His beginnings

LINO SAPUTO

Date of birth : 1937

Place of birth : Montelepre, Italy

Family : Three brothers and four sisters

Lino Saputo with his brother Franco and father Giuseppe

Photo credit : Saputo family personal archives

Value know-how

Lino Saputo is the son of a successful entrepreneur. His father was a master cheesemaker in the small village where they lived in Sicily, Italy. He would be Lino’s inspiration and motivation to start his own company.

Factory on St-Michel street in Montreal

Factory on St-Michel street in Montreal. Saputo's first important production installation.

Photo credit : Fonds d'archive Saputo Inc.

Giuseppe Saputo et Lino Saputo

Franco Saputo, Giuseppe Saputo and Lino Saputo in Montréal, mid-1950s.

Photo credit : Saputo family personal archives

After the Second World War, Lino’s father, Giuseppe Saputo, left their home in Italy in 1950 with his eldest son, Franco, to start a new life in Montréal. Lino joined them two years later, along with his mother, other brother and three sisters. His father worked several jobs in construction to provide for his family. Upon arriving in Canada, Lino was saddened to see his father so overworked. He wished his father could earn a living in his original craft. Lino wanted to help, but his father didn’t dare start a company in a new country, where the customs were different and he didn’t speak the language. Lino refused to give up.

The family business

At age 15, Lino was working at an Italian deli, where he was involved in both production and selling and delivering products. His time in the field was when he conducted his earliest market research and developed his business vision. This process revealed an interesting opportunity : Italian immigrants missed the cheese of their home country.

Lino worked non-stop, six to seven days a week to raise the money he needed to launch his father in business.

I figured out what I wanted to do and then worked very hard to achieve it.

LINO SAPUTO

Two years later, in 1954, Lino was ready. With $500 he had saved, he purchased the necessary equipment for his father to start making cheese. Giuseppe Saputo resumed his role of master cheesemaker with great joy. Together, Lino and his parents worked from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to produce 30 pounds of cheese a day. Lino made deliveries by bicycle.

My mother, Maria Saputo, was the heart and soul of the company. [ ... ] I owe a large part of my success to her... And of course, my father, the great master cheesemaker.

LINO SAPUTO

The business quickly became a success. By 1957, their product had become so popular that they expanded into a larger production facility in the Saint-Michel district of Montréal. In 1960, Saputo leveraged the pizza craze. Mozzarella, already a favourite among Italian immigrants, was also catching on among Quebecers.

Clip from Lino Saputo’s interview, Cercle des Grands entrepreneurs du Québec — only available in French