The New Wave of Electrical Contractors
Driven by passion, professionalism, and steadfast commitment to its customers, Live Wire has grown from a two-man operation to one of the finest electrical contractors in New York City, serving all five boroughs – Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island. The company today employs a staff of 100 +, with growth plans for the near future.
Sammy Lazoja and Co-founder Lee Lula were in their early twenties and full of ambition when they came up with Live Wire in 2008, one of the worst years in the global economy. The two believed that working in a trade would help them and their families.
“We really didn’t see an option at that time and figured going into a trade would be a most beneficial thing, so we got into working for licensed electricians and learned the ropes quickly,” says Lazoja, a partner in the company. “Where somebody had three years’ experience, we had six years’ experience, because we doubled-up everything, and worked every day after work and compounded, eventually opening our own business.”
The pair started with a van and made the company a full-fledged operation with employees in 2010, hiring and training others.
Lazoja and Lula has held almost every position possible as the duo worked as helpers, mechanics, foremen, estimators, delivery drivers, and project managers, which expanded their knowledge of the electrical industry. Lazoja says, “I have literally done every single position in my own business and tell my personnel, ‘My job now is to constantly replace you, so if I’m constantly replacing you, you are growing as individuals in this company, and we are bringing on better and better people,’” he says.
Privately-owned Live Wire is certified in and focuses on quality-endorsed electrical contracting companies in New York, with dedicated, professional, licensed electricians operating under the NYC NEC electrical code. It has headquarters of about 6,500 square feet of combined warehouse and office space in the Staten Island headquarters and field office located in mid-town NYC, with plans to enter the New Jersey market within the next couple of years.
Live Wire handles everything from projects of about $200,000 to large-scale works of three to four million dollars, with projects usually ranging in duration from three to six months. “We are at a position where I believe we are too big to be small and too small to be big, so we really need to pick and choose our projects, and we are hitting home runs with it every time.”
Rather than commit to just a handful of projects, the company is active on about eighteen sites every single day. In this way, the business is diversified with more sources of revenue and is much less vulnerable to changes in the market.
Live Wire is known for its outstanding quality and tackles interior commercial, ultra-high-end retail projects for some of the best-known retailers. Its portfolio reads like a who’s who of the business world, with clients in fashion, swimwear, food and beverage, and confectionery sectors. It even does work for museums and a number of Ivy League universities.
“We have a couple of different niches that we are really good at,” says Lazoja. The business is seeing more work recently in the healthcare field, becoming known as an electrical contractor with a ‘get it done’ attitude and attention to detail.
Live Wire realizes electrical issues can happen any day, and at any time. To ensure customers are not left in the dark, the company operates an emergency service that is available any time it is needed. Its professional, prompt, highly-experienced staff also provides free consultations to determine electrical needs, ensure that systems are safe, and provide recommendations on any necessary upgrades and energy-saving items.
For commercial customers, Live Wire will review different ways of addressing projects, including potential cost-savings to be had through various designs. The company’s specialists will also examine different angles for institutional clients, including checking the existing electrical system, finding where preventative maintenance is needed and areas where costs can be saved or environmental impact reduced.
‘Project before profits’ is Live Wire’s motto. “And that’s the truth with every job we do,” he says “We want to make sure we are giving it all that we can, using the best equipment possible, the most talented employees possible, and making sure it is coming out perfect, clean, and professional, and we put that before profits. Doing it that way might be more expensive, but it’s a better way of doing it. And company-wide, everybody knows that.”
Live Wire is proud of doing things a little bit differently, including giving employees more responsibility than traditional electrical contractors so that its people can discover their own potential. Lazoja is fond of the line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet: ‘We know what we are, but know not what we may be,’ which ties into the company’s culture.
It is an exciting time for Live Wire, which is growing at a strong annual rate. Lazoja adds new employees to the company including apprentices and helpers with every level of experience.
“For us, safety is one of our key elements,” he says. “It’s not something that we have to practice to have to preach; it’s a habit within our organization. Safety needs to be a habit because if our employees are working safer, they are working smarter, and if they are working safer and smarter, they are more productive. We have a really good culture where our technicians are happy to come to work every day. They are practicing safety, and that is part of our success.”
Lazoja and Lula – who came from the same working-class neighborhood – are big believers in sharing that success with charities like the American Cancer Society, local hospitals, Angels in Africa, and the Red Cross.
“I think if you are fortunate enough to have the ability to go to work every day and do something that you love and make some money as well, you want to get back,” he says.
The duo look forward to the next thirty years in the electrical contractor business – providing for their families and their dedicated employees – and feel fortunate to be in an industry they love.
The goal is to enter other markets across America. He wants to see Live Wire become a national company providing the best service and work possible to all its customers. “Both Lee and I have that hunger and want to make our families proud and do something to better ourselves and better our families,” he says. “Luckily, we’ve been able to do that thus far and provide a good living for our people, and it’s something we are proud of, and that’s what keeps us going. It’s not anything more than making sure we’re doing the best we can and providing for the families we are responsible for and keep growing.”