Vincenzo Landino, one of the founders of Hubcap Wallingford, currently under construction at 128 Center Street in Wallingford, Tuesday, January 21, 2014. Hubcap will provide collaboration between schools and business to increase career readiness while expanding downtown business. | Dave Zajac / Record-Journal
January 22, 2014 01:15AM
By Eric Vo
WALLINGFORD — Whether it’s organizing events for a nonprofit organization, blogging, creating a business community center in the downtown area or even making wine, Vincenzo Landino makes an effort to keep busy and occupied.
“I’m one of those people that can’t really stand still,” Landino said. “I had a week vacation and I literally filled it. I didn’t stay home. I filled it with the Hubcap or helping out some other family businesses.”
The 28-year-old moved to Wallingford last year. He is the development manager for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Connecticut Chapter, where he helps organize the nonprofit organization’s major events. He serves on the board of directors for the Connecticut Federal Credit Union. He also is one of the founders of the Hubcap, a small business incubator that will also have a mentoring component for public school students. The project is the first of its kind in Connecticut.
For his work, Landino was named one of Connecticut Magazine’s “40 Under 40” for 2014.
Landino said he didn’t know he was chosen and found out on his own. One of the events he organizes for the foundation is “New Haven’s Finest,” which aims to recognize individuals for their success and accomplishments in business and leadership. After hearing the magazine released the names of the new group, Landino said he decided to look through the list to see who he should invite to the event — that’s when he saw his name among the other 39.
“I wanted to see who was in the list to pick from — if there was anyone good,” Landino said. “I was shocked. I had no idea.”
He wakes up early in the morning and goes to sleep late at night, Landino said. He tries to make his days as productive as possible. When he isn’t working at the foundation, he volunteers his time to work on the Hubcap — a project he calls his “baby.”
The idea, to create a collaborative space for business owners, came to him when he was a student at Southern Connecticut State University. As a student, he said he would frequently do his work at one the tables in the student union. Never a fan of closed-off work spaces or cubicles, Landino said he wanted to develop an open work environment for business people to collaborate and work together.
“How nice is it to lean over and talk to someone — to talk about collaborating on an idea?” Landino asked. “Collaboration is so key.”
He graduated from Southern Connecticut State University in 2008, but wasn’t able to bring his idea to life because he “never connected with the right people for it to take off,” he said. It wasn’t until he met with Wallingford Center Inc. Executive Director Liz Landow when his idea would come to fruition.
“He came into my office six months ago and just wanted to volunteer for Wallingford Center and he wanted to get involved in the community,” Landow said. “We started talking and we both felt strongly about this community center idea.”
Landino was then introduced to Economic Development Commission Chairman Joe Mirra and School Superintendent Salvatore Menzo, and the project quickly moved forward. The project is near completion, with a grand opening scheduled for mid-February.
He admitted that he wanted to make money with his idea for a collaborative space, but his motives changed as he got older and began working for a non-profit organization. As he met with a variety of people for his work with the foundation, he realized it might be worthwhile to pursue his idea from a different approach.
“We’re not trying to profit off it. It’s really for the community and I want to see the community thrive,” Landino said. “I work with a nonprofit and I understood it a lot more, as well. There’s more in this world than making money.”
Both Mirra and Landow described Landino in similar ways. “Energetic” and a “hard worker” were words used by both individuals. Mirra added that Landino is “someone that will be in the town’s eye in the next couple of decades.”
Landow said she was glad to see someone Landino’s age so eager to volunteer his time to better his community.
“I enjoy working with him. He’s an integral part of the Hubcap and he’s been there since day one,” she said. “We started chatting and he was serious about volunteering and helping the town and the people. It’s nice to see someone his age so conscientious and eager to help.”
While the Hubcap will help small business owners and students, it’ll ultimately affect the community. Community development, Landino said, has been a major focus of his work and efforts.
“People are such an important foundation of a solid community — the foundation of a stronger world. You can’t start big, you have to start small. And a community is where it is,” he explained. “That’s all we have: our community and our neighbors ... Everyone wants to see where they live and see great things happen in their town.”