Headquartered in Saint Louis, MO, St. Louis Metro Electric Supply, Inc., a wholesale distributor of electrical supplies and operator of several retail lighting stores, has been providing wholesale electrical and retail lighting solutions since 1967.
Founded by George Connelly and his wife, Nora, Saint Louis Electric Supply, as it was originally named, was a “hot shot” electrical supply delivery business that was ran out of their garage and basement.
With the company’s philosophy centered on providing exceptional customer service, George would personally deliver supplies with his own truck to electricians at their job sites. George and Nora successfully ran the business for 20 years.
A non-family member succession occurred when John Frisella, Sr., an electrical contractor, his son, Jim Frisella, and his brother-in-law, Charlie Gagnepain, purchased St. Louis Electrical Supply from George and Nora in 1967. It was then that Metro Electric Supply was born. In 1971, Jim’s brother, William “Bill” Frisella, joined the team. With Bill’s determination and foresight, they began building up their client base and opening satellite locations. When Charlie and Jim later decided to leave Metro, another succession occurred when Bill purchased their shares and, in 1983, became a full-time partner. As the core legacy of the business lives on and as part of his succession plan, Bill sold Metro to Graybar Electric late in 2021; however, he still manages the day-to-day operations of the company.
A major component of Metro Electrical Supply’s longevity and success can be attributed to Bill’s leadership and ability to diversify its product lines and service level to stay one step ahead of the competition. Providing solutions to both commercial and wholesale as well as residential and retail markets, Metro boasts a broad client base, including electrical contractors, HVAC contractors, manufacturers, cities and municipalities, schools and universities, hotel chains, office, retail and apartment management companies, homebuilders, developers, rehabbers, remodelers, public entities, do-it-yourselfers, and the general public.
In 1978, Metro purchased an electrical distributor that also had a small 2,500 square foot lighting showroom, which was the beginning of Metro Lighting.
“Diversification in business is important as long as you keep it within certain boundaries,” Frisella said. “I don’t think we would want to sell lighting and also medical supplies. We diversify quite a bit but within a category, such as ‘home products’. We sell not only lighting but other items, such as ceiling fans, lamps, paintings, furniture, and other accessories that are all used within our customers’ homes. So, call it diversification within a limited category.”
Frisella acknowledges that the success of his organization is also due to Metro’s superior staff and employees. Frisella, said, “It’s a completely different world we live in today from when we started in business. In fact, today’s employees are quite different than employees of even 10 or 15 years ago. When we first started in business, a majority of entry-level employees worked hard to advance and get to the next level. In today’s corporate world, there are still employees motivated to become successful but there are just as many that seem happy focusing on the job at hand. That doesn’t mean they aren’t doing a good job because almost all of our employees are motivated and stress good service. It just means they are satisfied with the job they perform and the level they are currently at in the organization. Since their focus is primarily on the job at hand, often this becomes an asset.”
Metro and its employees are committed to being good stewards of the Earth’s natural resources and remain focused on preserving the environment. With leadership from the next generation of Frisella’s, Nicholas (Bill’s son), has spearheaded their Green Initiative and, as a result, Metro has won the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA’s) National Energy Star Award for "Excellence in Retailing" in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015; in addition, in 2015 Metro was honored with an Energy Star “Partner of the Year” Award – Climate Communicator. All of Metro’s staff are educated on energy efficient lighting and controls.
Metro is proud of its differentiation in the marketplace and its longevity. True to their focus on superior customer service, Metro still offers free delivery as well as emergency “hot shot” delivery. In fact, they make over 100 deliveries to the St. Louis and Cape Girardeau areas each and every day.
“Starting a business and making it successful is not an easy task,” Frisella added. “It is, though, very fulfilling and I honestly feel that most business owners would have it no other way.”
To find out more about Metro Electric Supply and its electrical and lighting solutions, visit: www.metroelectricsupply.com.
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