Nicholas Fallucca shares Palermo’s lessons learned on innovation and meeting market demand | Ep.132

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Palermo’s Pizza has seen a lot of change over the years, from serving hungry customers at the bar to making and distributing pizzas around the country.

Nicholas Fallucca, chief product and innovation officer at Palermo’s, shared insights on those changes along with lessons learned from trying to match innovative ideas with market and customer demands during a recent presentation to the Rotary Club of Milwaukee, a podcast partner of BizTimes Media.

Learning from family

As a third-generation family leader in the business, Fallucca said he’s been fortunate to watch and learn from prior generations, whether it was his father’s drive for change and desire to win, his mother’s creativity and strong vision or his uncle’s servant leadership and patience.

“Through all the ups and downs, having those three at the head of the company has been really great for me to see,” Fallucca said.

He also acknowledged it isn’t always smooth sailing in a family business.

“There’s some really great things about family business, there’s some big challenges with family business. We’ve got personalities, differing opinions, different ways you want to go, maybe, different styles, some people want growth, some people want to do things the way they are and so we had our fair share of challenges with that as well,” Fallucca said.

Meeting the market

Fallucca described how in 2007 the company launched a pizza product based on very traditional methods and high-quality ingredients, things that are very much sought after by consumers.

The product, however, failed because customers were looking for something else.

“We learned that just because it’s a great product, sometimes you have to be relevant at the right moment,” he said.

Think creatively

In a world full of supply chain challenges, evolving workforce expectations, inflation and uncertainty, Fallucca encouraged business leaders to embrace the opportunity for change.

“It a crazy world,” he said. “I challenge you guys to innovate everything you do, from your processes to your policies to your products, just because this is what you’ve done in the past, if it’s working, great, but if it’ not working, fix it. Don’t wait for the pain to be so great for you to change your process. Think differently about the way that you hire, about your business overall.”

“The world is forcing us to make these changes and you can try to resist it, or you can think creatively about how to anticipate it,” Fallucca added.

In dealing with inflation, Fallucca said businesses should look to pass along the increased costs they face.

“I can’t stress enough the importance of passing on all of your costs,” he said. “You can try to save your way and cut costs and cut heads and if you don’t want to grow, I think that’s fine, you can do that, but if you want to grow, again, you’ve got to think differently.”

Rotary Club of Milwaukee

In partnership with the Rotary Club of Milwaukee.

Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.