Creativity and ingenuity are two attributes that have been celebrated in Italy (especially in Napoli) for millennia. It is for this reason that Italians have become world-renown for style, design, and craftsmanship. Our Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, Enzo Marra, enjoys marrying these typically Italian characteristics with modern American technology and a passion for innovation while overseeing the designing and building of our ovens.

“Creativity Takes Courage” ~ Henri Matisse

In honor of self-Improvement month, an annual designation observed each September which promotes setting goals for self-improvement, we dedicate this blog to Enzo – whose main mission is to evaluate our ovens and look for ways in which they could be improved.

When you were younger how did you envision your career playing out?

It is difficult for me to answer this question because when I was young, I didn’t plan very far into the future. True to my Neapolitan upbringing, I tended to take life one day at a time. I have never been one to attempt to forecast the future, but I always try to make the most out of the opportunities that I am presented in life. Growing up in Naples, my family was involved in various businesses, so I was exposed to their way of thinking, the challenges that they faced, and their desire to grow and always do better.

I also got to spend a lot of time with my grandparents, learn from them, and other family members whose businesses involved technological, mechanical, and engineering work- the way an apprentice would. My grandparents also taught me the importance of respecting tradition, quality, and artisan labor.

Enzo Marra

Did you think you would end up in America?

I never dreamed that I would end up in the United States, but when my mother re-married, that was an opportunity that was presented to my brothers and I.

I was happy to be able to join my family, which is the most important aspect of my life.  Once in the USA, my whole life changed, because the lifestyle of someone living in suburban Maryland is very different from daily life in the city in Napoli. It takes time to adjust to a new culture, and I am fortunate to be able to call both great countries home. One thing that it is hard for some people who have never emigrated to understand is the sense of missing your homeland that immigrants feel, no matter how beautiful and great their adopted country is.

Incorporating as many of my beloved Neapolitan and Italian traditions into my work and life in America, though, has proved to be a strategy that gives me pleasure at a personal level, and also has enabled our businesses to succeed.

We started out in the foodservice business, then began importing ovens per the requests of our clients, and then we founded Marra Forni to manufacture them according to our clients’ needs. All three businesses enabled us to stay true to our roots while providing services that our clients in the US truly needed. This new sense of purpose and creative outlet is something I’m truly grateful for.

When you started Marra Forni with your brothers, what was most important to you?

I am proud to say that we started this business together and we each have our own areas of expertise that complement one another and have proven to be a blessing in running our business. I dedicate all of my time to developing the ovens themselves, so what matters most to me is the quality of the ovens. 90% of what happens regarding the building of the ovens begins in my mind.

I communicate the ideas to the metal designers and engineers for development and then work with the builders to make sure that they are executed properly. Each step is critical to me. I need to make sure that nothing goes wrong in the building of the ovens. What I dream about, however, is how can we make them better, and what new innovation can I create.

What are some of the key changes in manufacturing that help Marra Forni grow the most?

To me, it is our innovations. The more we innovate, and the more new products we create, like the rotator and the hoodless ovens or the mobile trucks, for example, the better we will be. This also helps to distinguish us from our competitors and gives us a market advantage.

Where do you see Marra Forni in the next five years? 

In my area of manufacturing, I already have two new ovens in the works – so I see more innovation. It is difficult to forecast so far out in the middle of a pandemic that has affected everyone. But if everything continues to go as planned, we hope to continue to expand internationally, and even in Italy.

How do you keep your workforce motivated?

Since I learned from my family members in Italy and grew up accustomed to the apprentice-style of education, I try to lead by example. I am very present in our plants and our staff can ask me questions or discuss their concerns with me. I am always open to their suggestions and ideas, which are invaluable to me. I try to share the workload with everyone and do the same tasks that my staff does and I believe it is my accessibility combined with the team (familial) spirit of our corporate culture that keeps our staff not only motivated but inspired as well.

What makes you excited to come to work every day?

Good results are what excites me. When I see work done well and that we were able to achieve our objectives, it makes me really happy. It inspires me to think that there are no limits to what we create, and to witness a dream turned into a design, that is then transformed into a high-functioning oven that will make our clients’ work easier and more efficient.

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