A couple weeks ago, I was lucky enough to participate in the 30th anniversary of Italdesign, a world-famous automotive design house in Turin, Italy.
One of its founders, Giorgetto Giugiaro, has done some of the most successful automotive designs, including the 1974 Volkswagen Golf, the Hyundai Pony and the DeLorean, among others.
Giugiaro and his partner, Aldo Mantovani, a quiet, shy man who has been very content to stay in the shadows, make a perfect combination for success.
And now, it's great that their sons Marco Mantovani and Fabrizio Giugiaro are continuing in their fathers' footsteps.
But in a country and a city so well known for successful automotive design houses, such as Pininfarina and Bertone, it is rather remarkable that Italdesign has survived and prospered.
In remarks that I made at the celebration, I said that one of the great reasons for their success is that they truly have passion for their work.
Giugiaro is well known as an artist, and he brings an artist's passion to automotive design. For decades, his cars have elicited strong opinions and controversy, but Italdesign's record of commercial success is well known.
It was fitting that Italdesign also asked Paolo Cantarella, CEO of Fiat, and Ferdinand Piech, chairman of Volkswagen, to speak at this gathering.
Both of those talented executives have made reputations for themselves and their companies with their product knowledge and skills. Both have led their companies to the top with a long list of great products, because they understand the strength of product and have a passion for those products.
I've known the folks at Italdesign for many years and have always enjoyed a great relationship with Giorgetto Giugiaro - whose knowledge of English about matches my knowledge of Italian. Nonetheless, we've never had a problem communicating. Giorgetto's unbounded enthusiasm has always overcome the minor language barriers.
And it probably doesn't matter if the language is English, German or Japanese. He is a great communicator.
It's wonderful to see Italdesign become one of the real successes in Turin. The design house has combined talent and artistry with solid engineering and has thrown in a big dose of passion.
I have no doubt that it will continue to create great automobiles over the next few decades as well.