President of Colmar, Mario Colombo, Turns Passion Into Business

Colmar.  A brand rooted in entrepreneurialism.

Founded in 1923 by Mario and Irma Colombo, their history is as colorful as their clothing. Colmar survived and thrived through historic events that crippled many a company.

The Great Depression, World War II and the Fascist regime in Italy could not stop Colmar from becoming the icon they are today. Facing these big challenges head-on, the Colombo family innovated in style, consistently taking their company to the next level. (Learn more about their rich history here.)

With this mindset, Mario Colombo, President of Colmar, decided to push the brand into a new frontier. Famous for their pass time with winter sports, he was determined to take their success in the snow to the lush greens of the fairway.

In 2010, they entered the golf apparel industry.

The result is an incredibly athletic, high performing clothing line. It is worn around the world by players including the famous Italian golfer, Edoardo Molinari.

Their presence in golf can be felt elsewhere as well. Along with their fantastic lineup of brand ambassadors, Colmar sponsors the Italian Open and host their own amateur series called the Colmar Cup.

We had the pleasure to interview Mario on his life with golf, why he decided to move the company in this direction, what he has learned from the family business and much more.

Here is what he had to say:

G&E: Mario, it is a pleasure to interview you for G&E Magazine, to learn more about you, and Colmar‘s history with golf! Are you a golfer yourself?

Mario: Yes, I’m an avid golfer with a lot of passion for the sport, even if my results are not so great!

G&E: Can you please tell us a little about your background and how you became the President of Colmar?

Mario: I studied Economics in Italy and spent a year at USF (University of San Francisco). After that, I started working for the family company and worked my way up the ladder. I started in the accounting office, then went into the sales department and finally marketing. I also have three years of experience as the CEO of Adidas Italy. Colmar has been the distributor for Adidas in Italy for decades.

G&E: It is apparent that there is entrepreneurial blood within your family as your grandparents, Mario and Irma, started Colmar in 1923. They have a fascinating story living through critical world events such as the global financial crisis in 1929 and World War II. What were you able to learn from them that has helped you become a success today

Unfortunately, my grandfather died 10 years before my birth and I’m really sad that I didn’t have the chance to meet him and know him whilst he was alive. My grandmother Irma, along with my father and uncle, taught me the history of the company. They taught me that you have to be strong in difficult situations and how to face big challenges.

G&E: As skiing was Colmar‘s first big success in the sporting world, what inspired your company to enter the golf industry?

Without a doubt, our brand is strongly linked to the history of the Italian professional ski world, with names such as Zeno, Colò, Alberto Tomba, Deborah Compagnoni and all the guys of La Valanga Azzurra being a big part of it. Today, the French and Lichtenstein ski teams collaborate with us as well.

Golf became a part of Colmar because it’s my preferred hobby, but mostly because we believe there are a lot of analogies with the ski environment. In both sports, the clothing is essential for protecting you from external weather conditions, such as humidity in the case of golfer. The clothing has to help the performance of the player.

G&E: Edoardo Molinari has become a big star in the world of golf. What kind of impact has he had on Colmar‘s golf line as an ambassador?

Mario: Edoardo was the first person who believed in our new adventure and he continues to give us precious advise, which helps us to improve technicity and design. Today, in addition to Edoardo, we also have Alejandro Canizares, Renato Paratore, Romain Langasque and many other pro-playing ambassadors inside and outside the European Tour.

G&E: The popularity of golf has been on the rise over the past few years. Do you feel like this hold’s true in Italy and if so, what kind of impact is Colmar having on the growth of the game?

Mario: I think the popularity of golf is increasing all around the world thanks to TV broadcasting. Italians spend more time playing golf than any other European country. The sponsorship we have undertaken since last year for the Italian Open, in addition to our own amateur Colmar Cup, all aid in helping the golf movement.

G&E: What makes Colmar unique compared to other golf brands?

Mario: Fabrics, design, the Italian style, all concentrate on details. This is what distinguishes us from all the bigger brand names.

G&E: What are your goals for Colmar‘s golf apparel line and yourself into the future?

Mario: We hope to conquer other important markets outside Europe, USA, and the Far East, and also to be the brand for those who want to be elegant on the green.

G&E: Who is your greatest inspiration?

Mario: My wife because she is a much better golf player than me.

G&E: What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?

Mario: I have had many, even if they weren’t all so important, they’ve taught me to learn more about people and how to make the right evaluations. But the most important lesson that I’ve found is that if you don’t fail, you do not learn. Ultimately, failures can help you in becoming a better person or manager.

G&E: If you could give any advice to an aspiring entrepreneur entering the apparel industry, what would you say?

Mario: It is very important to have good knowledge of finance, marketing and sales of course, but you also have to have good experience in tailoring and sewing – and have a lot of patience and faith!

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