Nick Di Tempora MAPEI (Americas)

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“I swore that my family would never miss a meal.”

Nick Di Tempora was barely eleven years old when he and his parents, Eleonora Santella Di Tempora and Giuseppe Di Tempora along with his sister, Maria Rosaria arrived at the port of Montreal on the S.S. Columbia in May of 1951. By then, Nick had heard a myriad of stories about the promise of l’America. His grandfather, Michele Santella had ventured to Ellis Island in 1895, and worked in the coal mines of Altoona, Pennsylvania. In 1905, he sent for Maria Carmine Vena—a schooled seamstress—in his native town of Ielsi in the Province of Campobasso. They married by proxy, and together they settled in Pennsylvania where their two sons were born.

Early Years in Italy

While his family is originally from the town of Ielsi (Campobasso) in 1937 Nick’s parents moved to the city of Campobasso. Shortly after WWII began, this decision proved catastrophic, especially for Nick and his mother who were forced to mostly fend for themselves while Nick’s father was stationed away to fight the war, and later, was taken prisoner. Six long years passed before Nick finally met his father. He recalls that day as though it were yesterday: a wide-eyed boy firmly holding his mother’s hand and eagerly awaiting at the train station among the throngs of hopeful families greeting their soldiers home, until finally, one day his mother pointed to a young man in his army green uniform, and echoed the words, “Eccolo”(There he is).

Montreal in 1951, Then and Now

In his new home on Grand Avenue (now Marconi Street), Nick quickly learned the tools he needed to prosper, both in school and at work. He had excellent grades, and skipped a few years of school; he proudly joined the hockey, soccer, track and field teams, and even the Air Force Cadets. In the summer of 1951, Nick frequently walked with his father to the Casa d’Italia where contractors routinely picked up labourers for day jobs. Within a few months, Nick’s father held both day and night-time jobs, and his mother worked full-time in the clothing industry, and took in boarders at their home. Hard work and generosity are among the legacies that Nick’s parents have passed on to him. Over the years, Nick worked hard in numerous sectors; he fell in love, and married Yolanda Testa; and eventually settled in the United States where he has headed the MAPEI Corporation for the Americas. All along, Nick has maintained close ties with Montreal’s Italian community.

As a boy on the S.S. Columbia, Nick never imagined he would one day be at the helm of a multinational corporation. He remembers, however, that first sip of Coca-Cola offered to him soon after his arrival in Montreal. “This is America,” he thought, and swore that from then on his family would never, ever miss a meal.