Gian Luca Rana

Gian Luca Rana

CEO, Pastificio Rana

Gian Luca Rana, between innovation and internationalization

Innovation, geographic expansion, and catering are the three pillars of the growth strategy that Gian Luca Rana has developed since becoming general manager of Pastificio Rana in 1989. Born in 1965, he joined the family business in 1986 when the Pastificio was a small company with 35 employees, 7 products in its portfolio, and 30 billion Lire in sales.

After a stint in the purchasing section, Gian Luca moved first to the Production department, where he got to study product processing up close, and later to the Industrial Development division. While focusing on three different departments for several years, Giovanni Rana’s son acquired a 360-degree vision of the company’s production chain. A vision that, when he became General Manager in 1989, led him to choose innovation as the philosophy on which to build the future of the Pastificio. In line with this conviction, the first important decision Gian Luca Rana made in his role as manager was to create the Research & Development department, which over the years become one of the company’s main assets.

Starting with the Research and Development department, a real development hub was later born in 2018: “Innovation House.” A multidisciplinary laboratory, a center of excellence in fresh product innovation, involving different business functions to cultivate and grow new ideas and where constant research and exchange lead to the creation of new recipes, products, technologies, and production processes that are increasingly cutting-edge and able to anticipate the demands of tomorrow’s consumers. This is the place where, in 2023, the extraordinary “Italian Food in Space” project was born: a gourmet and nutritionally balanced food program, created by combining the know-how of Rana researchers and the experience of the chefs of Famiglia Rana Restaurant, exclusively for the crew of the Ax-3 space mission, in which Air Force Colonel Walter Villadei also took part.

Gian Luca understands that for him, innovation must be accompanied by great attention to product quality, which starts with the selection of raw materials and their suppliers, carrying on the processes started by his father Giovanni.

Gian Luca Rana e il padre Giovanni Rana

Speaking of innovation, a central role is played by the quick service Rana Restaurants which now are 21 locations in Italy. Strongly desired by Gian Luca himself to bring together the world of fresh pasta with the world of catering, the Rana Restaurants have turned into a large laboratory that allows testing of new products and new recipes, immediately gathering feedback from customers.

In 2022 came the most prestigious recognition in the restaurant business: the “Famiglia Rana” restaurant in Vallese Oppeano, in the province of Verona, conceived by Gian Luca Rana as a place for experimentation and creative research obtained a MICHELIN Star in the Italy Guide 2023. The achievement marks the success of an important project that took its first steps precisely during the difficult months of the pandemic. In 2024, Ristorante Famiglia Rana gets a makeover and returns in a completely renovated house, thanks to Gian Luca’s meeting with exceptional chef Francesco Sodano.

After broadening horizons from a sectoral and technological standpoint, the CEO decided to do the same in terms of geographic expansion. The internationalization journey, started in the 1990s by Gian Luca Rana himself, had first led Pastificio Rana to be a market leader in Europe and then in the United States in 2012. A journey that started in San Giovanni Lupatoto, the company’s hometown, and has seen the Rana Group arrive as far as Chicago, the city chosen to host the two production plants present today overseas.

Not only internationalization but also continuous investment in Italy. At a time when many entrepreneurs are looking more to foreign countries than their own, Gian Luca Rana went in the opposite direction, and the growing demand for products,. He is continuing the Group’s expansion strategy by choosing Italy and acquiring the plant in Moretta, Piedmont.

In 2020, all Italian workers faced negative impacts caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, Gian Luca Rana demonstrated a very strong concern for Pastificio Rana employees and the welfare of their families through concrete actions to support them during the emergency period. In fact, with a total economic commitment of 2 million euros, Gian Luca Rana decided to increase the salaries of the 700 employees employed in the 5 Italian production plants, to reward their great sense of responsibility, demonstrated during the critical period related to the pandemic.

To support the employees’ families, the company increased their pay by 25% and provided an extraordinary monthly ticket of 400 euros for babysitting expenses, alleviating the additional financial burden caused by the closure of schools and childcare facilities. To ensure the safety of employees, a specific insurance policy was also taken out to cover costs in case of Covid-19 infection.

Gian Luca Rana, however, did not stop with the people in the company, and during the dramatic period of the pandemic, he donated 400,000 euros in favor of health facilities in the area. Thus, equipment for assisted ventilation were purchased for the intensive care units of hospitals in the province of Verona. In addition, through the Rana Foundation, established by Gian Luca Rana with the mission of giving support to communities in need, 15 hug tunnels were installed. These are special stations created inside the Pia Opera Ciccarelli care facilities to allow guests and their families to meet again in a safe space.

Gian Luca has kept his roots firmly planted over the years, holding many positions in various institutions in the Verona area such as the Board of Directors of Banco Popolare di Verona. He was also president of the local section of Confindustria, the youngest person to hold this position, and since 2010, has been president of the Athesis publishing group.

In 2019, the CEO launched the Festival of the Future, an event aimed at analyzing and exposing the trends of the coming years and their impact, not only in the food sector, but on the entire global economy and society. Gian Luca Rana has also received numerous awards for his entrepreneurial spirit, including the International Awareness Award sponsored by Fordham University in New York for his achievements in the United States.

Thanks to his efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic period, in 2020 Gian Luca Rana was awarded the Welfare Award in the seventh edition of “Save the Brand,” promoted by LC Publishing Group for Italian brands that have become a benchmark and creators of value.

Gian Luca Rana’s commitment to culture is also great. He is one of the two founders of the innovative crowfunding project “67 columns” promoted by Fondazione Arena di Verona. Starting in 2021, in fact, 67 local entrepreneurs will joined forces to contribute to the Arena’s fundraising to support its opera festival. And precisely for the constant sensitivity shown toward the artistic heritage of the territory and the commitment to enhancing one of the most iconic Italian cultural excellences, in 2023 Gian Luca received the special “Culture as a bridge to the future” award at “Class TV Moda Veneto Awards: The excellences of Made in Italy.”

Also, in Verona, with his contribution, in 2023, Gian Luca Rana promotes culture and museum attendance by younger generations. By donating the entrance fee to 3,700 students of all grades, he makes it easier and closer to getting to know the extraordinary collection of the Casa Museo Palazzo Maffei, with dedicated itineraries and customized art workshops.

Thanks to Gian Luca Rana’s continued focus on the territory, in 2024 Pastificio Rana is among the protagonists of “Identitalia, the iconic Italian Brands”: an exhibition organized to celebrate the historic brands that have made and continue to make the history of Italy.