In just over two decades, Gold Medal Service in East Brunswick, New Jersey, has grown from a two-man electrical company to a multifaceted residential service provider employing 165 individuals. In 2014, the company cleared $22.37 million in sales — a number that is projected to increase exponentially over the next several years.
But, Gold Medal’s success is not the result of dumb luck, according to the nearly dozen Gold Medal employees who nominated their company for The NEWS’ 2015 Best Contractor to Work For Award. They say the company’s founders and co-owners, Mike Agugliaro and Rob Zadotti, have created a company culture that promotes employee growth, quality work, and customer satisfaction.
“We’re part of something very positive all the time — there’s never negativity here,” said Joe Todaro, Gold Medal’s director of operations. “We’re very service-oriented. How did you serve the customer today? is something we ask all the time.”
A GROWING BUSINESS
In 1994, a young Agugliaro and Zadotti worked together as electrical technicians at the same company.
“[Zadotti] moved on, but I was still there, and he turned around and put pressure on me to do my own thing. I said, ‘You know what, I don’t think that sounds good; why don’t you just quit your job’ — and he had a really great job — ‘and we’ll do it together?’ He was getting ready to get married at the time, and he thought about it and said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’”
The pair founded the business as an electrical contractor only. But, after 10 years, Agugliaro said they needed to make a change.
“We were pretty much burnt out. We couldn’t figure it out. Finally, Rob came to me and said, ‘I’m done, I can’t do it any more,’ and I said, ‘Then I’m done, too.’ Then, he said, ‘Let’s figure it out — let’s figure out how the biggest companies got big.’ We started researching and looking for information, and we started to figure it out.
Gold Medal Services soon added HVAC and plumbing services to its repertoire of services and began building its successful company culture.
“We’re going to end up making around $28 million in 2015,” said Agugliaro.
Todaro, who has been with the company for 12 years, said he has watched it grow from 25 employees then to 165 today, including 95 technicians and installers. “When I came in, that’s when they decided to really take it on and merge the trades,” he said. “We were one of the first companies out there that did electric, plumbing, and HVAC together.”
A master plumber by trade, Todaro started out in a truck and then moved onto a sales position as a comfort advisor. He continued to climb the ladder at Gold Medal and was eventually named director of operations. The opportunity for employees to learn and move up, he said, is part of what has helped the company grow so quickly over the years.
“I do a lot of the hiring, and I let them know you can make it to the top here,” he said. “I’m living proof.”
CORE VALUES AND COMPANY CULTURE
While there are ample opportunities for ambitious employees to rise through the ranks at Gold Medal, there are also many other perks to being an employee there. The company offers medical insurance, life insurance, 401(k) with 20 cents matching on each dollar up to 6 percent, a boot and tool allowance, paid holidays, personal days, vacation up to three weeks, birthdays off, free training, and more. These perks — and more — help boost employee satisfaction and morale, Agugliaro said, which directly translates to improved customer service.
“Our core values are key,” he said. “No. 1 is safety first. In this industry and the trades, safety is very important. No. 2 is delivering ‘wow’ through service. It’s just not giving OK service — it’s about delivering wow-level service. No. 3 is having the highest level of integrity. You want to work with people you can trust and respect. The fourth and last one is the biggest one, and it’s that Gold Medal is a great place to work. It’s all for one and one for all. When you come to our company, it’s clear what our core values are — we eat, live, and breathe them.”
Agugliaro said he has learned that building a good company culture takes a concerted, conscious effort.
“It’s built by design or by default,” he explained. “Most have built their culture by default, but ours was built by design. We tell people how we like to behave, and we instill it all the time. Anything you put focus and attention on grows — good or bad. We’ve learned, when we put attention on something really good, it will grow.”
Paul Miller, an electrician and plumber with Gold Medal, said the employees expect Agugliaro to lead by example, and he does not disappoint. “He’s the leader of the pack — he’s a great guy, and he’ll help you out if you need it,” Miller said. “He always wants to help and show you the right path.”
That path to success includes continuous training, which is something in which Gold Medal invests significant time and money.
“The training is very good. There’s continuing training and education. And, every week or every other week, we’ll have a group meeting where we’ll share experiences and things we’ve learned, and we all learn from each other,” Miller said. “I love what I do. They give me the opportunity to do it at a high level and to also learn more. You always learn as a technician, and their programs absolutely help you grow. I really love that part.”
