Gonnella prepares for the future

by Dan Malovany
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Gonnella Baking Co.’s history goes back to 1886, when Alessandro Gonnella began baking bread in a storefront in Chicago, IL. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Gonnella and his wife, Marianna Marcucci Gonnella, recruited their sons along with Mrs. Gonnella’s brothers to build the business.

Today, the board of directors includes Nick Marcucci, president and grandson of Marianna’s brother Nicholas Marcucci; Ron Lucchesi, secretary and grandson of Marianna’s brother Lawrence Marcucci; and Thomas Mazukelli, treasurer and grandson of Alessandro Gonnella.

Nick Marcucci sees the board’s responsibility as temporary stewards of the business. “We’re blessed with this opportunity, and it’s a gift given to us to nurture and take care of,” he said. “Our job is to keep the legacy going.”

For decades, Gonnella Baking was a source of employment for family members, and it still is. In fact, today’s board members grew up working with their parents, uncles, cousins and a host of other relatives. “It might sound silly, but the fact that this is a family-owned-and-operated bakery means everyone is extremely vested in the success of the business,” Mr. Mazukelli said.

In recent years, however, the company has evolved. “It’s not our grandfathers’ company,” Mr. Lucchesi observed. “They were a local bakery in the city of Chicago. Now, we’re a national company. You have to change.”

Over time, non-family members have played an increasing role in the day-to-day operation while many others non-family members spent their whole careers working for the bakery. At the same time, for some family members, the company represents more of an investment than a place of employment as the younger generations seek other career opportunities.

For Nick Marcucci, the board’s leadership is vital during this current transition. “I would like to close the door when I retire and not be missed,” he said. “Then I know I have done my job because I have prepared people for the future.”

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