The Sepe Family
Family and Community, The Roots of SERVPRO’s Success
Family isn’t just the word that describes the owners of SERVPRO – it describes the culture that’s an integral part of this Broome-based company as well.
Driven by a deep desire to “be able to employ a lot of people and create an environment where [his] employees enjoyed their work,” Lou Sepe founded this local company, with 3 franchises, that specializes in residential and commercial restoration cleaning services, in 1979.
“We’re in our 25th year of business and we’ve enjoyed every single day of it. We’ve created a culture here that is very accomodating to employees and thankful for the customer-base we have. One of our goals is to create happy customers and we work at that every single day,” Lou Sepe said. The Sepe family’s lives here have been defined by a continuous endeavor to make SERVPRO a company that augments the area – beginning with Lou.
“We’re really proud to be here and to share our story because it all started right here in this community,” said Sepe.
After attending SUNY Broome and SUNY Geneseo, obtaining a degree to teach Speech Pathology and Audiology for K-12 students, Lou Sepe worked as a teacher for a year before pursuing his calling to go into business. Following 15 years working for himself in construction, while simultaneously serving as a Binghamton City Councilman for 4 of those years, Sepe decided to start SERVPRO in order “to give back to the community” he was born and raised in.
“I’ve always worked in this community and I felt that – for the same reason I got into government many years ago – I really wanted to see the community grow…I felt I could make a difference [in Broome County] by having a business that could employ people [and] allow them to be proud of where they work,” Sepe began.
“Our mission is to develop a team of quality people who focus on excellent service, fairness and mutual respect in order to create happy customers. We have instilled that in everyone [since the beginning] and that’s how we achieve success,” he went on.
For the past 25 years, SERVPRO has honored that mission, faithfully serving clients in Broome County and beyond, as well as garnering a communal, collaborative atmosphere in the workplace each day – which explains why the business is ranked as one of the ‘Top 20 Franchises’ nationwide and in Canada!
“The people [who work at SERVPRO] are willing to help others. They’re empathetic. They’re here because they want to serve our customers. We appreciate our customers, as well as the community we’re in because they support us – that’s why we’ve sustained 25 years in business,” Sepe said.
Though Lou Sepe isn’t as heavily involved in SERVPRO’s operations as he once was, SERVPRO remains under Sepe family management, with Lou’s daughter Danielle Sepe Yurka, Vice President of Administration and Marketing, and son Justin Sepe, Vice President of Production, now at the helm – with countless other Sepe family members and friends working at SERVPRO. Justin Sepe and Danielle Sepe Yurka, like many other employees at SERVPRO, have been with the family business for over a decade.
With 18 years at SERVPRO under his belt, Justin began working at the company at age 16, throughout his pursuit of a Liberal Arts degree from SUNY Broome, while Danielle joined the SERVPRO team about 14 years ago, after graduating from SUNY Cortland with a Sociology degree.
“I realized that dealing with people is what I had a passion for and wanted to follow my father’s footsteps of working with others and being part of a business – that’s where it’s been rewarding on a daily basis. Working with our family right along has been one of the most rewarding things about working here as well,” Danielle Sepe Yurka said.
Under Danielle and Justin’s management, SERVPRO has continued to be the type of company their father worked tirelessly to create, with 3 established buildings within the City of Binghamton, as well as over 50 full-time employees – whose careers at SERVPRO range from 3 years to over 20 years.
“Our employees see the value of working here as a career, not as a job…We truly don’t have any turnover. Once people join us, they like to stay here and it’s really nice to see that people want to be a part of this – we encourage it and consider everyone here a part of our family,” Yurka said.
According to Lou Sepe, “It’s a family-run operation. Everyone here is family – we’ve all become the SERVPRO family.” This open, familial culture at SERVPRO manifests itself in a variety of ways – from company events like ‘Breakfast with Santa’ offered for employees and their families, evenings spent watching baseball games at the Binghamton Rumble Ponies stadium, birthday celebrations, as well as ample vacation time, various employee benefits packages, a ‘Learn to Earn’ program and much more.
“Like our area’s forefathers who took great care of their employees, in a small sense, I want my family and my extended family of employees to feel that they have a home [at SERVPRO] – that this is a place to come and a place to grow with. We’ve carried that from the time I started it right through to today and the reason I wanted to do that in this community was because it had so much to offer.”
SERVPRO’s company culture, as well as its renown with clients in and outside of the area, can be traced back to the Sepe family’s love for, and devotion to, Broome County.
“It was important for my siblings and I to stay rooted to this community. Our family is here. Our extended family is here. Our children are all in the public school system. Though they’re all under the age of 10, it’s exciting to see what the future holds for all of us here and for all of them as well. [Broome County] is a great place to live – it was a great place to grow up and is a great place to raise a family,” said Yurka.
“We’ve all had those friends, business relations and acquaintances who have moved away – and they came back to the area because of how much it has to offer. We have everything from great municipalities, to great hospitals, great healthcare, a great educational system and a variety of activities anyone – young or old – can do and enjoy here,” said Justin Sepe.
To the Sepe family, a good life is the one they’ve worked hard each day to create at SERVPRO – for their work family, children, as well as themselves – which could only be achieved in Broome.
“A good life is working every day, putting food on the table, and being able to have a family and just enjoy life. I myself enjoy that we have the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers that come right into Binghamton – offering two major intersections for kayaking, which I’ve been doing since I was a kid,” Justin Sepe said.
“Somebody once said, ‘Life is good. It’s what you put into it – that’s what you’re going to get out of it.’ I think that’s always carried with me. I love Broome County and where we live. I love what I do every day. I love being with my family and I think it’s important to have that positive vibe around us – we’ve always had that and I’m hoping that will carry on,” Danielle Sepe Yurka said.
In the words of Sepe family patriarch Lou Sepe: “A good life: to live, to love and to believe in a dream. I can do all of that in a place that I’m comfortable and that I can enjoy a [good] quality of life with all the things I would like to accomplish – that can be done in the community that we live in.”