Family Businesses: Not Just Mom and Pop Shops
By Paul Rakov
From Issue 6: Spring 2010
When most people think of a “family business,” Norman Rockwellian images of small shops or enterprising two to three person operations enter their minds. But for two Ulster County companies, now locating on Steve’s Lane in Gardiner, family business means big business, bringing much needed jobs to the region.
Amthor International began with no employees, no budget and lots of vision. The company’s humble roots can be traced back to founder Ed Amthor as he began the business in 1928 in an Ellenville blacksmith shop. It is unlikely he imagined, however, that “International” would ever be added to his company’s name and that 80 years later the company would be the country’s largest manufacturer of truck-mounted tanks. You can bet that the next time you travel the New York State Thruway or I-84, if you see a tanker truck, there’s a good chance Amthor International manufactured it.
The company moved its operation to Walden in 1942 to address expansion needs, operating in that location for the next 50 years. In 1992 the company opened a large manufacturing facility in Gretna, Va. Recently, Amthor worked with the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency (UCIDA) to expand its Ulster County facility, relocating its operation to nearby Gardiner, and retaining more than 35 skilled manufacturing jobs for the area.
“Amthor is a family business that cares about Ulster County and the region,” said Lance Matteson, CEO of the UCIDA. “It has a long history of providing quality jobs for local residents, exactly the goal of any IDA project.”
Another family-run business enjoying “sweet” success is Gillette Creamery, the largest supplier of ice cream products to all classes of trade in Eastern New York State. The company has been family-owned and operated since opening in 1985 in Ellenville as Tri-County Ice Cream, serving a few counties, with four employees and two trucks. Since then the company has grown to include over 70 employees, 26 trucks, 3,000 accounts in 19 counties and over 2,500 pieces of equipment.
In 2009 the Gillette Family was challenged by their own success. Demand for their products had pushed the limits of their cold-storage warehousing facility and they needed more space. Working closely with County Executive Mike Hein, his staff, the Ulster County Development Agency and the UCIDA, along with regional and state economic development offices, the Gillettes were able to keep their business in Ulster County with plans to move into a new facility in Gardiner in 2010.
“Every job is important in Ulster County,” said Matteson, “as is the tax base these companies create for their towns and the county. And when it’s a family-owned business it takes on special meaning. The Gillettes and the Amthors wanted to keep their business here and we are glad that they are. It means a lot to all the families who rely on those jobs for their incomes.”