AV People: Jan Sandri of FSR

To say Jan Sandri is a “Jane of all Trades” is a bit of an understatement. Jan is the president, one of the principals and one of the founding partners of FSR. She’s been in the AV industry over 32 years.

“I was lucky enough to enter the industry through an AV integration company,” said Jan. “I learned all about the business from the integration side. Then with my partners Bill Fitzsimmons and Charlie Rodriguez, we started FSR mainly because there was a need for control type products and different metal integration products that weren’t being manufactured at the time. They were only available on a custom basis. And 32 years later, we still have some of our main customers that we started with.”

Since starting FSR, it has grown from just three people to well over 100 employees. Jan notes that she is extremely proud of her company not only for its relationships with its customers, but also because FSR is woman-owned, all products are made in the United States and every product is green. It gives her a great sense of pride.

And of course, on top of all that, last year, Jan was honored to have been elected to the InfoComm Board of Directors. “It’s just a whole new learning experience on a different aspect of our industry,” said Jan. “I love learning how the largest trade show and education center of our industry operates!”

Now, the truth is, if you’re reading this article, there’s a strong chance you already knew most of that about Jan. However, there’s an even stronger chance that you DIDN’T know that 10 years ago, Jan was the mayor of her town of Little Falls, New Jersey.

After her one term as mayor, she served nine years on the town council. And during THAT time, she was fire commissioner, police commissioner, president of the board of health, and THEN she became the Republication chairwoman of the Passaic County Republican Party. And her political prowess only seemed to grow from there.

“As a county chairperson,” Jan recalled, “we were often sent to meet with the governor and other state elected officials. And from there, because I was the chairwoman of the county Republican party, I became one of the state Republican Party committee women and from there I had the privilege of being designated to go to the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia in 2004. It was an honor to represent the state of New Jersey as one of the voters that voted to get President Bush on the ticket in New Jersey.”

If you’ve ever watched the Republican or Democratic National Conventions on television, you’ll notice how each state has a section on the floor with people lined up representing that state. Well, Jan was one of those people representing New Jersey that year.

“It’s so very exciting to actually be a part of the process,” said Jan. “We all watch it on TV, but when you’re there, it’s just electric. It just makes you feel so good to live in a country that allows this type of participation in who runs to lead our country.”

But at the end of the day, for Jan, it’s not those big time experiences that have meant a lot to her in her political career. For Jan, it’s about how much good you really can do to help people.

If you put politics aside, in Little Falls, New Jersey, it wasn’t about the money. Jan was paid $2,000 a year to do the job of mayor. And every year, she donated that money back — every single penny — to worthy causes in Little Falls or people who were just down and out on their luck.

“You do this because you’re supposed to do it for the community. Not for the money. So, therefore, I’d rather be doing it without any compensation,” she said.

Jan truly believes that each one of us, everyone, can make a great change in people’s lives — and it doesn’t take a lot of money. It takes being creative and working with businesses and volunteers in the area. There are amazing programs in every town across America that help those in need, seniors and children. Jan’s wish is for more people to give their time and get into local politics to help bring that good and change to their communities.

I asked Jan what she learned during her political career and she said, “When you sit up there as the mayor or councilperson, the whole town thinks you work for them and so they have absolutely no qualms about taking you to task for ANYTHING that happens — whether you have control of it or not,” said Jan. “So, you learn how to deal with people who are irrational or emotional. You deal with them politely and with respect. It’s helped me so much in business. In politics you get everything thrown at you, whether you’re up to speed or not, and you have to have the answers or at least be able to get the answers.”

I can only imagine how much that has helped Jan in business and with customers.

Jan’s no longer involved in any elected positions, although she is an unofficial advisor to both local, county and sometimes even state politicians. Jan decided that her efforts are better spent focusing on her business, on the InfoComm Board of Directors and her family.

Jan is married to Joe, and they have two children Bill, who lives in Foster City, Calif. and is a member of the Foster City police and the SWAT team, and Jennifer who lives in Florida with her husband and children.

Jan is also extremely proud to be a member of the WAVE (Women in AV) Board of Directors. “It’s just marvelous,” she said. “Women play such an important role, whether it’s in politics, business, or whatever. Women bring an entirely different perspective to whatever is going on in the world.”

Molly Stillman is the director of marketing and new business development for rAVe [Publications]. Reach her at molly@ravepubs.com

Do you know someone in the industry with an interesting story that should be featured in our monthly column? Email Molly and let her know.