By Jennifer Moulaison | Photos by Darren Lovecchio & Piero Girodo
Piero Girodo’s more than forty years of expertise in the fenestration industry began in the Alpine region of Italy between Switzerland and France. Instilled from the very beginning with a dedication to doing things correctly, Girodo’s story depicts a rich marriage between old-world Italian tradition with American tenacity and forward thinking.
By the age of 17, after receiving his degree in precision machine tools, Girodo’s began working for his parents’ company in Italy, making gates, windows, and other steel products. Alongside his mother and father, he spent years learning invaluable techniques and production concepts. “There’s a reason everyone associates quality and excellence with something being Italian made, Says Girodo. “It’s like Italian food. It’s all about the quality of ingredients and a great chef. And so, for us, it’s all about the quality materials and keeping the specialized machine tools in the hands of artisans,” he continues.
An American twist entered Girodo’s story when Sophia, a visiting American, was hired to teach him to speak English. Still possessing a rich Italian accent, Girodo jokes, “I married her so I wouldn’t have to learn English!” The two lived in Italy and worked together for several years but traveled often to visit Sophia’s hometown of San Jose. “We couldn’t help but notice there was an obvious need in the window and door market for what we were producing in Italy,” Girodo explains.
In 2001, they uprooted their life in Italy and moved to San Jose. Together, they started America Italiana. It began very small as Girodo worked side by side with his tradesmen, personally installing products. “It was the only way I could be sure everything was done precisely and to my standards,” says Girodo. It
wasn’t long before their modest business grew into what it is today. “We serve a very discerning clientele, and I’m proud of our ability to offer solutions that offer both timeless, European elegance and cutting-edge technology,” says Girodo. Among their current projects is a sliding door design modeled after the Maglev train’s technology, leveraging magnetic physics to effortlessly glide trackless sliding glass doors weighing more than two thousand pounds.
The products are a worthy source of pride for Girodo, as is the sincere sense of family that engulfs clients who place their projects in his capable hands. Girodo’s three children have taken roles in the company. Their eldest, Monica, has been working in the company for more than five years. She’s currently stationed in Italy, helping with graphic design, which encompasses everything from producing CAD (computer-aided design) drawings to collaborating with their product technician in Italy for double-checking products before they reach a shipping container.
Their son Kevin is currently pursuing his degree from San Jose State University in International Business, while also overseeing marketing, social media, and working closely with architects and builders. Their youngest, Christian, is currently on sabbatical between high school and college and has joined the business full-time. He’s learning accounting from Sophia and the technical details of the products from Girodo.
Girodo’s dream for the future of America Italiana would further infuse the business with quintessential Italian hospitality. “I would love some land with a classic, red barn—not for livestock but for a showroom of products,” Girodo describes. “We truly love to treat our clients like family,” he concludes.