O'Fallon Progress

Strano & Associates 'family-oriented, charity-driven' mantra earns award from chamber

Strano employees used their $5 jeans money to toys to donate to Toys for Tots at Christmas.
Strano employees used their $5 jeans money to toys to donate to Toys for Tots at Christmas. Provided

Every month in all six of its offices, associates with Strano & Associates Real Estate listen to the current needs of the community and try to make any contribution they can to help those around them. And the contributions have been many.

Strano staff is invited to wear jeans in the office for a donation of $5 per Friday on a monthly basis. The money, which is matched dollar-for-dollar by the corporate office, has helped make Christmas brighter for local families, aided hurricane victims, and benefited Shriners Hospitals for Children, among other charitable endeavors.

The family operated business was founded in 1997 by the late Bob Strano and his wife Dede Strano. While Bob passed in 1999, Dede is the owner and is still active with the company. Her daughter, Stephanie Strano-Maine, is the president, and her granddaughter, Alex Anderson, is the chief operating officer.

"Bob and Dede Strano built this company on the bedrock of family values and staying connected with the communities we serve. It's a family-oriented and charity-driven company," Andrea Huschle, company property management division manager, said.

The O'Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce selected Strano for it's 42nd Annual Salute to Business Awards recipients, specifically the Rotary Community Service Award.

"We're very excited about this award, and we continue to be a family run business with people who really care. It's all about treating the people fairly and taking care of them, and the people in need within the community," Dede said.

When people ask her what the secret to the company's success is, Dede said, "It's been a good ride, and there is no 'big secret.' I just stay true to my motto: 'Good things don't just happen. Good people make good things happen.'"

"Even though my name is on the sign and I own the company that is getting awards like this, I'm still only one person of many alongside me working hard to make it all work and give back to the communities we serve," Dede said. "It's not because we do anything great, it's just because we care, and a little goes a long way."

After the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, Strano Property Management contacted Rob Stock of Stock Trucking and asked if the company could get a trailer delivered. The office had the trailer for nine days, and it was stuffed by the time it left. The employees jeans money was used to purchase cleaning supplies and diapers. Adults were dropping off truck loads of water, laundry detergent, toiletries, bedding, construction materials, and pet essentials. Kids pitched in, too. Many children broke their piggy banks or spent their allowance money to help other children. Some Girl Scouts even showed up in uniform to donate cookies.

"It was the coolest experience ever getting to see the community come together for such a great cause, and being able to meet all the different people and listening to their stories as we helped load their generous donations in the trailer," Huschle said.

At the beginning of the school year, Strano employees donated 130 backpacks to Big Brothers Big Sisters' backpack drive.

Strano’s corporate office in Belleville also opens its doors for Safe Trick or Treating to the public every year on Halloween. The staff dresses up and decorates individual doors and competes for the trick or treaters’ votes. It's a fun afternoon the staff looks forward to every year.

"In each office, we really try to give back to people who are in need in the community, and it's interesting the ideas and projects that come from us just reaching out, and it's always evolving," Dede said.

Every fall for more than 20 years, Strano has participated also participated in the Downtown Belleville Chili Cook-Off in the Not For Profit category. All proceeds benefit local families in need during the holidays through the company's Adopt-A-Family program. Annually, Stano provides Thanksgiving meals and Christmas gifts for three to five local families who otherwise may have gone without.

This past holiday season, Strano employees used their jeans money, over $700, to shop for Toys for Tots. Enough toys were purchased to fill the corporate conference room.

Strano employees also delivered new coats to the Airman's Attic at Scott AFB, and had a great time baking more than 1,150 cookies cookies for the SAFB Operation Cookie. The cookies go to airmen who don’t have the opportunity to go home for the holiday but enjoy baked goods from a family kitchen.

Strano employees also donate bags of canned goods at the entry doors of our annual Christmas party every year. The canned goods are then dropped off at the Blessed Sacrament Food Pantry.

The company also teamed up with Stanley Steemer to collect gently used stuffed animals around the holidays that were then donated to metro-east first-responders, children's hospitals and the Salvation Army. Strano’s "Tired Teddies" drive filled an entire office with gently loved stuffed animals ready to be cleaned and find new homes.

Last May, Strano offices made a $250 to Shriners Hospitals for Children. This May, the Strano offices are planning to host a Red Cross blood drive.

"We are always looking for new companies to partner up with to do good in the region," Huschle said.

Strano has earned multiple community awards from various organizations over the years, including in 1993 from the Illinois Association of Realtors. In 2016, Strano and Associates was named by the St. Louis Business Journal as one of the "Top 50" Largest Women-Owned Agencies in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area.