Sandy Sansing Is Looking To Leave A Legacy of Generosity
A legacy fueled by work, achievement and faith
Sandy Sansing’s life has been defined by hard work, substantial achievement and a strong Christian faith that inspires him to be a good steward of all God has given him and his family. “We know that God has blessed us unbelievably well,” he says, “and in so doing, it gives me and my kids both the desire and obligation to help others.”
Growing up in Pensacola, Sandy’s youth was a mix of baseball and golf. But he also learned the value of work and saving money. During his senior year of high school and first year of junior college he earned tips as a bag boy at Jitney Jungle grocery story. “I would work on Saturdays,” he says, “while my buddies were playing golf or beaching it. I would make $15 to $20. Then on Monday, I would race down to Mutual Federal Savings and Loan where I had an account and deposit my money.”
He received golf scholarships to Pensacola Junior College and then to the University of West Florida, but this did not stop him from continuing to work hard during college as he sold Fuller brushes and worked for a home builder construction company. He graduated with honors and a degree in accounting, which gave him a solid footing for the many business ventures yet to come
The next chapter of Sandy’s life began with a job at a national CPA firm, where he admits he was “totally miserable.” After a year, he left that position and went to work for the Burroughs Corporation, selling office machinery and computers. His first sales territory was Mobile, Alabama.
He remembers, “It was July and you had to wear a coat and tie, a long sleeve shirt, and I had a 29-pound adding machine under my arm. I went cold-calling door-to-door in downtown Mobile until I sold $10,000 worth of machines.”
But he persevered and became Burroughs’ youngest sales manager in the Southeast at 25 years old. Then he met a fellow employee who told him that in other parts of the country, independent people were getting into the computer business. You could buy the hardware for a computer from a company in Boston, and then put your own programs and software with it and sell that product. Sandy had saved $2,500 working as a bagboy. So, using that, he and the fellow employee started their own computer sales company.
His early appointment was with the manager at the Mobile Teachers’ Credit Union, to whom he sold a computer system. She inquired where his office was located, who his CPA firm was, and then asked to see his business card. He adroitly sidestepped each request.
Finally she said, “Sandy, you don’t have anything.” He replied, “Helen, we don’t have a thing. Our whole future rests with you,” and she just smiled.
“How much is it?” she asked. He answered, “It is $40,000, but we take a 20 percent deposit from all our customers.” She said, “You don’t have any customers.” He said, “You’re right, but you’re the first one.” And he left with a check for $8,000.
Unfortunately, a year later, the business still hadn’t taken off. They owed money, had no happy customers and the situation was dire. Sandy sought advice from his daddy, who encouraged him to, “Stay with it.”
So he did, but his accounting background influenced him to change course and concentrate on selling to CPA firms. He traveled extensively for several years, which paid off, and the business became highly successful. It did so well that he sold it at the age of 32, making enough money to retire.
Then after a few years of pondering his future, he says, “I think God opened the door to the car business.” He bought his first dealership in 1986 and never looked back. Today, Sandy owns 10 dealerships.
He admits, however, that acquiring the BMW dealership was a real challenge. People thought that it was a stroke of luck to get BMW, but Sandy knows otherwise. “It was persistence and determination. Nothing comes easy.” It took him three relentless years of writing letters, making phone calls, traveling to Atlanta, going to car meetings and so on. “I just wore them out.”
He and his wife of 42 years (whom he met on a blind date arranged by his father) have two children: Stephanie, an attorney who works with adoptions, and David, vice president of Sandy Sansing Automotive Group. “Faith is the bedrock of our lives. There is a verse in the Bible, Luke 12:48, that says to those whom much is given, much will be demanded. Both my kids — I am very proud of them — are very generous and committed to helping others with money, with time and being mentors.”
Sandy has served as a major contributor to Sacred Heart’s new Children’s Hospital and encourages others to support it. “We all need to do our part,” he says. He has a special love and affinity for Sacred Heart, where his children and grandchildren were born. “I think it is crucial to treat people the way Jesus would treat them. Sacred Heart lives that.”
His travels have taken him to Guatemala and Uganda to help impoverished communities. He funded a program in Uganda to set up a training center where young teens that escaped their kidnappers are trained in cosmetology, sewing and welding. They not only regain their self-esteem, but also have a way to make a living. Most of everything we give,” Sandy says, “is based upon kids and/or Christian ministries.
“Life has been wonderful. I say I am not in the fourth quarter but the 2-minute drill, I think, right now. The legacy I hope to leave in the community is a hard-working guy who appreciates what he has and was generous in helping others.”