About Phil Saunders

E. Philip Saunders Headshot

E. Philip Saunders

CEO, Saunders Management
Chairman, Genesee Regional Bank

An entrepreneur known for his business acumen and philanthropic spirit, E. Philip Saunders was instrumental in reshaping the travel center industry and has had business interests in fields as diverse as auto rental, recreation, and tourism, packaged foods, property management, and banking.  Saunders has founded many companies, including Genesee Regional Bank, Griffith Energy, Truck Stops of America, Travel Centers of America, and Sugar Creek Corporation.  He’s an owner of Countryside ALFC, and has ownership interests in Sugar Creek Farms, Western New York Energy, Cobblestone Capital, and American Rock Salt.  Saunders earlier was the Executive Vice President and Director of Ryder Systems, Owner/CEO of Econo-car International, Owner/CEO of Richardson Foods Corporation, and Chairman of Valley Propane & Fuels.

Saunders serves as Chairman of Genesee Regional Bank. His rich history of board service includes current positions on numerous boards, including American Rock Salt, Cobblestone Capital, Lewis Tree, Royal Oaks Realty Trust, NYS Trooper Foundation, Western New York Energy, University of Rochester, and Rochester Institute of Technology, where the business school is named in his honor.  

Saunders has been inducted into the Rochester Business Hall of Fame and received an honorary Doctorate of Commercial Science from Paul Smith’s College. He is the recipient of Camp Good Days and Special Times 1998 Teddi award, RIT's 2005 Herbert W. Vanden Brul Entrepreneurial Award and 2017 Volunteer of the Year Award. Phil is also recipient of Rochester Business Journal Icon award in 2018 and Rochester Power 100 in 2022. He is a member of the Livonia Central School Athletic Hall of Fame and the National Association of Travel Centers Hall of Fame. In May of 2023, E. Philip Saunders received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from RIT in recognition of his entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to the university.


  1. Young E. Philip Saunders standing with a friend


    1937 – Present

    E. Philip Saunders was born in Rochester, NY to Earl and Helen Saunders. Earl Saunders started Independent Oil and Gas Co., a petroleum business which he later sold to Standard Oil Co. (Chevron), only retaining the truck stop.

  2. Scrap book page of baseball newspaper clippings


    1952 – 1955

    Saunders attended Livonia Central School and participated in baseball, football, and basketball. His junior year, Saunders pitched a no-hitter and batted .489, which became a school record.

  3. High School Photograph of Mr. Saunders


    1956 – Present

    Phil and his high school sweetheart, Carole, attended Livonia High School.  After leaving Livonia, Saunders attended Hobart College while working two jobs;  one as a night manager on the newly built New York State Thruway and the other as a farmhand in exchange for room and board.

  4. Mr. Saunders posing with a car at a service station


    1958 – Present

    Saunders dropped out of school and began working at his father’s truck stop, eventually investing in the business and buying out the other two “silent” partners.

  5. Aerial Color View of Ashland Truckstop


    1965 – Present

    Saunders built his first truck stop in Ashland, Va.

  6. Phil Saunders carrying a suitcase


    1966 – Present

    Started Fleet Control Service (FCS), a type of charge card that truckers could use to streamline billing, prior to the widespread use of credit cards. Saunders also started Meat Dispatch, hauling meat from upstate to New York City and Henrietta Enterprises, which transported goods for Tropicana and Neisner Brothers, a five-and-dime store.

  7. Page from an article in Ryder World Magazine featuring Mr. Saunders


    1971 – Present

    Truckstops of America, Inc. sold to Ryder System; Saunders moved to Florida and became Vice President and General Manager of Ryder’s Fleet Services Division where he continued to add truck stop facilities. Saunders purchased a dairy farm in Dansville.

  8. Page from an article in Econo-World featuring Mr. Saunders


    1975 – Present

    Saunders returned to upstate New York where he and partner, William A. DeNight, purchased Econo-Car International from Westinghouse Electric Corp.

  9. Ribbon cutting ceremony


    1977 – Present

    Served as CEO until Econo-Car sold to Gelco, Inc.

  10. Ribbon cutting ceremony in front of large trucks


    1979 – Present

    Purchased W. W. Griffith Oil Corporation; founded Travel Ports of America; built the first Roadway Motor Plaza, Inc. truck stop. Roadway Motor Plazas focused on the restaurant side of the business, accounting for 15% of the revenue at a truck stop. The focus was also placed on appealing to tourists, locals, and business travelers in addition to truckers.

