October 27, 2008
by Andrew Joseph, Features Editor
If cheese really is milk’s leap into immortality, as American writer Clifton Fadiman once deftly deadpanned, then it is only fitting that people who cut their teeth in the cheese business early in life tend to stick around that industry for some time.
It has certainly played out that way for Joe Lanzino and his closely-knit circle of family and friends in the picturesque town of Schomberg, Ont., about a 30-minute drive north of Toronto.
As chief executive officer of the family-owned Silani Sweet Cheese Ltd., the fastest-growing cheese producer in Ontario these days, Lanzino heads a proud local business tradition tracing all the way back to the founding of the company by his grandfather in 1954.
Along with his brother and company vice-president Vince and their cousin Mike Talarico, serving as company president, the family operation—today also employing four fourth-generation family members in learning the ropes of the trade—enjoys a long-enduring, widespread industry reputation for the traditional craftsmanship, superb quality, and well-executed innovation distinguishing many of its products.
In other words, all the key ingredients needed to ensure the success of the ongoing expansion currently taking place at the company’s eight-acre property.
“We currently manufacture, process, package, store, distribute, import and do laboratory testing at our modern, 29,000-square-foot facility, with a 22,000-square-foot distribution warehouse located about 20 minutes east in Newmarket, Ont., where my nephew Nick runs things,” explains Joe Lanzino, adding he is looking to expand the company’s warehousing facilities in the near future.
Since taking over the Silani operations, Lanzino and family have transformed the company from a well-respected niche player into a busy modern-day business enterprise that today employs about 150 people in an around-the-clock, 24/7 operation.
“Thanks to the addition of new cheese products to the Canadian market in recent years, we’ve seen our company grow to where we are now one of the fastest-growing companies in Ontario,” he says, adding that the company now has more than 200 different cheese products in its growing portfolio.
Many of these products have already been honored with prestigious international industry prizes, Lanzino proudly points out.
“Canadian cheeses have been making great strides within the international markets and winning many highly-regarded awards—helping put Canada amongst the leaders of the world’s cheese-producing nations,” Lanzino expands.