V. Formusa Co. celebrates landmark anniversary

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Back in 1889, the automobile had barely been invented, and the airplane was still a gleam in the Wright brothers’ eyes. Yet, Italian immigrant Vincent Formusa had the foresight to found a company to meet his paesani’s growing demand for food products from their homeland. And so, V. Formusa Co. was launched at 710 W. Grand Ave. in Chicago.

A century and a quarter later, the company turns out a wide array of Italian specialty food products at their modern plant at 2150 Oxford Road in Des Plaines, packaging them in distinctive red and yellow Marconi Foods bottles and shipping them across the country. Product lines include giardiniera and other pickled vegetables, olive and vegetable oils, vinegars and salad dressings, herbs and spices, tomatoes and pastas, and olives and other condiments.

The company began modestly enough, with Vincenzo importing a handful of food products from his native Sicily. His son, Peter, later joined the company, expanding the factory and adding products. Peter’s son-in-law, Bob Johnson, took over in the 1970s, after which he and his wife, Sue, grew the business exponentially, adding product lines and expanding into broader markets.

Today, the company is in the hands of the fourth generation, with two of Bob and Sue’s children, Jeff and Joanna (Joey), serving as president and vice president, respectively, and Bob serving as CEO. Bob is celebrating his 50th anniversary with the company.

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Fra Noi produces a magazine and website that serve the Chicago-area Italian-American community. Our magazine offers our readers a monthly feast of news and views, culture and entertainment that keeps our diverse and widely scattered readers in touch with each other and their heritage. Our website offers a dizzying array of information drawn from every corner of the local community.

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