100 Years or More
David Parente and his wife Kristin McVeigh own the fifth-generation McVeigh Funeral Home, an independent, family-owned
business in a sea of corporate competitors. “Most of the families that we’re serving are
families we’ve served for generations,” says McVeigh.
When McVeigh’s great great grandfather became
an undertaker in 1901, he joined John Harrigan General Furnishing Undertakers,
the firm that was in charge of President Ulysses S. Grant’s funeral. When
McVeigh’s great grandfather moved the business uptown to North Allen in the
1930s, and changed the name to McVeigh Funeral Home, people criticized him because
the trolley tracks didn’t come as far as that. “But eventually, as you can see,
the city sprawled up,” says McVeigh with a laugh.
Today, the funeral home is convenient to all the
region’s major thoroughfares and still offers a welcoming, home-like setting in
the midst of a residential neighborhood. The family prides itself on its attention
to detail and knowledge of the community it serves. “We’ve been here so long, and we have so many
roots in the community,” says McVeigh. “There will always be a difference
between going to a corporate-owned funeral home and going to a family owned
funeral home like McVeigh’s. I think we’re just more a part of the community.
We’re more in-tuned with our families.”
Watkins Spring, Co. has been fixing vehicles since the 1890s, when founder Alfred Watkins opened the blacksmith shop to tend to horses and wagons. Today, the business tends less to the equine and more to the align, performing an estimated 20 alignments a day. But the original blacksmith shop where it all started remains open and working.
Thomas Kingston has been running the business since 1975 when he inherited it from his father, Samuel D. Kingston and then-partner Owen Watkins. Kingston grew up in this maze of garages, pedaling his bike up and down Central Avenue retrieving parts for his father and the other mechanics in the shop. “I never wanted to do anything else,” Kingston says.
In those days, Watkins Spring was in the center of Albany’s automobile corridor, with dealerships and garages located on every block. Today, Kingston employs 16 mechanics, who keep private cars and fleet vehicles moving in and out of the garage bays all day long. Kingston leads me through his business with evident pride, showing me the labyrinth of spaces that make up the garage which encompasses 10 addresses near the intersection of Ontario and Central. The shop moves at a busy hum under his able leadership. Mechanics back trucks in and out of Bradford Street behind the shop and scramble down into the galleys beneath the cars with a quiet efficiency that represents years of practice.
Many of his employees have been with him for 20 years or more, and over that time, they’ve built more than an adroitness in the garage, they’ve built a rapport with the cars they service. “They might forget the customers’ name, but they remember what kind of car they drive,” says Raigan Lynch, Kingston’s daughter and the office manager.
“We try to specialize in just a few things and really do them right,” Kingston says
50 Years or More
Joe's Grill 70+ established in 1940's. More details Soon.....
Family-owned and operated since 1934, Security Plumbing & Heating Supply offers decades of industry experience. We understand your unique demands, and quickly overcome obstacles by empowering our sales team and delivery personnel to make decisions based on one simple question "What's the best way to satisfy our customers ?" While primarily a family owned company our associates participate in the companies continuing growth and profitability via an employee stock ownership program (ESOP).
Security Plumbing & Heating Supply is a leading wholesale distributor of quality plumbing, heating, and air conditioning products with 12 locations serving the lower Mid-Hudson Valley north through the Adirondack Region of New York, and into Western Massachusetts.
In 2008, Security Supply doubled the size of their showroom at 475 Central, creating more space for bathtubs, sinks, and showers, as well as a large training facility.
Anchor Agency opened in 1960, when its four partners, Lee
Aronowitz, Arthur Kapner, Edward Corts, and Marvin Freedman broke off from an
“old line” Albany agency in order to form their own agency, now located on Colvin
Avenue near Central Avenue. From the beginning, Anchor has firmly affixed in
the community and the everyday people who make it up. Kapner was the first
“Main Street” person to become chairman of the board for the Albany Chamber of
Commerce. “In those days you had to be president of of a hospital or a bank to
be part of the chamber,” says Marvin Freedman. Today, Kapner’s legacy lives on
in the chamber’s annual Art Kapner Spirit of the Chamber Award.
Anchor provides general insurance. Their Personal Insurance Department serves more than two thousand accounts;
their Commercial Insurance Department, more than eight hundred businesses; and an Employee Benefits Department that handles, Life, Group Health, Long Term Care and other group and individual benefits.
“Our business has been the built
the old fashioned-way, on relationships and service,” says Freedman.
