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Massachusetts Small Business of the Year: Golden Cannoli Shells Company, Inc.
Owners: Valerie Bono, Maria Malloy, Eric Bresciani, Edwin Bresciani
Address: 99 Crescent Avenue, Chelsea, MA 02150
In the mid-1960s, Cousins Francesco Bono and Angelo Bresciani traveled to the United States from Argentina with a plan to learn English, start a business and live the American dream. In 1970 after working at various bakeries in Boston’s North End, they secured a storefront and started their first bakery in Arlington, Massachusetts, specializing in coffees and pastries. Their first bakery was such a success that they soon opened a second. While in their two small storefront bakeries, Messrs. Bono and Bresciani began making cannoli shells and fillings to supply their stores. These shells became wildly popular, and the cousins began producing larger quantities in a vacant building in Somerville, Massachusetts for their stores and for other local businesses. They named the business Golden Cannoli.
Having only an elementary formal education, but with the heart, mind and passion of veteran business owners, Francesco and Angelo realized the opportunity and decided to commit their time and energy into creating a sound manufacturing process that could meet the demand of their growing cannoli sales. Purchase orders were placed on an antiquated fax machine, numbers were run with an old-school calculator, the orders came and the cannoli were made with artisan hands, just as they are today.
Today Golden Cannoli has received national recognition for their handmade cannoli and fillings by some of the largest distributors and customers in the United States. With this growth and development, Golden Cannoli’s 2nd generation owners, Valerie, Maria, Eric and Edwin reached out to the SBA and Kathleen Kelly at Frist Trade Union Bank for an SBA Express Loan in 2009 for the purchase of equipment upgrades and in 2013 applied for the SBA’s 504 Loan Program to purchase a new 30,000 square foot manufacturing facility. Maria joined the SBA’s Emerging Leaders Initiative/e200 program in Boston in 2013 to develop a growth plan for the business, and each owner now works with their own representatives at SCORE to learn, manage and restructure the business to run at maximum efficiencies. SCORE members assist in weekly and monthly meetings and advise personally and in groups. Since working with the e200 program and with SCORE, significant changes have been made in organization and with sales opportunities.
With its continued growth and development - 38% in 2013 - Golden Cannoli hired 12 employees in 2012 and now has 41 full-time team members in 2014. The estimated growth will support another 10-12 employees in the next two years. The increase in sales is the result of helping existing businesses sell more cannoli by way of education and awareness training, new business obtained and new product development. The innovation of cannoli chips and cannoli dips has proved to be a success as well and thus is a percentage of the growth in sales.
Golden Cannoli contributes to the community both monetarily and with food donations to local school and church fundraisers, Ahold Family Foundation, Little Sisters of the Poor, Somerville Boxing Club, Greater Boston Food Bank, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Susan G Komen 3 Day Walk for Breast Cancer, Children’s Hospital, The Jimmy Fund and Brigham and Women’s Hospital for Cancer Research.
This year Golden Cannoli plans to raise more money for the Jimmy Fund and the local Chelsea Women’s Shelter by creating the World’s Largest Cannoli. In conjunction with this record breaking attempt, Golden Cannoli plans to communicate with Jay Ash, the Chelsea City Manager to work with a local shelter to build a playground with the entire Golden Cannoli staff.