Business & Finance

Out of the Garage and Into Thousands of NJ Homes

e38b2d8aba22114a6441_Mr-Al_Jr-Kevin.jpg
A.J. Perri, from a small family business to the leading Heating, Air Conditioning and Plumbing company in New Jersey (l. to. r.) Albert Perri, Sr., Albert Perri, Jr., and Kevin Perri.
e38b2d8aba22114a6441_Mr-Al_Jr-Kevin.jpg

When Albert Perri was discharged from the U.S. Army almost 50 years ago - after, according to family lore, a chance meeting with singer Elvis Presley while Perri was stationed in Germany - he began working in the heating and air conditioning industry.

In 1971, Perri elected to branch off in that industry on his own - working out of his garage and getting administrative help from his wife, Linda. Today, that one-time "mom-and-pop operation" has grown into A.J. Perri a Tinton Falls-based company with a satellite office in Fairfield that has more than 230 service trucks and nearly 400 employees.

And while "mom and pop" have transitioned into semi-retirement, the business remains a family affair. Son Kevin Perri, 49, manages the company, while siblings Albert Jr. and Michael also have worked for the operation. Kevin says his three oldest children already have served internships at A.J. Perri, and he hopes to make it 4-for-4 this summer.

Sign Up for E-News

"This may sound corny, but it made a real impression on me as a kid seeing a plaque in my father’s office that read, 'Rule No. 1: The customer is always right. Rule No. 2: If you think that's wrong, go back to Rule No. 1,’” Kevin Perri said in a recent interview. "If a customer has concerns, I want to figure out how to make it right."

In an ever-changing modern world, many industries have become obsolete. But Perri notes, "People still need heat. They need air conditioning. They need to be able to flush the toilet. It's a little like life stops until we can come in to solve the problem."

Changing industry technology, however, creates constant challenges for A.J. Perri's technicians to keep up. While the company employs a full-time in-house trainer, Perri said that a partnership formed with American Residential Services in 2014 - a company that operates in 22 states - has been helpful in overcoming that hurdle.

"It's a very innovative industry, so we partner with the companies that supply such items as thermostats and air conditioners, Carrier and Nest to name a few, to train our service representatives on the latest technological developments," Perri said. "That enables us to be on the same page when new technology and products come into the market."

Another challenge has been recruiting the best technicians – a critical part to maintaining high quality in customer service, as well as maintaining the company’s own reputation in the market. Yet, young students often have been conditioned to believe that only a four-year college degree leads to success – whether it’s the ideal path for everyone or not.

"We have a relationship with most of the technical schools in the area, but finding the right people is a challenge," Perri said. "It's not exactly glamorous to become a plumber when you're young - but the fact is, you can make a good living at it. I always say that once you learn a trade, they can never take it away."

The company originally was based in Middletown, and from a Central Jersey base it has expanded throughout the state. Perri said there is a current push into northern counties such as Bergen, Passaic, and Essex, while Burlington county also seem promising. Beyond that? Perri doesn't rule out expansion into New York and Pennsylvania someday - particularly given a new partnership with New York-based WABC-TV.

The latter deal has helped bring to video life, a crucial communication component in today's information age - a piece of the A.J. Perri Cares program that is close to the heart of founder Albert Perri and the rest of his family. Several times a year, a veteran in need is selected for the company to solve any heating, air conditioning, or plumbing problems.

Another family link is Kevin Perri's wife, Meeghan, whose work at Serenity Stables in Atlantic Highlands has led to A.J. Perri being a key partner for the stable. Horses at Serenity Stables are employed as "therapy animals" for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - as well as others who can benefit from the horses' calm demeanor, such as troubled youth or senior citizens. Perri said the stable has needed extensive plumbing, excavation, and other infrastructure work, so his company stepped in to help.

A.J. Perri also participates in the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Point Pleasant, has annual can drives to support the Fulfill food bank of Monmouth and Ocean counties, and is a sponsor of the Tim Tebow Foundation's Night to Shine program that provides a special prom experience for teens with special needs.

As for the Elvis connection?

"Dad says when he was in Germany, he once came across Elvis Presley, and he said he needed a can opener," Perri said. "Dad says he had an extra one, so he gave it to Elvis."

From can openers to air conditioning systems, the Perri family has been solving other people's problems for a half-century.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

South Plainfield

Obituaries

South Plainfield – John T. Felz, Jr., 71, passed away at his home on Thursday, June 14, ...
Read more

Letters to the Editor

Letter from Scott Miller

June 18, 2018

Dear Editor,

There has been a lot of paving going around our town lately!  And I must say, it is such a fine sight to see all the Water Company work come to an end with this final phase of road resurfacing.  It should be noted that while the Water Company is in fact completing the work, a lot of thanks need to go out to Mayor Anesh, Council President Bengivenga and Councilman ...

