by Deanne BARTHA
Although hes supposed to be semi-retired, Frank L. Ciminellis life is so
busy that hed welcome a snowstorm any day.
The last thing I want is a night out, said the Chairman of the Board of
Ciminelli Companies, Inc. I want a night in. To get me out of the house, youd
have to drag me out with a crane.
Indeed, the one near blizzard condition that hit Western New York this winter afforded
Ciminelli some welcomed alone time.
Working 9 to 6 Monday through Friday would hardly seem to be a form of semi-retirement,
but Ciminelli insists it is.
He keeps his hours flexible, taking numerous business and personal trips which, with
technology today, makes it easy to work away from the office.
That, combined with the whirlwind of community groups and their functions and meetings
keeps Ciminelli very active.
Among his long list of community service activities are his work as a member of the
Sisters of Charity Hospital Foundation Board and his involvement with Catholic Charities
and Childrens Hospital, to name a few.
He has received many awards and honors including Regional Entrepreneur of the Year in
1995; Villa Maria Colleges Presidents Medal and the Leukemia Society of
Americas Service to Mankind Award.
Frank Ciminelli (seated) with sons
In 1987, Ciminelli was named Man of the Year by the Boys Town of Italy, an
organization that has been near and dear to his heart for the past 10 years.
There is a rich history behind Boys Town, he explained. It came
about because of a World War II Irish priest who wanted to help the orphans he saw
robbing people on the streets just to survive.
Since then, the priest and others involved with the organization care for
orphaned children, taking them off the streets and giving them a place to call home.
Its a wonderful group.
The intent of his community involve- ment is not to collect all the awards he can.
Ciminelli even seems modest about the honors that hang on his office walls.
Everybody should be involved in the community and give back some of the things
they get out of it, he said. The good Lord has been good to us. As long as you
remember that and do things morally and spiritually right, you cant go wrong. Give
110 percent and it will always come back to you.
You could say that Ciminelli, now 61, began his construction career at rock
Early on, he specialized in concrete work, building on the years spent with his father
in the familys construction business while he was still in high school.
The seeds of success were sown early, and Ciminelli spent the next four decades
achieving his dream of being number one.
I was the youngest of 12 children, he said. You had to stand out to
Ciminelli graduated from the former Erie County Technical Institute in 1954 and started
his own residential concrete business, a forerunner to the Frank L. Ciminelli Construction
Frank Ciminelli in the Ciminelli Sponsor Car
In 1960, he branched out into commercial and industrial projects, building the business
from a subcontractor that assisted local construction giants to a general/construction
management entity with a diversified construction and development empire.
My goal was to be the best, not the biggest, Ciminelli said. I never
really dreamed that wed get this big. How big is big? Today, the
business consists of the Frank L. Ciminelli Construction Company, Inc., Ciminelli Cowper
Company, Inc., and Ciminelli Development Company, Inc., each proving to be very
In the early stages of his burgeoning business, Ciminelli was offered an opportunity to
take over a business out of town, but turned it down.
Family means more to me than business opportunities, he said. I do
wonder what my life would have been if I had gone, but Ive always been too much of a
family person. And quite a family it is. On special occasions the
Ciminelli house in Clarence often entertains up to 45 family members and friends.
He and his wife, Rosalie, have 6 children and 10 grandchildren.
Ciminelli credits Rosalie for much of his perseverance. Shes been my
inspiration all these years. If you really want to know who the boss is, its
Rosalie. She empowers me.
Frank and Rosalie Ciminelli
His sons, Louis and Paul, have taken over the day-to-day management of both companies.
Son, John, assists in the development end of the business.
Coming from a large family, you get pulled in all directions, he said.
When I look back on my life, I never expected it to be like this. All I wanted was
to be the best at what I did. I guess thats what people call being successful.
But Ciminelli makes it very clear that there is another large family that has been
vital to the companies success - the employees.
Ciminelli employees really are an extension of my family, he pointed out.
Theyre the heart and soul of the companies. And, believe me, I know we
wouldnt be where we are today without them. Theyre a very talented group of
For the 50PLUS crowd, Ciminelli advised, never stop learning and improving. Be
the best at whatever you do every day. Do everything with honor and integrity.
This is advice Ciminelli takes to heart daily.
I get up every day and I want to be better than I am.
That also applies to his golf game.
Frank Ciminelli enjoys a
People say, why dont you just enjoy it? I say, how do you enjoy
a bad shot? Whatever I do, I want to do it to the best of my ability. The day you stop
learning and improving - youre dead as far as Im concerned.
To Ciminelli, sleeping is a waste of time. He starts his days at 5:45 a.m.,
goes to mass at 6:45 a.m., comes home to read for a few hours, then goes into the office.
But there are other activities which hold his interest that arent work related.
He exercises in some form or another everyday and has a love of gardening.
I like the simple things of life, Ciminelli said, Ive never
been one to stop. I dont like sitting on my butt watching grass grow - its not
me. I want to work until the day I die, doing something.
Its a big world out there. Someones going to be doing something
different and I want to be a part of it.
Deanne Bartha is a free-lance
journalist who lives in Lancaster.
Photos courtesy of Ciminelli Development Company, Inc.
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