WEST ORANGE, NJ - West Orange native Donald Shauger, executive vice president of The Shauger Group and this year's Grand Marshal of the West Orange St. Patrick's Day Parade, was recently inducted into the Essex County Democratic Committee (ECDC) Hall of Fame during a ceremony at Mayfair Farms in recognition of his contributions to the county and the surrounding community.
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 ECDC 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 ECDC, including [ECDC] 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, including leading thousands of people in the West Orange St. Patrick's Day Parade, one of New Jersey’s biggest and most cherished traditions.
Shauger, born in Newark and raised in West Orange by a single mother, said his life has been centered around Essex County. 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 that one of his most difficult childhood experiences was grocery shopping with his mother 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.”
Many years later, after he and his wife, Lisa, founded The Shauger Group, the couple had the opportunity to purchase that ShopRite’s property.
"Meaningfully, today, the very same ShopRite I frequented as a child is now the site of our Shauger Group headquarters," he said. "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 founded The Shauger Group in 1981, and it has blossomed under their leadership over the past 37 years. Although the company remains a family-owned and-operated business today, 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.
“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 Shaugers have also been committed to service and philanthropy, giving back to the Essex County community in every way they can. They regularly donate time and money to local charities and fundraisers.
For more than a decade, the Shaugers have also 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. They also spend Christmas there every year, and provide presents for the shelter’s residents as well as a Christmas meal.
The family also serves 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 and 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, Donald has served as deputy mayor of West Orange and as chairman of the Township of West Orange Planning Board. He is currently a member of the County of Essex Workforce Investment Board, and has 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.
“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,” he said. “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 ECDC's Hall of Fame is a tremendous honor—one that I appreciate from the bottom of my heart."