From The Beginning
Virginio Gazzola arrived in Canada in 1925 part of a huge wave of immigration that would make Toronto the second largest Italian-speaking city in the world. And like so many other Italian immigrants Virginio turned to construction to help support his wife Rose and their young family and build a new life.
In 1952, Virginio started a landscaping business and quickly discovered that he was a born entrepreneur. He had an ability to wring every bit of value from a project, often salvaging copper pipe and other metal that he found and selling to the local scrap metal dealers. But starting a new business is never easy. Antoinette, Virginio's daughter, still remembers standing on street corners with the rest of the family, selling Christmas trees to help make ends meet. Two years later, Mark, Virginio's eldest son, joined the business. He was just fifteen years old and needed a special permit to drive the dump truck that, along with a roller, constituted the family's entire investment in equipment.
The Landscape Grew
The landscaping business started to grow and with it came a new opportunity. Clients wanted asphalt driveways and the Gazzolas found themselves in the paving business. But this was still very much an off the cuff enterprise that kept the family scrambling. Not for them, the luxury of an office or their own yard.
"We used to meet at the Supertest Gas Station at Eglinton and Caledonia Road where we parked the equipment," recalls Mark Gazzola.
It would be 1956 before the Gazzolas rented their first office. The equipment, however, still had to be parked across the street from what is presently Knob Hill Farms on Weston Road at the old British North American gas station.
Virginio's children were, by now, becoming more involved in the day to day operations. Mark worked fulltime in operations, Antoinette did the bookkeeping and when their younger brother, Vern, turned fifteen, he too signed on. For additional help, the family looked to friends and acquaintances from the area, some of whom are still with the company today.
As the business grew, it became obvious that the company needed its own premises if it was to continue to prosper so in 1962 the family bought a building and yard on Toryork Road. It would be the headquarters of the operation for the next thirteen years.
In 1975, the Gazzolas acquired Martan Contracting, a sewer and watermain company, and moved the entire operation to Martan's yard in Concord, Ontario. Virginio passed away in 1981 just before the family managed to fulfill what had been a long held dream - owning their own asphalt plant.
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A Dedicated Asphalt Plant
In 1982, Vern and Mark, always on the lookout for a bargain, went to a Ritchie Brothers Auction. "One of the items up for bid was a used asphalt plant. It was too good an opportunity to pass up," recalls Vern Gazzola. "We made the decision on the spot." To establish the company's asphalt production, Vern and Mark Gazzola bought a DM-71 Barber Greene plant that had been operating in Pincher Creek, Alberta and set it up at a yard on Attwell Road in Rexdale. When work on the Skydome was completed, the crushing plant was also moved to Rexdale eventually joining the asphalt plant at the Attwell Road facility. In 1997, having outgrown the Martan Contracting yard in Concord, Gazzola Paving moved to Carlingview Drive and built a new modern office and shop facility with plenty of room for expansion. The new facility was officially opened in 1998 by the then Minister of Transportation, Al Palladini.
The Last Word
'Mark and Vern Gazzola have earned the respect of the entire industry by being pioneers in paving the landscape of our quality roads in Toronto for the past 50 years. Anyone who knows them, realizes that they are genuine, no-nonsense individuals who always wear their hearts on their sleeves. Honour and integrity have been the cornerstone of Gazzola's success.'