Publisher’s Note: Every December, LaborPress selects those in labor and business that have demonstrated outstanding leadership in their trade and profession. This years’ recipients of the prestigious LaborPress Leadership Award are as follows: Mark Cannizzaro, president, Council of School Supervisors and Administrators [CSA]; James Slevin, national president, Utility Workers Union of America [UWUA]; Nicholas LaMorte, president, Civil Service Employees Association, Long Island Region [CSEA]; Mark Gregorio, president, TEI Group; and Matthew Chartrand, business manager/financial secretary-treasurer, Ironworkers Local 361.
Mark Gregorio is president, managing partner of TEI Group, which provides elevator and escalator services. He is truly an American success story, work- ing his way up and eventually, bringing many along with him. The son of immigrant parents, he was born in 1964. His parents divorced and his mother had a very low income, but by the age of 14, Gregorio was working, doing odd jobs such as working at the local hardware store, to help out. Even earlier than that, he had decided he wanted to be an electrician, and bought Radio Shack kits, eventually repairing small appliances to further contribute to the household budget.
He attended William E. Grady Technical High School, where he was in the Vocational Technical Program, and got technical and practical training in such subjects as burglar alarms, residential home wiring, industrial motors and transformers and solid state circuitry. From there, in 1981, he was recruited to work for the city of New York, for the New York City Transit Authority as a maintainer in power houses, or substations. His family thought this was “the greatest job ever” according to Gregorio, but he went to the College of Staten Island to get an Electrical Engineering Technology degree at nights. He didn’t see much opportunity at the NYCTA, so when a cousin who was working in the elevator industry told him about it, he went to Millar Elevator Inc., in 1986, where he was hired he says, modestly, “because the general manager had gone to the same high school [as he].”
His early experiences growing up with “lots of responsibility” at a young age, as well as his schooling stood him in good stead and he rose quickly in the ranks at Millar. He started as an apprentice and within one year became a mechanic, then a year later, a foreman, one of the youngest ever at the company. By 1994, he quit to go to a small company with the potential to become a partner – what was ultimately the TEI Group. In 1999, he became President. With only fourteen members when he joined the company, it now has 330.
In his journey at TEI, he “took on good people as partners,” he says. “All the partners have elevator repairing experience, as do the supervisors and management team.” He’s also been at the helm for many improvements and challenges. “We implemented training programs, including educational programs, safety programs, and as the company grew, allocated a certain amount of pro t to applicable college degrees, such as electrical engineering. We invested in technology, and formed strategic alliances with suppliers.”
Gregorio has an extra eye on worker safety. This year, there is an elevator safety bill before Governor Cuomo that he says, “has finally passed through both houses in Albany. It would require all technicians to have a state-issued safety license, minimum education standards, proper demonstration of practical experience, and [there] would be a board of industry-trained professionals overseeing the licensing commission.” “New York is one of the few states that doesn’t already require this,” he adds, “there are too many special interests that lobby against it because of costs. I would suggest that that everyone out there write to the governor right now to [urge him] to sign this bill. He has said that if it passed in Albany, he would sign it.”
TEI also contributes to many charities, to the point where, says Gregorio, “this year we are achieving the Distinguished Service Award from the Diabetes Institute for all the money we have raised.”
TEI is “a family business,” he says. “We have lots of fathers and sons and fathers and daughters,” he says. “My son and daughter work here.” – LP