Gregory Sahagian is a guy on the go. He just finished getting his daughter and second-eldest child through the college application process, and it’s the busiest season of the year at his custom residential and commercial awning company, Gregory Sahagian & Son Inc.
We first featured Sahagian in the May 2013 issue of WAG. Gregory Sahagian & Son went on to win one of Westfair Communications’ family-owned business awards in 2017. But the business wasn’t always a family affair. Sahagian built it himself from the ground up.
He developed a strong work ethic while working for his father in the Oriental rug business as a young man. Then, he set off on his own path.
“I had many jobs – good ones, too. I worked for an Italian makeup company. I worked for Pirelli,” he says.
Eventually, he shifted to working for a New York-based Italian awning business.
“Every three years they have an international awning expo. So, my first day on the job I was in Stuttgart, Germany. I went there knowing nothing. My boss said to just come, be our liaison between some of the American dealers we’re inviting,” Sahagian says. After the expo, his team went to tour the awning factory in Italy. “My mind was absolutely blown away.”
And that’s where the journey began. In 1990, after working for a couple of years for wholesale awning companies, Sahagian wanted to go out on his own. He saw a demand for awnings, still a relatively new idea, and knew he’d be able to make it in the local market.
“I didn’t really like the direction the business was going in, so I thought, if I can do this for someone else, I can do it for myself,” he recalled.
Gregory Sahagian & Son was established in November of 1990, in the exact same Hartsdale space the company calls home today.
“I started with $25,000, a used pickup truck, a couple of hand tools and some word-of-mouth sales because this was before internet advertisements. I had missed the yellow pages. I mean, it was the perfect storm in the wrong direction.”
With the help of a few of his former coworkers, his small business was up and running.
“We struggled a little in the beginning, but we persevered and we were flying high,” Sahagian says.
Now, his two sons have joined the family business. His elder son, Greg Jr., is 31 years old and on track to one day take over the company. The youngest child, is 15 and just worked his first summer with his father last year.
“He says to me, ‘Dad, we have to change the name of the company. It’s Gregory Sahagian & Sons now.”
Excited to be a part of the family’s profession, Robert hands out his own business cards – but not without scribbling an ‘S’ at the end of the company name on each.
In addition to his two sons, Sahagian’s cousin Paul “Uncle Paulie” Mazzacane is a part of the GS&S team. Two of Greg’s nephews, Greg and Scott Bartholdi, are full-time school teachers but assist the company on the weekends and during the summer.
Ariella Arias, one of Westfair Communications’ 2018 Milli Award winners, works in the office and is “like a part of the family” to them.
The team members have completed state-of-the-art projects, such as louvered awnings (which are motorized awnings that can transform a pergola into a waterproof structure with the flip of a switch). With all their experience, they are able to identify what will and what will not work with certain property designs.
“Architects and designers are creating unusual spaces where conventional awnings don’t work,” Sahagian explains.
“The concepts are always changing. Every day we get new ideas, new technology, new fabrics.”
And all of that knowledge is being ingrained in his sons, cousin and nephews, ensuring success for the future of Gregory Sahagian & Son(s) Awnings.
For more, visit gssawning.com or call 914-949-9877.