Longtime NYC industry figure speaks about his past, present and future with BP Elevator and ECNY.
by Matthew Jackson, EW Correspondent
One of the reasons ELEVATOR WORLD started our “10 Questions” series was the chance to meet some of the people behind the scenes in the elevator industry. These characters have great stories to tell and only need an outlet through which to tell them. One is Kenny Breglio (KB), president of BP Elevator Co. in Bronx, NYC, and, at the time of this writing, president of the Elevator Conference of New York (ECNY), holding its annual, highly regarded Supplier Showcase this month. Here, he speaks with your author (MJ) when they had the chance to get together in January.
MJ: Give us a history of your career in the elevator industry.
KB: After leaving college, I had a brief career in the financial industry, which I found very boring. I had a good friend who was working for an elevator company, and it sounded very interesting, so I took the leap. I started in the elevator industry in 1969 as an apprentice at Knudsen Elevator Co. and worked there for 15 years. It was a great place to work and a very exciting industry. It was there that I met my future partners, Frank Riley and Rich Faiello.
MJ: How was BP established?
KB: Riley and Faiello had left Knudsen first and started Bergen Passaic Elevator. Their intentions were to do elevator work in Bergen and Passaic counties, New Jersey, where they both lived. They soon found out that the New Jersey work was not as plentiful as that in NYC. I joined the company shortly afterward. Our first major account was in NYC, and the rest is history. The business did well in the 1980s but slowed down in the late 1980s and early 90s, and everyone associated us as a New Jersey company. It was then we decided to change the name to BP Elevator Co.
MJ: What were some obstacles you had to overcome in starting BP?
KB: Outside of convincing our wives that working 18 hours a day, seven days per week for little money made sense, it was relatively easy. Our biggest challenge was getting people to give work to a small company just starting up.
MJ: What is it like working with partners?
KB: Since we spent numerous hours together, tempers did flare, and opinions differed on many issues. Fortunately, we all had different elevator expertise, which was a big asset. Finally, we found our stride. Although we all did field work, Riley was our salesman and was great at it.
MJ: You and I both shared the awesome responsibility of being the president and directors of our trade association in NYC, ECNY. Tell us some of your responsibilities to the association and your membership.
KB: First, if I had known being president was so easy, I would have taken the position earlier and skipped all of the board of directors aggravation. Now, I delegate and take all the credit. But, seriously, I think the biggest challenge we face is coming up with new ideas for seminars and functions, as we have such a diversified membership. Our members consist of owners, suppliers and field personnel.
“he board has been fantastic, and someone is always ready to pick up the slack on any committee that needs help. That is what makes a successful organization.”
— Kenny Breglio on ECNY
MJ: Part of those responsibilities is to your ECNY Board of Directors. I assume you’re like a conductor leading the symphony. How has it been leading this symphony?
KB: You cannot lose track of the fact that everyone is volunteering their time, and the industry is busy. That being said, it is like working with all your friends with the same goal in mind. The board has been fantastic, and someone is always ready to pick up the slack on any committee that needs help. That is what makes a successful organization. I also have to give credit to the NYC elevator people. They are very generous and supportive of ECNY, which is a big part of our success.
MJ: You and I both know you don’t get to make any single- minded decisions as president of ECNY. One of the decisions I made was renaming the ECNY Presidents Award to the Francis B. Riley Presidents Award. Tell us what your relationship was with him and how his impact is still felt today.
KB: It is hard to put into words my relationship with Riley. He was a very special person and one of the nicest people I have ever met. We were inseparable. He cheered you up if you were having a bad day (and we had more than a few) and always had a few jokes up his sleeve. He took me for my first professional shoeshine, and it was then I realized I had made the big leagues. To know Riley was to love him, and no one ever had a bad word to say about him. He had a strong love for his family and friends, and the elevator industry lost a true ambassador when he passed.
MJ: What are your favorite restaurants?
KB: Not that I eat out much, but in NYC, my favorite restaurants are Piccolo Venezia in Astoria, and Rossini’s and Bobby Van’s in Manhattan.
MJ: How about your favorite movie and actor?
KB: My favorite movie would have to be The Godfather, with my favorite actor being Al Pacino.
MJ: With which three people would you choose to have dinner?
KB: First would be my wife; second would be my three sons, their wives (who are like my daughters) and my eight grandchildren; and, last but not least, Bobby “Bobby Dee” DeFrancesco, because he always pays.
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