When Tricia Powers Dambrauskas, MBA’04, was in the second grade, her mother, Gloria, a veteran of the food-service industry, decided to start her own company. With support from her husband, Gloria founded B&G Restaurant Supply in Pittsfield, Mass., selling everything from ketchup bottles to industrial-grade stoves. “I remember them sitting me down and having a very serious conversation about how money might be tight,” says Dambrauskas. “I thought, oh no, does that mean I’m not going to get any toys for Christmas?”
Dambrauskas smiles at the memory and says she never noticed any difference in their lifestyle. “My parents didn’t live extravagant lives anyway,” she says. But the business was the start of a new life for the family. About a year after opening, it was doing so well that her father, Bernie, quit his job to help. Her older brother, Bob, in high school at the time, would work in the warehouse after classes, and Tricia would bring back pizza from a shop across the street to eat while her mother finished work. Soon after Bob graduated from high school, he joined the company full time. Once Dambrauskas was in high school, she worked summers at B&G, learning the ropes from her mother.
The company continued to grow, offering its services and products beyond restaurants to any business or institution with a commercial kitchen. When Dambrauskas graduated from high school in 1996, her family expected her to come on board, but she had other plans. Instead, she went to college and studied business, and then she took a job with Fidelity. “I think it was like that kid that plays the same sport their whole life. You just kind of want something different,” she says. Although disappointed, Dambrauskas’s family supported her and continued to include her in many business decisions. “I always felt connected,” she says.
In 2005, after earning her MBA and inspired by the entrepreneurial atmosphere at Babson, Dambrauskas decided to rejoin B&G, bringing with her a breadth of knowledge gained from her experiences. Initially, she helped with finances and human resources, starting a 401(k) for the company. Then she branched out to IT, setting up networks and databases. In 2006, she and her brother, today the company president, opened another operation in Albany, N.Y., called B&G Foodservice Equipment, which they own by themselves. “My dad was worried about whether it would be successful,” she says. But the siblings’ instincts were right; the location is thriving.
Nowadays Dambrauskas does “everything under the sun,” in part because she enjoys the diversity but also because both of her parents passed away not so long ago. To this day, Dambrauskas comes across stray tasks that her parents used to do that have fallen by the wayside. “They did so much,” she says. Despite the emotionally difficult times, the siblings have carried on, and both B&G locations are doing extremely well with record sales. Dambrauskas gives much of the credit to her parents. “They never hesitated to teach us, pass things on, and let us just take control and start making the decisions,” she says. “They made it easy for us to keep moving forward.”—Donna Coco