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David Sandler dies; former CEO of MSC Industrial was 59

David Sandler, CEO of MSC Industrial Supply Co.,

David Sandler, CEO of MSC Industrial Supply Co., in his Melville office on July 18, 2012. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

David Sandler, who went from owning his own business to assuming the helm of one of Long Island’s largest companies, has died. The North Reading, Massachusetts, resident was 59.

He died Monday after “a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer,” said a statement from MSC Industrial Direct Co., which is headquartered in Melville and Davidson, North Carolina.

Sandler was CEO of MSC from 2005 to 2012 and was the first non-family member to head the 75-year-old company, said Erik Gershwind, grandson of MSC founder Sid Jacobson. Gershwind succeeded Sandler on Jan. 1, 2013.

Sandler joined the distributor of industrial tools and supplies in 1989 after MSC acquired Dancorp, a Massachusetts-based industrial supply company that Sandler owned, Gershwind said.

Sandler, who commuted from New England for most of his time at MSC, started out as sales manager in that region for the company, Gershwind said. He worked his way up to president in 2003 and chief executive in 2005. When he stepped down in 2012 it was to spend more time with family.

He was appointed executive vice chairman of the board in 2013, a term that was expected to last until at least 2017.

Gershwind said the period from 2003 to 2013 was known as MSC’s “David Years,” when sales and earnings grew by double digits annually. And when the company’s manufacturing customers were hit hard in the last recession, Sandler made sure that no MSC employees were laid off, Gershwind said.

Despite “pressure from shareholders, he really held firm in the belief that we should all share in the pain,” Gershwind said. “The imprint that he had on our culture, on our values, is so profound.”

Lindsay Fletcher, Sandler’s daughter who also lives in North Reading, said that despite his accomplishments, a work/life balance was a priority for her father.

“On weekends we did everything as a family,” she said. “He has three grandchildren whom he absolutely enjoyed to pieces.”

In addition to Fletcher, Sandler is survived by his wife, Suzanne; another daughter, Kelli of North Reading; his father, Jason Sandler of Burlington, Massachusetts; three grandchildren; brothers Richard of Amesbury, Massachusetts, and Scott of Houston; and a sister, Joy Abramovitz of Burlington.

A funeral service was set for Wednesday at Temple Tiferet Shalom in Peabody, Massachusetts, with burial at Puritan Lawn Memorial Park in Peabody.

The family asks donations be sent to the synagogue, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute or Care Dimensions Hospice.


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