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City Survivor 1923 – 2009

August 20, 2009 by  
Filed under City's Top


Survive0Stretching back in time, Vaughan, named after a peace negotiator in 1792, showed much promise for becoming a booming hotbed of success. And the young founders who planted their entrepreneurial roots in the area served as symbols of opportunity, promise and hope.

Many companies, some established as far back as 1923, still exist today. Built upon hard work, dedication and good values, they have become the legs this city stands on. Once a barren landscape, Vaughan is now a thriving metropolis, thanks to these business beacons.

Read on to find out how these pillars of success have shaped the face of the community, proving that business is much like a merry-go-round – ever-turning with challenges and prosperity.

Originally established as a market garden in 1923 by Frank and Hazel Reeves, Reeves Florist & Nursery has continually transformed itself to meet the needs of its growing customer base. Today, after over 80 years in the green business, Reeves has become a mecca for green thumbs everywhere. A complete retail garden centre, florist and gift shop, Reeves is acknowledged as one of the largest and most successful centres in the GTA, drawing in customers from all over Toronto, due to its reputation for quality, selection and knowledgeable staff. The comprehensive selection of exotic plants and flowers promises to add unique colour and life to your garden.

1950 Ganz
It all began with one doll. On a trip to visit his sons Jack and Sam in Toronto, Samuel Ganz brought with him a doll that he had seen being made in New York City. Shortly after, Ganz Toys was established in 1950. Ganz is now a leading toy company in Canada, with offices in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Shanghai. This business, now headed by Howard Ganz, the founder’s grandson, also produces giftware, candles, garden décor and more.

When Benny Moscone first began his small company in 1952, he ran it out of his home with the help of his wife. Today, Moscone Tile has become a family legacy, with Moscone’s children (Anna, Vince, Laura, Nina and her husband, Anthony) leading the way. A powerhouse in its industry, Moscone Tile is Toronto’s go-to establishment for residential and tile installation, furnishing luxury condominiums, newly constructed homes, subdivisions and more with its stunning imported tile, marble and stone manufacturing from its new location on Jane Street in Maple. “Since we were kids, we listened to shoptalk about the business as it grew,” explains Anna Moscone. “We’re the second generation, however, we’ve inherited our father’s core values and expanded on them, while maintaining that level of quality and service.”

Whether you see music as a hobby or a calling, Cosmo Music gives you the keys you need to let your talent flourish. As the largest interactive music store of its kind, this superstore has been wowing its customers for over 40 years, providing an unprecedented selection of guitars, pianos, keyboards, drums, recording software and much more. Owned by Tom Hebert, Cosmo also offers music lessons in its prestigious School of Music, so that your budding Bach or young Jimmy Page can get the guidance and direction of a professional.

It all began in 1969, when Nino D’Aversa and his brothers fused Canadian and Italian heritage by selling fresh bread and tasty espresso from inside their modest bakery. As the years passed and a new generation of D’Aversas came to carry on their parents’ legacy, the once tiny shop became a staple in the community, now reigning as a premier bakery with three locations. “Many of our customers have grown up with us,” says co-owner Domenic D’Aversa. “People always tell us that they remember coming in here when they were kids.” Today, the D’Aversa name is synonymous with freshness, quality and tradition. 416.638.3271

Back in the 1930s, Joseph Greco started offering the freshest fruits and high-quality vegetables he could find, thus beginning a tradition that continues on today through Concord Food Centre, now run by his grandson Joe Greco. Concord continues to live by its mantra to give its customers the freshest perishables and merchandise that they want at competitive prices, within a clean, friendly environment with a knowledgeable, helpful staff.

Everyone knows that working with family can bring about problems. But for brothers-in-law Anthony Gennaro and Mauro Di Tacchio, hard work and comradeship became the key to their success. “We want customers to know they’re getting quality, respect, customer service and are dealing with friends,” says Gennaro. “I would measure success by the amount of smiles and compliments we bring to people,” he adds. The two cite their fathers as role models, as they taught them perseverance. A family run business since 1970, the establishment spills with expensive goods, so you can enjoy the finer things in life while Europa dazzles you with years of experience.

