Creating Memorable Catholic Pilgrimages for Over 50 Years
The Unitours family of brands was founded in 1957 as a partnership between three men:
Mr. Richard DeJudicibus – New York
Captain Ted Langton of London
Mr. Leo Roupioz of Paris
Richard DeJudicibus (fondly known as Mr Day) was born in Brooklyn, NY on August 30, 1924. His father, an Italian employed by "Banco di Napoli" had been transferred to NY in 1919. His mother was born in Brooklyn by Italian Immigrant parents. In 1930 Richard’s father was posted to Milan and the family moved back to Italy. From here they continued to move every 3 years or so, including stays in Turin and Tripoli, Libya. His longest and most formative years were spent in Milan where he spent the war as an American citizen with his formal education by the Salesian fathers.
He moved back to NY right after WWII and started working in the travel business, first as a steward for Caribbean Airlines, flying across the Atlantic on a regular basis. He subsequently worked for other travel companies eventually joining American Express Travel.
In 1957, Captain Ted Langton gave Leo and Richard each $10,000 with instructions to open an office in Paris and New York and follow his lead in offering group travel experiences. Each of the companies was called “Universal Travel” – but the name was taken in US, thus the name “Unitours” was born.
Captain Langton retired and left Richard and Leo with the companies including Captain Langton’s London office. Over time, other offices were opened in Tel Aviv, Athens and Rome. The financial and operations headquarters became Lucerne, Switzerland. Leo and Richard would go on to build a travel company that at one point was sending passengers to almost all the significant destinations on earth and in the process made them extremely successful. But more importantly they also built a friendship and a bond that withstood the test of time.
Over the years, the financial connections to the various worldwide offices were disengaged but the relationships have continued often with the second generation managements of those companies.
In the 70’s and 80’s, the main focus of Unitours in New York was tours to Israel for the large Jewish organizations such as Hadassah and American Jewish Congress. Because of this, a Unitours office in Tel Aviv was opened.
Richard, sent so many groups to Israel that in 1995, he received the prestigious Peace Tourism Year Award personally from Prime Minister Rabin prior to his assassination.
In the mid 80’s he attended a large delegation of Americans and Israelis to the Vatican and met His Holiness Pope John Paul II.
Richard liked to say that he had “taken more Jews to Israel than Moses”! He would further joke that as an Italian Catholic, he never understood it.
Richard was an icon in the travel industry contacted frequently by industry leaders around the world who called upon him for advice and counsel. He was a founding member of the prestigious United Stated Tour Operators Association (USTOA) with which Unitours maintains associate membership today. He also made Unitours active members of ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents) and CLIA (Cruise Line International Association).
In 1990, through a providential meeting, Richard met Bob Faucett who had been active in organizing Catholic pilgrimages since 1984. After a career as a marketing executive with AT&T, Bob and his wife Carol Ann had been full time lay ministers in the Catholic Church traveling throughout the U.S. offering parish missions and leadership, couples retreats and workshops. To help support that ministry (and feed their love of travel) they began organizing and hosting Catholic pilgrimages with some of the many priests they met in their travels. This ministry grew and they began marketing tours through the Protestant company from whom they had bought their own tours. That company went bankrupt in 1990 and Bob began investigating other tour companies with whom they could work.
At that same time Richard was moving out of the American Jewish business. In their first years together Bob was able to generate enough business in the American Roman Catholic market to change the entire focus of the company which migrated almost exclusively to that market. In 1992, Unitours handled what remains to date the largest single group of American Roman Catholic pilgrims to the Holy Land. The group was 20 buses with 1,000 pilgrims all in one hotel! The following year, Rita and Lew Goody, a pair of pilgrims from that trip joined Unitours as the first of Bob’s sales force. They remain active today as our senior sales reps.
Because of the high quality of the its product, its financial security and Richard’s willingness to invest marketing funds, Unitours became and remains the most successful and respected Catholic tour companies in the world.
In 1998, Richard and Bob were joined by Fabrizio Fabbri who had represented Alitalia Airlines to us and he quickly rose in our management team. As an Italian born American, Fabrizio had
Contacts that allowed a new “Cultural Heritage” niche for Unitours sending Italian Americans on very specialized trips to Italy. In 2005, Richard made Fabrizio and Bob partners in the company and stepped up to the role of “Chairman Emeritus” and handed off the role of President and day to day management to Fabrizio who continues to manage the operations side of the company, while Bob continues to handle the sales and marketing side.
Richard passed away in 2009 leaving a very healthy company and Fabrizio, Bob and Richard’s family continue ownership with the same management philosophy. Richard’s daughter, Pat Thrane works as an operations specialist in the office on a part time basis.
The company has four departments. Sales and Marketing managed by Bob with a contract sales staff of nearly twenty representatives throughout the U.S. Operations, under the direction of Marianna Pisano, are responsible for implementing the details of trips sold. They interact with the pilgrimage hosts, pilgrims and our overseas partners who book hotels, buses, guides, etc. Our Air Department works diligently with all of our airline partners obtaining group quotes, confirming air seats and eventual ticketing. Finally, our Accounting department assures accurate financial records, payment of bills and issuing host benefit and commission checks.
Fabrizio and Bob are both extremely proud to be at the helm continuing the Unitours legacy created by industry giants. Without a doubt, the most impressive legacy Richard left was the corporate culture that continues. That culture has several stalwart foundations.
1. Do the right thing. If something goes amiss, the policy is to fix it even if it costs the company money. If someone in the family makes a mistake, the question is never “who did it” or “why”, it is “fix it”. The company has everyone’s back.
2. Honesty. When any of the worldwide Unitours’ family speaks listeners can be confident that there is no hidden agenda. What is said, is what is meant. It is the Unitours’ way. “No. B.S”.
3. Only do business with friends. Our focus is to have friendly, honest relationships with each and every person and company with whom we do business. This includes employees, both salaried and contracted, vendors including overseas partners, airlines and customers. If we detect that we are being treated by any of these constituencies with a lack of respect or honesty, we immediately sever the relationship even if it means refunding deposits and canceling a trip.