Community Happenings

South Plainfield Jr. Baseball - Father's Day Classic

June 14, 2018

It's that time of year again for the SPJBC's 10th Annual Father's Day Classic Tournament.  Featuring a Round Robin format for 2018 that includes the following:

~Every team guaranteed at  least 4 games (weather permitting)

~Team Awards for 1st & 2nd Place Playoff Winners

~Maximum 5 Teams per age group

Saturday, Sunday & Monday June 16-18, ...

South Plainfield Elks Honor Students of the Month

June 18, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - On Tuesday, June 12, the South Plainfield Elks honored the winners of the Grant School Character Education Monthly Pillars.  The students and their families were treated to a pasta dinner cooked and served by the Elks Youth Activities Committee and the students were given Junior Citizen of the Month Certificates.

The winners were as follows: 

Caring – ...

Holy Savior Academy’s Championship Cheerleaders Seek Funds for New Equipment

June 18, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - The Holy Savior Academy Cheerleading Squad has kicked off a fundraiser to generate $5,500 for the purchase of much-needed equipment, such as new tumble mats, sound equipment, and more for the award-winning squad.

“The group of twelve girls range from 1st through 4th grades,” said parent Marybeth Parache, who is heading up efforts to raise funds.  ...

Plainfields' UNICO Participates in Student Exchange with Italian High School

June 18, 2018

Two students from the South Plainfield High School Italian Language Class were recently sponsored by Plainfield's UNICO & the Gian Maria Mazzola Foundation of Italy to attend the Liceo Betty Ambiveri (High School) in Presezzo, Italy from May 26 to June 3, 2018.  Gian Maria Mazzola was a member of a runners club from Italy who ran in several NY Marathons and his club was hosted in ...

Road Closures - June 14, 2018

Today's road closures in South Plainfield due to road resurfacing -

Old Hamilton Blvd, Church Street and South Plainfield Avenue between Front Street and Old Hamilton Blvd.

New Market between Pitt Street and Hancock Street will be down to one lane most of the day for resurfacing. Expect minor delays. (Nixle A7BQY)

Upcoming Events

Fri, June 22, 7:30 PM

Crossroads, Garwood

Benefit Concert

Giving Back

Carousel_image_9a7d6e599775b1145bde_sparc_radio_logo_final_083115

Sat, June 23, 2:00 PM

South Plainfield

SPARC Reaching Out

Carousel_image_f442011d67fefc1cb5a2_spb-4937_newsletter_june_23

Sat, June 23, 7:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. Southern Maryland Blue ...

Carousel_image_0261cd4c5700fd63e54b_spb-4937_newsletter_june_24

Sun, June 24, 1:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. Southern Maryland Blue ...

Columns

Weinberg, Diegnan Bill to Establish University-Based Consortium on Media Innovation Advances

TRENTON –A bill sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Patrick Diegnan that would establish a state university-based consortium to advance research in the field of media and technology was passed from the Senate Higher Education Committee today.

“The state’s traditional newspaper market has been upended by changes in ...

South Plainfield and SP BOE Working Together to Strengthen School Security

South Plainfield, NJ - On Monday evening the Borough Council hired two new police officers. These hiring’s will allow two additional police officers to be stationed at South Plainfield Public Schools and will supplement the already strong security measures enacted by the Board of Education and the South Plainfield Police.

The hired officers are part of an interlocal agreement ...

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (William Morrow, 2018)

 

A friend, whose opinion on literature I respect greatly, reported to me recently that she had just finished reading A.J. Finn's debut novel, The Woman in the Window. Of it she said, “I wish I hadn't finished it,” which I interpreted to mean, “It was so good I'm sorry that I finished it.” ...

Bookmarks

The South Plainfield Public Library will be open this Sunday, June 24 from 1:30 PM – 5 PM.  This is the last Sunday the library will be open until September.  During July and August, the library will be closed on Sundays, but the rest of the hours during the week will remain the same.

Come join us Monday, June 25 at 6:30 PM for Monday Night Movies.  The selection this week ...

Suburban Woman’s Club Ends Its Year with a Big Banquet

Our country has a long and rich history of service clubs contributing to the growth of their communities but there have been signs in the past two decades that interest in these groups is waning.  Not so at Suburban Woman’s Club of South Plainfield.  Thanks to the efforts of Membership Chair Grace Bertucci, this past year seven new members joined this relatively small group of ...

Press Releases

Plainfields' UNICO Honors Area High School Students With Scholarships

June 16, 2018

At their annual Scholarship Awards Banquet on May 23, 2018, The Plainfields' Chapter of UNICO National honored 6 area high school seniors with scholarship grants of $1,000 each.  The high schools represented in this prestigious yearly scholarship program  South Plainfield, J.P. Stevens, Bishop Ahr, Piscataway, and  Middlesex High Schools. The recipients were the following ...

Cool Ways to Save Money This Summer

As the summer temperatures rise, home cooling costs rise as well. But there are ways to help save money without sweating the heat:

To increase your cooling system’s efficiency by as much as 20%, get it checked out for summer.  A technician will clean the condenser, make sure you have the optimal amount of refrigerant, and ensure the airflow over the coil is ...