Case Studies

SAL Electric Company Inc.

Jersey City's longstanding family-owned electrical provider

Since 1969, second-generation family-owned  SAL Electric Company Inc. has provided public and private clients with high-quality electrical design and installations, fine workmanship and most of all, honest service. Based in Jersey City, New Jersey, SAL Electric has served a range of customers throughout central, northern and western New Jersey for the last 46 years as a union contractor and member of the Northern New Jersey Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).

“We’ve been in business for nearly 50 years and our reputation is impeccable, as well as the integrity of our longstanding personnel – those are the main things that set us apart in this business,” says Philip Chianetta, now president and CEO of SAL Electric.

Since inception, SAL Electric’s mission has been to provide its customers with the highest levels of integrity, quality of workmanship, extraordinary service and value-added construction services. “Our goal is to satisfy our clients with impeccable customer service, performance, accountability and dependability to exceed all of their expectations,” says Philip.

Father to son succession

Salvatore “Sal” Chianetta founded the company in 1969, making his way up through the ranks from laborer to apprentice to journeyman after coming to the United States from Sicily in 1961. “My father worked as an electrician on a merchant marine ship, but when he came to the states, he didn’t speak a word of English so it was difficult for him to find a job,” recounts Philip. “He started as a road laborer, working during the day and at night he studied to get his high school diploma.”

After a few years of hard work, day and night, Sal got an opportunity to work for a local New Jersey contractor, where he started as an apprentice. “He worked his way up to lead journeyman and after four years with this company he took the test to get his electrical contractor license,” recalls Philip. “After passing the test he established SAL Electric in 1969 and the company made its way in small residential and commercial work.”

Sal Electric Company Inc.In 1980, SAL Electric became signatory to IBEW local union 164 and the company began to expand, taking on larger projects. Following in his father’s footsteps, Philip started at just 13 years old. “My father has that hard-working Sicilian attitude – he would say, ‘you’re coming to work, you’re not going to just hang out,’ and I would go with him to the office,” says Philip.

Philip attended Monmouth University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration with a minor in finance. After college, he began his career as a truck driver for SAL Electric and in 1990, Philip entered the Joint Apprenticeship Training Program for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) local union 164.

“I was an apprentice for five years,” he recounts. “I would work in the field during the day and then come back to the office and learn how to do estimating.” By 1995, Philip became chief estimator and project manager for SAL Electric. In 2006, he assumed the role of president and CEO.

A tenured team

When Philip started full-time in 1988, SAL Electric had just eight employees. Since then, the team and the company’s capabilities have grown by leaps and bounds. “I’ve worked nearly every role in this company, from bottom to top and I’ve focused on building the right team around me to allow us to grow and handle more work,” says Philip.

Today, SAL Electric employs 22 people in the office across accounting, purchasing, estimating, project management and maintenance-service superintendents. “As far as field personnel, we have about 120 union electricians,” says Philip. “We have three warehouses in Jersey City to stock our projects and we’re very proud of the fact that many employees have been with the company for 15, 20 or 30 years or more. There is very little turnover.”

SAL Electric now serves a broad range of markets, offering the full scope of electrical contracting backed by a robust service and maintenance division. “We’ve worked on solar projects, higher education and elementary schools, hospitals, entertainment facilities, federal buildings, retail spaces and malls, mixed-use residential, warehouses and much more,” details Philip.

Showcase projects

Lately, SAL Electric has landed some large-scale projects for major corporations such as Goya Foods International. The company recently completed Goya’s new corporate world headquarters: a 632,000-square-foot facility with more than $12 million in electrical work completed in approximately a year and a half.

“In July 2015 we completed the Peter Rodino Federal Building renovation in downtown Newark,” says Philip. “This project includes 16 stories of full renovation on every floor, including fire alarm, security and increased electrical risers per floor. Overall the job has been in the works for five years and it’s a $15 million electrical scope.”

SAL Electric also excels in the health care market. The company is currently working on completing the Robert Wood Johnson Hospital East Tower project, including massive amounts of high voltage switchgear and generator work to serve as the main powerhouse hub for the entire hospital. “When all is said and done here, we’re looking at $12 million of electrical work,” adds Philip.

As the economy continues to recover, the mixed-use residential market is alive and well in New Jersey. “We’re working on a mixed-use project with 280 units, including a parking garage for renters and a small school and daycare facility in Hoboken,” says Philip. “This building overlooks the New York City skyline.”

SAL Electric also has the ability to turn around design-build projects. “In August 2015, we will complete a $2 million business development center for New Jersey City University [NJCU],” says Philip.
“The center is located downtown in Jersey City, overlooking New York and the Statue of Liberty. We have a lot of similar ongoing projects in the $2 to $3 million range.”

In addition, SAL Electric is constantly running service trucks with a maintenance division of about 25 electricians. “We service hundreds of accounts throughout New Jersey,” he says. “We’ll do anything from five calls a day to 20 and our field superintendents coordinate with the field electricians and customers. We do about $5 million a year in service projects alone.”

Leveraging a labor advantage

Operating in so many market sectors gives SAL Electric added flexibility when one sector isn’t moving. Philip says the company has also been able to gain a leg up when bidding against nonunion competitors by deploying some Construction Wireman/Construction Electrician (CW/CE) labor, when given the right project.

“New Jersey has prevailing wage laws that limit CW/CEs to certain criteria: the job has to be private and of a certain size, typically a smaller project in the retail sector,” he says. “We’ve also been able to put some CWs and CEs on jobs in the mixed-use residential market. It certainly makes us more competitive when bidding this type of work against nonunion companies, but cheaper labor isn’t the best labor.”

Another avenue that helps SAL Electric gain more work is through the company’s affiliation with Northern New Jersey NECA.  “Being a part of NECA means we’re actively participating in an organization that benefits the entire industry, and we’re also networking with general contractors,” explains Philip. “When national general contractors are looking for a union contractor in our area, they call Northern New Jersey NECA and they give out our name as one of the companies to call for bidding opportunities.”

Philip says SAL Electric has been a proud NECA member for more than 35 years. Philip believes in giving back to the industry that’s offered him so many opportunities over the years. “I’m presently the chairman of the board for the IBEW Local 164 Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee,” he says. “I’m also on the government affairs committee and the chairman of the education committee for Northern New Jersey NECA. And most recently, I was asked to serve on the National JATC workforce development committee.”

For the union stamp of excellence and superior electrical service, customers throughout New Jersey have called on SAL Electric Company Inc. to deliver for more than 46 years.

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Spring 2018



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