In 2007, Francesco and Enzo Marra, two Italian brothers with a passion for craftsmanship, founded pizza oven manufacturer Marra Forni—and immediately started doing things a different way.
First, the two brothers chose to manufacture their hand-built oven in a city not typically known as a manufacturing hub: Washington, D.C. Their choice of headquarters was just one of many decisions that Francesco and Enzo made that took their company off the beaten path.
In addition to their pride in being a small family company (Francesco serves as the chief executive officer, and Enzo fills the role of chief operating officer), the two wanted to create an oven that was stylish and built traditionally—but incorporated modern technology.
Additionally, the company wanted to build a far more energy efficient oven than anything else on the market.
“Typically, most of our competitors have a product that is rated close to 300,000 BTUs, whereas our oven is closer to 80,000 BTUs,” notes Enzo Marra. “We are passionate about the cost savings and efficiencies this creates for our customers—and the fact that a more energy-efficient oven is one small contribution toward a better use of our natural resources.”
The company’s social consciousness doesn’t just extend to the efficiency of their ovens. A recent donation to a Chicago-area prison illustrates that the two brothers believe in second chances—and the unique and important role the foodservice industry plays in giving formerly incarcerated individuals a second chance at a better life.
“Everyone deserves a second chance,” says Francesco. “The boom in the artisanal pizza concept is not a fad, and more restaurants—and consequently jobs—will be created in the coming years. Our hope is that the folks learning how to use the oven our company donated will obtain marketable skills, and a second chance at a better life when they get released.”
Francesco and Enzo Marra have taken a unique approach in building their company—and it’s paying off.
The company currently manufactures its ovens in a 25,000 sq ft facility, and will expand to another 15,000 sq ft building in the very near future in order to meet demand. The new expansion will include an in-house welding and fabricating department, which allow the company to manufacture every part of their ovens in-house.
“Our ovens can be used for more than just pizza, and can be customised so the look of the oven is consistent with the customer’s brand,” says Francesco. “That’s unique in this market. Secondly, we believe that our oven is a part of a more holistic food experience. We help educate our customers on how to use more natural, locally grown ingredients that create a higher-quality pizza, and a better dining experience for their customers.”
“The result has been rapid growth for the company.”
That rapid growth includes an interest in growing their Latin American market, which is how the company ended up exhibiting and sponsoring at the 2016 Abastur show in Mexico City, Mexico.
“We came here to learn and to establish new relationships,” says Enzo. “Our relationships with distributors and consultants have been an important part of our success, and will be even more important as we expand our focus to new markets.”
And future attendance at the Abastur show?
“We will definitely be back, ideally with an expanded presence and more involvement,” says Francesco. “This event is an important part of our strategy to expand in Mexico and all of Latin America.”