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TAKE O N E FR E E

The cornerstone of our economy

Allin

theFamily

A Special Section of the SULLIVAN COUNTY DEMOCRAT Family-owned and operated since 1891 • Calllicoon, NY • Section F • January 21, 2020


ALL IN THE FAMILY

SULLIVAN COUNTY DEMOCRAT

JANUARY 21, 2020

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On the road again with Prestige Towing CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

No matter the weather or time of day, Prestige Towing is ready to respond to any situation.

whole life. “I worked for other towing companies growing up and as a young adult until I was about 21-years-old,” Brooks said. “Then I decided to go into the business on my own.” Today, Prestige employs around 70

BUY SELL TRADE

people locally. “In my opinion, our employees are our family. They’re here day and night and ready to answer the call.” CONTINUED ON PAGE 4F

Over 100 Vehicles In Stock!! Sullivan County’s biggest little dealership with the lowest miles in the mountains!

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and with terminals in Monticello, Harris and Liberty, they try to live up to those words every day. For owner Sean Brooks, it’s both a passion and a profession that he’s been involved in for practically his

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or some 26 years, the Brooks Family of Prestige Towing and Recovery have made it their mission to get the drivers of Sullivan County back on the road. Their motto is “better service for better people,”

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Brooks said his day usually starts in the office around 7 a.m. He described the wintertime as their “slow season,” but you wouldn’t know it from watching him as his phone rings regularly and employees walk through his office with papers to sign. Brooks works until around 7 p.m. just long enough to eat something and clean up before he returns to the office to work the overnight dispatch shift from 10 p.m. until the early morning hours. During the summertime, when Sullivan County’s population nearly triples, Brooks says he often works 16 hour days, seven days a week. Brooks says even with the long hours, the thing he enjoys most about his work is interacting with his customers. “I’m a people person,” Brooks said. “And I enjoy the trucks, the equipment and all the excitement that comes with it.” While Prestige is always there to help someone who slid off the road in the middle of the night or hit a deer with their car, they also tailor their business to fit the specific needs of their clients. And a lot of those clients need things moved from point A to point B.

MATT SHORTALL | DEMOCRAT

With some 70 employees and a fleet of trucks at their disposal, Prestige tries to live up to its name.

s t a r g n o C ! n a e S

Brooks said each day is different, but their goal is always the same. “We handle all sorts of loads,” Brooks said. “We handle milk, live chickens, a lot of garbage. We handle pretty much any commodity that’s on the highway. It’s all the same to us. We have to keep it moving.” The business is not without its struggles, however. Brooks says that new rules from the New York State Police will no longer allow trucking companies to choose a specific tow company of its choice on Route 17 in Sullivan County if they are involved in an acci-

dent, regardless of the ETA or credentials of the towing company that was requested. He said it will impact local Sullivan County tow companies that already have agreements with trucking companies traveling Route 17. He’s been promoting a petition on Change.org, which already has nearly 1,000 signatures, to try to amend those rules. In the meantime, however, Brooks and his family of employees continue to focus on keeping Sullivan County moving forward.

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JANUARY 21, 2020

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MATT SHORTALL | DEMOCRAT

For nearly 26 years, Sean Brooks of Prestige Towing and his family of employees have helped the people of Sullivan County get back on the road.

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Celebrating 30 years of family tradition at the Liberty Diner STORY AND PHOTOS BY CAROL MONTANA

A

sk anyone connected with the Liberty Diner for the secret to running a successful business, and whether you’re speaking to an owner, a staff member or a customer, you’ll get the same answer – treating people like family.

HOW IT ALL STARTED

The owners of the Liberty Diner are celebrating the 30th anniversary of their business. From the left: Helen, Irene and Nick Tsicalos.

All in the Family ‘The Lifeblood of Our Local Economy’ Published by

Catskill-Delaware Publications, Inc. Publishers of the

(845) 887-5200 Callicoon, NY 12723 January 21, 2020 • Vol. CXXVIX, No. 64

Back in the 1980s, Nick Tsicalos was hunting in Sullivan County with his cousins and uncles. He found a piece of property – the site of a Mobil station on Sullivan Street in Liberty – and bought the property, which he envisioned as a diner even though there were similar establishments in town including the Triangle Diner and Howard Johnson’s. Nick was already involved in the dining business, working as the head bartender in an upscale Tribeca restaurant in partnership with his family. He began construction of what would become the Liberty Diner while he lived at the Catskill Motel off Route 17’s exit 99 in Liberty. On weekends, he welcomed his

