A local business leader who started at the ground floor of the food processing industry and now leads one of the Rochester area’s top employers is receiving a major award from RIT.
When John LiDestri emigrated from Sicily to the U.S., he started as a bottle washer for Ragu. But he quickly rose through the ranks, becoming company president at Cantisano Foods, later buying out that business and renaming it LiDestri Foods.
Still CEO of LiDestri Food and Drink, John LiDestri is this year’s recipient of the Herbert Vanden Brul Entrepreneurial Award from RIT, which honors people who develop a business that helps improve the Rochester economy or whose management skills have changed the course of an existing business.
Lidestri shies away from taking a lot of credit for the company which now employs about 1,300 people, around 900 of them in the Rochester area.
“You think of how to go forward and set the stage if you will, but at the end of the day, it’s really the execution of the people behind you that really makes an enterprise successful.”
LiDestri also spoke of the need to keep his company relevant, branching out from just making pasta sauce and salsa, into beverages and other products, where they saw growth potential.
“Some years ago I felt that we cannot rest on our laurels here, and if we are going to remain relevant as a company we better start looking at other things to do.”
He also says what drives him now is trying to give back to the community and having his company be a force for good in Rochester.
The ceremony for the Vanden Brul award will be on June 28, at Oak Hill Country Club.