Berry Co. has long history in Dayton

You’ve probably seen the Berry name on a hospital wall or university building in the Dayton area. That name has been synonymous with philanthropy in this town for years as the family has given millions of dollars to causes in the Miami Valley.

Last week, the company that made the family billions changed its name to Vivial.

Loren Berry launched the Ohio Guide Company from a rented desk in downtown Dayton in 1910 on a shoestring budget. The company printed timetables for railroads.

During that time, Loren found he could make more money in the telephone directory business and started L.M. Berry and Company, a coast-to-coast publisher of the Yellow Pages.

His son, John William Berry Sr., later took the company global and made it into a $1-billion-a-year giant before he sold it to BellSouth Corp. in 1986.

Just as many companies in the print business have struggled in the Internet age, Berry Co. has evolved to stay ahead of the competition. The company has 300 employees at its Kettering location and more than 1,000 nationwide.

Derived from the adjective “convivial,” Vivial embodies technology, engagement and “as a company who we are,” a company spokesman told reporter Thomas Gnau.

Let’s hope the company doesn’t forget its rich history in the Dayton area with the name change.

Pizza shop honored

For 63 years, Cassano’s Pizza King has been serving pizzas to Dayton-area customers.

Dayton’s oldest pizza shop was honored last week by Ohio officials with a historical marker that was placed at company headquarters on Stroop Road in Kettering.

Founded in 1953 by Vic Cassano Sr. and his mother-in-law, Mom Donisi, the pizza chain’s first location was at Schantz Avenue and Patterson Road, where pizza was sold out of the back of Vic’s grocery store.

Now the company is run by Vic’s grandsons Vic (Chip) Cassano III and Chris Cassano. Cassano’s has 33 family-owned locations in the greater Dayton area along with five franchise locations. The company employs around 600 people.

Running a pizza shop is a tough business with the number of options available for consumers. Cassano’s has stayed with what has worked for them and is one of Dayton’s charms that brings people back for more.

Praise for Dayton

Dean Barber, president and CEO of Barber Business Advisors, a nationally known location advisory and economic development consulting firm based in Dallas., had some kind words to say about Dayton following his trip to the Gem City two weeks ago.

Barber was the featured speaker at an annual development conference held in downtown Dayton by the I-70/75 Development Association, a group committed to economic growth in the region.

Saying Dayton was the original Silicon Valley, Barber said he learned far more during his visit than he was able to provide to visitors to the conference.

He said Dayton’s history as an inventor’s town will lead it to grow in the near future after recovering from tough times during the Great Recession. Barber said Dayton was a city he would recommend to top companies as a place to open a new business.

Rich Gillette is the Dayton Daily News business editor. He can be reached at 937-225-0623 or rich.gillette@coxinc.com

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