Publisher: Co- Editors: Editorial Assistants: Design: Advertising Director: Assistant Advertising Director: Special Sections Coordinator: Advertising Coordinator: Business Manager: Assistant Business Manager: Telemarketing Coordinator: Monticello Office Manager: Classified Manager: Production Associates: Circulation & Distribution:

wife Helen and children, Irene who was five and George who was seven, when they drove up from Flushing Queens. The Liberty Diner opened on January 13, 1990 with Nick and his father at the helm. Approximately four years later, the whole family was united in Liberty, and they’ve been here ever since. Helen, who was a self-described stay-at-home mom when she lived in Queens, began volunteering at the Liberty Elementary School where she worked in the nurse’s office, the cafeteria, the gym, the library or “anywhere they needed me,” she said. She stayed for six years before she came to work in the family business. Nick says he never doubted for a minute that the Liberty Diner would be as successful as it’s been. But is there really a secret to that success? “You treat them like family. You have respect for yourself and respect for your family.” And by “them” he literally means everyone who steps foot onto the property – the staff and

Fred W. Stabbert III Joseph Abraham and Matt Shortall Isabel Braverman, Margaret Bruetsch, Kathy Daley, Patricio Robayo, Richard Ross, Jeanne Sager, Ed Townsend Rosalie Mycka Liz Tucker Barbara Matos Susan Panella Lillian Ferber Susan Owens Patricia Biedinger Michelle Reynolds Margaret Bruetsch Janet Will Elizabeth Finnegan, Nyssa Calkin, Petra Duffy, Peter Melnick, Jessica Roda Taylor Lamerand, Anthony Bertholf, Phil Grisafe


SULLIVAN COUNTY DEMOCRAT

JANUARY 21, 2020

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the customers.

STILL IN THE FAMILY As the diner celebrates its 30th anniversary, the process of handing down the ownership to Irene and George has begun. A typical day at work has Helen opening at 5 a.m. and working a 12hour day till 5 or 6 p.m. Irene comes in around 11 a.m. or noon, and depending on the season, she’s there till 11 p.m. or sometimes till 1 a.m. in the summer. George gets there around 10 p.m., closes at midnight and then does cleanup. Nick is the floater going where and when he’s needed, whether it’s making a delivery at night or acting as host during the day.

WHAT’S NEW, WHAT’S THE SAME “Liberty itself is very different from when I first started working,” said Irene. “I had my grandfather for a lot of years. He worked until about 5 years ago. Not having him back there was a big change for me, because I kind of took over dealing with the CONTINUED ON PAGE 8F

Just six of the Liberty Diner’s staff of 50. From the left: Aracely, Saul, Fredy, Helen, Ronnie and Angelica.

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CONGRATULATIONS Nick, Helen, Irene and George on your 30 years in business. THANK YOU for your support and dedication to the community.

Best Wishes, Mike Schiff, Eric Chaboty and Russell Reeves.


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kitchen aspect, too.” Certain menu items are the same as the day the diner opened. The Greek dressing is Irene’s grandfather’s recipe … “the rice pudding is his, the brisket, the pot roast, all those recipes were his. And they’ll stay on the menu forever.” You can find many of his specialties on the menu section named “Uncle George’s Taste of Greece.”

STAFFING SUCCESS

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An aerial view of Route 17 west’s Exit 100. The site of the Liberty Diner is at the top right.

Another thing that doesn’t change is the waitstaff, some of whom have been there almost as long as the diner has been in business. Angelica Stewart started at 17 and is now nearing 30. Ask why she’s been there so long, and you’ll hear that familiar word again. “It’s kind of like my second family. No matter what, they’re always here for me. They always have my back.” “We definitely accommodate the staff as far as switching for a doctor’s appointment or something like that,” Irene said. “For example, the ice storm we had for Thanksgiving weekend, I asked my people who live in Liberty to come in and my people who live further away, I’ll keep them home.” Juggling a staff of close to 50 people is not an easy job, but the longevity of the workforce proves the Tsicalos family knows what works. “Keeping open the communication with your staff is key to a successful business. Their opinions, their input. I think you have to take that into account,” said Irene. She also relies heavily on her staff to be liaisons between her and her customers. When she’s ready for the yearly menu change, she seeks out suggestions from her wait staff. “A lot of times the customers aren’t going to tell me. … So, I find out from my staff what the customers ask for, and I’ll take what I hear is the most repetitive, and I’ll go with it. A lot of people asked for a vegetarian section – that came up repeatedly.” The diner’s computer system can issue a report listing what sells and what doesn’t over the course of a day, week or month. At one point in time, when Floridians were here in abundance, cheese blintzes were a big thing, selling three cases a week. But when they stopped coming, the blintzes sat in the freezer for three months, got freezer burn and had to be discarded. The blintzes came off the menu. Another example of the staff-management communication came from waiter Filiberto Ilagorre – a.k.a. Filly. He told Irene that people asked for pancakes, waffles or French toast with home fries. A pancake deluxe withmeat and eggs was already available, but peo-


