In 2010, Souza closed the retail outlet along Route 1 that the company had opened just two years earlier. The company had even petitioned the state Legislature for a beer and wine license for the store and got it, but wound up never using it.
The store was popular, Souza said, but turned out to be more work than expected and needed more planning to grow.
“The property is worth so much more for us in manufacturing than it is in retail,” he said.
Six months ago, the company won permission from the town to take down the former retail store to make way for a new, larger facility.
“The town of Danvers is excellent to work with,” Souza said. “They are understanding that we have a business and we have to run it.”
Since 2001, DiLuigi Foods has processed its sausages and meat products from a facility on Popes Lane in Danvers, after relocating from East Boston, where it outgrew a facility the company had expanded three times.
The company’s roots lie in a neighborhood butcher shop on Chelsea Street in East Boston started by “Papa” Louis DiLuigi Sr. in 1950. In the 1960s, the butcher shop became a wholesale operation employing about seven people.
Today, more than 200 people work for the company, many of them from Danvers and surrounding communities on the North Shore.
Souza has known DiLuigi Jr. since both were 7; they grew up together in Revere. In high school, Lou DiLuigi, now a Boxford resident, asked Souza to go to work for the family company, and Souza learned the food business.
They stayed friends over the years. Souza eventually got a Master of Business Administration from Babson College and went into banking, working for Chase and then for State Street for 20 years before accepting a buyout, he said. He came back to the food business and has been with DiLuigi Foods for four years.