The Classic American Success Story
Cosmo Viola believed that the time had come to retire
and leave the family homebuilding business in the very
capable hands of his son Dan, president of Viola Homes.
But what you don't know is that the word retirement
has a whole different meaning to Cosmo than it does
to most people. Now that he is retired, he comes to
the job site a little later and goes home a little earlier.
While at the job site, he can choose the jobs he enjoys
doing. This includes, but is not limited to, operating
the bulldozer and backhoe. He also makes it a point
to keep up with the progress of each new home under
construction. On occasion, he will go to lunch with
his friends or take an afternoon to play golf. This
is what he considers retirement. He has always had a
high work ethic and taken great pride in everything
he has done. He doesn't view his business as work. He
enjoys everything about it.
If you're looking for a classic success story, this
is it. Born in Gaeta, Italy, Cosmo came to Rochester
in 1951 at the age of eighteen. His only contact here
was his uncle who had immigrated to America several
years earlier. Cosmo did not speak or understand a word
of English. He began working as a laborer in construction
and attended night school to learn the language. Within
four years, Cosmo had become a mason contractor and
was taking courses in architectural drawing at RIT night
school. By 1958, he built his first home. Over the next
40-plus years, Viola Homes became one of the major builders/
developers on Rochester's east side. This year, the
company plans to build 1215 homes priced at $220,000
Dan Viola is very much like his father. He too enjoys
the trade he has learned from his dad. He began sweeping
and picking up scraps at the age of six. As a teenager,
he mastered every job involved in the construction of
a home. Following high school, he continued his education
at Niagara University where he obtained a degree in
both Management and Marketing. After graduation, his
sole desire was to return home and start building. In
1988, he became President of Viola Homes, Inc. Dan however,
is not the only successful child in the family. Cosmo
has another son who chose to become an Ophthalmologist
and also practices in the Rochester area. Additionally,
his youngest child, Linda, is an accountant and handles
all of the financial aspects of the family business.
During the 1980s, Viola Homes developed the seventy
home neighborhood known as Pinebrook Heights in Penfield.
In addition, they also constructed 106 town homes and
an office building called The Strand located in Webster.
In 1991, Viola Homes began developing a new neighborhood,
Silverwoods Subdivision, which consists of 132 lots
and is located in the Town of Penfield. Host to Homearama
2000, this development is about half complete and offers
residents a number of extra amenities. Each house has
a dusk activated post light to make the streets safe
and inviting during the night. Cosmo donated fourteen
acres of the original parcel to the Town of Penfield,
which has been developed to appear as parkland. Mature
trees have been preserved and an existing pond was enhanced
to add visual appeal to the development.
Why choose a Viola home? What makes a Viola home stand
out from the rest? Dan's answer to that is, "The
quality of the materials and construction that go into
the home are above average." Standard features
in a Viola home include Wood Mode kitchens, ceramic
tile, poured concrete walks, plywood instead of composites,
extensive wood trim and Andersen windows. Viola homeowners
are smart, conscientious buyers who look beyond the
cosmetics and the sales hype. They recognize the value
in the quality that is built into a home. During a conversation
with Dan, he made the following statement, "There
is nothing we can't or won't do for a customer if it
is physically possible. We've done everything from an
indoor, in ground pool to fiber optics, home networks
and home automation." If you have an idea, Cosmo
and Dan can help make that idea become a reality.
Homebuyers have the option of reviewing different plans
maintained by the Viola's. With so many plans available
to choose from, most customers find one that they prefer.
They are also given the option of working with an architect
to personalize the plan. After the customer has finalized
the plan, they are then directed toward a specialist
with each supplier so they can choose which selections
they would like in their home. Dealing directly with
the suppliers allows the customer to have access to
the widest selection and the product information available.
Dan takes the quality of his homes very seriously.
He is on site every day to ensure that every step in
the construction process meets the company's standards.
Dan feels it is important to be able to oversee every
aspect, every day and for that reason, he chooses not
to build off-site. The time lost in traveling to different
locations might hinder the building process thus losing
some of the quality he takes such pride in. Although
construction of the home may be complete, this is not
the end of the process. Each home will have a lawn,
shrubbery, driveway, front walk, and other above standard
finishing touches. When moving into a new home built
by Viola Homes, Dan states, "all you need are your
clothes and food. The house is ready to live in."
Cosmo Viola has been awarded the opportunity of have
his dream come true. When he came to this country, he
came with two things in mind his ability to learn
and his desire to succeed. He hasn't forgotten about
his hometown. He returns to Gaeta on an annual basis
to see the family he left behind. He takes great pride
in what he has accomplished and sees himself as a man
who has been blessed with a wonderful family. For it
is his family that will continue to maintain the vision
he began all those years ago. As for retirement, that's
not an option. Cosmo doesn't refer to homebuilding as
work. He refers to it as making a living being able
to do something that he loves.