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ple wanted the home fries. It’s not too often that people ask Filly for something that’s not on the menu, but when they do, “I tell them I’ll do the best I can, so people stay happy. It depends on what they have in the kitchen.” The waitstaff normally does an eight-hour shift, but Nick reports they’ll stay longer if necessary. The diner is open from 6 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday and 24 hours on Friday and Saturday. Occasionally, if there are special activities going on in the area, the hours may be extended.

good worker, a good manager … she’s endured a lot in life … but she’s never let that get in the way of the woman she is today.” That woman has been partially forged by her attendance at the University of Albany where she majored in psychology and business. Irene went on to get her Master’s Degree at Albany’s Russell Sage College. And she uses her psychology degree every day. “I think it’s great combo, business and psychology. It’s so important as a business owner, because you’re dealing with different personalities.”

SOCIAL MEDIA

ONWARD AND UPWARD

Irene has recently joined the social media revolution, putting photos of dishes and drinks on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. And speaking of drinks, Irene is following in Nick’s footsteps by becoming a master mixologist. “My father was a bartender and I learned so much just by watching him.” So next time you’re at the Liberty Diner ask for a Pineapple Cranberry Mimosa or treat yourself to the luscious Snowflake.

Irene doesn’t see her parents retiring completely. And who knows if her six-year-old son Jeremy will take over the business someday. But for right now, she’s thinking of expanding not only the catering business, but also possibly adding a private room to the existing structure. “I’m thinking a separate floor.”

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Longtime customer Sue Garizas with the Liberty Diner’s Nick Tsicalos.

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It’s a challenge being in business for so long, and Irene knows that. “Balancing everything is the biggest challenge – the back of the house, the paperwork, … you might be short staffed – it happens,” said the woman who acts as hostess, cashier, human resources director, bookkeeper, procurement director and more. The only thing she doesn’t do is cook. “… You have to know what you do and don’t do well. And you must reinvent the wheel,” said Irene. She tries to be creative with the specials and drinks, and at the same time is focusing on expanding the catering business. “I did the catering job with the Liberty Chamber last year at the Days Inn, and we had Florentine ravioli, and shrimp with avocado and cherry tomatoes in scampi sauce. I wanted to show them what I could do. “I think that’s so important to keep the success going – you have to be inventive, but you also have to keep your foundations at the same time.” Mama Helen agrees. “She’s very good at what she does,” said Helen. “She’s a very good daughter, a very

Photo Credit: Randy Harris

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TESTIMONIAL Sue Garizas has been a customer of the Liberty Diner for many years. “I’m here at least once if not twice a day for breakfast and dinner … The best thing about it is the people who own it. They’re always hospitable, they’re always welcoming to everyone, whether you’re a regular customer, or just came off the highway.” And she should know. Garizas was the owner of 19 John Street in Liberty for many years, and ran the

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BOCES sponsored Serendipity Café in Liberty where she “taught the students how to operate a restaurant, and how to work all the different phases. “When my husband passed away, the owners of the Liberty Diner took care of me as if I were family and I’ll always be grateful for that. This is the best – it doesn’t get better than this and I’ve been in this business my whole life.” A lofty compliment from someone who’s been there and done that, and treated everyone like family while she was at it.

Dinner Theatre at the Diner As part of their 30th anniversary celebration, the Liberty Diner will host “’Til Death Do Us Part,” a murder mystery dinner theatre on Sunday, January 26, sponsored by the Greater Liberty Chamber of Commerce and presented by Big Sky Productions. Tickets are $55 in advance and $60 at the door, and can be purchased at the Liberty Diner. Admission includes a three-course dinner - salad, entree, dessert and coffee or tea. A cash bar will be available. Doors open at 4 p.m. and the show starts at 4:30 p.m. For more information, call the diner at 845-292-8973. 80123

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New convenience store adds to brothers’ budding business BY ISABEL BRAVERMAN

F

Jatin, Prabhu and Hiten Patel run the family business of gas stations and convenience stores in the area.

