Mark Dardozzi, Richlin Catering & Event Center
In an era of virtual internet connections and digital handshakes, Mark Dardozzi is “old school.” Business cards, meetings over coffee, and in-person introductions are his hallmark and proven success formula to develop real and lasting business relationships.
Well known in the region as “the guy who knows a guy,” Dardozzi’s reputation will serve him well as the new co-owner and vice president of Richlin Catering and Events Center in Harford County. Owned by Steve Vitali and his family since 1990, Richlin is one of the largest meeting and special events venues in the area.
“I was looking for an opportunity to help contribute to the business community while creating something I could also call my own,” explains Dardozzi. “Buying into Richlin allows me to utilize my professional resources to help rekindle this local favorite in Harford County and introduce new companies and event planners to its appeal.”
Co-owner & Vice President
Board director: Harford County Chamber of Commerce, Appian Society
Secretary: Associated Italian American Charities of MD
President & Co-Founder: Society of Italian American Businessmen
Two-time Nominee, Harford’s Most Beautiful Award
2016 AFP Award SIAB
Harford Leadership Academy Graduate Class of 2007
Richlin Catering & Event Center
EVENT CENTER with seating for up to 500:
FULL Off-site Catering:
Vitali knew Dardozzi as the energized host of the successful Magnificent 7 networking event held each year at Richlin. “As a member of SIAB (Society of Italian-American Businessmen), I knew Mark was looking for a new opportunity and was pursuing different ideas. Having seen what he could do with the SIAB gala and the Mag7, I approached him about joining our team and becoming a business partner,” says Vitali. “We appreciate his ability to connect to the right people and find services that offer solutions. We’re very excited!”
Growing up in Baltimore City on a street settled by 13 Italian families, Dardozzi and a neighborhood friend got their first jobs at age 11 pulling hoses on an oil truck making winter deliveries. In the summer, Dardozzi and that same friend made ice deliveries off the back of a golf cart at events at the Fairgrounds in Timonium. When he turned 14, he was granted a work permit and started working at an air conditioning and refrigeration plant. A successful student but not a fan of school, and still working at the plant, Dardozzi walked into the principal’s office on his 16th birthday and quit. An apprenticeship in sheet metal, decided by his manager’s coin toss, led to membership with the Association of Building Contractors and eventually, Bethlehem Steel.
Long hair won him strange looks from the steelworkers back in 1979, but within six months he was in management and earning his GED. Introducing cross-training to his employees at the plant to avoid layoffs and eliminate the need for outside contractors, he laid the groundwork for his ability to build consensus and introduce innovative ideas.
Retiring from Bethlehem Steel in 1997, Dardozzi spent the next 19 years leading the business development efforts for a few different companies like Equinox International, RainSoft and Elegant Restoration. Seeing the benefit of networking groups for sales, Dardozzi was participating in seven separate groups when he decided to throw a party nine years ago to thank and bring the members together, giving birth to the Magnificent 7 event. “People didn’t understand the value I saw in participating in so many different groups. I would say, ‘I know 200 people. You know 20. Who do you want to meet?’,” he chuckles.
In 2007, Dardozzi completed the Harford Leadership Academy and met fellow classmate Torri Dietrich, then director of development for The Arc Northern Chesapeake Region. Struck by her compassion for helping people, and having himself experienced the challenges and loss of two siblings with cerebral palsy, Dardozzi joined the board of the Arc NCR for seven years, serving as vice-president and president.
Honoring his Italian heritage, he co-founded the civic group the Society of Italian American Businessmen with Elio Scaccio in 2013. In just three years, and under Dardozzi’s leadership as president, the SIAB has raised and donated over $100,000 to Harford County charities.
As he settles into this next chapter, Dardozzi promises that if you trust him with your event, he will pour everything he’s got into making it a success. His vision for Richlin Catering & Event Center includes accommodating guest requests for outdoor wedding ceremonies and courtyard staging, introducing new local vendors and suppliers and possible expansion for even larger events. “The beauty of the Richlin is in its ability to be a blank canvas for the imagination of our brides and other event planners. We’re not encumbered by immovable fixtures or a color palette that gets in the way of your design. We’re a transformational space just waiting for the next idea to unfold.” I95