In his office, Bob SanGregory has a picture of his father posing with two of his sisters and himself on the hood of a truck. The picture, taken 54 years ago, stands as a reminder of three generations of SanGregorys who have made the business what it is today.
This year, SanGregory Cartage Inc. celebrates 50 years since Tony and Helen SanGregory started the company with a truck and the home telephone.
"It's a true family business," said Bob, owner/operator. "There has been family in this business ever since it started."
Since 1961, SanGregory Cartage has hauled products from larger carriers to companies and organizations, and makes deliveries of non-food items to small businesses throughout the area. While it may not be a household name, chances are many people often come into contact with a product that has been on a company truck.
The business started when Tony, a long-time truck driver, was laid off during a recession in the 1960s and used his contacts in the field to create a job for himself. In those days, Helen would take calls for deliveries from home and relay the message to her husband. It was modest, with the first cartage check received written for $61, but their hard work would pay off.
"I think dad just thought he was doing it through the hard time, and as things got better he would leave, but he and mom really dedicated a lot of time, worked hard at it and built it into a nice little business," Bob said.
Over time, Bob and his sisters would all spend time working for the company, and eventually other employees would be brought in to help with the operations.
The company also moved out of the family home and into an office on the site of a former coal yard on Hall Street. That area has expanded to the terminal the company is housed in today.
Like Tony, Bob started out driving a truck. When his father died at 58, Bob was in his 30s and took over operations, always keeping in mind his past on the road.
SanGregory Cartage now is in its third generation as Bob's children TJ and Sara have taken on roles with the company. TJ, now serving as terminal and operations manager, is rapidly moving into Bob's position.
"It's a fun job," said TJ, who is in his 15th year. "That's the honest truth - you actually like your job."
"Everybody always asks why I drive a truck and I say, 'It's just in my blood.' I just love it," said Sara, who has worked at the company for five years.
Bob said good employee morale is not only held by his children, but other workers as well. He said he rarely has employees who leave the organization, and attributed it to good relationships with customers and mutual respect.
"We're never going to ask some driver to do something we won't do, that can't be done. That's why everybody likes working here. Even my dad, if you think about it, even he knew what was possible and what wasn't," Bob said.
Bob and TJ joked that one employee, Dave Sendelbach, has been with the company for 33 years and it's a matter of time before he is adopted by the family.
Bob spoke highly of the companies he has worked with, including American Standard which was a good customer until they closed, and Webster Industries, National Machinery and Tiffin Insulators, among others that have been loyal.
"Those companies strongly believe in the community, and they give us an opportunity first to do their business as long as the prices and services are competitive," Bob said. "They care about their community, and we appreciate that. ... They don't just say 'We need to help this community,' they do it."
Bob said they also expedite parts for Webster and Tiffin Metal, which has become a significant source of business.
Today, the business is doing a little better than their initial check, as they see about 15,000 shipments and 45 million pounds of freight through the terminal a year, and have experienced steady increases since 2003. And for the family at the center of the business, it's a testament to the customers they call friends.
"In today's market and that goes back to loyal customers," Bob said. "In our business, the people we have to thank are the community and the companies, the manufacturers in this community. Without them we wouldn't be here."