V. Formusa Co. is celebrating over 119 years in business. The company was founded in 1898 by Vincent Formusa, who came to this country from Termini Imerese, Sicily, Italy as a young man. He came from a family of jewelers and watchmakers, which he learned as a trade. When he came to this country, he set up a small shop on Grand Avenue in Chicago and worked as a jeweler. He also worked as a navigation agent helping immigrants plan routes to New York and finally Chicago. After working as a broker for some years, the clientele he built up, mostly being of Italian decent, inquired about Vincent importing Italian Food products such as pasta, oil, cheese and imported tomatoes.
With the aid of family contacts in Italy, Vincent was able to set up an import business here in Chicago, which was officially established in 1898. Vincent Formusa sent for his wife from Italy. They had four children here in America, three sons and a daughter. Two sons, Peter and Joseph, worked with their father in the family business.
In the early 20th Century, during the Great War when many commodities were very expensive, Vincent Formusa began blending imported Olive Oil with other Vegetable Oils. He was a pioneer in oil blending as “Marconi Salad Oil” was found all over the Chicago area.
The company operated out of its location at 710 W. Grand Avenue for nearly it entire history, as it expanded from one building to five. It has been selling Italian food specialties under the Marconi label for 75 years. In 2014, We moved just out of the Downtown Chicago area to Des Plaines, IL. The company is currently run by Robert L. Johnson and Sue (Formusa) Johnson, a granddaughter of the founder. Joey (Johnson) Schramm and Jeff Johnson are also working in the business now. They are 2 of 4 children of Bob and Sue and fourth generation Formusa.
The company has a long history with the Italian-American Chamber of Commerce. Vincent Formusa Company is the only charter member left in the Chamber. Vincent was the Chamber’s first treasurer, a position he held for 25 years. His son Peter was also active in the chamber as president for 3 terms. Both Vincent and Peter were knighted by the Italian Government for their outstanding contributions, both here and in Italy.
V. Formusa has evolved over the past 100 plus years from a local importer to a major food manufacturer and distributer with customers spanning all across North America. Though the company continues to expand, its recipe for success has stayed the same; provide the highest quality and best customer service. And that is exactly what V. Formusa does. A ‘not-so-secret’ family recipe that has been passed down through four generations, and one that will be continued to be passed down for generations to come.