(845) 482-0926

CONTINUED ON PAGE 14F

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he doesn’t know when) the convenience store has a full-service Boar’s Head deli, along with drinks, snacks and a large selection of premium beers. The Patel brothers also own the J & H Express in Youngsville, which has been open since 2016. They also own the Swan Lake Country Store with plans to open that soon. Their line of businesses began with Jatin and their father, Prabhu Patel, when they ran the Mobil Station in Hurleyville. They had that store until 2015. At the time, Hiten was in college, but upon graduating he joined the family business. Their father is now retired but still involved with their stores. The broth-

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or brothers Jatin and Hiten Patel, opening J & H Express in Liberty was the next step in expanding their line of gas stations and convenience stores. They opened their doors on January 7 and since then the community has expressed gratitude for having a store back in Liberty. The site was the former 52 Pickup gas station, and after about two years of renovations, the new J & H Express is an updated modern design with many amenities. “We always liked the location, so we always wanted to improve it and make it better, so that’s what we did,” Jatin said. “We knocked down the old building and put the new one up.” Besides gas pumps (which Jatin said will be installed soon, although


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J & H Express just opened on Route 52 in Liberty.


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The store offers everything you would expect at a convenience store from snacks to drinks.

SELF STORAGE LLC

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 12F

ers continue to work together after opening their newest venture. “We wanted people to come in and check the place out; they get to see what we did here and what we have,” Jatin said. “A lot of people came in, and a lot of people stopped by to say good luck; they’ve been waiting very patiently since we began working on

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it.” The first week of opening the new store in Liberty they offered a special deal of a free cup of coffee to anyone who came in. Jatin said the support has been great and better than expected. “It’s been great, people are really supportive, all the neighbors, everybody. It’s doing really well, better than we expected to do,” he said.


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Family-owned and operated for 93 years

Since 1927 the Sullivan County Democrat has been published by the Stabbert family. As we turn the calendar on our 129th year of operation we would like to congratulate all the family-owned businesses of Sullivan and Wayne counties for all they do for the local economy.

Keep up the good work! From all your friends at the

‘Hometown Newspaper of Sullivan County Since 1891’

www.scdemocratonline.com

With offices in Callicoon and Monticello Call 845-887-5200 to advertise or subscribe today!


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Local business ‘tailors’ to the community STORY AND PHOTOS BY SARAH CLARK

The storefront of Arts for Him and Her Too, which is located on Main Street in Honesdale, Pennsylvania.

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store that sits on Main Street in Honesdale, Pennsylvania has been making strides towards quality customer service for 72 years. Arts for Him and Her Too opened their doors

to customers with the idea of serving the needs of their patrons, and owner Tom Fasshauer and his wife Gail have kept the mission that Arthur, Tom’s father, created. Tom spent most of his childhood at

his father’s store, which opened in 1948. The Reif Building, which is now known as Mary Beth Bridals, was the original home to the store until a fire forced Arthur to relocate to the Male Building. He then moved the store to

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the southern portion of the current location. Tom described how in the sixties and seventies the store was confined to a small section of the CONTINUED ON PAGE 18F

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From the Greater Honesdale Partnership Arts for Him and Her Too has been a thread of the fabric that is the tapestry known as Honesdale for 70 years. The patriarch of the family... Art Fasshauer was a founding member of the Honesdale Business Association, the Group that eventually morphed into the Greater Honesdale Partnership. Art‘s commitment to the community of Honesdale was unending. He was a community leader who lead by example. Always cheerful. Always positive. Always considering what was the next right thing to do. He passed these stalwart traits on to three wonderful children. His son Tom carries on at the same store his father did 70 years ago. Honesdale owes the Fasshauer family a tremendous thank you for all they have done over the years. Who could foresee that the business started by Art and his wife Eloise would be going strong 70 years later. With a strong work ethic and an everlasting effort to do the right thing. Their legacy still stands today, exemplifed by Tom and his wife Gail.

CONGRATS 80027

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Proud to have the Fasshauer’s as our business neighbors & friends!!

1043 MAIN ST. • HONESDALE, PA 18431 • 570-253-3050 • SINCE 1922

Joseph N. Garlick

Tom Fasshauer and his wife Gail Fasshauer standing with a picture of Arts for Him and Her Too from the 1950s. Since then the store has expanded their space and has gained a network of repeat customers.

