By Bob Highfill
Longevity in business takes knowledge, skill and good fortune.
But most of all, it takes hard work.
Collins Electrical Company recently celebrated its 90th anniversary with a gala at the corporate office in Stockton. The occasion not only marked a milestone for the family-owned operation, but chief Executive officer and President Gene Gini, celebrated his 80th birthday and his mother, Mary, celebrated her 103rd birthday.
“The business has always been about hard work,” said Brian Gini, Vice President and Branch Manager of the company’s offices in Stockton and Modesto. “We can never forget that we need a lot of muscle and intestinal fortitude from our people in the field and it’s not easy.”
Since 1928, Collins Electrical has serviced construction projects large and small, focusing on non-residential properties. The company’s portfolio includes University of the Pacific’s John T. Chambers Building, a 24,000-square-foot on-campus facility with a state-of-the-art CNC lab, Digital Learning Lab, faculty offices, emergency backup system and 16 kilowatt-DC solar photo voltaic system. The project was completed with minimal carbon footprint and earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold Certification.
Collins Electrical also worked on the San Joaquin Delta College Gateway Student Services Building, now called the Lawrence and Alma DeRicco Student Services Building, where all non-instructional student services are consolidated in one location; the Cordova High School Performing Arts Building, a 31,000-square-foot new performing arts theater and classroom facility; the California State University, Chico Taylor Hall structure that includes arts labs, a recital hall, recording studio, lecture halls and faculty offices; and the San Joaquin County Rapid Transit’s new bus maintenance, operation building and fueling yard.
It takes many talented and hard-working people to secure contracts and see projects through to fruition. Gini said his company is built on that.
“I attribute our longevity to being fortunate and very blessed,” he said. “We have continued to develop our staff. We’ve been able to challenge ourselves and our staff to grow and stay relevant in a competitive market. And I want to say that a lot of our people are up for the challenge of innovation and technology and how it’s driving our industry.”
More than half of Collins Electrical employees are Hispanic, a fact not lost on Gini and his family, who are from Stockton and have owned and operated the company for many years.
“The Latino culture is so large and vast and into a lot of businesses in our community,” Gini said. “I would say more than half of our employees are Hispanic and they are hard-working men and women. I just want to make sure they have representation of how proud we are with what they do for our company.”
Collins Electrical Company was founded by Willard Collins and then was run by the Sanguinetti family. The company navigated economic highs and lows and adapted to changes in technology through innovation. What always has remained steady is the company’s commitment to customer service and quality work.
To reflect the changing tide of the business, Gini said in the 1950s and 1960s, Collins Electrical employed some 1,200 electricians. Today, the company has about 400 electricians, though the volume and scope of the business has increased.
“It was a much different company back then,” Gini said. “In the 50s and 60s, our work was much more laborious than it is now. There are new tools, new techniques, new ways of building buildings. Today, we have about 400 electricians and we’re probably doing the same volume. But things change over time with technology and tooling and so forth.”
Brian Gini is the middle son of three boys born to Gene, the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer, and Dianne Gini, who serves as Senior Vice President. Brian’s older brother, Kevin, is Vice President and Branch Manager in West Sacramento, and Brian’s younger brother, Craig, is Vice President and Renewables General Manager in West Sacramento.
Collins Electrical prides itself on its employees and community involvement. The company helps support several worthy causes, including apprenticeship programs, Mary Graham Hall, local hospitals and St. Mary’s Dining Room. Brian Gini said the company allows employees a paid day off to contribute to community projects.
Put it all together and you have a family-owned company that has thrived in a competitive business for 90 years.
“We are the first ones on the job and the last ones to leave the job as an electrical contractor,” Brian Gini said. “That is something we keep in the forefront of our minds at all times.”
By Bob Highfill