Antonela Hako - Lead without fear 

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By Fatima Gorezi

Hako Sh.pk is today one of the largest meat production companies in Albania. Behind the success of this well-known brand lies the dedication and vision not only of the "Hako" family, but especially of Antonela Hako. Antonela for more than 20 years, has managed finances and today manages sales and marketing in the company "Hako". 

Apart from the challenges that the Albanian economy and the meat production market face today, she is optimistic when she thinks about the future. Determined and responsible for the vital importance of the products it produces, "Hako" year after year has increased investments to bring food production to the highest level of European standard, to perfect the technology and to increase the diversity of products. 

Eloquent, smiling, a bit pragmatic, as well as curated down to the most detailed detail, Antonela recounts how she and her husband managed to turn "Hako" into a success story. Between the lines Antonela talks about the family, the two boys who are her weakness, as well as the very special relationship with her sister, the actress loved by the public Ema Andrea.  

Hako Sh.pk is today one of the largest sausage production companies in Albania and beyond. Founded in 1994, Hako has grown from a small shop to one of the most successful businesses in the country with over 200 employees. How was all this journey in a nutshell…? 

Journey like a human life, from the first breath, body aches, cries, first steps.

Dealing with the unexpected, maturity and character formation, until you start to be confident about your path in life and how you will build it. So in short is the life in 25 years of Hako.

What are your most important memories in these 25 years?

An interview would not be enough to answer. We were very young when we emigrated. Abroad we learned a lot about work and business, because coming out of the dictatorship, our knowledge was apart from books.

Albania to raise hope to invest. And we decided to go back. We did not see the future in a foreign country. Returning after four years had its risks, but thanks to courage we overcame them.

I have shared this experience occasionally with readers. And in fact I would not want to tire them.

I remind myself that even when I was pregnant I went to work every day. On hard days when I fainted, I found myself with an orange peel. And I got up again and again at work. We could not afford to hire many staff; so we did both the worker and the management and the economist. It has been years since I was raised. I have touched every process of every machine by hand, I have worked without feeling tired, with the pleasure that we were launching different products every year, new products, products that consumers were accepting as part of their tables.

We passed 1997, the year when, terrified, we thought of leaving Albania. But were we able to leave behind as if without harm, everything we had invested? It was not easy to break over dreams.

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From the point of view of women and businessmen who see their careers strongly related to the salami business, how do you see the market of salami products in Albania?

The production is difficult, but also very beautiful. Today in Albania there are many companies well invested in the production of sausage, as well as producers without minimum conditions of hygiene.

As above, the consumer is always under the pressure of quality, food safety, price and choice.

He is very little informed and under the pressure of the media, the confusion reaches its peak. To make news, to increase visibility; we are not infrequently in panic.

Few journalists (or not at all) come and look for information about the truth, to enter the production halls and see up close how much effort there is to produce with hygiene standards, to seek to get acquainted with the way the raw materials are selected and how the product is “followed” to the final destination. No one writes that this industry today keeps thousands of families at work, which has contemporary investments from the best in Europe. 

Like, unfortunately for us, there are manufacturers unconditionally and out of control. As such, they market their products outside of any trading conditions and confuse the consumer with cheap prices.

What is life like between business and family? Do you have hostages… or things along the way that you wish you had done differently?

Years ago I was confused with each other. The business with its difficulties became part of the family and often took the children's classes. Boredom and fatigue leave you sleepless. There have been days of teit so happened that we worked so late that we left the children and found them asleep.

My hostages…? I would like more time for my mother, for my sister and my brother. I wish I had spent more weekends with the kids when they were little. I would like more time for myself, for things that over the years I can no longer do. 

I wish debates were not part of my day, I wish I had not kept around me people who spent my kindness and weakened my heart.

From time to time you are also part of the screen in interviews, in various shows. I have read and heard you several times; there are stories there, but also a great deal of social sensitivity. How does Antonela see Albania? How do you see social life in Albania today? What is missing and what is left over?

Albania is a blessed country. But I still do not see that we value it as our own. My soul aches when I hear people want to leave, when I see young people who want to build the future abroad.

Today there are many cafes, but few libraries, there are conversations about clothes and holidays, but few conversations about new ideas and little work. Today we see many soap operas, but few shows for teenagers and their needs.

Today we are among the abundance of products, but little do we know to choose and eat healthy.

Today we spend time on social networks, but little in sports and helping the elderly or people in need.

For what would Antonela leave the venture? Have you ever thought about it? If you were not an entrepreneur, what would your profession be?

Once upon a time, in my youth I had two dreams in the drawer: a doctor and a TV host.

