Instead, it comes mainly from attitude and focus. Leaders of the businesses that repeatedly have earned a place on Rochester’s Top 50 say they do it by maintaining a steady focus day after day. Unrelenting attention on the customer is primordial.
A strong team and good financial footing empower companies to enter new businesses when opportunities arise. Those qualities have been pivotal to ongoing growth at O’Connell Electric Co., one of Ontario County’s largest employers.
The company ranked 14th when it first appeared on the list of private companies in 1997, with 275 employees and $29.8 million in annual revenues. This year, the firm ranks eighth and boasts 464 employees and $111.5 million in revenues.
A strong, established framework has given O’Connell the chance to develop new areas of expertise and capitalize on trends before they reach their full swing.
“We purchased the assets of a company that was one of the first in wind power,” O’Connell CEO Victor Salerno says. “That’s substantial right now and probably represents a quarter to one-third of our new backlog. There is a huge amount of electric for those projects.
“We’re dedicated to what we do,” he adds, “We’re not distracted by other things like some companies. They lose focus. And we build the company from a financial standpoint so that we find when we get involved in projects like these (they) aren’t run of the mill.”
O’Connell Electric also is investing in solar equipment. The company is selling one to three (installation) jobs a week for that business, Salerno said.
“That’s how things have changed from five or six years ago,” he notes. “You never would have thought this would be the case. We’re focused on electrical, construction and communications, and as these new things evolve, we have a team that’s able to execute.”
Salerno is quick to say the company is not overconfident. In his view, attitude and character are essential to longevity.
“Nothing is perfect: We don’t want to say that,” he says. “We’re just in a very good position because of the hard work and (having) laid the groundwork over the decades. It doesn’t happen overnight.
“We ran into a buzz saw in the early ’80s,” he continues, “and we still remember it. We learned a lot of lessons from it, and humility is one of them.”