Chipper Fitz and Andy Forgione started in the electrical industry at virtually the same time. They quickly became best friends, both attending the state certified four-year apprenticeship program and working together for years on high-rise buildings, schools, medical facilities, and any commercial project they were assigned.
Andy and Chipper started Elite Electrical Contractors in September 2001 after working many years for big companies where they felt more like numbers than valued employees. They knew one day they would be hiring their own employees, whom they wanted to feel more like family with a sense of security and self-worth. They also wanted each one of their customers to feel like he or she was their only customer and strived to offer him or her a higher standard of quality craftsmanship, customer care and service than many were used to in the area.
Elite’s first office was set up in a small spare bedroom of Chipper’s home in Lehigh Acres. The two employees used the single car bay of his three-car garage as Elite’s warehouse. Elite’s first client was Faith Assembly Church of God in North Fort Myers. Andy and Chipper worked together on this job for about two years.
As the company grew, Chipper and Andy bought a second truck and each hired a new helper.
“We did what we told customers we were going to do,” says Chipper. “Customers got a sense of trust and a general feeling that they could count on us to do what we said we would do no matter what.”
In 2003, Elite worked out of a supplier’s warehouse, where the team would organize materials and equipment needed for each job on a table in its lobby and disperse crews from there. This worked out well for the next year. During this time, Elite grew to 13 trucks with about 30 employees.
The company soon outgrew the lobby as its home base. The owners found a small office warehouse on Metro Parkway in Fort Myers just a few blocks from the supplier that helped Elite on its road to success. At this point, Elite had 125 employees managing upward of $15 million in sales out of its 2,500-square-foot facility over the next three years. Once again, Elite outgrew the space.
In 2007, the team at Elite Electrical moved to a newly remodeled 10,777-square-foot building on Unity Avenue in Fort Myers, where they would stay for the next 10 years.
Elite currently has more than 160 employees with 60 trucks servicing Southwest Florida and has expanded to offering HVAC services under Elite Electrical Services, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration, which works in tandem with Elite Electrical Contractors LLC.
With the addition of this new company, Elite Electrical Contractors has outgrown its current space and is expecting to move into a new 27,000-square-foot facility in early August.
Despite being a large company, Elite Electrical has always treated its employees like family.
“I came from working at a big company where I was a number and nobody was ever recognized by the owner,” says Chipper. “We’ve always said we were going to do things different, and that is what we have done. That makes a big difference in employee morale and loyalty. I feel good coming to work. I know everybody by their first names, their wives and kids. It makes a world of a difference.”