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  • Writer's pictureCraig Richards

UNICO International honors Capoferri


Bobby Capoferri

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – In a room with two elite quarterbacks, legendary NFL stars Ron Jaworski and Joe Flacco, it may have been the tenacious blue-collar businessman from Hammonton that dominated the field.

Robert Capoferri’s success as an innovative entrepreneur tempered with his unwavering commitment to philanthropy was honored at the 101st Annual UNICO International convention in Atlantic City this past March.


Those who know him know that Capoferri is not a man who seeks or is comfortable receiving public recognition. Even tougher for this man is receiving a lifetime achievement award at the same dinner recognizing the likes of a Super bowl MVP, but it was Flacco who was impressed with Capoferri’s life and accomplishments.


“When you get to sit here and listen to somebody who’s done so much with his life and impacted so many people, it just reminds you how many good people are out there and doing lots of good things. It motivates you to do the right thing yourself. So, it’s awesome to hear his story,” Flacco said.


While Capoferri avoids talking about himself that does not stop others from voicing their admiration of his commitment to excellence and exceptional personal character. That included U.S. Congressman, Jeff Van Drew, who was slated to introduce Capoferri at the dinner.


ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – In a room with two elite quarterbacks, legendary NFL stars Ron Jaworski and Joe Flacco, it may have been the tenacious blue-collar businessman from Hammonton that dominated the field. Robert Capoferri’s success as an innovative entrepreneur tempered with his unwavering commitment to philanthropy was honored at the 101st Annual UNICO International convention in Atlantic City this past March. Those who know him know that Capoferri is not a man who seeks or is comfortable receiving public recognition. Even tougher for this man is receiving a lifetime achievement award at the same dinner recognizing the likes of a Superbowl MVP, but it was Flacco who was impressed with Capoferri’s life and accomplishments. “When you get to sit here and listen to somebody who’s done so much with his life and impacted so many people, it just reminds you how many good people are out there and doing lots of good things. It motivates you to do the right thing yourself. So, it’s awesome to hear his story,” Flacco said. While Capoferri avoids talking about himself that does not stop others from voicing their admiration of his commitment to excellence and exceptional personal character. That included U.S. Congressman, Jeff Van Drew, who was slated to introduce Capoferri at the dinner. Van Drew spoke on the importance of family, faith and freedom. He seamlessly intertwined personal family memories, encounters with Capoferri and life experiences to reinforce the values he said continue to make this country great. “The Italian immigrants that came to America always remember who they were and where they came from, but also understand that we are all Americans, that this is the greatest nation on the face of the earth. It is the shining city on the hill that we do believe in American exceptionalism, that we should never be embarrassed about it. Never be embarrassed about your heritage. Never be embarrassed about who you are. Never be embarrassed about this great country. Which leads me to a shining example of that, Bobby Capoferri,” Van Drew said. The introduction centered the spotlight solely on Capoferri. However, it was Capoferri that took his thank you speech as an opportunity to turn the light on others. “I stand up here tonight and I wrote this whole big speech thanking everybody and the organization and everything,” said Capoferri. Then he threw his prepared speech down on the podium and spoke from the heart. “I’m not very good at talking about myself. I build roads for a living,” he said. He complimented both Flacco and Jaworski on their stellar careers and their own commitment to helping others. Continuing recognition of others in the room, he said he was honored to be at the same dinner as Denise Ingui. “That’s the true hero. Right there. That’s the kind of person I want to be friends with,” Capoferri said. Ingui and her husband Salvatore founded the Rare is Beautiful Foundation dedicated to finding a cure and spreading awareness of Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome (PJS), a disease their daughter faces. Capoferri went on expressing appreciation for those in public service including Van Drew and Atlantic County Clerk Joseph Giralo, also in attendance that night. He appreciated Van Drew’s commitment to helping so many and Giralo’s above and beyond performance of duties including marrying people “in his spare time.” In a rare moment when he did refer to himself, he provided a brief synopsis of his journey. “Yes, I come from Italian heritage. My grandparents were just peasants in Italy. They came here. My grandfather was a farmer. He died in 1941. And I went to high school and Hammonton High School. I go to work every day. I wear my jeans. I drive my pickup,” Capoferri said. Capoferri received an additional recognition that evening. Louis J. Pantalone, President of the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Society presented Capoferri with the medal of The Image of our Lady of Mt. Carmel. The award was to honor Capoferri’s unwavering commitment to assisting the society. Pantalone shared how Capoferri donated his time, people and resources to continue to expand the society and the event. During COVID 19, Capoferri himself could be found on the heavy equipment working on capital improvements. “He does so much for us, and we know there isn’t much we can do for him so we thought the medal would be a way to show our appreciation. He’s just an incredibly genuine person that never forgot where he came from. Because of people like him we are able to keep this wonderful tradition going,” Pantalone said. More than 200 people packed the ballroom at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino to see an electrifying NFL legend, a devoted mother and non-profit founder, and the blue-collar Hammontonian devoted to his heritage, family and community. “I’m really just a regular guy. I got lucky in this world,” he said. That regular guy has launched a company that has offices in 11 states and close to 800 employees. However it’s the fact that Capoferri knows most of them and their families personally that gets to the root of his success; he cares about his employees and their lives. Capoferri believes in making a way for yourself without excuses in a country that provides opportunities for those willing to go for it. He especially wants to instill that in kids. “I was the president of the school board for many, many years. And I just tried to tell kids to go out there and do the best you can. The world doesn’t owe you anything. You have to go out there and grab it and seize it. Its out there,” Capoferri said. As for his parting words to the group, Capoferri remained gracious and thankful. “Again, I’m just a regular guy that got lucky in this country, and it is a great country. And I just wanted to thank you,” he said. Perhaps Giralo put it best when asked about UNICO International honored Capoferri. “I think it was an award that was so well-deserved for someone who never takes credit for helping so many people,” Giralo said.

