EAST ORANGE, NJ - On Saturday, May 19, 2018, Donald Shauger, executive vice president of The Shauger Group, was inducted into the Essex County Democratic Committee Hall of Fame in recognition of his contributions to Essex County and the surrounding community.
The 2018 induction ceremony, which was led by Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman Leroy J. Jones, Jr., took place at Mayfair Farms in West Orange. Also honored at the event were Joan Codey Durkin, Essex County tax administrator; Ramon E. Rivera, Esq., partner at Scarinci Hollenbeck; M. Teresa Ruiz, New Jersey state senator, District 29 Senate president pro tempore, and vice chairwoman of the Essex County Democratic Committee; and Terry Swanson Tucker, president of the East Orange Board of Education and former executive director of the Essex County Democratic Committee.
“I am so honored to be inducted into the Essex County Democratic Committee Hall of Fame,” said Shauger. “As someone who was born and raised in Essex County—and who has spent a lifetime working in Essex County—it means so much to me. I am extremely grateful to the Essex County Democratic Committee, including Chairman Leroy Jones, for this special recognition—and I congratulate fellow honorees Joan Codey Durkin, Ramon Rivera, M. Teresa Ruiz, and Terry Swanson Tucker for their well-deserved induction in recognition of all they do for the County of Essex.”
For Shauger, it’s been a year filled with tremendous honors. Earlier this year, Shauger served as grand marshal of the 2018 West Orange St. Patrick’s Day Parade, leading thousands of people in one of the New Jersey’s biggest and most cherished traditions.
Much of Shauger’s life has been centered in Essex County. Shauger was born in Newark and raised in West Orange by a single mother. As one of five siblings, one of whom was terminally ill, Shauger faced some of the most challenging realities of life in his youth. Shauger recalls one of his most difficult childhood experiences was grocery shopping with his mother at East Orange’s Dodd Town ShopRite and having to pay with food stamps in front of other customers—but he looks back at his own life as an example of the success that can come through dedication, hard work, and perseverance.
“My mother was my role model—selfless, caring, and kind at heart, my mother worked tirelessly six to seven days a week to care for us,” said Shauger. “Our situation was hard for all of us. I was always self-conscious, especially when I went food shopping with my mother. I used to run out of the Dodd Town ShopRite in East Orange when my mother went to the checkout line, because I was too embarrassed to let anyone see us paying with food stamps.”
“As fate and luck would have it, many years later, after my wife, Lisa, and I had founded The Shauger Group, we had the opportunity to purchase that ShopRite’s property," added Shauger. "Meaningfully, today, the very same ShopRite I frequented as a child is now the site of our Shauger Group headquarters. To me, it is a daily reminder of where hard work can take you. Thanks to my mother's example and my childhood circumstances, I had a fierce work ethic instilled in me, and I was motivated to help support my family. I am proud those years of hard work have enabled The Shauger Group to grow and thrive—and to become one of the largest private employers in East Orange.”
Shauger and his wife, Lisa, who is president/CEO of The Shauger Group, founded The Shauger Group in 1981. Over the past 37 years, The Shauger Group has blossomed under the Shaugers’ leadership. While the company has still remained family-owned and -operated from day one, it has evolved from a small pothole-repair operation into a large multimillion-dollar property services and contracting company, with a diverse range of services and up to 180 employees during its peak season. With hands-on management, a family team approach, quick response time, and a personal touch, The Shauger Group focuses on providing high-quality services, both to foster lasting relationships with clients and to maintain The Shauger Group’s reputation as a one of the preeminent contracting and construction firms in the region. The Shauger Group’s broad array of service offerings include construction, landscaping, snow removal, emergency response, and maintenance services, for both public and private clients alike.
“Not only am I proud we own one of the largest private companies in East Orange, I am proud The Shauger Group puts East Orange residents and Essex County residents to work,” said Shauger. “We love to showcase our talented and diverse workforce, which is made up of fifty-eight percent minorities, and especially love to work on projects that benefit Essex County, its facilities, and its citizens. Whether we are constructing a new park or playground, providing street-sweeping services, clearing streets after a snow event, or providing emergency response services twenty-four-seven, it is extremely rewarding for us, as an Essex County contractor, to play a role in serving Essex County and making a difference for all who live here.”
