August 1, 2012
Valentino Collavino of Windsor, Ontario remembered as a precast “titan”
After years of influencing the landscape around the world, Valentino “Rigo” Collavino, once described as a “titan” of the precast industry, passed away on July 4 at the age of 85.
Collavino was born in 1926 in Muris, Italy and immigrated to Windsor, Ont. in 1950 with only change in his pockets. He worked as a labourer in the summers and as a lumberjack in Northern Ontario in the winters.
In 1954, he co-founded Collavino Brothers Construction with his brother Mario. They started out by building driveways, porches, and additions before branching out into new home construction and eventually, bridges, heavy civil, industrial and commercial projects.
In 1975, the brothers founded Prestressed Systems Inc., a precast concrete company. In 1990, they decided to split the company – Mario focused on the general contracting business and Rigo on the precast industry.
Rigo’s son Loris is now the chief executive officer of Prestressed Systems Inc. In addition to the original plant located in Windsor the company now has a production facility in River Rouge, Mich. These plants produce precast for jails, bridges, apartments, stadiums, and arenas throughout Ontario and the eastern and midwestern United States.
Collavino’s work can been seen throughout the world, including Egypt, Kenya, Cameroon, Sri Lanka, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Disney World (Florida), and New York. Of all his projects, he was most passionate about, and dedicated to, his own homestead in Amherstburg, Ont. and was always hard at work erecting bridges and planting numerous trees.
Collavino’s work and contributions in Canada and Italy have been recognized with numerous awards. In 2011, he was named a “Titan of the Precast Industry” by the Canadian Precast Concrete Institute.
Collavino loved the Fruili region and the Alps of Northern Italy. In recent years he received several awards, such as the gold medal of CCIAA (Chamber of Commerce) of Udine, the Epiphany Medal (knighted in Fruili), and the Furlan Merit Award. He was declared an honourary citizen of Ragogna (Muris) in recognition of his business achievements and philanthropic contributions to his homeland and the Fruili area.
He was one of the founding members of the Fogolar Furlan Club in Windsor and a long-standing member of the Caboto and Verdi Clubs. Collavino was passionate about, and very active in, the Alpini Association, both in Canada and in Italy. He was a gold medal donor to the Italian Canadian HandiCapable Association and a regular contributor to several charities. In 2002, the Rigo Collavino family received the Canadian Italian Business Professional Association Award of Excellence in Family Business.
Proud to have immigrated to Canada from Italy, Collavino never forgot his humble roots. He and his brother commissioned a statue of a young emigrant man, which was dedicated during his last trip to his beloved homeland, and now sits atop Mont di Muris as an eternal reminder of Friulian emigrants.
Collavino is survived by his wife of 60 years Anna, his children Sonia, Loris, and Roy and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.
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