The History of Granite City Electric

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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 1922.

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.

(Pictured is Granite City Electric's first delivery truck.)

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, serving thousands of electrical contractors, commercial and industrial customers, institutions and the general public from 28 locations and 2 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) and Major Electric (Pawtucket RI, Norwich and Groton, CT).

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!


Press Room Archives:

Shattering the Glass Ceiling: Granite City Electric executive personifies courage, discipline. - 2006

100 Faces for 100 years - A tribute to the individual contributions that continue to change electrical distribution - 2008

Granite City Electric Announces Field of Dreams Winner IV - Town of Bridgewater, MA receives $100,000 Sports Lighting Package - 2008

Granite City Electric Supply helps Local Charity "Keep the Faith" - Granite City Electric Supply Co. Inc. raises over $16,000 for the “BeLikeBrit” Foundation. - 2011

Granite City Electric Supply Purchases Major Electric  -   Granite City Electric Supply Concludes Selective Asset Purchase of Major Electric - 2012

Granite City Electric Supply Announces Launch of Newly Re-designed website - Granite City Electric Supply has gone digital with - 2014

Granite City Electric Lands Top Spot Amongst IMARK's Largest Members - Awarded "Excellence in Sales and Marketing" for 2014 in AAA Category. - 2014

Phyllis Godwin named Jack Conway Country Citizen of 2014 - Chosen for her 46 years of business leadership and philanthropy in the South Shore community. - 2015

CEO Phyllis Godwin honored by Harvard Business School for Making a Difference - Harvard Business School honors and shares Phyllis Papani Godwin's story of making a difference - 2015

Granite City Electric Donates First Pitch to Friendship Home - “J.J.” of Friendship Home throws Red Sox ceremonial first pitch on Granite City’s behalf