  11. Selection of Nance's Relish


    1981 – Present

    Sugar Creek Stores formed in November with the transition of service stations, in conjunction with gas stations, to retail. Richardson Food Corporation was purchased in May; the dessert topping and syrup producer in Macedon, NY benefited from Saunders’ expertise in distribution.

  12. Phil Saunders sitting at a desk


    1986 – Present

    Travel Ports of America completed their first initial public offering. Quaker Oats Company purchased Richardson Food Corporation, of which Saunders had been CEO since 1981.

  13. Sign on the front of a Sugar Creek Store


    1987 – Present

    Sugar Creek Corporation formed in February as a holding company to coordinate the combined operations of Sugar Creek Stores and Griffith Oil. Roadway Motor Plazas, Inc. became a public company.

  14. Mr. Saunders standing in front of a billboard encouraging blood donations


    1995 – Present

    Saunders, one of the original founding members of National Association of Truck Stop Operators (NATSO), performed as acting Chairman, working to change the perception of truck stops to welcoming travel plazas. He helped to host a blood drive that collected over 4,000 pints of blood, making the trucking industry among the top five contributors for donating blood to the Red Cross.

  15. Democrat and Chronicle article featuring Mr. Saunders


    1996 – Present

    Genesee Regional Bank was founded by Saunders and Dan Gullace; originally Lyndon Guaranty Bank of New York, renamed to re-establish ties to the community as a new locally-owned business. The bank focused on helping to grow small businesses through an “old-school” banking model. The bank made the Democrat and Chronicle’s “Top Workplaces” list for the first time in 2015.

  16. Ribbon cutting ceremony at American Rock Salt


    1998 – Present

    Griffith Energy was sold to Energet!x, Inc., a subsidiary of Rochester Gas & Electric. American Rock Salt was founded in 1998 after Akzo salt mine assets were purchased by investors in 1997.

  17. Newspaper photo of Mr. Saunders sitting on a large truck


    1999 – Present

    Travel Ports of America sold to Travel Centers of America, Inc.

  18. Mr. Saunders standing at a podium at American Rock Salt facility


    2000 – Present

    Saunders founded Saunders Management; Sugar Creek Stores sold to Tops Markets Inc.; Saunders began serving as CEO at American Rock Salt, continuing to do so until 2003.

  19. Phil Saunders with George Pataki


    2001 – Present

    The Saunders Family Neuromuscular Research Fund was founded at the University of Rochester.

  20. Mr. Saunders posing with a truck on a magazine cover


    2004 – Present

    In 2002, Energy East Corp. acquired Griffith Energy in a buyout of RGS Energy Group Inc., parent company of  Rochester Gas & Electric, and Energet!x. In 2004, Saunders helped purchase Griffith Energy from Energy East Corp. in order to save local jobs. Saunders was inducted to the Rochester Business Hall of Fame.

  21. Democrat and Chronicle article featuring Mr. Saunders being honored by RIT


    2005 – Present

    Saunders received the RIT Herbert W. Vanden Brul Entrepreneurial Award in addition to the Livingston County Distinguished Citizen award.

  22. Mr. Saunders handing out hats at the Saunders College of Business naming ceremony


    2006 – Present

    RIT College of Business named in Saunders’ honor; a scholarship fund was established.

  23. Rochester Business Journal article featuring Mr. Saunders


    2013 – Present

    Saunders Energy Holdings LLC was founded, operating Valley Energy Services in 2015 and providing fuels to 10 counties. Genesee Regional Bank expanded its services by adding a mortgage department.

  24. Unveiling a display in the College of Business


    2016 – Present

    10 year anniversary commemorating the naming of Saunders College of Business

  25. Phil Saunders in front of a truck


    2017 – Present

    Saunders received the RIT Volunteer of the Year Award.

  26. Phil Saunders and others breaking ground on the College of Business expansion


    2021 – Present

    Ceremonial groundbreaking event to celebrate the Saunders College of Business Expansion Project, which was made possible through Phil’s $7.5 transformational gift.


Oral History Interviews

Phil Saunders posing against a fence for part 1 of the oral history interview

Phil Saunders Oral History Interview (part 1), October 24, 2022
Video Transcript

Phil Saunders posing against a fence for part 2 of the oral history interview

Phil Saunders Oral History Interview (part 2), November 7, 2022
Video Transcript


Mr. Saunders’ first experience with RIT came when he was hiring for the evening and night shifts at his truck stop on Jefferson Road, not far from the university. He liked what he saw in the RIT students that had come to work for him, they were hardworking and mechanically inclined. Encouraged by RIT President, Albert Simone, Saunders got involved with the College of Business and in 2006 made a $13 million donation, one of the largest ever received by RIT. The college was renamed the E. Philip Saunders College of Business and the investment helped to reshape business education by funding endowed professorships, scholarships, and expanded facilities. Four years later, Saunders donated $5 million and in 2019, he announced a $7.5 million donation. These gifts help pave the way for future entrepreneurs and business leaders.

