliver and Ugo was up against the sign company’s deadline. “They told me that if I didn’t give them a name I wouldn’t have a sign for the opening of my first store. So I gave them: Paciugo.” In the dialect of Genoa, it means culinary, messy concoction. “That’s a good description for what we planned to sell in our stores,” Ugo explained.
This is no “messy concoction”
Of course a customer would never think “messy concoction” upon discovering a Paciugo store today, with its showcase of tempting desserts, but the name has a flavor all its own and is catching on. To date, Paciugo has opened 40 stores in 11 states and there are another 40 units in development.
Amazing when you consider the genesis of this enterprise.
Starting Over in America
He was 54 when he decided to move to America. 54! He enjoys noting that Ray Kroc was the same age when he began franchising McDonald’s. Ugo sold his successful ExecuTrain master franchise in Italy, and started over, taking a chance by building something new in a different country.
Why would you do that, Ugo?
“Because I wanted to be master of my life,” he said. With his former business, he had to chase clients to pay their invoices. With Paciugo, Ugo smiles and says, “They pay when I deliver the product. At night, the money is in the drawer.” He much prefers that kind of business. “The whole world is my customer,” he continues, “and they pay in cash!”
Overcrowded Dessert Market?
But come on now, Ugo, the dessert market is crowded in America, it’s not easy to launch a new concept here. So why did you think that you could succeed? Why were you willing to take the risk?
“Because we’re different,” he said. “I know everyone says that, but we really are different. We have an intimate knowledge of every aspect of our business, from the equipment (which is imported from Italy) to the ingredients (some of which come from Italy), to the training that’s necessary to succeed in a store, to the marketing, to the customer service. That attention to detail makes us different.”
Ugo loves work and it’s a good thing because he’s always present. He’s afraid not to be. When I asked him to share with me the challenges that he’s facing as a franchisor, he said, “To minimize our mistakes.” He hopes his attention to detail–and long work days–will overcome the challenges. Fortunately he realizes that he can’t do it all alone. His business partners–wife, Cristiana and son, Vincenzo–work equally as hard, along with a small staff.
And they remain committed “to consistently provide authentic Italian gelato made from only the best ingredients . . . to always exceed the customer’s expectations . . . and to stand by our motto: ante lucrum nomen.”
Reputation before profit!
That’s the spirit, Ugo. And whether we can spell it or pronounce it, I’ve learned that any day is a good day to enjoy Paciugo.