The Massry Family Shares Their Success

Morris and Esther Massry started in retail in the 1950s, establishing the Janie Shop, a children’s clothing store named for their eldest daughter, on Third Street in Troy, New York.

Morris soon began acquiring retail real estate, starting with neighboring buildings. He transitioned to that business in the mid-1960s, eventually shifting attention to apartment buildings. Currently 95 percent of Tri City Rentals/Massry Realty Partners business is apartments. The firm currently operates more than 14,000 units in New York’s Capital Region, Buffalo, Rochester, Nashville, Pensacola and San Antonio. Of particular note is Park South, a $110 million urban redevelopment plan coming to fruition through a partnership between Tri City Rentals and Albany Medical Center.

Norman Massry became involved in the family business as a child, mowing lawns and helping out in any way he could. When it came time to go to college, Norman studied accounting at Bentley University and after graduation began doing accounting for the family business. It was not his calling. He said, “I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to manage real estate.” And so he did, working alongside his father in building Tri City Rentals/Massry Realty Partners into the success it is today.

According to Norman, the family orientation of the business is what makes it work. But the Massrys’ success is unusual. According to the Harvard Business Review only 70 percent of family-owned businesses make it to the second generation, and a mere 10 percent survive to the third. Tri City Rentals is an exception to that rule: Norman’s daughter Julie is manager of sales and marketing, and his son Murray serves as project manager.

Norman said, “Because we are multigenerational, we think differently. My children and other family members are involved. It works because I respect my father. I respect my kids.”

Philanthropy Runs in the Family

The Massrys share their success through their philanthropy. Here again, the entire family is involved. It is difficult to identify an aspect of life in the Capital Region—from education to medical care to the arts—that has not benefited significantly from the Massrys’ generosity. Norman explained, “We grew up with philanthropy. My dad started giving as campaign chairman of United Way. I remember my daughter Julie painting the big thermometer.”

The Massrys’ relationship with the university began in 1987, when Morris became a director of The University at Albany Foundation Board, of which he currently serves as vice president. The family’s $5.25 million gift to UAlbany is their largest contribution to any institution or organization.

Norman Massry said, ”When you look at what we have done in the past—support for the College of St. Rose, hospitals and good community organizations—and consider the magnitude and excellence of the University at Albany, the number of students it touches and its impact on the Capital Region, this gift makes sense.

We began discussing the gift with (former University at Albany president) George Philip and Fardin Sanai (vice president for university development). As we came to know President Jones and his vision for the university, we became more comfortable with the idea and increasingly excited by what the money could accomplish. It is our most important gift to date for a fundamental reason: the university is critically important to the community.”

President Jones emphasized the gift’s profound and wide-ranging impact on UAlbany. “Every institution hopes that its most important supporters have the wisdom and willingness to make gifts that address multiple priorities in meaningful and lasting ways. The Massry family has done exactly that. They have singlehandedly provided resources to ensure our School of Business students receive the best possible education. And through the Massry Community Fellows Program, they have given all of our students the opportunity to help the local community while broadening their career horizons.”

Like President Jones, School of Business Dean Donald Siegel views the Massrys’ gift as transformational. “Thanks to the Massrys’ generosity, we have already begun offering our students programming that otherwise would not have been possible. And because of the Massrys’ prominence as entrepreneurs and philanthropists, their gift elevates the School’s reputation even further, especially in the Capital Region.”

In December, the Massry family, of Tri City Rentals/Massry Realty Partners, made a gift of $5.25 million to the university with funds earmarked for School of Business projects.

A portion of the gift will create an endowment to ensure that the new School of Business building, recently named the fourth most beautiful business school building in the world, remains a state-of-the-art resource for teaching, learning and research.

Benjamin Lawsky with students
Above - Benjamin Lawsky speaks to students

The Massry gift will also enrich the academic experience for School of Business students by funding speakers, conferences and visiting faculty. On March 12, the inaugural Massry Lecture featured Benjamin M. Lawsky, superintendent of financial services for New York State.

The Massry Community Fellows Program allows students across the university to pursue internships with local nonprofits, where funding for student internships is not typically available. The program will strengthen community service, a hallmark of the Massry family, and increase public engagement, a core priority for UAlbany.

Norman Massry, Benjamin Lawsky, Micki Massry and UAlbany President Robert J. Jones Ph.D.

Picture of group at the ceremony