May 22, 2016

Family-owned business keeps thriving after 130 years

Provided Photo

Patti Fortuna-Stannard stands with a display of her company's products in Sandgate.

SANDGATE — Patti Fortuna-Stannard’s business was established in Rhode Island under the name Fortuna’s Sausage Co. & Italian Market in 1991. But the history of this family-owned business goes back much further — 130 years further. Fortuna-Stannard, the owner since 1982, now runs the business with her husband and son from Sandgate, traveling to Rutland each Saturday for the Farmers Market. Here she tells more of her family’s business story.

What is the nature of your business?

We sell our own all-natural salami, sausage and imported cheese and more online. We also sell at local Vermont events, including the Rutland Farmers Market and through a few local Vermont distributors.

What was the inspiration behind creating your business?

We are celebrating our fourth generation as a family business, carrying on our family’s tradition of making truly natural dry-cured salami and sausage.

How did you get to where you are today?

We started in 1982 as a family Italian deli and restaurant in Rhode Island, then started making our salami and selling it in our store. The food editor from the Los Angeles Times came in one summer day to have lunch and bought some of our salami to take home with her to Los Angeles. Next thing we know, the phone is ringing and we were asked to send salami to LA. After some time, someone told us she had written it up in her column as “America’s Best.” That was in 1991. From that point on we were shipping daily to California, and we needed to expand and grow in compliance with the USDA’s regulations regarding shipping a meat product. We opened a USDA meat plant and started making all of our family recipes under regulation. We expanded our business to include mail-order. It has continued to grow and grow from there. Today we are solely a mail order (no deli or restaurant), but we do the local events, food and wine festivals and, of course, the Farmers Market in Rutland.

What makes your company unique? What is the most interesting aspect of your company?

We pride ourselves on making the best, quality product with the freshest ingredients, keeping them all as natural as they were over 130 years ago when my grandparents first made them. We are a family-run and operated business and pride ourselves on customer service.

Why Vermont?

Vermont is where we always wanted to end up. We had a weekend home in Sandgate, and once Internet service came to Sandgate in 2009, we said it was time to move our Internet-based business to the place we love. We built a 5,500-square-foot barn to warehouse our product and to ship from. Being a Vermont-based business has its assets; we can ship orders in the mornings and enjoy the outdoors of Vermont in the afternoons.

As a business owner, what is the most important lesson you have learned?

My most important lesson has been to always keep to what you believe in. For example, I will not lower my quality of ingredients just to sell more product at a lower cost. I always stay true to who I am and what the company stands for — after all, my name is attached, and it’s my family heritage.

Contact Information, 1-800-427-6879, also on Twitter, Instagram and of course Facebook:
If you are a locally owned Rutland-area small business or sole-proprietorship and would like to be featured in A Business Story, email
Joanna Tebbs Young is a freelance writer and writing workshop facilitator living in Rutland. Contact her at,, or on Twitter at @jtebbsyoung.


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