UniFirst Announces Passing of Aldo A. Croatti, Chairman of the Board.
WILMINGTON, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 5, 2001
UniFirst Corporation (NYSE:UNF) today announced that Aldo A. Croatti, Chairman of the Board, died on October 4, 2001. He was 83.
Mr. Croatti was born in Beverly, Massachusetts on December 2, 1917 of immigrant parents who came to America from northern Italy in 1911. He was the youngest of six children, and at the age of six, his family moved to Boston where he attended public schools and graduated from high school in 1936.
Although offered a football scholarship to Boston University, Aldo instead went to work in the tile business with his brothers. When asked why he did not attend college, he would say, "in those days work was considered more important". His mother, an ambitious but uneducated woman, was his role model. During Prohibition, she took in boarders to make ends meet. Between her large family and the boarders she labored almost around the clock. She died at age 50 due to what Aldo simply called "overwork". Her lessons of hard work stuck.
Aldo became one of the founders of a small cleaning business in the early 40's. It was a tiny business which cleaned coveralls for Boston workers in high-soil, manufacturing and service jobs and he joined three other partners already struggling to make it successful. His influence was immediate and far-reaching bringing a culture of quality and dedication to the customer.
The little business he joined when it was still occupying space in a converted Boston horse-barn, is little no longer. He made sure of that by adding a second location in Springfield, Massachusetts, building a plant in Dorchester, acquiring another plant in Portland, Maine, establishing a terminal in Albany, New York, and others in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Bangor, Maine. Through a combination of internal expansion and acquisition, he pushed his business west and south, sweeping down the Atlantic coast from the northeast, across the gulf states into Texas, and finally up the Pacific coast. Today, UniFirst employs 7,500 team partners who serve well over 100,000 customer locations in 45 states, Canada and Europe. It is now a half-billion dollar New York Stock Exchange Company, and a respected leader in the uniform services industry.
In recognition of his major contributions to his Company's and his industry's success, Aldo Croatti was presented with the "Gus Eggerling Award", emblematic of lifetime achievement by a member of the Uniform and Textile Services Association, in 1993. Also, Inc. Magazine, Ernst & Young and Merrill Lynch named Mr. Croatti a "1994 Entrepreneur of the Year". A supporter of numerous charities, he was a major contributor to Massachusetts General Hospital and a sustaining member of the Lahey Clinic Foundation. He was Man of the Year of the Don Orione Home in 1994.
Aldo, himself, summed it up best when he said "What I've accomplished has happened only because of an ever-supportive family, my loving wife and children, who have always had faith that I'd do the right thing." Aldo is survived by his wife Marie, four children, Ronald Croatti of Londonderry, New Hampshire, Cynthia Croatti of Beverly, Mass, Mona Levenstein of Hamilton, Ontario and Frederick Croatti of Daytona Beach, Florida. He also has eight grandchildren and four great grandchildren.