It's a little weird and funny because there are two extremes, but today I manage to explain. Either of the two professions, would have relationships with people, would require commitment to them. And I like to serve for life things, to explain, to train, I am not afraid to give of myself, I am not afraid that someone else will be better than me. I do not have this complex, it is enough for me that what I do is worth it.

You seem to be very organized, with a well-scheduled and regular agenda and normally with lots of activities during the day. What motivates you to wake up in the morning? What is your daily motto?

I have been running sales and marketing in Hako for many years. Both dynamic sectors, which require you to be surrounded by professionals and dedicated people. I am lucky to have a jobe like mine makes you make contacts with clients, meet them and talk to them. And there is always something te re that learns, has gjefell to improve, look where you are positioned as a company, what you did well and how much you have to work hard to become and me good. I never forget the motive: “There is only one boss. He is the CUSTOMER! He can fire anyone in the company from the director to the guard, simply by spending the money elsewhere. ” 

Hako has invested a lot for the good name. The principle that has led us forward has been honesty with the customer. Today, after 25 years, we not only maintain the same principle, but we work to maintain and update with technology and standard every time.

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You are the sister of the actress Ema Andrea, a woman who has given contributions and has written her name in gold among Albanian artists, but also an incomparable anti-conformist (rebel against injustices and social phenomena). How has your relationship been over the years? Yes today? 

My Emma is one of the beauties that fate bestows on you. And I am blessed for her and the relationship we have. My soul aches when I remember how much Emma is tired and weary. When she was little and expressed her desire for ballet school, it seemed a little strange to me. Raised from a sube doctor, we had never thought about the connection with art. But now that I remember the days when she was rehearsing and competing to become a ballerina. After that, in my eyes always passed a girl who grew up with passion and emotion, very responsible and very hardworking. As the eldest I tried not to let her do chores at home. 

He never had an appetite, but he wanted to try everything. I remember the end-of-year holidays. Poverty made us rejoice in the abundance of the feast table. Plenty them to say! I have been cooking since I was a child and on such days I was burdened to sit in the kitchen in the morning. Emma was behind me and as soon as I finished something, I gave it to her to try. Then, in the evening, we set the table and drank wine until dawn… .Often we just waited for breakfast just the two of us.

We split upe togethere passion for classical music, for costumes and colors. We have the same opinion about the fact that we are temporary and that kindness is virtue.

I adore my sister on stage, I adore her for the sacrifice and there are moments when I want to shout: "How much was it…?"

The answer in fact continues to be given by my Emma, with the beautiful art she makes.

Beyond the business world, how is your life organized? What is family life like? What are your passions and free time?

My family is my world, my children are the golden crown of my life. I have two sons like sunlight.

Adults today, I can rely on them without fear. They were raised by two parents who set the best example for their work. They grew up with the love of wonderful grandparents. We have been part of the business since we were little. I remember taking them to work during the summer holidays for a few weeks. And of course we included them in the packaging process. The little one then watched the soap opera with his grandmother, and even though we had advised him not to talk during the work process, he did not stop. Among the women he "helped", he talked and talked incessantly. There were times when it caused laughter, and then he felt good about himself and his work. Lunch break and consumption in the canteen, which they both did with the group where they worked, at the same table… Thus they had what they learned things different from their own world.

We never met the unnecessary, we never set an example for other children. My advice has been to become citizens and be yourself. Vanity has not been part of their growth.

You are also known as a philanthropist and participate in charity campaigns and initiatives to help the community. In many cases you do this away from the cameras or the spotlight. Can you rarely share with us more details about this?

I once said that philanthropy does not shout. And today I continue to say the same. I did little things that I hope have made someone happy. I have tried as much as I can to devote time to you because I think what people need most today is time, dedication, word, petting, not just financial help. When I go to the "Help Life" children's center and meet Ms. Aferdita, I understand the strength of this lady and the commitment that all staff have for the children. And after that what I have done is nothing, because the time I give you is very little. Likewise when I meet DSA Emma, the heroic, woman to be exemplified. Her dedication and "fight" for the children make me feel good that I am a small part of this work. 

What is your message to our readers and especially to the female audience?

Every morning worship yourself in front of the mirror and start the day with the belief that everything will go well. You can't go back to yesterday, you can't predict tomorrow, today you want a motive to live well.

Do not leave goals unfulfilled and if something goes wrong, do not worry, everything is fixed. Health is the most important thing, you can not buy it. Forgive love, give kindness and ask for nothing in return! It makes you happier, trust me.

 

* Taken from "Star People" magazine, print version

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