“My mother and father came here seeking a better life, and it was extremely important to them that all of their children receive a good education and choose a profession for which they were passionate,” said Ceravolo. “But I really learned to be a good person and a hard worker at my parents’ factory.”
Ceravolo spent his younger years two steps behind his mother and father at their business.
“They provided us with a great childhood, they taught us to be compassionate and they worked tirelessly for us,” he said, adding they always made time for family despite the long hours. “I never felt like I was missing something in my childhood.”
Ceravolo, who today owns his own accounting firm on Metropolitan Avenue in Forest Hills, and his wife, Tania, are teaching their 20-year-old daughter Isabella the same work ethic his parents taught him.
“I hope we give her the right building blocks to do whatever she wants to do,” he said. “I think more important than my practice or my business, I think someday I will be judged by Isabella.”
On March 30, Ceravolo will accept the “Businessman of the Year” award at the 6th Annual Bishop Ignatius Catanello Memorial Mass and Scholarship Dinner at Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston. The annual event raises money to provide financial help for students at Cathedral Preparatory and Seminary High School in Elmhurst.
“I’m very honored and very touched,” Ceravolo said. “I’m usually not the person who is in the spotlight, and the last time I probably won an award was when I was graduating from high school. This was unexpected, but really appreciated.
“I knew of Bishop Iggy, but I didn’t know him personally,” he added. “Everyone has such admiration and love for this bishop, who I regret that I never got to meet.”
Ceravolo attended Our Lady of Mount Carmel School, St. John's Prep and Baruch College. His interest in accounting began when he helped his parents’ accountant do payroll for the business each week.
But his passion for the profession comes from the opportunity to assist people. Many of his clients are local merchants and businesses.
“My firm does quality work,” he said. “I really enjoy the guidance we provide to all of our clients.”
After working for other firms, just before his marriage Ceravolo decided to open his own practice in an office space in their small two-bedroom apartment in Astoria. The firm moved to Forest Hills in 1994.
“That first year, I had a lot of time to myself,” he recalled. “By the second year, the practice really took off. One of my clients, a local contractor, introduced me to Forest Hills, where I worked out of an office across the street, eventually moving to the larger space we occupy today.
“I don’t live here, but I really feel like I’m a part of the neighborhood,” he added. “I’ve met some wonderful people in the business community, people we have and haven’t done business with, and it’s a really wonderful part of Queens.”
Frank Steele, a lead organizer for the annual dinner, said that while Ceravolo didn’t personally know Bishop Iggy, he had qualities that aligned with the values of the bishop.
“Sal was one of the first people who said to me, ‘I wish I would’ve met the bishop,’” Steele said. “Over the years, I’ve seen how Sal treats everybody. This office is his family. When you come into his office, he doesn’t just take your tax information, it’s more than that.”
“I’m very happy with everything,” Ceravolo said. “I’m a regular kid from Astoria, I don’t know if I deserve to be called the ‘Businessman of the Year.’ I think I’d like to be known as the guy who helps a lot of people that deserve to be business people of the year.”