John Petrocelli of Petrocelli construction is living proof of the old saying necessity is the mother of invention. Growing up in Hoboken, New Jersey, Petrocelli, 57 – the second oldest of nine children – began doing construction practically from the day he could walk. His father Clement, now 86, owned an electrical contracting business so he was educated about the intricacies of wiring by default.
But the real catalyst was growing in such a large family, which necessitated more rooms every time there was another child. “Whenever my parents had another kid, we had to build more room,” he says. “I’m not kidding when I tell you that I started helping my dad out when I seven and we got tools instead of toys.”
Not long after that – and throughout his teenage years – he had a contracting company with his older brother that his father had set up for them. “I had a business cards made up, and I went around to all my neighbors and I started working doing odd jobs and whatever else they needed. I was always the salesman of the group.”
But after graduating from high school in St. Joseph and taking business courses at Jersey City State College, Petrocelli took a giant leap of faith and decided to strike out on his own.
To generate leads, he reached out to local real estate brokers in the yellow pages and sent letters. “I thought they would be my best source for finding referrals because they always have their pulse on things.”
To his surprise, not only did he get several calls back, he soon got his first job. “I’ll never forget this guy. Bedrosian was his name. He asked me when I could be done and when I could start, so I told him I could start now and that I could be done tomorrow. I said, ‘I’ll work through the night and I’ll finish it for you.’ And that’s what I did. I went in there, I worked through the night and when he came in the next morning it was done.”
Meanwhile, Petrocelli’s efficiency immediately led to a referral. This time, it was to a textile company in Carney, New Jersey who wanted him to renovate their offices.
Once again, he did it in twenty-four hours.
He hasn’t looked back since. Over the past 36 years, JPC has headed up high-profile projects at some of New York’s most prestigious buildings – among them 907 Fifth Avenue where the reclusive copper heiress Hugette Clark lived where he divided the lavish apartment into three separate ones, and more recently the penthouse of shoe magnate Steve Madden’s ex-wife Wendy at Trump Place where he renovated and re-designed the entire apartment
As of 2016, Petrocelli says that he’s working on more than 20 design and construction projects throughout New York City and the tristate area. Among his favorites is a project at 993 Fifth Avenue where he’s adding a recreation area and meeting rooms on the ground floor.
As he sees it, this is just the tip of the iceberg and no project is too small whether it’s a door that looks like a cabinet, a tunnel that connects between children’s bedrooms or a waterfall in the middle of the apartment. It’s also about the team.
“I have great people working for me and there’s nothing we can’t accomplish. It doesn’t matter what the job is, we can do it,” he says.
JPC Construction contact information:
310 East 44th Street #1401
New York, NY. 10017
7E Abbott Avenue
Palisades Park, NJ 07650
Written by: Tripp Whetsell for NY Undressed