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1100 Landmeier Road | Elk Grove Village, Il. 60007 | www.gullo.com
Giovanni Gullo
Gullo International Development Corporation

When Giovanni Gullo first started buying and developing land for commercial and industrial clients in Elk Grove Village in 1968, he was pursuing a family ambition. The story of how Gullo transformed himself from an 18-year old Sicilian-born immigrant to one of the largest industrial and commercial landlords and developers in the Greater O'Hare region has its origins in an inspirational saying passed along from past generations. It translates roughly as "a house as small as needed, and land as far as you can see." "What they meant," Gullo explains, "is that land makes you money. That saying of my grandparents and parents became the foundation for what I do now."

"We had to work hard in Sicily," Gullo reminisces. "From a young age, I watched my parents and my relatives buy properties and they worked hard to farm and cultivate their own land. I absorbed their ways and wanted to be like them. They taught me about good strong work ethics. That by working hard, I could be my own boss."

Gullo first came to the United States in 1963 as an 18-year old student visiting his uncle with his parents, Mario and Vincenza. After urging them to stay in the States, his brothers and sister relocated the following year. Gullo worked as a bus boy at the famous Como Inn restaurant in Chicago while he attended night school to learn English. "English was not too difficult to learn because I already had a strong base in foreign languages like Latin, French and ancient Greek, which were taught in our schools," he says. Although at first he felt homesick and out of place in the United States, Gullo was fast developing his English and getting comfortable in his new environment not long after.

Gullo next tried his hand as an auto mechanic, fast cars were his specialty, but after meeting and marrying his wife Maria during a visit back to Italy when he was 21, he decided to trade in working with machinery and quickly set his sights on the building and construction industry. "I started with my own painting and decorating contracting company," Gullo says. "I worked day and night to finds jobs, deliver professional work and build good connections with developers. One of my best customers and true inspiration was Trammel Crow Company. I had a great relationship with them, especially Alan Hamilton. He saw the potential in me and gave me opportunities to work and grow my company. I worked hard and saved money so I could start to invest on my own." Within a year, in addition to his painting business, Gullo formed J. Gullo Builders (the "J" was for John, the Americanized version of his first name).

Gullo bought his first property at Oakton and Lively, successfully constructed two 5,000 s.f. buildings on spec and quickly found tenants to lease them. Using the inspiration of his family back home and following Trammel Crow's successful business model to build and hold, Gullo continued buying and developing farm land in Elk Grove Village and soon became one of the pioneers and prominent developers of the Centex Industrial Park, which is now one of the largest industrial parks in the nation.

Since 1974, Giovanni Gullo is President and CEO of Gullo International Development Corporation, a thriving real estate development, construction and management firm that specializes in commercial and industrial properties concentrated in the O'Hare market. Gullo has built over 25 million square feet over his long career and continues to be well positioned in this competitive O'Hare market. "To me, the best opportunities are right here. Investing in properties next to one of the busiest international airports in the world gives us a special edge", says Gullo.

Gullo's four children, Virginia, Mariann, Mario and John are also in the business and share his similar passion. His main pride and joy are his 4 beautiful grandchildren. With abundant inventory of buildings and land sites to carry into the generations that follow, the Gullo name will proudly continue its legacy.

"Since the very beginning, I always wanted to create and leave behind my mark," says Gullo. In following his company slogan, "Building a Better Image," Gullo's style of buildings in the 1970s featured large atriums, arches, and columns, reflecting the architecture he was exposed to in the castles of his native Caccamo, Sicily. In the 1980s and 1990s his free standing brick buildings, lining the streets of Elk Grove's Industrial Park, introduced curtain glass walls, abundant skylights and windows for natural lighting along with colorful landscaping for curb appeal. In 2000, Gullo seized the opportunities for redevelopment and gravitated towards precast buildings to meet client and industry demands. You can always spot a Gullo building. They are renowned for their unique modern architectural designs in prime locations. "Our experience has been that high-end clients demand a certain image and location for their corporate headquarters. Many other builders just do what someone else decides for them and put up a square box, but we make buildings special," says Gullo. Gullo's portfolio is filled with reputable international and national based clients such as NNR Air Cargo, Oriental Motors, Daiichi Jitsugyo, Marubeni - Citizens, Fisher and Paykel Appliances, Riddell Sports, KKT Krause, Hyundai, DMG America, Virginia Tile Company, Dupont, and MSC Industrial Supply to name a few. For a company that wants to lease or buy a Class A image building, Gullo can produce that quality building better than any other O'Hare developer out there.

Aside from land, bricks and mortar, Gullo is a founding and influential member of the Elk Grove Business Park Revitalization Committee formed in 1996, whose mission is to update, improve and beautify the Industrial Business Park to keep up with today's demands. Gullo finds the time to give back to his community and happily sponsors various village events including the Tour of Elk Grove International Bike Race. He is a founder and Chairman to the Elk Grove Village Italian Sister Cities program that has seen huge success and recognition for their many exchanges, specifically the high school student exchange program, with their counterpart city of Termini Imerese, Sicily. "Because our family both lives and works in the village, we have strong ties to our community and we will always support it," Gullo says. "That means not only helping to make the village a better place to live and work, but also connecting the village with other countries and cultures. We are an international business community after all."

"We are very fortunate to have the Gullo family here, particularly Giovanni," says Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson. "He's very instrumental not only to the success of the business community, but to the community as a whole. As one of the largest landowners in the business park, he's a visionary and thinks outside the box, which brings great diversity to the park. He helps to make us an exceptional community."

Gullo's personal and professional success demonstrate that he is a determined, dynamic, and persevering individual who has devoted the last 4 decades to raising a family, growing a business, building long terms relations with his clients and communities and enhancing the business parks that surround him. "I am very proud of our many accomplishments and our name." says Gullo. 'It took a lifetime to earn it and now I want to enjoy it. The best is yet to come."

A Product of Matthew D. Walker Publishing, LLC © 2012