Along with the other casualties of General Motors, Frank Romeo from Pine View was forced to make a decision: not to give up. Carrying an antique company since 1970 on his back, Pine View will be undergoing some extreme changes in the near future. From Dec. 31, 2009, the 39-year-old business will transition into an independent dealership, with lease and sales options for a selection of different models. The body shop will continue to thrive in the service department. Through these difficult times, Pine View’s business carries on through a challenging new step. 905.851.2851

For over 35 years, motor homes from Toronto RV have been released into the wild for travel convenience and smooth sailing. With tailored amenities such as three-piece bathrooms, three-burner propane and enough space to hold up to 60 gallons of water, Toronto RV motor homes are fully equipped and offered in a variety of sizes. On behalf of owner Clay Foster, a Toronto RV representative says: “In the last 35 years of the business, Toronto RV has been selling up to an average of 100 motor homes per year in different sizes and classes!”

Consider the Ammendolia family the Brady Bunch of the retail world. Angelo and Elena opened their garden centre in 1974, after arriving to a new country. Their motivation to succeed stemmed from their need to support six children. Help from numerous family members is evident in the six-plus acres of gardening products that they offer today. “Working with family can be very intense and you have to be very diplomatic, but I love my family so it’s worth it,” says owner and manager Stella Ammendolia. She measures success by, “Wanting to come to work every day and enjoying it and really making an effort to make your employees and your customers happy. The money comes if the other ingredients are there.”

Soak up the last few days of summer with a zip around the lake in your very own luxurious boat. “We’re very easy to access and I definitely think that’s helped us to grow and expand as a company,” says general manager Robert Craig. As a factory-authorized Johnson, Evinrude, Honda, Mercury and Yamaha sales and service centre, this nautical haven combines a vast selection with valuable experience, to create a brand that’s trusted and respected. Visit the 30-boat showroom to catch a glimpse of the latest models from Rinker and Stingray.

“Any Palladini is a pal of mine!” You may have heard the commercial, but these were words that entrepreneur Al Palladini lived by. He ensured that every customer walking through the doors of his car dealership was treated as a friend and was satisfied with their purchase. This mentality began in 1977, and continues with his son, Franco Palladini. The work ethic of the Palladini family is still at the core of this business, having been named the No. 1 volume truck dealer in Ontario for the past four years.

He spent his days in a log cabin on a hamlet in central Saskatchewan, without electricity or running water. Years later, Leonard Lee would receive a diploma in civil engineering; a bachelor of economics. In 1978, a strong-willed Lee founded Lee Valley Tools, now a well-recognized, multimillion dollar mail-order business offering woodwork and gardening tools. Then came Veritas Tools, Algrove Publishing and Canica Design, a medical/surgical instrument company. His contributions to society go unnoticed, having been granted membership into the Order of Canada for being a successful entrepreneur.

In 1978, when Woodbridge was just a small town, IDA Pharmacy opened as one of the first pharmacies providing drug plans and post-office delivery. Dating back to 1933, IDA pharmacies have exponentially grown and risen to over 300 drugstores in Canada. The IDA Pharmacy located at 7766 Martin Grove Rd. has been prescribing medication and offering remedies for the past 31 years! Just around the corner and over the counter, is Woodbridge’s most trusted pharmaceutical establishment. 905.851.2261

With the goal to create a booming business on a new landscape, Joseph Bozzo opened the very first St. Phillips Bakery in 1979 on Jane Street, south of Wilson Avenue. His son Robert later became involved in the business and success quickly followed. A Maple location opened in 1989, followed by a Woodbridge store in 2001. An important celebratory event is usually marked with a visit to St. Phillips Bakery.

Remember when dressing a man was a stressful event? Well things really have changed, as the success of Moores Clothing for Men is evidence that guys really do like to look their best. In 1980, a family owned menswear store opened in Mississauga, Ont., with a mere 12 employees. Now, over 1,200 people are employed throughout Moores locations across Canada, including several in the GTA.

First opened in 1981 under Paramount Pictures, Canada’s Wonderland was Canada’s first major theme park. Now owned and operated by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, a publicly traded partnership, Canada’s favourite amusement playground has been thrilling its guests for decades, evoking childhood memories of hot, carefree summers. Over the years, Canada’s Wonderland has continuously evolved, constantly adding new rides and attractions to complement the latest in the world of entertainment.

Celebrating 25 years of priceless experience, John Verdone, Italo Cellupica, and the team at Le Parc Conference and Banquet Centres are experts in hospitality and have entertaining down to an art. Able to accommodate 60 to 1,000 guests in their elegantly spacious ballrooms, guests can expect nothing but the best service and fare, ensuring a breathtaking event every time. “I think our consistency has made us successful,” says Verdone. “My staff has been with me since Day 1, and we’re known for having quality food and service. Those things keep people coming back – it’s built our reputation.”

