Joe Santelli Named 2011 Pennsylvania Small Business Person of the Year
March 22, 2011

The Small Business Association (SBA) has named Joe Santelli, president of Santelli Tempered Glass in Monessen, Pa., a Pittsburgh suburb, its 2011 Pennsylvania Small Business Person of the Year. Santelli started the company just a few short years ago and since then, despite the struggling construction market, the company has continuously expanded. In addition to its Pittsburgh headquarters, the company also has locations in Florida and Indiana, and Santelli says he plans to expand with at least two more locations in the future. 

Santelli’s efforts to grow his company have not gone unnoticed. In 2009 the Pittsburgh Business Times named his company number one in the manufacturing/transportation category on its Pittsburgh 100 list and now just recently.

Santelli and his wife, Peggy, will be attending National Small Business Week taking place May 18-20 in Washington, D.C. He took the time to talk with™ about this upcoming event, how he keeps his company growing and where he’d like to see it in the next year.

What about the National Small Business Week are you most looking forward to?
Two events on the itinerary have piqued my interest. The first is the naming of the National Small Business Person of the year. It is my understanding that more than 2,200 companies applied for the Pennsylvania Small Business Person of the Year, so the one-in-50 odds could definitely be more in my favor. If I were to be selected for this award, it would mean great things for the glass industry, as well as my business, as the national award brings opportunities to speak to state SBAs and other engagements to share the glass industry's message, as well as tell my company's story.

The second is the opportunity to serve as an advocate for the glass industry in Washington. A congressional forum is on the itinerary to which I will invite Pennsylvania's Senators and Members of Congress. Energy policy is a key item on the domestic agenda for Congress and the President, and this forum gives me the chance to share the success story of the glass industry and demonstrate our capabilities to help the country reach its energy goals.

At a time when so many small businesses are struggling, what does this recognition mean to you?
More than anything, this award means that there are still opportunities out there. Small businesses employ 70 percent of the American workforce, and I continue to be optimistic about opportunities for growth in small business, whether unemployment is at 10 percent or 5 percent. While it's true that the glass industry has been hit hard during this recession because of our ties to housing and commercial construction industries, there are niches in the industry that are still growing and will continue to grow in the near future.

Where would you like to see your company by this time next year?
By this time next year I would like to see us opening our fourth location and identified the location for our fifth.

Anything else you’d like our readers to know?
It’s obvious that all the bad news with bankruptcies and consolidations is not finished yet.

They say timing is everything, and for several companies over the last couple of years the saying proved to be so true. Great companies, run by very good businesspeople, expanded several years ago because their sales and the economy told them to do so and they ended up on the wrong side of this recession. Barber Glass, Coastal Glass and Traco to name a few, were well-run companies that expanded at inopportune times. We all must learn from this and hope their experiences will keep us from suffering the same fate.

Need more info and analysis about the issues?
CLICK HERE to subscribe to USGlass magazine.