E. Philip Saunders Scholarship

A lifelong resident of Livingston County, NY, Mr. Saunders is a tireless promoter of the Upstate NY economy and believes strongly that an educated workforce is the key to economic growth in the region. As part of his commitment to RIT and to the naming of its College of Business, in July 2006, Mr. Saunders established the E. Philip Saunders Endowed Business Scholarship, providing two four-year academic scholarships annually, one each to a graduate of Dansville (NY) High School and of Livonia (NY) High School, who have been accepted to Saunders College of Business at RIT.

See what Saunders Scholars had to say to Phil Saunders about his generosity regarding the scholarship

Phil Saunders’ Scholarship Eligibility

Eligibility for this scholarship will be based on the recipients’ graduation from Dansville High School or Livonia High School and their acceptance into Saunders College of Business at RIT. Candidates must demonstrate a record of academic achievement that indicates a strong potential for success in a selective educational environment. They should be well-rounded students involved in extracurricular and/or work-related activities while in high school. Also, they should demonstrate strong leadership potential or business skills and aspire to become business leaders.

Candidates will be asked to authorize the release of the application and ongoing performance information to the scholarship selection committee. That committee will consist of at least one representative from the RIT Enrollment Management and Career Services Division and one representative from the Saunders Foundation. Financial need may be a factor in consideration but is not a requirement. All qualified candidates will be encouraged to apply. The scholarship is renewable annually for up to four years, provided the recipients enroll full-time, maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.5, and remain enrolled in the RIT Saunders College of Business. In the event that circumstances arise forcing a student to enroll for an additional term to meet academic requirements, the administrators of the fund may be able to support those additional needs.

For more information view our E. Philip Saunders Endowed Business Scholarship brochure

Name Year Received Major High School
Aazan Sohail 2023-2024 Global Business Management Dansville High School
Chloe Kress 2023-2024 Marketing Livonia High School
Beth Buehler 2022-2023 Global Business Management Livonia High School
Ella Sexton 2021-2022 Marketing and Global Business Management Livonia High School
Kiersten Kennedy 2021-2022 Accounting Dansville High School
Oliver Owen 2020-2021 Accounting and Finance Livonia High School
Maggie Dempsey 2019-2020 Management Information Systems Avon High School
Mitchell Hitchcock 2019-2020 Marketing Livonia High School
Brittney Teed 2019-2020 Accounting Livonia High School
Garrett Didas 2018-2019 Finance York High School
Chandler Simpson 2018-2019 Management Livonia High School
Mary Kate Brushafer 2018-2019 Marketing Lima Christian School
Alexis Townsend 2017-2018 Management Information Systems Livonia High School
Henry Lemen 2017-2018 Management Avon High School
Connor Wilkins 2016-2017 Management Information Systems Livonia High School
Kathleen Ferguson 2016-2017 International Business Dansville High School
Jessica Coombs 2015-2016 New Media Marketing Dansville High School
Bryan Gascon 2015-2016 Management Information Systems Livonia High School
Sarah Kuhn 2015-2016 Management Information Systems Dansville High School
Hannah Hawkins 2014-2015 New Media Marketing Livonia High School
Scott Mclaughlin 2014-2015 Marketing Livonia High School
Jeffrey Kosakowski 2013-2014 Management Livonia High School
Megan Rauber 2013-2014 Management Information Systems Dansville High School
Meghan Sessler 2013-2014 N/A Livonia High School
Thomas Gott 2013-2014 Management Livonia High School
Zachary White 2012-2013 New Media Marketing Dansville High School
Rebecca Stockslader 2011-2012 Accounting Livonia High School
Danielle Potter 2011-2012 Management Dansville High School
Robert Schuster 2010-2011 Management Livonia High School
Nicholas DeBerardinis 2010-2011 Finance Dansville High School
Lindsey Parker 2009-2010 International Business Livonia High School
Matthias Schuster 2009-2010 Management Dansville High School
Jonathan Federico 2008-2009 International Business Dansville High School
Tyler Russell 2008-2009 Management Livonia High School
Casey Wing 2007-2008 Marketing Dansville High School
Paul Nebbia 2007-2008 International Business Livonia High School