For Saunya Mapes Urban, deciding to come into the family business a year and a half ago was a commitment to follow in the footsteps of her father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
“I’m on a training track to be the next successor in taking over the company,” says Saunya. “That involves building relationships with customers and learning as much as I possibly can about the industry. I have a competitive component to my personality. I want to be able to fill those shoes and not fall short.”
H.A. Mapes Inc. is a petroleum marketer delivering gasoline and diesel to more than 100 gas stations in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.
The company was founded in 1936—in fact, the logo still shows a horse-drawn carriage. The founder’s son, Allen Mapes, joined the company in 1950. His son, Jonathan Mapes, came on board in 1982 and is now president of the company. And his daughter, Saunya Mapes Urban, 29, is now undertaking a multiple-year, on-the-job apprenticeship to take over the reins.
“I’ve always been interested in the business, but I wanted to be sure I followed my own interests,” says Saunya, who managed health and wellness centers in Boston before returning to Maine and the family business. “And then I became more and more interested in the company after I had my first daughter.”
While living in Boston, visits with her parents required four hours of driving—not the type of family closeness she’d enjoyed in her own childhood, growing up surrounded by family and the family business.
“I realized that my husband and I both really valued harmony between work and family,” Saunya says. “A move made it possible to have a house, to be close to family and to be part of something that I really wanted to be part of, that I had a sense of pride in—our family business.”
As she settled into life in Maine and at H.A. Mapes, she had her second daughter, who is now 5 months old.
“I’ve been redefining what it means to be a family in a new home with a new career,” Saunya says. “Stepping into this business has been such a large mental undertaking. It’s a challenge—in a positive sense. I want to live up to the expectations of customers and employees who have been with us for decades. And I’m proud to have been accepted into this team.”
She is particularly interested in using technology to increase efficiency—not only to make the business more successful, but also to make employees’ lives easier.
“It’s a small operation, but we’re spread out over a distance because it’s primarily trucking,” Saunya says. “I’m always thinking: ‘As our world gets more complicated, how can we streamline and simplify routines?’”
Thirty people work for H.A. Mapes—primarily women in the office, but all the sales reps and drivers are male. Nationally, the same is true: Petroleum is still predominantly a man’s world.
“You can see the change happening with more women coming into the petroleum and transportation field,” Saunya says, mentioning that she attended a first-time conference for women in petroleum in Florida.
“It’s important to be aware of who you are and what you’re capable of,” Saunya says. “If I feel as if somebody might see me as younger or less experienced on the topic, it drives me to accomplish more.”
Amy Paradysz is a writer, editor and photographer who lives in Scarborough.