In 1978, Tony Shepley opened the doors to his new company, Shepley Wood Products, in Hyannis.
With little experience in business – he had moved to the Cape eight years earlier, making his living as a musician in a rock band – and $4,000 to invest in his fledgling venture, Tony has grown that small company to one that currently employs 160 people.
Now celebrating its 40th anniversary, Shepley Wood Products’ impact can be felt throughout the region with a main office and yard in Hyannis, a branch yard in Wellfleet, and a sales office on Nantucket.
With all of his success, Tony has remained committed to giving back to this place that he and his wife Lorraine and their two sons call home. That commitment has not only been recognized by HAC, which honored Shepley Wood Products with its 2011 Business Partner of the Year Award, but by the Hyannis Elks (2012 Distinguished Citizenship Award), the Cape and Islands United Way (2002 Citizen of the Year), and Philanthropy Partners of the Cape & Islands (2014 Outstanding Business Award), among others.
We recently had a chance to ask Tony about his longtime support of HAC and our affordable housing efforts in the region.
HAC: Why is HAC’s mission so important to you and Shepley Wood Products?
Tony Shepley: No community stays in balance without a healthy affordable housing supply. HAC has done a lot to help provide and push for housing for Cape Cod and the Islands.
HAC: What are some of the housing challenges you face as an employer on the Cape?
TS: Zoning changes and building code changes have driven the cost of housing up over the past 40 years, by limiting the supply of available land and by raising the cost of construction in our area. Employers can’t sit idly by and watch; we have to be involved.
HAC: How do you see HAC helping to address those challenges?
TS: HAC has worked on the development side by building new housing to add to the available supply, but also to drive awareness on the political front, as well as to educate the public and to stimulate affordable housing design.
HAC: Can you talk about the housing issues facing Cape Cod and why it’s necessary for organizations like HAC and companies like Shepley to work together to tackle those issues?
TS: I am surprised by the extent of NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) thinking in many of our towns. Although our population on Cape Cod is not growing and has been slightly receding recently, some of our selectmen and town councilors are still convinced that we are in a runaway growth phase and they are scared of opening up a Pandora’s Box if they loosen their grip on housing.
We need to help them see that without affordable workforce housing our service industries suffer. Our teachers, nurses, firefighters, and police suffer, and we drive affordability out of reach. We have a lot of work ahead of us in de-polarizing our communities on the subject of a balanced approach to sensible housing. Healthy communities must stand for what they want, not just for what they don’t want.
WHY I GIVE
Over the years, Tony Shepley and his company, Shepley Wood Products, have generously given to HAC in support of its programs. That support has included sponsoring the agency’s Annual Dinner & Volunteer Recognition. Shepley Wood Products will do so once again in May.
This past fall, Shepley Wood Products also served as a sponsor of HAC’s Cape Housing Institute, a six-week workshop which provides municipal officials with the tools and resources to boost affordable housing in their communities. Last month, Shepley also sponsored our Cape Housing Advocacy Training, which teaches the general public how to speak up in support of more affordable housing in their towns.
“These programs help educate our town leaders and our fellow residents about the need for affordable housing and remove some of the stigma with which affordable and workforce housing gets tagged,” Tony said, explaining why Shepley has sponsored these two new HAC initiatives.