After Wall Street, man takes on family business
James Sanders grew up in Delaware County, went to college and got a job on Wall Street before the economic collapse resulted in him losing his position, only to return to his home county as an entrepreneur focusing on helping small businesses thrive.
“It’s fun,” the 37-year-old York, Pa. resident said. “I enjoy running a business. I enjoy watching it grow. If I got to do it all over again, I think this is what I meant to do.”
Sanders is the owner of local franchise, Safeguard, which has offices in Chadds Ford and York. He purchased it in July from familiar people.
“I bought my parents out. They bought the local distributorship in 1967,” Sanders said.
Sanders’ parents, Bob and Christine Sanders, grew the business from an office space in their Springfield home to buying buildings in York and in Chadds Ford.
Sanders said businesses’ needs have changed, as well, from paper-based products to more digital platforms.
“What we found was small businesses need help in more things than just buying products,” Sanders said. “They need help with the marketing and that’s where we come in.”
With 6,000 clients, Safeguard provides a litany of products from checks to forms to promotional products and business apparel and since its Precision acquisition has expanded to include web-based services.
“I like the business,” he said. “I like the area. I get to spend time with my family.”
He explained that buying Safeguard presented several benefits.
“It afforded me the opportunity to grow a business however I wanted,” he said.
Safeguard’s Chadds Ford office is at 258 Wilmington-West Chester Pike. Its telephone number is 610-459-3658 and the websites are gosafeguard.com and precisiononline.net .
In addition, he said it gives him the flexibility to take the business where he wants in terms of standards.
Sanders’ path to Safeguard didn’t start with the family business at first.
He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, where he helped to raise $120,000 for Ronald MacDonald House and was chairman of Greek Week.
As he continued with his studies, he also maintained his activity-coordinating.
Then, he had the opportunity to head to Manhattan, where he served as a stock analyst for Standard and Poor’s, Citigroup and Bessemer Trust. In between those, he served as a strategy director for the pump manufacturer ITT.
He was at Bessemer Trust when the economic downfall hit.
“I lasted about a year and then I was laid off,” Sanders said of his June 2009 job termination.
With a wife and two children, he returned to the area to help with the family business. In July, Sanders became the official owner of the local franchise.
Finally, Sanders said, “There’s an opportunity to take our current client base and turn them into client marketing services instead of just client printed products.”
He explained that Precision has a strong direct mail expertise and has other technological advantages, such as online storefront. And, Safeguard, as well, is developing into more of a marketing firm with such items as graphic design and logo creation, Sanders said.
His vision for his clients includes receiving great service and finding that whatever they purchased or used met or exceeded their expectations.
“And,” Sanders said, “I want them to look at us like a partner.”