Company out to prove naysayers wrong

By Katie Davis

Thinly sliced, perfectly seasoned prosciutto. It's one of the products that make Daniele Foods a Rhode Island success story.

A new $50 million facility in Burrillville will double production and create jobs.

"Here is a beautiful feeling. We are happy to be in Burrillville. Burrillville is happy to have us," company founder Vlado Dukcevich said.

Rhode Island leaders joined the Dukcevich family to break ground on Tuesday, and they got a taste of the family business.

"The process of the food you do here is called charcuterie. That goes back to the Gauls and the Romans, they tell me," Gov. Lincoln Chafee, I-R.I., said.

Vlado Dukcevich is a trained prosciutto master. He brought the business to Rhode Island from Italy in 1976 and passed it down to his sons.

"Year after year after year, for 35 years in a row, we were just working. I never noticed growing older or growing bigger," Dukcevich said.

The expansion comes after a tough time for the family business. A salmonella outbreak two years ago led Daniele to recall more than 1 million pounds of salami. The company was later cleared by federal officials after the outbreak was traced to imported pepper.

"There are those who have cautioned that there was no future in manufacturing in Rhode Island anymore," sales manager Davide Dukcevich said.

But Daniele is proving that wrong, creating manufacturing jobs, while staying local.

The company buys meat from New England farmers, works with chefs from Johnson and Wales University on recipes, and collaborates with the Rhode Island School of Design on packaging.

"This is all part of our partnerships and collaborations with local people and local organizations. Daniele is committed to work with these local farmers and to cultivate the support of local students and local farms all around the state," company president Stefano Dukcevich said.

Daniele Foods started with 11 employees in 1976. The company now produces 23 million pounds of cured Italian meats each year and ships it out to high-end markets and delis.

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