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#8 Leonardo Del Vecchio Biography: The Man That Makes Glasses for the Entire World

NB: Sadly, Leonardo del Vecchio died on the 27th of June 2022. He will be remembered as one of the greatest entrepreneurs of all time. This is his biography (written at the end of 2021, when he was still alive).

Leonardo del Vecchio is the founder, executive chairman, and former CEO of Luxottica, the biggest world manufacturer and retailer of eyeglasses, sunglasses, and eyewear.

His fortune stands as we speak at a staggering $33 billion, which makes him the second richest man in Italy.

Born in a poor family, he began working at 14 until he founded Luxottica 11 years later, at 25 years old, subsequently making it the giant it is today.

Here’s the story of Leonardo Del Vecchio.


Del Vecchio was born in Milan in 1935, the youngest of a poor family. He had four elder brothers.

His dad died shortly after he was born.

At seven years old, his family was so poor that Leonardo was entrusted to a catholic orphanage.

He began working at 14 years old in a steel factory, making cups and medals to help support his family.

That enabled him to save some money and encouraged by the factory owner, he enrolled in an evening design course at 19.

Three years later, he moved to another city to work in a metal engraving factory.

It was at that time that he became passionate about glasses.

At 25 years old, in 1958, he moved to Agordo which was the center of the Italian eyewear industry, to open an eyeglass frame shop.

His customers liked his products as they were of high quality.

In 1961, Leonardo created the company Luxottica. “Luxottica” was a combination of the words “luce”, meaning light, and “ottica”, meaning optics. He had 14 employees already, and specialized in making small metal parts for glasses.

Business was good, but it wasn’t enough for Del Vecchio. In 1967, he stopped making glasses parts and decided to assemble them from start to finish. He sold them to other companies and that’s how he started subcontracting.

He was so successful that four years later, he decided to sell glasses under the brand Luxottica on top of manufacturing for third parties.

Since he was now a B2C company, he attended a trade fair in Milan. He signed so many orders that he decided to stop manufacturing for others and to focus exclusively on Luxottica.

While Luxottica was doing great, Del Vecchio was unsatisfied. His position as a manufacturer-only did not enable him to get as close to his customers as he wanted to.

So he fixed this problem.

In 1974, Del Vecchio bought the retail chain Carrone to increase the vertical integration of Luxottica.

For the first time, Luxottica could control from start to finish the manufacturing, distribution, and sales of glasses.

But it wasn’t enough.

In 1981, he adventured himself out of Italy and set up a subsidiary in Germany.

Leonardo would never stop growing Luxottica from then on.



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