Frank Saverino operates a successful food brokerage business, donates to charitable causes and has spent the last 14 years in public service.
But the Carol Stream village president elected to a second term in the spring wasn't always in that position.
"We had nothing," Saverino says of his upbringing on Chicago's West Side. "But if no one around you doesn't have, you don't miss it."
Growing up in a working-class neighborhood, Saverino learned early in life how to make do with what you have. And it's clearly a philosophy he has taken with him -- in business and in politics.
As founder and president of Saverino and Associates, the 66-year-old mayor says voters "understood what I was really trying to say" in the recent election: that he would use his experience as a businessman in Carol Stream's industrial park to effectively oversee village government.
Indeed, he maintains that running village government should be the same as running a business.
"How are all these towns building Taj Mahals?" Saverino said of new municipal buildings in other communities. "What do they have that I don't have? It's borrowed money.
"If you can't afford it, you're not going to buy it."
Finding Carol Stream
Growing up three doors away from the Gonella Bakery at Erie Street and Damen Avenue in Chicago, Saverino looked up to his father, who was born with polio but maintained a strong work ethic as a truck driver.
"We had nothing, but we had love from our parents," Saverino said.
In sixth grade, Saverino met his wife of 49 years, Bobbie. He recalls their trips to the beach at a young age with her sister and Saverino's friend. That couple also married.
After Saverino and his wife tied the knot, they lived in apartments in the city before buying their first house in Bensenville -- a 975-square-foot Cape Cod.
As they were raising their family -- children Frank Jr., Jennifer, Mark and Dominic -- Frank and Bobbie began thinking of moving further west.
They would take the kids to a pumpkin farm on Army Trail Road. And they'd stop by a popular corner gas station -- more of a general store that had everything, Saverino said.
"It was like Mayberry coming out here," he said.
But more people started taking notice. Thanks to a housing boom and the attraction of good schools, families like the Saverinos began to call Carol Stream home.
In 1981, Saverino started selling coffee and Bobbie's homemade sandwiches for vending machines out of the first floor of his house. Today, the business encompasses vending, convenience store sales, and food service products that aren't prepackaged.
Son Frank Jr., daughter Jennifer and daughter-in-law JoAnn work at the business.
But one family member noticeably absent is Dominic Saverino, the mayor's youngest son, who died last fall after battling several health aliments.
Losing a son
Dominic suffered from eye cancer and Chiari malformation, a rare disease that causes a growth on the cerebellum into the upper spine.
Dominic Saverino, 36, was his father's top salesman and worked to woo potential clients at trade shows.
"Dom was our right arm if you needed anything done," his dad said.
Saverino said the last four years -- with his son going in and out of the hospital -- have been the worst of his life.
In the business' warehouse sits Dominic's workshop area, where he worked on building remote control airplanes and old racing cars.
A wrench still lies under a 1977 Pontiac Trans Am that Dominic was working on four days before he died.
"Nobody wanted to touch it," Saverino said.
Dominic was past-president of the Chicagoland Italian-American Charitable Organization, a group that has raised $5,000 in a college fund for Dominic's children: 4-year-old Dominic III and 3-year-old Isabella, Saverino said.
Saverino has stayed heavily involved with the organization and other charitable causes, such as Relay For Life.
Saverino never planned to be village president, or to hold any elected office. But he was convinced by firefighters to run for the Carol Stream Fire Protection District board because of his background in writing labor contracts while in the food service industry. He's taken classes in labor relations at Triton College.
After four years on the fire district board, then-Village President Ross Ferraro encouraged Saverino to run for a spot on the village board. Saverino's daughter worked at Ferraro's barbershop.
After six years as a trustee, Saverino ran for village president -- with the blessing of Ferraro, who was stepping down from politics.
When he won in 2007, Saverino said he wanted to repair strained relationships with those in nearby towns. There was an attitude, he said, of staying on your side of the road. You didn't cross Army Trail Road into Bloomingdale or Hanover Park, and you didn't cross Schmale Road into Glendale Heights.
"I worked a year just building trust," he said.
Now, if Glendale Heights needs their roads salted, Carol Stream is willing to help out, Saverino said.
Just pay us back later, he says.
Saverino meets quarterly with officials from other Carol Stream taxing bodies, including park, fire, library and school districts.
He also mediated meetings between DuPage County and the Carol Stream Park District over a proposed flood mitigation project at Armstrong Park. Until last month, the project had been slow to get off the ground while officials worked on developing an intergovernmental agreement that sanctions the work.
"Let's work together and forget about egos," he said he told them. "I hate egos. Check them at the door when you're working with me."
Saverino says he doesn't accept campaign contributions, and paid for his campaigns for village president with his own money.
"I never had aspirations of being mayor," he says. "I just wanted to take care of my family and fundraise."
What others say
Frank Saverino Jr., who handles the family business' convenience sales division, says working for his dad is "an addiction," but he's also easy to work for.
"His name should be next to the word 'ethics.' He would take his shirt off for anybody," his son said.
Carol McCue, an administrative assistant at Saverino and Associates, has worked for the company for 25 years. She says Saverino is a hard worker, but he doesn't take credit for anything.
"He knows what he wants, and you know what he expects of you," she said. "We all respect him so much."