The Shauger Group approaches each project with the same care, consideration, and professionalism—and always with the same mission: to deliver high-quality services and products on time and on budget. In the decades they’ve owned their company, the Shaugers have made it a priority to employ Essex County residents. With many members of The Shauger Group residing in Essex County, the Shaugers believe it’s important to employ local workers on local projects—and find it particularly gratifying when those projects will serve to better Essex County and its residents.
As an equal opportunity employer, The Shauger Group ensures that people of all backgrounds have the chance to work on equal footing. As a woman-owned business, The Shauger Group particularly values having women and minorities in supervisory positions.
"It is important to Lisa and me that everyone is well represented," said Shauger. "We recognize quality employees when they work hard. One of our employees who started out with us as a clerk moved up within our organization, and now she's the head of our Accounts Payable/Accounts Receivable team. In her current management role, she's now in charge of other staff. Her advancement within the company has also helped her in other ways, such as helping her to buy her own home in her hometown of East Orange."
For the past decade, The Shauger Group has had its own prisoner reentry program. The program began around 2008, when then Newark Mayor (and current US Senator for New Jersey) Cory Booker spearheaded reentry efforts in Essex County. At the time, The Shauger Group was asked to be one of a few dozen employers involved with reentry efforts.
In October 2014, The Shauger Group participated in the Reentry Council Working Group on Employment, convened by former US Attorney Paul Fishman, meeting with various representatives from the US Attorney’s office and other government agencies for round-table discussions on reentry-related concerns, such as how to best prepare reentry participants for the workforce; how to help reentry participants search for jobs; how to address fears potential employers may have in hiring ex-offenders; and how to handle barriers to employment, such as lack of a resume and lack of a driver’s license.
The Shauger Group has been unwavering in its commitment to reentry and in advocating the importance of developing socially redeeming programs for those reentering society. Through its program, The Shauger Group gives its reentry workers the opportunity to work on its government service projects and contracts. Understanding that ex-offenders face obstacles that can hamper their ability to find jobs, The Shauger Group has gone above and beyond for its reentry employees—such as paying various penalties and surcharges to help get an employee’s license reinstated—as well as ensured they had equal opportunity to move up within the organization.
“I think our reentry program is one of the many ways Don and I have championed several of the principles, missions, and ideals valued by the Essex County Democratic Committee,” said Lisa Shauger. “For me, it is a deep source of pride to say we’re committed to the concept of reentry and implementing it within our organization.”
In a similar vein, the Shaugers have been firmly committed to service and philanthropy, giving back to the Essex County community in every way they can. Having been both born and raised in Essex County, the Shaugers have given much to the Essex County community over the years, regularly donating money and time to countless local charities and fundraisers. For well over a decade, they have been devoted to Newark’s Apostles’ House, an emergency shelter for homeless women and children, having organized two extreme makeover renovations of the shelter over the past 11 years. The Shauger family also spends Christmas there every year, bringing presents to the shelter’s residents and providing them with a Christmas meal—and, through The Shauger Group, they help the shelter community throughout the year, offering maintenance services, donating meals, and helping the shelter community in any other way that’s needed. They also serve Essex County through the Timothy Groves Memorial Scholarship, which the Shaugers founded in 2014 with the West Orange Scholarship Fund in memory of their friend, former West Orange police officer Timothy Groves.
“We’re happy the Groves Scholarship gives us a lasting way to honor Timmy’s memory, as well as to invest in future generations of Essex County youth,” said Lisa Shauger. “We value our commitment not only to the Apostles’ House and Groves Scholarship, but also to countless other charities and organizations—both inside and outside Essex County—to which we regularly donate time, money, and services. For us, giving back to the community, and especially those in need, is what it’s all about.”
With a diverse array of professional and civic affiliations to his name, Shauger has served as deputy mayor of West Orange and as chairman of the Township of West Orange Planning Board. Shauger presently is a member of the County of Essex Workforce Investment Board, and he previously served on several other Boards, including the West Orange Recreation Advisory Board, Team Capital Bank (West Orange Branch) Board of Directors, East Orange General Hospital Foundation Board, and the Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges.
At the end of the day, there’s no doubt Shauger is an Essex County man through and through.
“It is a great honor and privilege to be part of the County of Essex, and particularly to serve its people day in and day out,” said Shauger. “I am grateful to serve the Essex County community and to give back to a community that has always been there for my family. To be inducted into the Essex County Democratic Committee’s Hall of Fame is a tremendous honor—one that I appreciate from the bottom of my heart."