Employer Focus: Bernatello’s
In the late 1950s, the life of a young entrepreneur from Appleton by the name of Orville Kositzke changed forever after he tried his first bite of authentic Chicago-style pizza. Orville (“Orv”) rushed home from Chicago, enlisted his brother Curly and together began experimenting with different pizza recipes and testing them out with friends and family in the Fox Cities. Encouraged by their reactions and praises, Orv opened Orv’s Pizza in 1963 – a small take-and-bake shop on Richmond Street in Appleton.
Bernatello’s Pizza was founded as a backroom tavern pizzeria in Annandale, Minnesota. After sales took off in the 1970s, the company quickly grew into a major frozen pizza manufacturer, servicing grocery stores around the Midwest. It officially became Bernatello’s after Bill Ramsay bought a 50 percent share of the company in 1982. In 1995, the Ramsay family bought full ownership of the business and made it the family-owned and operated company that it is today.
Here’s where the story gets even better: In 2012, Bernatello’s merged with Orv’s Pizza, a competitor to the growing Bernatello’s brand. This merger brought an entirely new production facility to Kaukauna, as well as a larger direct-store delivery system. Orv’s Pizza is one of five major brands carried by Bernatello’s Foods today and altogether the company manufactures more than 50 varieties of high-quality frozen pizza in its Maple Lake, Minnesota and Kaukauna facilities.
The Fox Cities Regional Partnership – in collaboration with the City of Kaukauna, the State of Wisconsin and other local partners – provided assistance to Bernatello’s for its 27,000 square-foot expansion in Kaukauna, which will lead to the creation of 25 new jobs.
“The Regional Partnership helped us by packaging the different local and statewide economic incentives available for growing companies like ours,” said Rick Pfrang, general manager of Bernatello’s. “It also provided us with economic and industry-specific wage data, which was valuable to the company as we continue to grow our local workforce. We look forward to the Regional Partnership’s continued support as we seek to hire and train more people in the near future.”
Visit bernatellos.com to find out more information about this growing company and help us thank them for their ongoing investment in the Fox Cities region.