The Shauger Group: An Evolution of Service, Success

In 1981, just out of high school, Donald threw some supplies and equipment into a small pickup truck, and began knocking on doors

📅   Tue June 30, 2015 - Northeast Edition
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For heavy equipment, The Shauger Group relies on two dozen Cat machines all purchased from local Cat dealer, Foley Inc.
For heavy equipment, The Shauger Group relies on two dozen Cat machines all purchased from local Cat dealer, Foley Inc.
For heavy equipment, The Shauger Group relies on two dozen Cat machines all purchased from local Cat dealer, Foley Inc. Lisa and Donald Shauger. Cat equipment and product support are vital to The Shauger Group. (L-R): Lisa Shauger, Warren Gonzalez of Foley Inc., Donald Shauger and Tony Moleiro, foreman, The Shauger Group.

The Shauger Group (TSG), a diverse property services contracting company, works out of a 30,000-square-foot building on 4 and a 1/2 acres in East Orange, N.J. The property used to be home to a large Shop-Rite grocery store.

“We would shop there as kids, and I would walk out- side when Mom paid the bill because I didn’t want people to see my mother paying with food stamps,” said Donald Shauger. “We were raised by a single parent and were?on welfare then, and now we’re one of the largest private employers in East Orange.”

It’s been quite a ride. In 1981, just out of high school, Donald threw some supplies and equipment into a small pickup truck, called his business Shauger Contracting, and began knocking on doors, looking for driveway repair jobs. He mostly filled potholes. Not long afterward, he married his longtime girlfriend.

To say things worked out is an understatement. Donald and Lisa Shauger recently celebrated their 29th wedding anniversary. Together, they own and operate TSG, which employs up to 180 people during the peak season. The company provides a wide range of property services, including indoor work, from cleaning, painting and carpentry, to outdoor work, such as construction, drainage, paving, masonry, snow plowing and street sweeping. There’s also emergency response service, including sewer and water main repairs, and fire, flood and storm restoration.

These days, TSG serves about 10,000 townhouses in New Jersey, along with many shopping centers. The company has more than 200 snow blades on skid steers, front-end loaders and trucks. TSG also serves numerous government agencies, such as the New Jersey Department ofTransportation, and has helped maintain the George Washington Bridge, the Lincoln Tunnel and two-thirds of the Garden State Parkway

Equipped and Ready

To enable such wide-ranging services, TSG maintains more than 200 pieces of equipment. The list includes pick-ups, landscaping trucks with trailers, and 27 street sweepers. For heavy equipment, the company relies on two dozen Cat machines, including 420 IT backhoe loaders from the D, E and F Series, several wheel loaders and eight compact radius hydraulic excavators, all purchased from the local Cat dealer, Foley Inc.

As Lisa said, “Cat is Cat. The machines and the people are consistently reliable, which is what we need.”

Donald added, “Being in the emergency response busi- ness, we need dependable equipment, dependable service and dependable people working with us. Cat stands out. Our salesman, Warren Gonzalez, and Peter Reis of Foley Rents, are there 24/7 for us, whenever we need them.”

As examples, the Shaugers point to the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, when Foley quickly provided the generators and additional machines necessary for TSG’s response efforts. More recently, Donald pointed out, “Last winter was crazy with all of the storms. We needed more equipment, and Foley got it for us quickly. We bought a big front-end loader and two new backhoes. And Cat offers great financing. Ninety-nine percent of our deals are at zero percent or very low-rate financing.”

He added, “Unequivocably, we’re happy dealing with Caterpillar and Foley. We’re getting the job done with them. It’s a bright and shiny feeling to have them as part of our team.”

Pivotal Turn

Early on, the Shaugers were hired for parking lot maintenance for a large commercial real estate manage- ment firm, Gale & Wentworth Company. “They loved our drive and ambition, ”Lisa recalled, “and offered to make us a service partner if we would be willing to add a few more services. We got into interior construction and landscaping from there.”

Donald also recalled that as a turning point. “We were in the maintenance business and moved into the commercial real estate business. We started getting heavily into commercial bidding, and that’s where we started doing a lot of earthwork — catch basin repair, broken water main and sewer main repairs. We had to move from digging trenches with our hands to getting our first Cat backhoe loader.”

Lisa added, “It was an evolution of service. One service led to another. Once we proved our competence and our integrity, it grew from there through our networking.”

With foresight, TSG was able to handle the growth smoothly. “We knew if we were going to grow, we needed to put in an infrastructure. We put in an accounting department, a human resources department, training for our workers. That helped us move forward and keep everything under control.”

Valued Relationships

The Shaugers emphasize employee development, with a strong promote-from-within policy.

“Everyone who is in supervision for the cleaning and property divisions started as a laborer,” Donald noted.

For example, Mathew Mulligan started as a dump truck driver and is now vice president of operations for the property service division, while Herman Shauger handles all non-government contracts as the long-time vice president of business development. Robert Caccavale, the chief financial officer, has been in construction more than 55 years, and Donald had served as a paperboy for Ada Meacham Ramos, human resources/compliance manager for the past 16 years. The Shaugers credit a relative newcomer, communications specialist Alexandra Gakos, for helping raise the public profile of TSG during her year with the company.

“We’re only as good as the people we surround ourselves with,” Donald said, though some might say the ongoing success starts with leadership and wise decisions at the top.

(This story was reprinted with permission from PayDirt Magazine, Spring 2015 issue.)