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Written by Mike Connell   
Jan 05, 2009 at 11:16 AM

Family Comes First at MS Unlimited


Mary Beth Sbaraglia doesn’t have to think too hard when asked to name the best part of owning her own company.

            “Not having a boss telling me I can’t go when my family is sick,” she replies.

            Her answer comes quickly.  In the years before she started her company, MS Unlimited, Inc., Sbaraglia’s mother was in a bad car accident.

            “My mom was the best thing in my life,” she says, “She was a saint, never had a bad word to say about anyone.”

            Even though Sbaraglia had six weeks worth of vacation coming, “my job said I couldn’t go to her operation,” she says, “So I quit my job and went to my mom’s surgery.”

            Sbaraglia says the lesson sticks with her as she manages the company she founded 25 years ago.  Sbaraglia says her company’s gotten to that point from hard work, a seven-days-per-week schedule, and an extremely diverse company portfolio. 

            Head over to MS Unlimited’s Web site, www.msunlimitedinc.com, and all 22 of the company’s services are listed.  Be it the sales of waterfront property or the creation of fully decorated toilets, MS Unlimited’s business arms stretch in multiple directions.  The crux of its work is in the realm of construction: road construction, signals and lights, signs and material handling, and safety supplies. 

The company never loses its focus, even when it branches out into different sectors, Sbaraglia explains.  The core of its $6.5 million annual revenues comes from the selling, manufacturing, invention, and repair of highway safety products. 

            “I have planned out every move the previous year,” Sbaraglia says, “I’m a planner and a thinker.  I’m resourceful.  I’ve spent a lot of time at the library.”

            But even planners and thinkers have barriers to overcome when it comes to the creation of a new company.  And Sbaraglia is quick to say that the glass ceiling “most definitely” still exists for women hoping to make their mark on the business world.

            “I smashed it by finding a niche and working that avenue,” she says.  And even today there is a “stereotype when people call in and want to talk to the man owner.  I’ve been called stupid and told I don’t know anything.  Then when it costs them more money, they call back and tell me I’m right.”

            Smashing the glass ceiling didn’t come easily, says Sbaraglia.  She’s worked seven-day weeks and says she never gives up.  She also credits “having the best employees working alongside of me” for making the company’s success possible. 

            The drive to create her own company was partially fueled by her high school guidance counselors, Sbaraglia says.

            “My high school guidance counselors told me not to go to college, I would never be anything,” she recalls, “People, when I first started in business, said I would never last the first year.  Twenty years later, I crawled, I walked, and I’m ready to run.”