The Business Journal celebrates the positive impact that foreign-born business professionals have on the regional economy with this new recurring feature. The first subject in the spotlight is Mauro Adornetto, owner of the accounting, tax and advisory services company based at Katonah Adornetto & Company LLC.
When did you come to this country?
“It was June 8, 1986, when my father, mother, myself and sister decided to come to the United States. I was 16 years old. We came to visit my uncle who had been here for many years and lived in New Rochelle.
“At the time, my father had a well-established construction company in Sicily and he said to us: ‘We will go see your uncle. And if you like, you can stay. And I’ve been here for 35 years.
Did you speak English when you first came here?
“In Europe, you have to take two foreign languages during your studies. I took French and I took English – my French was stronger than English, for some reason.
How did you decide on your career path?
“When I was in Italy, I had already chosen a career to be an accountant. When I graduated from high school I decided to go to Westchester Community College to get an associate’s degree in accounting so I could see what it was like. I loved it and then transferred to Iona College in New Rochelle, where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public accounting in 1990.
“I had the opportunity to work for an Italian bank in the town called Banco de Sicilia. I was there for three and a half years as an assistant chief accountant, and it was great. I was offered a transfer to Rome but declined as my family had already moved here and I didn’t want to come back.
“After that, I decided to change careers, because the bookkeeping you do in a bank is different from what you do with the public. But it was not easy because no one wanted to hire me because I did not have experience in public accounting. I found a company in Westchester that hired me because I had banking experience and they were doing banking work, and I was with them for seven years.
When did you decide to start your own business?
“When my mother passed away in 1998, I decided to leave the company to support my father in his construction business, but he advised me to do what I really love and continue my career. I thought I was going to try to do it myself which was not easy as I didn’t have enough clients at the time. But I took the chance to start my own business and since then I have been on my own.
Who are your current customers?
“I have a very diverse client menu. I have non-profits, for-profits, fancy real estate companies, small pizzerias, construction companies. I have consultants, lawyers, doctors, so I have a bit of everything. I’m not sure the exact number, but I have over 200. And I have four people working for me now – before Covid I was seven.
How has the Covid pandemic impacted your business?
“Businesses were looking for us for help applying for P3 loans, so I was busy all the time. I had to restructure the way we worked, as we weren’t seeing clients in person and working from home, but we never closed our doors.
“I have a lot of hair salons and gyms as clients, which have suffered the most. And we were helping them get Phase 1 loans and Phase 2 PPP loans, which kept them in business. Payroll was one of the main key factors in complying with PPP loans, so it was very important for us to be there when we were needed.
How do you spend your time after work?
“For the past 14 years, I have been coaching soccer. I have three beautiful daughters and I was training them – we competed a lot. It was one of my favorite activities because I was a footballer when I was in Italy.
“As a hobby, I love to make wine – I always dreamed that one day I would own my own vineyard. I remember when I was little, I used to go with my dad picking and crushing grapes and all that. So I am continuing this tradition. I like gardening and growing vegetables.
Do you frequently return to Italy?
“I plan to go there next month. My dad came back and before Covid we were going.
“I always say America is a great country and I am who I am because of America. But for me, Italy is like having a mother to go back to basics because that’s where it all started. Now I have a chance to go because my dad is 89 and I haven’t seen him since Covid hit. “