The wheels began spinning at Electric Motor Shop in downtown Fresno in 1913. It's now in it's 100th year of operation.
Frank Caglia bought the company in the 1950's. Expanding the company from motor repairs, to electrical contracting and distribution. Caglia passed away in 2007, leaving day-to-day operations to his children, Dick and Sally.
"My dad brought me down here when I was about 7-years-old and showed me how to empty wastepaper cans. We called it something else in those days."
Dick Caglia did it the old fashioned way. He swept floors, working after school and on the weekends through college, to get where he is now. It was the same for his sister sally, who runs the place with her brother. She started working at the family business when she was 12. She answered phones, as professionally as a 12-year-old could, and got to meet some famous, local customers in the process.
"He said, I'm going to send my secretary over there Monday to teach you to properly answer a phone. I said okay, may I tell my dad who's calling and he says yes. This is Leon Peters and I'll call back after a while. So I got an early lesson in how to answer a telephone."
Over the years, electric motor shop has worked for some big name customers, both near and far. They've got customers from Modesto to Bakersfield, and beyond.
Bay Area Rapid Transit came calling when it needed air motors replaced in its tunnels. The cotton industry called during harvesting seasons of years past, and so did the timber industry.
"There was a service call on a generator one time in Guam."
The focus these days is the food industry. The Caglia family says one of the keys to maintaining operations is to evolve with the needs of the customer, who is the primary key to the business's survival.
"You take care of the customer, he'll keep coming back. That's all there is to it."
By the way, it's pronounced "call-ya" according Mike. But everyone else says it "cag-lia."
"Because they're not too bright! (laughs)"
The hard-nosed veteran of the family biz started here in 1958. He's been a pricing clerk, and supply shop manager to name a few positions. He worked alongside his brother frank, almost like dick and sally do. But frank was the boss.
"My mother used to call him the Commandatore. You know what that means? The Commander."
You might even call Frank Caglia the historic commander of local business, paving the way with a historic landmark. That Fresno Arch on Van Ness in downtown Fresno? Well, that little quote there was added by Mr. Caglia, "The best little city in the USA."
"And we still maintain and pay the PG&E bill on that."
100 years ago, about a dozen people worked here. Now, between their offices in Fresno and Visalia, there are about 100 employees, with family members, and some who are like family, working their way up the ranks. That family pride, along with a focus on the customer, is what reassures the Caglias that Electric Motor Shop will be around, for another 100 years.
The Caglia family says giving back to the community is also what's helped electric motor shop thrive all these years. The Caglias enjoy helping their fellow business owners, as well as local churches and schools.