LOWELLVILLE, Ohio – Enertech Electrical Inc. is known for its work at school buildings in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The Lowellville-based contractor has also been schooling its industry on how to help a company grow.
The list of new schools for which Enertech provided the electrical infrastructure is a long one. The sites are across Ohio, as well as Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and include buildings in Youngstown, Warren, Columbiana, Lowellville and Hermitage, Pa.
“You’d be hard-pressed to put your finger anywhere on a map and not find a school that we didn’t work on,” says Dominic Donofrio, business development director for the company.
Enertech is currently working on almost a dozen school projects, from new construction to renovation, including buildings in Hudson, Wintersville, Medina and Geneva.
“The majority of our projects in public works are schools, and we’ve been the contractor [on new construction] or did renovation on more than 50 schools since 2007,” Donofrio says.
But schools aren’t Enertech’s only market niche. The company – which received the Unsung Hero Award from The Business Journal – has done its share of water treatment plants and Veterans Administration hospitals, as well as other commercial and industrial structures.
Though nestled on a quiet street in Lowellville, Enertech’s corporate headquarters buzz with activity. In a recent interview there, Donofrio discussed the company’s trajectory.
“After the last recession ended, we decided that we have to be able to grow and become the undisputed best,” he says. “We do it by providing the best service and the highest quality product. Everything we do every day revolves around how we can get better at serving our customers.”
In 2014, Enertech mounted an effort to diversify its market and increase its footprint. It worked so well that the company opened a second office in Columbus in 2019.
Enertech employs 50 over both locations and has a fleet of dozens of trucks. It will gross $10 million to $12 million this year, and Donofrio sees that number doubling in 10 years.
The company was founded in 1981; but its roots begin in 1960. That’s when Ralph Conti – Donofrio’s grandfather – started Conti Corp. in Lowellville, a plumbing and mechanical contractor.
Conti launched Enertech to complement his first company.
“It made sense for my grandfather to control the subtrades because at that time we were doing a lot of heavy contracting,” Donofrio says.
Today, his father, John Donofrio Jr., is the president of Enertech and the vice president of the Conti Corp.
John A. Wilaj is the vice president of Enertech and president of the Conti Corp.
Dominic is part of the third generation working at the family-oriented company. It’s a mindset that extends to its customers.
“When we take you on as a customer, we are teammates,” he says. “By no means are we the cheapest game in town. But we are by far the best and we‘ll take care of you. When customers join with us we’re in it for the long haul. They take us wherever they expand.”
Donofrio says Enertech gets many referrals from its customers.
Typical bids start at $500,000 and range well into the millions. Its largest project was an $8 million contract as part of the construction of Wadsworth High School.
Enertech has remained busy in this year of COVID-19. “We are swamped right now,” Donofrio says.
But during a brief downturn at the start of the pandemic, it did what it could to keep its employees working, even before it applied for a PPP loan.
“Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Lowellville is our home parish and it closed due to COVID,” Donofrio says. “So we took $10,000 out of our cash on hand, plus materials, and did renovations there. It was some electrical work, but also ceiling tile, painting, carpentry… anything to keep them working. In addition to helping the church, which needed work in its chapel, basement and bathrooms, we kept five men working.”
At the peak of the pandemic in April, Mahoning County made plans to convert Covelli Centre into a makeshift hospital. Enertech got the call to provide the electrical work, although the project was never started because the virus infection rate eased.
The company’s service division also lent a hand in helping restaurants get up and running after the mandated closures were lifted.
“We offered discount rates on service, which was more or less our profit, and we extended terms from 30 to 60 days to help customers get back on their feet,” Donofrio says. “We also gave free consultation and estimates, because when restaurants were restarting, they weren’t sure what they needed.”
Some restaurants found it harder to reopen than others.
“After the shutdown, it was hard to turn their equipment back on because it would break,” Donofrio says. “We had a restaurant in Dayton where their freezers blew up.”
Donofrio expects all industry to bounce back strong after the pandemic subsides and says Enertech is taking steps to maintain quality and expand with it.
“We are growing our own people,” he says. “We have continuing education classes. When our electricians get out of trade schools, they still have to go through our program; because a standard electrician isn’t good enough for Enertech.”
Donofrio says Enertech has the next 10 years mapped out, and not just in terms of project bids.
“We’re looking at where we want to be, and opening new offices,” he says. “And we’ll need managers, electricians, support staff, estimators.”
Pictured: Enertech Electrical Inc. officials Mark Stanovcak, construction director, and Dominic Donofrio, business development director, stand near one of the company vehicles at the Lowellville headquarters.