Rosen’s Uniforms started as a
Central Avenue department store in 1929. Then, in the 1970’s, dry goods gave
way to Levis jeans and other hip clothes for “young moderns,” and today, this
third-generation family business caters exclusively to police, fire, and
emergency personnel, providing a large inventory of clothing and equipment for
public safety officers, at three different locations in upstate New York. Adrienne Scherzer-Nadoraski and her sister,
Karen Scherzer-Krakat, took over the business from their parents Helen
Rosen-Scherzer and Harvey Scherzer in the 1990s, who at that time sold police
uniforms out of a small back room in their store. Since then, the business has
expanded three times and the sisters have found themselves in the unusual
position of running a women-owned business in an industry that is still largely
“It’s still a man’s type of
industry, but we’ve earned a lot of respect in the marketplace,” says
Scherzer-Nadoraski. That’s because, regardless of the inventory, this family
business has stayed committed to customer service and doing business with
“Our goal is making sure that
people have what they need to take care of any situation,” she says. This same
fairness is extended to their employees; during the recent recession,
Scherzer-Nadoraski and her sister refused to do lay-offs. “It’s not our employees
fault that business is slow. They still have a family to feed, so as long as
they can help and be of service to our customers, then they have a job,” says
Armory Auto Center, one of the oldest
dealerships in the county has been operating on this stretch since 1918, when
it opened as a garage where people could stable their horses. Over the years,
much about the dealership has changed--the stables have given way to a
sprawling auto center complete with service center and gas station--but the
business’s commitment to Central Avenue has endured and expanded.
Orange Motors is another Central Avenue dealership that
has withstood the test of time. The dealership was started by former Orange
County farmer Charles Touhey in 1916, and is the one of the oldest family
businesses in the Capital Region. Vice President Carl Keegan has been with the
company for 40 years, and says many of the dealership’s more than 150 employees
have been with the company 30 years or more. “The Touhey family, they’re good
people to work for, and they’re a mainstay on Central Avenue,” says Carl
Keegan. Last year, Orange Motors sold in excess of $80 million in new and used
cars, including Mazdas and of course, Fords. “It’s been Fords from the
beginning,” says Keegan. While foreign cars have eaten into sales, Keegan
believes the internet will ultimately create more overall demand for cars, with
younger consumers purchasing cars more frequently, eventually buying cars the
way they buy iPhones and iPads.
When Sue Perry talks about Central
Avenue, she uses the word “we” a lot.
Perry’s family, who opened Central Florist on lower Central Avenue in
1942, has a long history on the Avenue, but when Perry says “we” she’s not just
talking about her family. She’s talking about all the family businesses, who
like hers, have stayed on Central.
When Perry’s father Frederick
Pettingell started the business, he ran it out of cigar boxes. “One was in
inbox, one was an outbox, and one was a to-be-paid box,” Perry says. In those
days, her parents had to devote some part of each day to mopping up after the
ice block that kept the flowers fresh, dusting soot from the woodstove off the
arrangements, and keeping the shop’s four display windows stocked with
bouquets--which was a challenge in and of itself. “It used to be a joke, kind
of, you’d put something in the window, and it’d sell,” Perry says. Today, Perry
estimates that more than 80 percent of her business comes from the web, and
less than 20 percent from walk up traffic--though Perry still keeps the windows
decorates with a regularly revolving display of seasonal flowers and gifts. Morris Mens Shop has been a family owned and operated clothing store for over 60 years. Quality clothing and expert tailoring make Morris Mens Shop the finest clothing shop in Albany. Stop by for a visit, they are located at 181 Central Avenue in Albany.The first thing you notice when you walk into the Blue Note Record Shop are the hand-lettered signs listing all the top tunes from the last 60 years. From "All Shook Up" to "Wake Up Little Susie," from "Tequila" to "Help Me Rhonda," from "Call Me" to "Little Jeannie," from "The Heat Is On" to "Ice Ice Baby" --The Blue Note Record Shop has been around for all of them. The small record store has been at the same location on Central Avenue since 1948, and celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.
Bram Pock, owner of Avenue landmark took over the business from his father 25 years ago, and runs it with the same eye for detail, and customer service.
Pock is surrounded by shelves and shelves of records. The shelves stretch to the back of the store, small cardboard signs separate the different sections. The bedrock of the business is still vinyl, and Pock can order any album his customers want, including hard-to-find hits, but Pock has also kept up with advances in technology, and he will burn any record you buy to CD for the sake of convenience.
Elena Giglio has been serving up deli and breakfast sandwiches at her family-owned, family-run Italian café for over 50 years. And don’t miss Elena’s authentic Italian espresso drinks, brewed to order. While the café doesn’t offer delivery service, takeout is readily available.
