Mike Ostrowski says having the tools and equipment to be able to do any job is at the top of his priority list.
In fact, it has been that way since the day he started his business.
Right after high school, Ostrowski went to work for an electrical company in Westfield. For 10 years, he gained extensive experience beyond what many believe is the typical job description of an electrician.
“When people think of electricians, they think lights and plugs and stuff like that,” said Ostrowski. “While that’s part of it, my specialty and what I got into is automation controls and machinery.”
While he felt he gained an ample amount of experience at this position, he did not feel appreciated for what he brought to the table, so he left the company to start his own business in 2004.
“I went out to see my dad and said, ‘hey, can I borrow enough money to buy a van?’” Ostrowski told BusinessWest. “So, I went out and bought a van and put tools in it.”
“When people think of electricians, they think lights and plugs and stuff like that. While that’s part of it, my specialty and what I got into is automation controls and machinery.”
The rest is history.
This van — and Ostrowski’s dream‚ turned into Ostrowski Electrical, which became AMP Electrical in 2006. He gained a partner that year, and before they parted ways in 2010, they were still able to grow the company from seven employees to 35.
AMP has since downsized to 12 staff members, and while the company has taken some twists and turns over the years, Ostrowski continues to promote the same values he started with, specifically focusing on delivering strong personal service to customers.
“Quality and neatness still count for us,” he said. “Sometimes that’s missed in projects that I’ve seen. Even though we’re a smaller company, we have all the tools and equipment that it takes to do big projects, which a lot of smaller guys don’t have.”
Around the World
As Ostrowski said, many tend to view electricians as just that: people who install lights. But one way AMP Electrical is able to stand out from the crowd is its automation and support services, which have taken Ostrowski everywhere from local cities and towns to all the way to Egypt.
“I like watching the whole process run from start to finish,” he said. For example, beginning in 2005, he picked up a couple projects for Qarun Petroleum Co., based in Cairo, where he designed, built, and tested control panels and wired pump skids locally. He then shipped them off to Cairo, flew there himself, and ran the startup process.
While this is certainly not a regular occurrence, Ostrowski says this is a process that he encounters locally as well.
More recently, AMP Electrical worked on a bleach-dilution process for KIKCorp, a leading independent manufacturer of consumer packaged goods. Ostrowski and employees programmed the valves and controls so the bleach could be diluted to whatever temperature the company wanted.
Of course, AMP is capable of much more than these complex jobs. The company also offers complete electrical construction services, municipal water and wastewater controls, building electrical maintenance, telecommunications solutions, complete service to industrial manufacturing, electrical testing, and bucket-truck services.
The key, as Ostrowski said, is having the tools for every job.
But this field does not come without its challenges. With the wide array of services they offer, AMP has managed to stand out from area competition, but has struggled, as many in this and related industires have, with a lack of skilled workers. “There are not enough skilled people out there,” he said. “There’s a gap in knowledge.”
This, he noted, is partially due to the solar boom, which has created a deficiency in electricians. When people go into solar as apprentices, they come out with the skills to put solar panels on, but often lack basic electrical skills.
“The biggest challenge today, being in this field, is finding talented electricians,” he told BusinessWest. “The solar industry has created a lot of electricians that don’t have a lot of the basic pipe-bending skills and electrical knowledge that you would get working for a traditional electrical contractor.”
Ostrowski himself has quite a few more skills than the average electrician. Moving from business owner to employee, he’s had to do some research to strengthen his expertise in areas including finances, estimating, and business management, all without a college degree.
“I’m a licensed electrician that basically figured it out and made it happen,” he said.
Getting the Job Done
No matter what hat Ostrowski may wear at any given time, electrician or business owner, he makes sure his employees have the tools to get the job done and sets an example of what quality service should look like.
“You’re still going to see my face on job sites,” he said. “When the phone rings and everyone’s busy, my boots are in the corner. I’ll grab my tools and go out and fix somebody’s piece of equipment, or I’ll plug my laptop in and be able to look at somebody’s process and take care of them.”
Kayla Ebner can be reached at [email protected]