In recognition of lifetime leadership and success, The LVB Hall of Fame honor is intended for individuals who have demonstrated the highest commitment to strengthening their industries, supporting their employees and giving back to their communities
As president of Albarell Electric Inc. based in Bethlehem, Mike Albarell may sit at the helm of the business his father started on the South Side of Bethlehem in 1937, but according to the 74-year-old, he earned his position the old fashioned way — by starting at the bottom. “I often say my first role at the company was a ‘gofer,’ because I was always being told to go for this and go for that,” Albarell said.
“Thanks to that experience, I gained excellent exposure to the business as a teenager, which gave me the foundation for a successful future with the company.”
Passionate about the military, however, Albarell decided to join the Army before entering the family business. He attended the Pennsylvania Military College where he earned a degree in economics in 1964 and from there spent an 18-month tour in North Korea as a 1st Lieutenant. During the two years he spent in the service, Albarell said, he learned valuable leadership and management skills that he still uses today.
“I wasn’t someone who had been around the world, and I credit the Army for giving me the training to work with people of all educational levels and backgrounds,” Albarell said. “I learned how to motivate and lead a group of people to accomplish a goal.”
In 1966, Albarell decided to return home to help his father with the business. Starting at the bottom, he began working in the warehouse where he learned he had a real knack for fixing things.
“In each area of the business that I worked, my goal was to try and make things better than how I found it,” Albarell said. “So I’d find something to fix and move on to the next thing, and that’s how I worked my way up.”
Throughout his career with the company, Albarell has also been dedicated to upholding the four principles in which his father built the business: integrity, respect, value and excellence. In addition he continues to practice his father’s number one priority, which is complete customer satisfaction. As a result, Albarell Electric has grown and evolved into one of the leading, innovative and state-of-the-art electrical contractors in the area.
“The best career advice I ever received was to ‘be yourself and know your strengths and weaknesses,’ ” Albarell said. “Going along with that, my father always told me to surround myself with smart people.”
One of Albarell’s biggest goals when he joined the company was to focus on creating a place where employees would want to stay for a very long time. Since then the Albarell team has grown from approximately 50 employees to about 170, many of whom have spent their entire careers at the company.
“I believe in giving employees a platform to ask questions, keeping an open door, and creating an environment where they enjoy working,” Albarell said.
When it comes to creating a great place to work, Albarell advocates giving back and supporting the communities in which its employees and customers live.
Over the years, he has encouraged the company’s regular involvement in sponsoring events and hosting fundraisers for charitable causes. Albarell also sits on numerous boards, ranging from ArtsQuest Foundation to Lehigh Valley Industrial Park. He’s also a member of the Rotary Club of Bethlehem, the Vocational Industrial Club of America, the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation.
Although Albarell plans to soon turn over the company’s reign to new leadership, he doesn’t see himself retiring. Instead, he hopes to switch gears and focus more on his involvement with nonprofits. A cause near and dear to his heart that he’s looking forward to spending more time on is rejuvenating Notre Dame High School, which he attended his junior and senior years. He hopes to increase alumni support in order to give other kids the same experience he had.
“I always say it was divine intervention that gave me the chance to spend my last two years of high school at Notre Dame,” Albarell said. “It gave me the religious foundation that I’ve leaned on my entire life.”
Reprinted from LVB: http://www.lvb.com/section/digital-edition