David Singer, president of Robison Oil, was not able to attend HGAR’s 105th Annual Members Day at the Sleepy Hollow Hotel and Conference Center, but he was still just as surprised and shocked to learn that he had been chosen as the association’s Affiliate Member of the Year for 2021.
“I really didn’t expect any recognition,” admitted Singer. “We enjoy being part of this association, and it has been a great relationship over the years.”
Singer’s first encounter with the association came shortly after he bought his home in Westchester many years ago. “My Realtor was great and so helpful afterwards, recommending landscapers, house services and more,” he said. “That also let me know how valuable agents’ recommendations are and I realized we needed to step up to the plate.”
Before entering the family business, Singer enjoyed a successful career as an attorney in Manhattan. “I always wanted to be a lawyer,” he recalled. “When I was a kid, I even used to dress up like a lawyer with a three-piece suit and a briefcase.”
During the late 1980’s when the oil industry began to consolidate, Singer decided to join the family business to lead its expansion. “It was a time when there were several ‘mom and pop’ oil companies in the area and Robison just started buying up a lot of them,” he explained. The firm eventually purchased close to 20 smaller companies.
Singer, along with his brother Dan, now Robison CEO, also spearheaded the company’s growth from home heating oil into other home services like indoor air quality, mold testing, natural gas, electricity, water and fire remediation, residential insulation and more. In fact, Robison is now the largest installer of heat pumps and its biggest seller is home services such as plumbing, duct cleaning and carpet cleaning.
“I think in the future we’re going to be less dependent on oil and will be moving more toward natural gas and electricity,” added Singer. “People are also more concerned about the environment and moving away from fossil fuels.”
Headquartered in Port Chester, Robison today has more than 250 employees and recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. Of course, its most famous employee is none other than RobiDog, the company’s beloved mascot. Singer recalled his days of working at Hanna Barbera cartoon studios in Los Angeles and having lunch with Joe Barbera. “I remember talking about how everyone loves to rally around a mascot and I thought that we should have one as well,” he said.
Singer thought about his own favorite characters like Huckleberry Hound and Scooby-Doo. Following a focus group meeting, the Robison team decided on a St. Bernard dog because of its dependability and reliability. “We wanted something like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who I always thought were strong, but still cute,” he noted.
After locating the artist who drew the Ninja Turtles cartoon, Singer hired him to design RobiDog and then found a Midwest company that specialized in mascot uniforms. Today, RobiDog is played by several different Robison employees. “They really love putting on the costume and walking around in it,” added Singer. “RobiDog can be their alter ego and everyone seems to love him”
Singer and his wife have three children – a daughter, 24 and twin sons, 22, all of whom attended the University of Southern California. Even with his busy schedule, Singer finds time to take road trips, golf and ski. He’s also active in his local synagogue and is involved with the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester.
Calling his relationship with HGAR “symbiotic,” Singer wants to ensure that Realtors are satisfied with Robison’s services so they can recommend them to their clients. “I know from personal experience I’ve been able to help a lot of agents and brokers. I’ve gotten calls on a Sunday about the heat not working the day before a closing, and we’re always there,” he said. “Having a good referral is so important. In fact, I’m still using most of the vendors that my Realtor recommended to me 25 years ago!”