By John Lynds
There’s one thing about East Boston Savings Bank Chairman, CEO and President Richard Gavegnano you quickly realize when you meet him–he’s unlike any other head of a large multibillion dollar bank.
Gavegnano, who grew up in a triple decker on Neptune Road in East Boston in the 1950s, has always remained loyal to his and EBSB’s roots in Eastie.
Nothing in his upbringing would suggest that this kid playing stickball in the neighborhood during the 1950s would rise to prominence in the finance world. His story in many ways is pure Horatio Alger.
”I was hungry,” he once said. “I had the will and drive to see what else was out there in the world and I wanted a piece of it.”
Last week Gavegnano was presented the prestigious EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 Award in New England. The award recognizes entrepreneurs who are excelling in areas such as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities. Gavegnano was selected by an independent panel of judges, and the award was presented at a special gala event at the Marriott Copley.
“I am deeply honored to be awarded this recognition by EY. I share this award with the entire EBSB community, the Board of Directors, senior management and employees,” said Mr. Gavegnano. “It is through their dedication, hard work and shared vision that has allowed the Bank to grow to $4.6 billion in assets and flourish with an 18% Compounded Annual Growth Rate since 2007. We will continue to operate with the belief that it is our responsibility to foster economic growth in our communities that help to stimulate growth by providing local jobs and banking services to help businesses and individuals thrive.”
As a New England award winner, Gavegnano is now eligible for consideration for the Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 national program. Award winners in several national categories, as well as the Entrepreneur of the Year National Overall Award winner, will be announced at the Entrepreneur of the Year National Awards gala in Palm Springs, California, on November 18, 2017.
Born and raised in Eastie, Gavegnano grew up on Neptune Road by a single mother that worked hard to provide for Gavegnano and his brother.
During the summer months, Gavegnano and his friends would play at Wood Island or games of stickball on Neptune Road. It was during this time Gavegnano met a man that would ultimately change his life.
When he and his friends were outside playing they’d notice a shiny sports car that would drive down Neptune Road and park. The driver was a well-dressed man always wearing a suite, a fedora and carrying a brief case. He stood out in a working class neighborhood like East Boston.
The man was Corning Peaver, a Marblehead resident that worked for a brokerage company on Federal Street. Peaver would park on Neptune Road and take the train from Wood Island station each morning. Over the years he got to know Gavegnano and the other neighborhood kids.
Years later, after he graduated high school, Gavegnano was facing the draft so he answered an ad for a job at a brokerage company downtown.
With no experience the cards were stacked against Gavegnano–that’s until he noticed Peaver walking by the interviewer’s office.
Using his Eastie street smarts, Gavegnano told the interviewer he knew Peaver. Not believing a kid from Eastie would know a stockbroker well known in certain financial circles, the interviewer went off to investigate.
A few minutes later he came back and told Gavegnano that Peaver did in fact know him and said he was a good guy.
Gavegnano got the job on the spot.
That day in 1966 began an illustrious career in finance that has lasted to this day.
In 1974 he joined the EBSB team and helped the bank grow by helping it invest in bonds, equities and loans.
In 2008, Gavegnano’s career came full circle as he was asked by NASDAQ to ring the closing bell.