LONDONDERRY — In 1967, Osvaldo (Ozzie) Verani turned in his apron and sold Verani’s Italian Restaurant to try his hand in real estate.
Fifty years later, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Verani Realty (Verani) has become the state’s largest agency, has expanded into Massachusetts and Maine, but has kept the family feeling and commitment to their host communities.
The business will celebrate its 50th anniversary all year long through community events, donations through VerniCARES, the launch of a new website and other special activities.
Ozzie Verani immigrated from Italy to the U.S. in 1951. But before coming to America he met his future wife Patricia while was studying to be a sculptor in Paris. He decided to come to America, settling in Warner, New Hampshire, where his wife’s mother lived.
His first job was with the Chicopee Manufacturing Company located in the Coolidge Mill building in the Manchester Millyard. He went on to work at Sears & Roebuck as a sewing machine salesman before following his love of food and entering the restaurant business. He eventually became owner of a restaurant at 1284 Elm Street in Manchester and renamed it Verani’s Italian Restaurant. His signature spaghetti sauce was well known around town as well as his famous veal cutlet grinders.
In 1967, he decided to switch to real estate because he saw opportunity and he had developed a large network of friends and acquaintances. He opened a small office in Londonderry that year and took a unique approach to helping spur development in the area.
“Ozzie had a strong understanding of land and land development and he was able to work with developers to help meet the needs of many first home buyers, including several with Italian roots who migrated up from Massachusetts,” said Giovanni Verani, the company’s president and Ozzie's son.
Giovanni’s sister Margherita gave up a career in social work to come work with their father starting in 1972. She became a partner in 1979 and one of very few women in leadership roles in real estate at the time.
“Dad was noted for his work ethic and commitment to the communities we served and to the employees we hired. We built this commitment into our mission statement and it rings true today, even though we now have 475 employees and operate 14 offices and seven appointment centers,” said Margherita, company CEO. “We’re celebrating this commitment that Dad made 50 years ago in each and every community where we operate.”
Ozzie played a significant role in helping bring large companies to Londonderry over the years. This included Coca Cola, Londonderry Freezer warehouse and Highwood Cold Storage to name a few. This firm continued to grow to 35 associates in 1980 and then joined the Prudential franchise in 1987 to help leverage additional resources and the reputation Prudential had for high end services. The firm embraced technology and innovation at a time when real estate was practiced in a very old school way.
Giovanni joined the firm in 1992 and the late 90s saw significant growth as Verani merged in many smaller real estate firms to gain a regional footprint staffed by people who lived in the communities they served. Ozzie passed away in 1997 after leading the company for three decades.
“Belly to belly and face to face is how Ozzie described his style of interaction” Giovanni said. “He was so good at the personal side, but he also helped create a culture in which we embrace, innovate and change."
Looking forward, Giovanni and Margherita Verani plan to stay true to those roots and the mission of the agency, and plan to build on their franchise relationship with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices.
“We love the partnership with Berkshire Hathaway and the brand association with such an impressive company. The resources and prestige it brings helps our agents on a daily basis. However, we’re still focused on the personal touch, an eye to detail and customer service throughout the buying process. That will never change at Verani, nor will our commitment to selecting and retaining a great team with whom we look forward to celebrating this milestone all year long” said Giovanni.