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Douglas and James Brush, who have directed the growth of East Rochester-based Sentry Group from a regional manufacturer of safes to a global provider of safety storage solutions, on Monday received the 2011 Herbert W. Vanden Brul Entrepreneurial Award.
Rochester Institute of Technology’s E. Philip Saunders College of Business presents the annual award, which is named for the late local entrepreneur Herbert Vanden Brul, an attorney and co-founder of Harris Corp.’s RF Communications division. The award ceremony was held at the Genesee Valley Club.
Douglas Brush, Sentry’s chairman and chief business development director, and James Brush, who serves as president and CEO, are third-generation leaders of the family business. The company was started by the brothers’ grandfather, the late John Brush Sr., during the Great Depression. The brothers’ father, John Brush Jr., later joined and ran the firm.
With nearly 440 local workers today, Sentry ranks among the top 15 local manufacturers. The firm also has some 100 workers in Asia, 90 employees in Indiana and sales representatives around the globe.
Sentry’s customers include Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Home Depot Inc., Lowe’s Cos. Inc. and Target Corp.
In accepting the award, Douglas Brush credited Sentry employees’ “relentless focus on the customer. ... We have people who do almost nothing else but (customer service).” Doing the right thing for customers “often costs more and is more demanding,” he added, but “it’s the thing that gives you credibility” over the long run.
James Brush said they have strived to build a company focused on ethical behavior, high performance and shared reward. “It has worked for three generations,” he said.
Vanden Brul created the award in 1984 to recognize an individual who successfully develops a business that improves the Rochester economy or whose innovative management skills have changed the course of an existing business.
Optimation Technology Inc. president William Pollock received the honor last year. He attended the event Monday, as did fellow past winners Philip Saunders and Jay Eastman.
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