“We do a combination of office and field training with the mentors, so they’ll be able to ride along with field supervisors, and they’ll watch and learn,” Todaro added. “Then, we have office training. We have different certification training that’s industry-led. Our vendors work with us, too. Our different supply chains and manufacturers will give us their staff for training. They will either come to the shop and do live classes here, or we’ll send our employees to their facilities. We also do a lot of webinars.”
Gold Medal’s leadership also encourages its employees to take pride and ownership in their work.
“I feel like they let me treat it like it’s my own, like I own it, and I act that way,” Todaro said. “I enjoy it. I don’t have a problem coming in every day. There’s always a challenge. They’ve always helped foster my leadership skills and helped me get better. They challenge me. I always know where I’m at with them and where I’m going. And, the atmosphere is great.”
The end result of Gold Medal’s continuous investment in its employees is a company culture that resembles a family much more than a business.
“When I first came to my interview, really, the greeting they gave me was extremely nice,” said Miller, who was hired six years ago. “It’s like they’re welcoming you into their family. It was a warm welcome — not like any other company I’ve ever worked for. That drew me in, as did the support offered. And, working here, they actually deliver the support. They really want me to stay.”
“I always say that our people, the people I hire and manage, are the people you want in your home,” Todaro said. “I don’t want anyone working here whom I wouldn’t want in my own mother’s house.”
Due to Gold Medal’s commitment to employee and customer satisfaction, the company is set to continue its rapid growth into 2016 and beyond.
“We’re growing by at least an extra $4 million this year, and our vision is to be a $40 million company by 2020,” Agugliaro said. “We’re on track to exceed that and could reach that goal as early as 2017. And, as the company grows, our employees are eligible for more benefits and we can support more charities.”
Supporting area charities is a large part of Gold Medal’s company culture, Agugliaro added. In recent months, the company has donated more than $17,000 to the Wounded Warrior Project, nearly $9,000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and more than $6,000 to Cookies for a Cure. Additionally, Gold Medal has collected food for an area food bank and hosted a community hat and jacket drive.
“What makes our culture amazing is that we designed it to be a culture of caring and changing the world,” Agugliaro said. “We try to change the world every day, because it’s more than just us.”
On a more personal note, Agugliaro said he hopes to spend more time traveling with his wife of 25 years and their two teenage children. He also hopes to purchase a piece of land in Pennsylvania, but he doesn’t just plan to use the land solely for his own purposes — he hopes to also someday use the property as a retreat for his CEOWarrior business coaching.
“We work with 54 companies now, coaching them how to create amazing cultures and grow a responsible business that can give back to the community. So, we’ll keep growing that program and help business owners keep crushing their limiting beliefs.”
In the end, Gold Medal’s success is a direct result of the company’s tireless commitment to its employees, which is the result of a conscious effort from company leadership to create an outstanding company culture.
“The No. 1 secret is your mindset,” Agugliaro said. “Whatever you believe is possible will end up being true, and if you believe there’s a way to get it done, you will find a way.”
Tale of the Tape: Gold Medal Service
CONTRACTOR: Gold Medal Plumbing Heating Cooling Electric Inc. (Gold Medal Service)
OWNERS: Michael Agugliaro and Robert Zadotti
LOCATION: East Brunswick, New Jersey
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 21
BULK OF MARKET: Residential
TOTAL SALES FOR 2014: $22.37 million
TOTAL EMPLOYEES: 165
TOTAL SERVICE TECHNICIANS AND INSTALLERS: Roughly 95
AVERAGE HOURS EMPLOYEES SPEND IN TRAINING: Three hours a week
BENEFITS BEYOND MEDICAL/DENTAL INSURANCE: Vision insurance, life insurance, flexible spending accounts, retail merchant discount portal, vehicle purchase corporate fleet money, paid birthday, 401(k) with 20 cents matching on each dollar up to 6 percent, boot allowance, tool allowance, vacations up to three weeks, up to three personal or sick days, and six paid holidays.
INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION & CONTRACTOR GROUP MEMBERS: North American Technician Excellence (NATE), Better Business Bureau (BBB), and ACCA.
THE NEWS SELECTED THIS CONTRACTOR BECAUSE: Gold Medal’s commitment to training and employee health and satisfaction, as well as its commitment to its customers, has earned it the 2015 Best Contractor to Work For Award for the East region.
Publication date: 1/25/2016