70 Years of Success
Anzelone Electric Company, LLC shines bright in southern New Jersey
Victor “Vic” Anzelone started Anzelone Electric Company, LLC as a sole proprietorship in 1950 when he was just 25 years old. Seventy years later, it has become his legacy to his family and his community.
By the time Vic started the business, he had already served in World War II, then returned to his home in southern New Jersey to finish his senior year of high school before going into the electrical trade.
Joining the Navy at age 16 (his mother had to sign papers stating he was 17) and starting his own business was just the beginning for this ambitious young man, says his son, Anthony “Tony” Anzelone, who is now President of the company.
Vic started the company in Wildwood Crest, New Jersey, and eventually expanded to a second office in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. But that wasn’t all. Vic was mayor of Wildwood Crest, and president of the school board before that. In the mid-1960s, he was recognized as the top young Republican by the national party.
His ambition, hard work and civic- mindedness are the foundation of the success Anzelone Electric Co. enjoys today.
Preparing the Next Generation
Tony Anzelone and his three older brothers learned about hard work growing up in their dad’s business. As other teenagers were off for summer adventures, Tony and his brothers spent summers working on their dad’s truck as helpers.
Tony dutifully worked those summers, but when it came time to graduate from high school, he knew he wanted to try his hand at something other than being an electrician. He followed in his dad’s footsteps by joining the Navy, and then went on to college and a highly successful career as a senior vice president of sales and marketing in a Fortune 500 company.
That was until he suddenly found himself out of work in the early 1990s.
“There was a term coined back then as ‘corporate downsizing,’ ” he says, “and I was the poster child.”
Tony gamely tried for the next six months to find work in his field, but there were no jobs to be found in New Jersey. By this time, he and his wife, Melissa, had three children and they weren’t too keen to move, so he decided to ask his father if he could join the family business.
“I really had no interest in being an electrician,” Tony admits. “I went from wearing expensive suits and sitting behind a desk to jeans and crawling in crawl spaces. It was not my mental makeup.”
But he plunged into his new role, learning everything he could with the goal of eventually taking over the company. After working side by side with his father for a couple of years, Tony went to school for another year to complete formal training so he could take the state board exams to become a licensed electrician.
After passing the boards in 1997, Tony suggested his dad could retire.
His father was reluctant, but Tony insisted, and his dad was able to enjoy 10 years of retirement before passing away in 2007 at the “young age of 78.”
In the following years, the business acumen Tony gained in the corporate world propelled the business forward—plus a lucky break when the local hospital called to ask if he could wire a new MRI machine.
In those early days after Tony had taken over the business, Anzelone Electric was relatively evenly split between residential and commercial work. Tony had his eye on developing the commercial portion of the business, and the opportunity with the hospital was the big break he needed to position Anzelone Electric as a commercial player.
“The medical community is where we developed a niche to grow the business and get name recognition,” Tony says, adding that wiring for MRI, CT scan and X-ray machines have very specific technical requirements. From that point on, they became the electrical contractor of record for the Cape Regional Medical Center and all its satellite offices, as well as gaining visibility throughout southern New Jersey as a commercial electrical contractor.
Continued Commercial Growth
Not long after Anzelone Electric broke into the medical field, the company began wiring new, out-of-the-ground construction for franchises. It started with a McDonald’s restaurant and grew to a handful of other fast-food chains and GNC stores. When word got around that Anzelone Electric was knowledgeable working with franchises, the phone didn’t stop ringing.
“Those calls started flooding in, and it actually got overwhelming,” Tony says.
Working with commercial clients in a variety of industries insulated the company from the fallout during the Great Recession. Tony says Anzelone Electric had banner years in 2008 through 2011.
“When the real estate market crashed it only affected residential,” he recalls. “It did not affect commercial one bit, and at that point we were 80 percent commercial and we flourished while most residential contractors were struggling, unfortunately.”
In 2016, Tony was approached by real estate developer Eustace Mita. Anzelone got its biggest job to date, wiring Mita’s ICONA Avalon resort for $1.4 million. Anzelone Electric has gone on to wire all five of the ICONA properties.
“At that point, it was our single-largest job at any one time, bar none,” Tony says.
While working on the Avalon job, Tony was contacted by the management of the Windrift Resort Hotel, directly across the street, asking if Anzelone could install a generator large enough to power the entire resort. This led to a $1 million contract.
“We were very fortunate, but very stretched, to take on $2.5 million worth of work in just two jobs,” Tony reflects. It meant rapidly ramping up to meet the demand.
“I had to quickly grow our staff,” he says. “We ended up hiring 12 new guys in 2016,” which nearly doubled the size of the company.
Things were still going strong in March 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic stopped commercial construction in its tracks. The governor of New Jersey ordered a halt to all commercial construction during April and May of last year.
“As soon as the governor opened things back up, it was like a floodgate. Every commercial business was screaming for help—right now, today,” Tony says. The company continues to stay on track for another successful year in 2021.
Anzelone Electric’s continued prosperity allows the company to not only keep its employees working (no layoffs were made due to COVID-19) but also to continue its good works in the community.
Just as much as Tony learned the skills of the trade from his father, he also learned about generosity of spirit.
With genuine emotion in his voice, Tony recalls the winter’s day when his father stopped his truck to come to the aid of a man without legs struggling in a wheelchair and without a coat. Vic pulled over and gave him his jacket.
Another time, a stranger stopped Tony at the gas station to tell him of a kindness his father had done for him decades before. “I just thought you should know what kind of man your dad was,” the stranger said.
In keeping with Vic’s generosity and civic-mindedness, Anzelone Electric has continued to do good works for those in the community. Tony has made it a priority to hire veterans whenever possible. This commitment was acknowledged in 2006 when the American Legion recognized Anzelone Electric for Outstanding Achievement in the Employment of Veterans for a small business.
Tony and Anzelone Electric have received other awards and commendations from the Cape May County community over the years. The “Middle Matters” award from the Middle Township recognized Tony’s ongoing efforts to help the community through his volunteer work and donations. Among those contributions, each Christmas, Tony and his employees donate their time to string Christmas lights for the town Christmas tree on Main Street, city hall, the town clock and the fire station.
“My guys all put Santa hats on,” Tony says. “We make it an enjoyable time.”
Continuing in his father’s footsteps, Tony has been highly involved in the community. He recently left his seats on the Cape May County School Board and Middle Township School Board, as well as retiring from his volunteer position at the local fire department where he rose to the rank of captain. He continues to serve on the planning board, which he’s done for the past 25 years. He is also a member of the New Jersey state board that oversees electrical contractors.
As Tony begins looking at his own retirement, he knows the company is in good hands with three of his four children, who have all decided to join the family business. His two boys, TJ (Tony Jr.) and Nick, are in the trade, and his daughter Jessica is the Office Manager. One daughter, Tori, is still in college and has indicated her interest in the family business.
Tony credits some of his success to his experience in the corporate world, which gave him knowledge about systems and processes to run the administrative portion of the business effectively.
“The way I fell into it, having the corporate career first, and then taking over my father’s business, gave me the ability to be good at both the business and the trade.”
Tony is confident he will leave day-to-day operations in good hands when that time comes, thanks in part to the legacy his father left. And that’s exactly as Vic Anzelone designed it.
Much of the work Anzelone Electric gets comes from being a name in the community for 70 years now, Tony says.
“We get jobs just because of the sheer size of our company. They know we can take it on. Plus, our reputation: 70 years of good, sound, quality workmanship.”