- Elena's Cafe 50+ Years in business
John Minozzi says it’s an exciting time to be in the gravestone business. This seventh-generation stoneworker, whose ancestors worked on renovations to the gates to Pompeii and whose family crest sits in a place of honor in his offices, says technology has changed the monument business—for the better.
“When I started in this business, the word was ‘No.’ ‘Can I put this on there?’ ‘No.’ ‘Can I do this? Can I do that?’ ‘No,’ recalls Minozzi. “Now I don’t say no anymore. You can do anything.”
Minozzi and his brother James Minozzi own Memory Studios, an 80-year old monument business on Central Avenue. They inherited the business, which creates and manufactures memorial markers and plaques, from their father, Anthony Minozzi in the 1970s. It was around that same time that they relocated the business from the corner of Colvin and Central Avenue to its present location at Central Avenue near Tremont. It is the only monument company in the City of Albany, and Minozzi says this has key element of their success. “I think our biggest asset is our location,” he says.
Located in a retrofitted brick house across from the Supersonic Car Wash, Minozzi’s office overlooks a city lot full of memorial markers. A finely detailed portrait of someone’s grandmother on rosy granite sits side with side with other more traditional gray markers festooned with crosses and garlands. Lasers have replaced chisels, and as a result, people’s portraits are appearing more and more often on gravestones, Minozzi says, but so are references to people’s hobbies and professions. These days, it’s not uncommon to include a hand of cards, golf clubs, or the scales of justice on someone’s final resting place. And that’s a good thing.
“It’s become much more personal. It’s not just John Jones and his wife Alice. It’s John Jones and he likes to ride motorcycles and maybe his wife was a seamstress, so it all goes on there,” says Minozzi.
- Ferris Stamp and Coin 45 Years in business
Ferris Stamp and Coin has been operating out of the shop on Central Avenue for more than 30 years. The building is owned by Wendell Williams, who runs the coin side. Jackson Taylor, Williams's business partner for the last 22 years, runs the stamp side.
The store has a lot of walk-in traffic, with people from all over the county coming in to try to sell stamps or coins they've found or acquired, Taylor said. But the majority of their business is done through the mail, a rarity in today's internet marketplace. Every month, Taylor assembles lists of stamps he has acquired and has them published in stamp collecting publications where prospective buyers can see them. Taylor publishes 28 different price lists a year.
Like most collectors, Taylor began collecting stamps as a child. His first collection of stamps, given to him by his parents, inspired him to dream of "faraway places" he said, and launched him into the world of collecting. Over the years, he has seen thousands of stamps from around the world.
The surprises and excitement are what keep the business interesting for Taylor and Williams. "You just never know what's going to walk in, whether it's going to be a coin worth two cents or $50,000," Williams said.
Ferris first opened in 1933 on Broadway. It moved to Central Avenue in 1976, when the area was "the place to shop," Taylor said. Over the years, the neighborhood around the little shop constantly changes, but inside things remain the same, and within the binders and envelopes, one finds the customs and standards of days gone by. Taylor doesn't just collect stamps, he collects history.
The Phillips family arrived in Albany from Poland in 1885 and established their own business, a gas fitters and locksmiths in 1886. Today, A. Phillips Hardware is one of the oldest hardware chains left in the country. During his stint at the helm, Abbott Phillips expanded the single city store into five additional locations, including Colonie, Delmar, and Voorheesville, as well as the flagship store on Central Avenue. In 1991, Phillips passed the business to his son, Jon Phillips, whose business acumen has proven to be as every bit as sharp as his father’s.
“I thought I was excellent, but as good as I thought I was, my son Jon is ten-times better,” says Phillips.
Jon Phillips added two stores to the chain, one in Waterford, and one in Schenectady, and solidified its place as a community store. After 22 years at the helm, facing daily challenges from big box retailers and a changing global marketplace (“We've learned how to survive,” says Jon Phillips), he is now in the enviable position of being able to work on the business itself. Today, in addition to heading up the day-to-day operations of seven stores, Jon Phillips attends regular conferences and training sessions where he focuses on staff development and leadership training. Phillips, who studied Business at Syracuse and graduated with a Bachelor's in Marketing and Personnel, said his passion has always been social work. He was going to pursue his masters degree in social work, but decided to join the family business instead, with the stipulation that they would work on making a difference in the communities they operate in, Phillips says. Since then, he has devoted time and resources to numerous community service initiatives, including the Police Athletic League and STRIDE Adaptive Sports.
“Our story is that we want to make a difference in the Capital District, not just by selling hammers and nails. We want to make a difference in our community, in our schools, in our customers’ lives,” says Phillips.