WILMINGTON, Mass. () - It's the one day each year that all 12,000 employee Team Partners at the over 225 locations of UniFirst Corporation across North America stop working. It's Founder's Day and they collectively take a break from their busy schedules coming together to honor the memory of Aldo Croatti, the man who started the billion-dollar uniform service and supply company on July 12, 1936. And for current UniFirst president and CEO Ron Croatti, this year's celebration also marked a major milestone – it was his 50th year of service to the company his father founded almost 80 years ago.
Founder's Day has been an annual event since Aldo Croatti's passing in 2001. This special day is held on the Friday closest to the historic founding date each year. At company facilities in the United States and Canada, UniFirst Team Partners gather for barbecues, speeches, activities, and awards. But this year's celebration at the corporate headquarters in Wilmington, Mass., were extra special. While Ron Croatti has not been in the CEO role for all 50 years, his contributions and achievements have been significant during his tenure, not the least of which include taking UniFirst's annual revenues from $250M to nearly $1.5B in just under 25 years, and overseeing the company's continued positive growth every year. He was also selected as the Executive of the Year for 2014 by the Best in Biz awards and was featured on the hit CBS Television reality series Undercover Boss.
To mark his achievements, Croatti was first presented with a book composed of personal stories and anecdotes written by the employee Team Partners. The book, dedicated to Croatti, spoke directly to something he holds very dear to his heart. As a family-run company, maintaining a corporate family culture is something Croatti learned from his father and carries on today. The book recounts Team Partners' experiences that exemplify the UniFirst family culture, many of which are deeply personal and very touching.
Another surprise was unveiled that honors Croatti's passion for academic and professional enrichment—the Ronald D. Croatti Scholarship Program.
The new scholarship program offers financial assistance to employee Team Partners enrolling in full- or part-time undergraduate or graduate study at an accredited two- or four-year college or vocational/technical school for an entire academic year. Awards will be given as follows: up to five awards of $1,000 each for two-year community college or vocational-technical study; up to five awards of $2,500 each for four-year college or university study; and up to five (5) awards of $5,000 each for graduate study.
After the presentation Croatti said, "I don't know how to thank you…The scholarship program is terrific. I really appreciate it." He went on to tell the employee Team Partners at the corporate location's event, "The success of the company is not me, it's the 12,000 people that come to work every day and put 100 percent of their effort into it." He continued, "We’re all part of a team, part of a big family, working together with one shared objective. That’s what we try to do here – bring that family culture in to achieve great things."
Each year on Founder's Day, in addition to honoring Aldo Croatti, employee Team Partners recognize his founding Core Values that remain the foundation of UniFirst's corporate culture today: customer focus, respect for others, and commitment to quality. Team Partners also renew their annual commitment to the company's Essentials of Service and pledge to keep customers the focus of everything they do.
It is in this same spirit that on Founder's Day each UniFirst location names its Employee of the Year – the person who best exemplifies the Core Values. Each Employee of the Year is presented with a special recognition gift and his or her name is engraved on a special plaque that remains on permanent display at their UniFirst location.
Headquartered in Wilmington, Mass., UniFirst Corporation (NYSE: UNF) is a North American leader in the supply and servicing of uniform and workwear programs, as well as the delivery of facility service programs. Together with its subsidiaries, the company also provides first aid and safety products, and manages specialized garment programs for the cleanroom and nuclear industries. UniFirst manufactures its own branded workwear, protective clothing, and floorcare products, and with over 225 service locations, 275,000 customer locations, and 12,000 employee Team Partners, the company outfits more than 1.5 million workers each business day. For more information, contact UniFirst at 800.455.7654 or visit unifirst.com.