HOW ONE FAMILY BUSINESS—NOW IN ITS NINTH DECADE—KEEPS THE TEMPERATURE EXTREME WOLVES AT BAY AND FINDS NEW WAYS TO KEEP ENERGY PROFITS HERE AT HOME
The South Shore of Staten Island was sparsely uninhabited and deeply rustic in 1930 when Vito Scarangello journeyed here from Bari, Italy and set up an ice and cold delivery company in Pleasant Plains.
“He came from a part of Italy where people were traveling to America and getting into the ice business because the guy before them got into the ice business,” noted Tom Scarangello, describing his grandfather’s hard-earned transition from immigrant to business owner.
“He came here because his brother was here,” Scarangello said. “While his brother set up an ice route in Brooklyn, my grandfather chose Staten Island because there was a growing population here, and no ice service to accommodate that population.”
So the family patriarch set up shop in an undeveloped part of the borough, earning his living by providing blocks of ice to surrounding businesses and residents. Slowly, the business grew to encompass coal, heating oil, and kerosene. “He delivered coal until it was replaced by heating oil,” Scarangello said. “And the company just grew and changed under his direction with every new advance.”
Scarangello’s father, Frank, joined the business right after World War II and the family-owned company continued to build and grow.
“My dad was actually in school, working to become a pharmacist,” Scarangello recalled. “But the business was growing and my grandfather needed help, so he asked my father to quit school and join the company.
By then the business was officially titled Scaran Oil Service, and the Scarangello family was making plans for expansion. “Even back in the early days, the key to success was diversifying and staying ahead of the next big thing,” Scarangello said. “My grandfather and father worked hard to transition into gas heating work, air conditioning, and eventually plumbing.”
When Vito Scarangello retired in 1965 at the age of 65, Frank Scarangello took the helm. “At that point, the industry was in a transition phase,” Tom Scarangello recalled. “So my dad went to school at night to increase his knowledge of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. We were one of the first companies to install and maintain central air conditioning systems—it was the 60s, so this was mostly in commercial buildings—but my father knew this was the next direction for the business.” With the 70s came the OPEC oil embargo, which also signaled a change for Scaran.
“My father saw the handwriting on the wall,” Scarangello said. “The oil business was diminishing in the late 70s and early 80s, so that’s when we really moved into the heating and air conditioning segment.”
In the 80s, both Tom and Frank Scarangello Jr. joined the business as well. “My brother and I worked here in high school and college, and then in the late 80s my brother got his plumber’s license, which enabled us to branch out even further,” Scarangello said.
Today, Frank Jr. handles the technical aspects of the business, working to keep Scaran ahead of the technological curve, while Tom takes care of the finances. At 88-years-old, Frank Sr. still comes in daily to oversee operations.
“He’s here every day, especially during the winter, dispatching oil trucks and offering us free advice,” Scarangello said, smiling. And according to Scarangello, his father’s presence is a major part of maintaining the family business’ strength and good name.
“Our philosophy is to exceed customers’ expectations for both product and service,” Scarangello said. “If we can do that, it separates us from everyone else.”
That’s why the company guarantees same-day service to agreement customers and offers a strong benefit package to all of its employees.
“We want to provide a career to all of our employees, not just a job,” Scarangello said. “We’re competing with all of New York city for our workers, so in order to provide the highest quality customer service for our clients, we treat our employees like family.” That employee roster has grown significantly throughout the years.
“In the beginning, it was just my grandfather,” said Scarangello. “And when my dad took over, there was less than ten. Today, we employ about 50 people.” Scaran’s headquarters, now in Richmond Valley, also serves as a hub to the company’s community involvement.
“We’re involved in a number of charitable and community- based organizations because we feel a strong need to give back the community which has helped us so much,” Scarangello said. “This is where we live and make our living; we have to give back to the people who provide our livelihood.”
Scaran’s charitable work reaches several organizations throughout the island. Frank Sr. helped organize the inaugural March of Dimes walk on Staten Island, which his sons continue to support. He has also served on the board of Staten Island University Hospital for several decades. The YMCA, St. George Theater, Eden II, and local chapters of the Boy Scouts are also the beneficiaries of the Scarangello brothers’ time and service. And after more than 80 years of success as a local business, Scarangello says his company is still growing… still extending.
“Our most recent form of expansion involves the natural gas business,” he explained. “It’s a very competitive business but I think we have an advantage because we’re not just selling it; we can actually provide service, too. And if you purchase natural gas from a local provider, the profits don’t end up in Texas or Louisiana, they end up here, back in our community.”
The brothers remai n focused on offering the best service to all of their customers, constantly offering training to their technicians and maintaining quality service.
“That’s what my grandfather and father built this business on,” Scarangello concluded.
Photos: By Vinnie Amessé © www.amessephoto.com
Scaran 6767 Amboy Road Staten Island, NY 10309 718.509.9170 scaran.com