About Granite City Electric Supply
Granite City Electric Supply is the area's premiere electrical distributor serving electrical contractors as well as residential, commercial and industrial customers for 100 years. With branches covering Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and New York, we are the largest regional independent electrical supply company and the official distributor of electrical supplies to the Boston Red Sox.
Granite City Electric has flourished in the age of superstores and national chains by establishing strong relationships with our customers, and constantly listening to what they have to say. Granite City Electric is proud of its 100 years of heritage and the employees which have made its growth possible. Our written commitment and Core Values of RESPECT, INTEGRITY, ACCOUNTABILITY, and PRIDE are not just words; they are the principles that guide our actions. There is constant and on-going employee training for, not only products and sales, but the company's core values and how they affect all business actions and decisions.
The History of Granite City Electric
The history of Granite City Electric Supply Company is a true American success story. The company's founder, Nicholas V. Papani was born in 1896 in a small town on the shores of the Adriatic Sea in southern Italy. When Nick was 16 years old, he came to America not to find gold, but hopefully to find enough to eat. Like many immigrants in the early 1900's, he came through Ellis Island. He was alone, penniless and uneducated.
After a series of odd jobs, he joined the United States Army. He was a self taught musician, and was accepted to play clarinet in the Army Band during World War I. When he left the Army in 1919, he was granted a small amount of money, but more important to him, his American citizenship because of service to his adopted land. He headed to Boston's Franklin Institute and received his journeyman's and later his master electrician's license, and began wiring homes on the south shore of Boston.
"Almost immediately I realized the great need and opportunity for a local electrical supply house in the Quincy area, with the entire South Shore as its potential market," Nick Papani reminisced on the company's 25th Anniversary.
And so The Granite City Electric Supply Company, doing business as wholesalers of electrical equipment, was founded in 1923.
Nick Papani was a man of great humility, enormous integrity and deep compassion. He cared about people first. He demanded a sense of excellence and, somehow, the people around him rose to the challenges. He always said he was just a "little guy" and so he identified with those who were struggling. He understood the needs of electrical contractors and did everything he could to help them succeed. The company grew slowly and steadily and expanded its reach to Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard operating from its only location in Quincy.
In 1969, Nicholas Papani, as part of his succession plan, divested himself of the company stock and his daughter Phyllis Papani Godwin became the principal owner. As Chairman and CEO, she began a geographic expansion beginning with branches in South Yarmouth (1973), Martha's Vineyard (1983) and Plymouth (1988).
Nicholas Papani watched with pride the company's gradual expansion into southeastern Massachusetts. His failing lungs stopped functioning late in November 1984, and with them, his heart. His legacy of honesty, justice and compassion has been ingrained in the culture of the company.
In 1999 Steven Helle, with many years of experience in the electrical industry, joined the company and was named President and COO. Under Steve's leadership, the company has continued its expansion into 5 New England states and New York, serving thousands of electrical contractors, commercial and industrial customers, institutions and the general public from 30 locations and 3 distribution centers. Part of the more recent growth has been through new branches, but also through the acquisitions of JG Temple, with locations in Vermont and New Hampshire, C&I Electric (Lowell, MA), Electric Supply and Repair, Inc. (Pittsfield, MA), The Whelan Co. (Hartford, CT) Columbia Electric Supply (Brockton, Taunton and Fall River, MA) , Major Electric (Pawtucket RI, Norwich and Groton, CT) and Baynes Electrical Supply (Wareham, Nantucket, Marthas Vineyard).
In 2004 the company entered into a long term partnership with the Boston Red Sox, and today Granite City Electric is the official distributor of electrical supplies and lighting to the Red Sox and Fenway Park. "This has been a fun, energizing relationship and we are delighted to be associated with an organization as rich in history and tradition as the Boston Red Sox," said Phyllis Papani Godwin.
Granite City Electric is proud of its heritage and the employees which have made its growth possible. We are continuing to move forward into our future with a focus on developing stronger relationships with our loyal customers!
Part 1 The Past
Part 2 The Present
Part 3 The Future
In this 4 part series, Phyllis Papani Godwin, at the age of 96, shares her insights on how she took over the business from her father and led the successful growth of Granite City Electric Supply, as a women business owner in a predominantly male run industry.