Umosella guest speaker for Historical Society
The Historical Society of Hammonton resumed its monthly speaker series presentations at the Hammonton Canoe Club on Jan. 5. The historical society’s presentation for Jan. featured the Umosella Family, who were established in Hammonton in 1904 and the guest speaker was Nicole Umosella, the great-granddaughter of Joseph F. Umosella Sr., the founder of Universal Supply Co., located in Hammonton. Nicole, a graduate of Hammonton High School and Penn State University, is the director of planning and inventory of the Joseph Umosella Jr. Family Foundation.
Joined by her family in attendance, Nicole started the presentation with a slideshow of the Umosella family tree. The Umosella family established their roots in Hammonton with Nicole’s great, great-grandfather, Charles Angelo Umosella, came to America on 1904 and married Josephine Mascarella, with whom he shared three sons and seven daughters between 1904 and 1927, residing at 204 Valley Avenue in Hammonton. The slideshow featured a newspaper article of their wedding advertisement and family photos.
Nicole’s great-grandfather, Joseph F. Umosella Sr was born in 1918 and married Isabel D. Umosella, sharing two sons and two daughters together between 1941 and 1955. Joseph Sr.’s father owned a gas station and a blind shop making custom blinds, both which were located in Hammonton. Joseph Sr. then founded United Asphalt in 1963 and Universal Supply Co. in May 1965 in Cedarbrook, N.J. and Hammonton, respectively. His son, Mark, took over United Asphalt in 1978 after Joseph Sr. passed away while Universal Supply was sold to his son, Joseph Jr.
Nicole then talked in depth of her grandfather, Joseph Jr., who graduated from Delaware Valley College in 1964 with a degree in horticulture and worked after college for Purina, selling feed to local farms as well as helping his father on weekends at Universal Supply Co.
Joseph Jr. then purchased Universal Supply Co. in 1965 from his father and grew it from one to nine locations, which is currently a 30-location business continuing to grow. He then purchased assets of Patriot Manufacturing, a bankrupt replacement window company, in 1979 and then made his son, Joseph III, a partner who then converted the business from aluminum to vinyl, growing it from 20 to 900 employees between 1988-1996, according to the presentation.
Joseph Jr. was also an early investor to Joseph III’s business, INTEX Millwork Solutions and started the Joseph Umosella Jr. Family Foundation, which supports charitable organizations long after his passing, according to the presentation.
Nicole then presented a 15-minute video on the history of Universal Supply Co., which included interviews from Joseph Jr. himself, who talked about the company’s history as well as his relationship with his father.
The presentation concluded with members in attendance reminiscing memories of Joseph Jr. Historical Society of Hammonton honorary trustee Bill Parkhurst added that Joseph Jr. was one of the early recipients of the Hammonton Chamber of Commerce Industry of the Year Award in the 1980s and told a story of Joseph Jr. accepting the award at the podium.
“After the award was presented and he got there behind the mic and everybody was waiting for his long talk, he said one sentence. He said ‘my employees make me look good’ and that was it,” Parkhurst remembered, to which was met with laughs from the audience.
Parkhurst added that while talking about a situation with people he was in business with, he recalled Joseph Jr.’s generosity for those in need.
“He said ‘you know, I am so fortunate that I am in a position where if somebody can’t pay their bill, then I can help them.’ What a guy,” Parkhurst added.
Nicole noted the importance of the Umosella Family’s impact in Hammonton, with the family having multiple businesses such as those stated above. With Joseph Jr.’s passing in 2013, Nicole made sure to keep his and the Umosella Family legacy alive.
“He’s not around to share his stories, you know they said that he’s a humble person and a very giving person, and people are used to seeing him,” Nicole said. “Like I have memories of him, he pulled up one of his box trucks outside of ShopRite and he loaded it up with water when there was a hurricane down south. People are used to seeing him do those things and I just want to try to keep his memory alive and let people know that the charity is still there and we’re still giving every year in his honor. A lot of good industries started here and for that to get documented, shared and not get lost with time.”