After serving in the Vietnam War, Bob Ponzani returned to Youngstown looking for a career. He found it following in the footsteps of his father and uncle.
“They taught me the [electrical] trade when I came out of the service to earn extra money while working at U.S. Steel,” he said. “And I just stayed with it ever since.”
Working for his family’s small electrical contractor business, Ponzani learned the little things that helped set him up for a successful career.
“If there was a staple or wire net on the floor, my dad would make me pick it up. They were very neat in what they did, and very particular in how they did something. That carried over with me.”
There was also one specific lesson his father and uncle taught him.
“Do not be ashamed to show your work to anybody,” he said. “When I cut in a panel, I take a lot of pride in it.”
In 1979, Ponzani moved to Florida and became a residential electrician apprentice. Once he topped out, he worked on residential projects for 16 years.
“I look at it as I bring a house to life,” he said. “When you turn on a switch, and the lights across the room turn on, that’s bringing the house to life.”
Ponzani returned to the area in 1993. For the last 18 years, he’s worked at Gulu Electric as a residential journeyman electrician.
“Gary and Kathi truly care about us,” Ponzani said. “It’s a family-oriented business and everyone gets along here. From our tools to the trucks and uniforms, it’s a first-class operation.”
Throughout his 40 years in the trade, Ponzani has learned many valuable lessons – especially the importance of being reliable.
“Most important thing to me is I had a boss tell me I was reliable. He knew I’d be at work every day. He knew I was a dedicated employee, was honest and trustworthy. And that’s what I try to instill in young kids today.”
In his free time, Ponzani enjoys playing golf at local courses and date night with his wife.
“When you’re out on the golf course, you forget all your problems. It’s a beautiful place to be.”
For those interested in joining the electrical trade, Ponzani encourages them to follow their passion.
“It’s a great way to make a living,” he said. “If you can adapt yourself to codes, you can go anywhere in the United States to work.”