News & Press

Sandri named Best Family Business


Recorder Staff

Greenfield’s 80-year-old Sandri Companies has been named this year’s “Best Family Business” by the Family Business Association of Massachusetts.

The fuel company started in 1930 with A.R. Sandri leasing his first gas station in Greenfield and today has become one of New England’s largest motor fuels distributors with more than 105 retail locations throughout the Northeast.

“This is amazing and a great honor,” said Timothy Van Epps, president of the company and son-in-law of second-generation owner William Sandri. “We have a great responsibility to keep the family business going for the (Sandri) family and for its employees, who are also family. You don’t see many third-generation companies doing as well as we are.”

It is the second year the FBA has given the award.

“We j ust thought it was great to be nominated,” Van Epps said. “We didn’t expect to win. I think we were one of two familyowned businesses from western Massachusetts and we were up against companies from out east.”

Van Epps said Kevin Keyo of Northwest Benefit Associates nominated Sandri and then the local company’s staff prepared the application.

“Our employees are very special,” he said. “Most employees have been here an average of 22 years and we have 350 employees. That says something and so does their willingness to work on that application and get us this award.”

Edward Tarlow, president of the FBA, said the organization discovered there were a lot of awards for businesses, but there was a void when it came to family-owned businesses, so they decided to make one of their own.

“Family-owned businesses are the backbone of our economy and there wasn’t an award to recognize them,” said Tarlow. “They care about their employees to the point that owners tend to take reductions in hard times so their employees don’t have to and that doesn’t happen in most big businesses. Family-owned businesses feel their employees are family and they feel a responsibility to them. And, they provide job security in most cases.”
Tarlow and FBA member Albert Denapoli said there were more than 450 nominees for the award and that list was whittled to five finalists.

“They were all wonderful companies,” said Denapoli. “But Sandri has been designated outstanding this year.”

Tarlow said Sandri will be able to advertise itself as the 2010 Best Family Business in Massachusetts.

“It was a rigorous judging process, so the judges obviously thought highly of Sandri,” said Denapoli.

The two said FBA not only honors family-owned businesses throughout Massachusetts, but provides educational workshops and materials for them.

In the application, companies were asked about their history, values, community involvement, innovation, success, uniqueness and how they transitioned from one generation to the next.

“We’re a very welcoming company,” said Van E pps, who joined the company in 2005. “We do everything and anything for our employees. A.R. did a lot for the families of people who worked for him and we continue to do the same.”

Van Epps, who was on a Northeast tour of the company’s 105 retail stores on Wednesday, said those running the stores “still talk about what A.R. and Bill did for them.”

“Thousands of families have been affected by a company located in Greenfield, Massachusetts,” he said. “That’s really what it’s all about.”

Sandri is a full-service energy provider offering a variety of fuels and HVAC equipment to its thousands of customers. The company recently added a renewable energy division offering solar hot water and geothermal installations, wood pellet fuel and heating systems and photovoltaic installations. It also distributes those products to professional installers throughout the Northeast.

“My grandfather founded this company 80 years ago out of a g as station on Main Street in Greenfield,” said Wendy (Sandri) Van Epps. “It’s been growing ever since. It’s such an honor to have received this award in recognition of the generosity that our family has been able to show over the years to our community, as well as the innovation and diversification that my dad and Tim have brought to Sandri. We are humbled, and I know that my grandfather would be so proud.”

Acilio R. “Bill” Sandri died in 2008 at the age of 99. It wasn't until spring of 2007 that Sandri retired from the company, and that was only because his failing health forced him.

The FBA is a nonprofit, independent organization created to honor familyowned businesses and their achievements.

About Sandri