Funeral Home

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 17F

(845) 647-7747 186 Canal St., Ellenville

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(845) 794-7474 388 Broadway, Monticello

www.josephngarlickfuneralhome.com

building, however, the store expanded in 1993. “We can’t wait to get in here in the morning and satisfy people and make them happy,” said Tom. “The emphasis was the same as it is now, quality clothing, affordably priced, with a lot of service involved.” Tom remembers helping his father with the business from a young age by collecting payments from customers who enrolled in the rewards program that was implemented by Arthur. In 1980, Tom assumed the full-time position of manager and buyer for the store, and fully took

over the business in 2000. Not only is Arts for Him and Her Too a clothing retail store, but customers can also receive alterations. Tom and Gail, who does bookkeeping, alterations, and more, prioritize the customers who walk through the doors and their needs. “Our customers are more like our friends,” said Gail. “They’re like family after all these years.” The store caters to an estimated two thousand patrons, and the Fasshauers see a large increase in business during the summer months. They also receive products from local and national vendors for high quality clothing.


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SULLIVAN COUNTY DEMOCRAT

JANUARY 21, 2020

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s vendors throughout the country that like to deal with smaller retailers,â&#x20AC;? said Tom. He goes as far as Minnesota to find new products for the business, and will often attend local apparel trade shows in New York City and Philadelphia. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Often times theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re good quality, if not great quality.â&#x20AC;? When Fasshauer took over the store from his father, he had a vision of what the store would look like in terms of merchandise and the quality of the clothing that was sold. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t carry anything that people wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be proud to wear,â&#x20AC;? said Tom. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The customer is everything, the customer is always right.â&#x20AC;? A notable change that Tom has noticed in the community in which his business serves is the affluence. The changes in the Honesdale community have also allowed the Fasshauers to expand and offer selections for women, which they introduced in 2010 after the womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s clothing store closed. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think Honesdale is a changing community where it adapts to change,â&#x20AC;? said Gail. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Some communities donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t, but Honesdale has over the years.â&#x20AC;?

The adaptations that Honesdale has gone through has allowed the Fasshauers to diversify their selections of clothing to accommodate the needs and wants for their customers. However, the process for choosing which products to place on the shelves requires thought and consideration for the customers who shop at their store. When looking at different selections the trade shows have to offer, Tom and Gail keep their customers in mind when choosing what to bring into the store. They will often go in with ideas that the patrons have mentioned, and will then attempt to make choices based on the style of their customers. Although the process is difficult, both Tom and Gail have kept in mind the needs of the people they serve. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be too trendy because, first of all our customer is not that 17 or 16-year-old anyway, theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not the ones that we cater to,â&#x20AC;? said Gail. She also said how itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s important to let customers know that they are appreciated as that is a quality you cannot receive at a mall or other stores that rely on fast fashion products. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We are not going to sell them

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Tom Fasshauer standing with pictures of Arts for Him and Her Too. In the picture on the right is Arthur E. Fasshauer, the founder of the business, and his wife Eloise Fasshauer, who still helps with the business.

something that we donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t stand behind, and they trust us for that reason,â&#x20AC;? Gail said. Customer satisfaction is the main priority when operating a small busi-

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ness, and that is one lesson that Tom took away from his father when he took over the family-owned store. Tom also attributes working hard and determination as other key components to the success of their business. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s difficult, but there are so many positives, it becomes a labor of love,â&#x20AC;? said Tom. The Fasshauers enjoy the customers that they have received over the years, but they also note the difficult choices that are made when owning a clothing store. When it comes time to buy inventory, there are no guarantees that the products will sell, and Tom describes it as â&#x20AC;&#x153;rolling the diceâ&#x20AC;? each day. In order to keep the business operating, Tom and Gail rely on returning customers. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s why keeping them happy is number one,â&#x20AC;? said Tom. Despite the challenges that Fasshauers have faced with their business, the success is shown through the happiness of their customers and the expansions that have provided growth to their business. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s exhilarating when itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s successful,â&#x20AC;? said Tom. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not about money. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just satisfying to know that people appreciate what weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re doing.â&#x20AC;?

CONGRATS TO ALL THE HONOREES!

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ALL IN THE FAMILY

SULLIVAN COUNTY DEMOCRAT

JANUARY 21, 2020

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