In1983, when Woodbridge was just a remote field, Gilly Chaplin foresaw a magnificent business, dancing alive with the burning passion for dance. This all-around school of dance provides pre-school, junior and adult levels for professional and recreational expression in disciplines such as ballet, jazz, tap. Similar to its ever-thriving studio with lower-level boutique business, Chaplin says: “The secret to being a great dancer is knowing that there’s no limit to how much you can grow and who you can become.”

Singing its praises as the first music school in Woodbridge, Arcadia Academy of Music has come a long way since 1984. Countless of students – probably you or your children – beckoned to this music mecca, which continues to be recognized for its disciplined teaching methods in an expressive environment. Celebrating its silver anniversary this year, Arcadia now has many locations, offering private lessons in piano, vocal and guitar, to violin, saxophone and the trumpet. So many young children have been inspired to become rock stars at Arcadia, while garnering competitive skills and a steadfast appreciation for the notes that flow a song, the art of composition and an intimate encounter with musical prodigies Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johann Sebastian Bach, Frédéric Chopin.

With 25 years of experience in a competitive retail market, Mondo Uomo has managed to stay on the cutting edge of fashion through its commitment to providing quality clothing to valued customers. Building an impressive collection of styles from revered designers like Hugo Boss, Just Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, Sand, Thierry Mugler and Ermenegildo Zegna, Mondo Uomo’s comprehensive selection has grown alongside its exceptional reputation. Specializing in weddings and formal wear, the 5,000 sq. ft. store has expanded and evolved over the years to satisfy its growing customer base. “We really get to know our clients, and that’s something that hasn’t changed,” says owner Salvatore Greco.

Cruising on the dreams of just one man, Totalline Transport has over the years driven towards the road of success. It was in 1986 when Uwe Petroschke hopped in his truck en route from Toronto to Vancouver, and today, his vision has altered the world of logistics. With earnings of $9.7 million, Totalline Transport dominates the fast lane of transportation services across North America.

1988 PER LUI
Don’t deny the ’80s: you were most likely one of the many sharp shooters strolling into Per Lui, to pick up a shirt that would impress the ladies with teased hair at Paparazzi or Palazzo night clubs. Back in 1988 when Per Lui first opened its doors, it was the sole store on the corner of Hwy 7 and Weston Road, now a booming intersection. These days, Per Lui continues to be a local favourite, offering the latest of men’s styles, as well as catering to women with its sister store Per Lui. While you sip on a complimentary espresso courtesy of Sandy, Paolo, Tony and Steve, remember the strong roots of a clothing institution that has risen above competition, growth and fashion trends.

For Josie Restivo and Carmella Bozzo, sisterhood was the foundation that lifted their small shop into a luxurious boutique of fine collectibles, corporate gifts, dinnerware, home décor and kitchen accessories. Since its inception in 1989, Restivo and Bozzo have showered their customers with imitable service and a bridal registry for soon-to-be-brides and grooms.

Quenching customers’ need for speed for 14 years, Avante Mazda prides itself on offering the perfect blend of quality, value and customer service. “A company has to change over time, but the key is never to change your core beliefs,” says Dave Gurnett, controller for Avante. “Our reputation is what’s made us successful. Pure and simple.” Owner Frank Serpa ensures that at Avante, a sale is just the beginning of a strong and lasting relationship with each client, and it is this dedication and loyalty that has made Avante continue to grow and create happy new Mazda owners.

San Antonio Fish Market Inc. was founded in 1996 in a 2,500 sq. ft. building that contained a retail section and a small wholesale division meant to supply a few banquet facilities. Thirteen years later, San Antonio has grown to employ a staff of 55 in a 25,000 sq. ft. building in order to satisfy the growth of its customer base. “Our personal touches really make a difference,” says director of operations Paul Lionetti. “We establish a personal relationship with each of our customers.” With both a retail and wholesale division, San Antonio caters to banquet halls, supermarkets, hotels and casinos, as well as to individual customers, so that everyone can enjoy the freshest catches under the sea.


One Response to “City Survivor 1923 – 2009”

  1. rob on January 31st, 2010 12:28 am

    Concord food centre is the best grocery store in toronto

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