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Dads are foremost in mind of merchant community on Father’s Day

Dads are foremost of mind in merchant community on Father’s Day

By Rod Lee

Nothing quite says Father’s Day like sons or daughters operating businesses their dads, grandfathers or even a great grandfather or distant relative started; or involving a parent or their own offspring in the enterprise—as is happening across South County in 2019.

Asked on May 29 what it means to have his father Steve working alongside him at Charniak Insurance in Webster, Chris Charniak said “everything.” Father and son have been colleagues for ten years now in the small agency on Main St. in downtown Webster. Charniak Insurance, an independent agency, was founded by Chris Charniak’s grandfather Henry Charniak and has been serving the community for more than fifty years.

Chris Charniak said that, growing up, he developed a keen appreciation for the effort his grandfather and father put into the company. “I know how hard my dad works with the business and how much the customers mean to him; and how hard it was for my grandfather to start from scratch. You feel an obligation to continue on with that. The name’s on the front of the door so it matters.”

Steve Charniak is still actively involved in the agency; on this particular afternoon, his son said, he was at a meeting about Medicare.

Chris Charniak recalled attending an event the topic of which was maintaining continuity in a family-run business and learning there that it is difficult to carry things into a second generation, let alone a third (in the Charniaks’ case)—or a fourth of fifth.

At Place Motor Inc., a Ford dealership on Thompson Road in Webster, Steve Place noted that if his son Christopher decides to join the firm full-time, he will represent a fifth generation by following in the footsteps of George L. Place Sr., George Jr., Jim Place and now Steve and his brother Matthew.

Chris Place just finished his first year at Bryant College. “I don’t want to make him feel he has to be here,” Mr. Place said. “It’s his choice.”

  The Place family has adhered to a longstanding policy of being civic-minded, Mr. Place said. “My father was always giving back and my grandfather was the same way. Cub Scouts, the Chamber, anything to do with helping kids.”

As evidence of this, the dealership will host its second annual, free-admission “Cruisin’ at the Place” happening, featuring radio personality “Cruisin’ Bruce Palmer,” from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 8th.

“I love it, I do!” Rich DiGiorno said of having his sons Jared, who is nineteen, and Tyler, seventeen, working with him at Aubuchon Hardware on E. Main St. in Webster. Mr. DiGiorno has been with Aubuchon for ten years. Previously, he said, in referencing that the beat goes on, “I worked with my dad (Jim DiGiorno) who owned a paint and wallpaper store in Auburn. He sold that and retired.”

At Capitol Siding and Home Improvement on Auburn St. in Auburn, President/CEO Mark Sarkisian Jr. and his brother Dale Sarkisian (Capitol’s VP) are continuing to build on what their dad, the late Moses “Mark” Sarkisian Sr., began when he founded the company as Capitol Aluminum Products in 1951.

The elder Sarkisian was a modern-day Renaissance man: private detective, lounge owner, creator of industrial parks, licensed real estate agent and notary public, founding member of the Auburn Chamber of Commerce, avid card player, hunter and fisherman. Mark Jr.’s pursuits have taken a similar path; he is, for instance, a former president of the Auburn Chamber.

For Susan (Pikul) LeBlanc and her brother David Pikul, honoring their dad Joseph’s vision when he established Charlton Furniture has meant staying faithful to his guiding principle: “show the customer true value.” Located on Dresser Hill Road in Charlton, the “country store” is one of the region’s most esteemed destinations for quality home furnishings—and home-designing advice.

Deb Horan of Booklovers’ Gourmet on E. Main St. in Webster is not hesitant in showering her dad, Ed Ostrokolowicz, with praise for the help he has given her during the course of her quarter century in business.

“I’m the cleaning guy, I sweep,” Mr. Ostrokolowicz joked. He is more than that. A former welder, truck and bus driver, he is often present “at the start of the day and the end of the day, and if it’s just busy he’ll hang around” his daughter says.

When Booklovers’ was getting going and needed equipment, shelving and so on “we would drive around and look for auctions,” they said. Mr. Ostrokolowicz was responsible for picking up the store’s espresso machine “from a pastry place in Newton,” he said. It’s been at Booklovers’ ever since “and on its last legs a few times” but still satisfying demand.

Fathers and sons; fathers and daughters in business together…locally, the family connection runs deep.

Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.