Father’s Day 2016 – Ontario, Anthony & Jason Sarracini
Open Jaw by Martha Chapman
We think it’s nice when 2 generations of a family are involved in the business – but read on for a family that’s now on their 3rd generation!
“My grandparents were early immigrants to Canada from Italy, arriving in 1910,” says Anthony Sarracini, President of Sarracini Travel in Vaughan, north of Toronto. “But things didn’t turn out as they’d hoped, so they returned to Italy where my dad was born. They’d always liked the name Ontario, thinking it sounded Italian, so that’s what they called him!”
Ontario grew up in Italy but in turn immigrated to Canada – and this time it became a success story. After working in construction “and whatever he could get by on” he started his own Italian radio and TV shows, which each ran for a couple of hours a week and provided information and “news from home” for the burgeoning Italian community in the greater Toronto area.
“People from the old country had no source of current news, and he provided a vital service. They loved him,” Anthony recalls.
Before too long, Ontario’s fans were asking him advice on travel, and it was a natural progression for him to open a travel agency catering to the VFR market, which he did in 1970.
After university, son Anthony joined the business starting in the back office and learning from the ground up. His sister Christina is also involved in the business today as co-owner. “We were one of the first ethnic agencies to introduce group travel, which my dad would accompany. He was very charismatic, a magnificent marketer - and as soon as a group came back from one trip they’d book the next.”
Eventually the decision was made to diversify, and while the majority of the business still revolves around Italy and an Italian clientele, there are also corporate accounts as well as extensive group business often with restaurant and church groups, York University credit courses abroad and so on. The agency now totals 12 staff members.
Anthony’s son Jason clearly has been bitten by the travel bug and has worked at Sarracini Travel, Target Vacations, TravelZoo and is now COO of Tully Luxury Travel.
Ontario, at 91, is still lively (“If I could guarantee I’d be in that shape at 91, I’d sign on the dotted line!” marvels Anthony). Nicest of all, he still reminisces about his days guiding groups and exploring the world – a lifetime of travel memories.