Van Drew spoke on the importance of family, faith and freedom. He seamlessly intertwined personal family memories, encounters with Capoferri and life experiences to reinforce the values he said continue to make this country great.


“The Italian immigrants that came to America always remember who they were and where they came from, but also understand that we are all Americans, that this is the greatest nation on the face of the earth. It is the shining city on the hill that we do believe in American exceptionalism, that we should never be embarrassed about it. Never be embarrassed about your heritage. Never be embarrassed about who you are. Never be embarrassed about this great country. Which leads me to a shining example of that, Bobby Capoferri,” Van Drew said.


The introduction centered the spotlight solely on Capoferri. However, it was Capoferri that took his thank you speech as an opportunity to turn the light on others.


“I stand up here tonight and I wrote this whole big speech thanking everybody and the organization and everything,” said Capoferri.


Then he threw his prepared speech down on the podium and spoke from the heart.

“I’m not very good at talking about myself. I build roads for a living,” he said.


He complimented both Flacco and Jaworski on their stellar careers and their own commitment to helping others. Continuing recognition of others in the room, he said he was honored to be at the same dinner as Denise Ingui.


Courtesy Photo Atlantic County Clerk Joseph Giralo (left) with award winner Bobby Capoferri (right).

“That’s the true hero. Right there. That’s the kind of person I want to be friends with,” Capoferri said.


Ingui and her husband Salvatore founded the Rare is Beautiful Foundation dedicated to finding a cure and spreading awareness of Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome (PJS), a disease their daughter faces.


Capoferri went on expressing appreciation for those in public service including Van Drew and Atlantic County Clerk Joseph Giralo, also in attendance that night. He appreciated Van Drew’s commitment to helping so many and Giralo’s above and beyond performance of duties including marrying people “in his spare time.”


In a rare moment when he did refer to himself, he provided a brief synopsis of his journey.


“Yes, I come from Italian heritage. My grandparents were just peasants in Italy. They came here. My grandfather was a farmer. He died in 1941. And I went to high school and Hammonton High School. I go to work every day. I wear my jeans. I drive my pickup,” Capoferri said.


Capoferri received an additional recognition that evening. Louis J. Pantalone, President of the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Society presented Capoferri with the medal of The Image of our Lady of Mt. Carmel. The award was to honor Capoferri’s unwavering commitment to assisting the society.


Pantalone shared how Capoferri donated his time, people and resources to continue to expand the society and the event. During COVID 19, Capoferri himself could be found on the heavy equipment working on capital improvements.


“He does so much for us, and we know there isn’t much we can do for him so we thought the medal would be a way to show our appreciation. He’s just an incredibly genuine person that never forgot where he came from. Because of people like him we are able to keep this wonderful tradition going,” Pantalone said.


More than 200 people packed the ballroom at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino to see an electrifying NFL legend, a devoted mother and non-profit founder, and the blue-collar Hammontonian devoted to his heritage, family and community.


“I’m really just a regular guy. I got lucky in this world,” he said.


That regular guy has launched a company that has offices in 11 states and close to 800 employees. However it’s the fact that Capoferri knows most of them and their families personally that gets to the root of his success; he cares about his employees and their lives.

Capoferri believes in making a way for yourself without excuses in a country that provides opportunities for those willing to go for it. He especially wants to instill that in kids.


“I was the president of the school board for many, many years. And I just tried to tell kids to go out there and do the best you can. The world doesn’t owe you anything. You have to go out there and grab it and seize it. Its out there,” Capoferri said.


As for his parting words to the group, Capoferri remained gracious and thankful.


“Again, I’m just a regular guy that got lucky in this country, and it is a great country. And I just wanted to thank you,” he said.


Perhaps Giralo put it best when asked about UNICO International honored Capoferri.


“I think it was an award that was so well-deserved for someone who never takes credit for helping so many people,” Giralo said.


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