ARLINGTON, Texas — Joe “Joseph” James Zanti Jr., the founder of Covers Etc., Inc. (CEI), died July 19 in Mansfield, Texas, after a battle with COVID-19. He was 71.
Zanti was born on Dec. 24, 1948, in Boston, Massachusetts, and worked in the fishing industry. His wife, Jacque, was from Texas and wanted to move back. Zanti decided to buy a Comet Cleaners franchise in the Dallas area.
Zanti grew the business until he had six plants and two pickup stores and was then approached by Jerry Thomas of Thomas Machinery to sell equipment and plant designs. As a favor, Zanti would help his customers put on press covers, and it occurred to him that this could turn into a full-time business. In 1983, Zanti launched CEI.
Starting in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, CEI soon branched out, growing to cover 35 territories.
The company was a family affair, with Jacque sewing covers at night at the beginning of the business. In 2000, Zanti’s sons, Bradley and Joseph “Junior” Zanti III, joined him in running Covers Etc.
“My dad was my mentor, my best friend and one of the kindest people in the world,” says Junior Zanti. “All he wanted was to make people happy.”
Zanti Jr. is survived by his wife, Teri Zanti; sons Joseph J. Zanti III and Bradley Zanti; stepsons Melvin Parkerson and Shane Parkerson; sister Josephine Breen; nephews Peter Breen and Dr. Joey Breen; niece Denise Lewis; aunts Helen Bramante, Josephine Gandolfi, Margaret Gandolfi and Connie Van Tassel; and numerous grandchildren and cousins.
The family requests donations be made in Zanti Jr.’s memory to The Independence Fund at https://secure.qgiv.com/for/zanmem/.