by Joanne Spata
The Italian Cultural Center at Casa Italia is proud to announce its 2013 Man of the Year will be Dominic Stramaglia.
“An entrepreneur, community leader and philanthropist, Dominic embodies the true spirit of the Italian Cultural Center,” says event Chairwoman Amy Lemar. “Coming to America as a boy, he brought with him all the best attributes Italy has to offer: his love of family, his keen intellect and his determined spirit.”
Dominic Stramaglia was born in Bari, Italy, in 1946. The Stramaglia family traveled across the Atlantic Ocean on the Andrea Doria in 1954, landing at Ellis Island. Little did Dominic know then how important a role the seas would later play in his life. Dominic and his family were met in New York City by his maternal grandparents, Pasquale and Maria Favia, who had come to America in 1910. They traveled by train to Illinois and settled in Chicago’s Little Italy neighborhood, near Taylor and Racine, and were later joined by their cousins, the Straziota family.
A graduate of Our Lady of Pompeii Elementary School and Holy Cross High School in Chicago, Dominic grew strong in faith and generous in spirit. Even as a child, he always helped with his family’s bills by working at various jobs, such as stocking shelves at grocery stores, selling newspapers and shining shoes. One of his prize possessions today is his original shoeshine box. “The Lord has been good to me. So, as my business has grown, we have always tried to give back,” Dominic says. He continues to support Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Mayo Clinic, the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii, the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans and Casa Italia, to name just a few.
As an adult, Dominic married and had two children, John and Laura. He continued to work hard in several different fields until he was invited by two friends to join them in creating a wholesale business dedicated to distributing live lobsters from Boston. That’s how Supreme Lobster was born. Through tireless dedication and countless hours of hard work, Dominic turned a small, local lobster distributorship into a full-line seafood distributor that today serves the United States from coast to coast.
In 1980, Dominic’s Supreme Lobster moved to its well-known location on North Avenue in Villa Park, with a full-service retail store and 100,000 square feet of warehouse and office space, complete with 75,000 square feet of freezers. Since 1987, Supreme Lobster has been a major player in Las Vegas, supplying all of the prominent hotels and restaurants there. Dominic jokes that now he only works half-days: “6:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m.,” he says. Anyone who knows him knows he eats and sleeps seafood, approaching everything with a never-settle attitude. His philosophy is, “If I can’t take it home and eat it, I will not sell it. Quality and service have always been number one for me.”
About 15 years ago, recognizing the consumer’s interest in readily accessible frozen fish at home, Dominic created Supreme Choice, a label that consistently provides high-quality frozen fish. This product line can be found at the majority of grocery stores. Add to this his more than 100 trucks and locations in Las Vegas, Racine, Wis., and Indianapolis, and you can see why Supreme Lobster and Seafood Company has become the largest seafood distributor in the Midwest and beyond.
“Given Dominic’s humble beginnings, his rise to the top of his field, his embrace of his heritage and his continued generosity toward those in need, we’re honored to name him our 2013 Man of the Year,” Lemar says.