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Family affair: Multi-generational businesses abound

February 28, 2013
By SCOTT McCLOSKEY - For The Times Leader , Times Leader

WHEELING - Whether it's being involved with little league, the Super Six or the annual Christmas parade, being a community player is one of the key components to the continued success for two Wheeling multi-generational businesses.

And across the Ohio River in St. Clairsville, Kelly's Suite II has become a family affair as Kelly Cappelletti is now joined by her husband and sons in running the business.

Since Robert Contraguerro Sr. founded Panhandle Cleaning & Restoration in 1977, and Mike Duplaga Jr. and his wife purchased what is now called Generations Restaurant and Pub from his father in 1988, both businesses continue to flourish in the local community.

Article Photos

Photo provided
Pictured from left are: Tom Contraguerro (Vice President of Operations), Bob Contraguerro Jr. (Vice President), Bob Contraguerro Sr. (President) and Josh Contraguerro, Vice President of Marketing, standing in front of Panhandle Cleaning & Restoration corporate headquarters located on 38th St. in Wheeling.

"When the boots come off, the same commitment guides us as community leaders in the Ohio Valley, serving the very places that we call home. We are proud of our communities, proud of our work and proud to be the most reliable, most capable professionals in our field, " Panhandle officials said.

"We're really proud to be involved in the community in which we live and work, and this is a great community," said Contraguerro, whose business continues to offer more than three decades of experience in both residential and business disaster clean-up and restoration services.

"We feel that's our part, to give back to our community. We've been successful and we built a business over 35 years in this community. ... It's where we live, it's where our kids go to school, it's where our grandkids go to school."

Contraguerro operates the business with the help of his three sons, Robert Jr., vice president; Tom, vice president of operations; and Josh, vice president of marketing and head of the company's response team.

Contraguerro said the company particularly takes a special interest in supporting community and school activities involving kids. "It really makes us proud to be able to walk into a room and be one of those organizations that is supporting kids, whenever they need the help," he added.

Contraguerro said being a community player is just one part of the much larger equation to operating a successful business. He said staying on the "cutting edge" of technology also continues to be a crucial element to his company's growth.

"We have the latest technology available and our training is second to none," he added.

"In 2012 we have invested into more equipment, we've opened up two satellite offices (in Morgantown and Springdale, Pa.). ... "We're bringing in key people who have worked in this industry and have handled large and small losses," said Contraguerro. He said another key part of his business' success is being able to keep other businesses open when they experience a loss.

Contraguerro Jr. said with the newly opened offices, Panhandle has "strategically placed people and equipment" so the company can cover a larger service area with quicker response time. "That allows us to service our customers more efficiently," he added.

Being a "green company" is another aspect that sets Panhandle apart from other businesses in the same field, said Josh Contraguerro.

"The products and disinfectants that we use aren't harmful to people or animals. ... So that set us apart," he added.

At Generations, the Duplaga family has owned and operated businesses ranging from an IGA grocery store to a restaurant and pub for over a century in the Fulton section of Wheeling. Duplaga said being involved with local community projects is a "vital" part of operating a successful family business.

"Whether it's the little leagues, whether it's 'Paint the Town Pink' or (helping) the animal shelter - whatever it is, being out there is a big plus," said Duplaga. "We go all the way back to 1908, my great grandfather was the first person to have a business at this location," he said.

Duplaga's grandfather, Stanley, opened the business at the 338 National Road address, which he continued operating until the mid 1960s, after which Duplaga's grandfather would take over and eventually turn the grocery store into a local pub, of which his father, Mike Duplaga Sr., would own and operate beginning around 1982.

Duplaga said he purchased the buisness from his father with the intent of getting more involved with the restaurant and catering side of things. In addition to the restaurant and pub, Generations grew to offer banquet facilities with on and off site catering services.

He said their reception hall is perfect for any type of special event.

In addition, Duplaga said Generations has become host to "more and more music acts" on their outdoor stage in the warmer months of the year, as well as promoting shows at the Capitol Theatre in downtown Wheeling.

Duplaga, who is keenly aware of the importance of being a community player, simply said, "business is great."

At Kelly's Suite II in St. Clairsville, Cappelletti said the family support she receives from her husband and two sons has been "an invaluable asset" for the continued growth and success of the furniture, flooring, and interior design business.

Cappelletti, who started the family business more than a decade ago, said the business continues to grow since her husband, Bill, joined the staff after experiencing a layoff last year. She said he was employed for more than 40 years as a steelworker in Martins Ferry before being laid off from RG Steel nearly six months ago. She said her husband is now very "hands on" with the family business.

"He's helping us with the business. He's a huge asset. ... He knows all aspects of the business," she added.

Cappelletti said the advice she receives from her two sons continues to be an "invaluable" asset to the business as well. She said son Bryant currently works in Texas with the Dallas Cowboys, while her other son, William Jr., operates his own investment business in Mongolia.

"With our business, we are able to give the client the service and the look that they want," she commented. "We've been very blessed in this business. When I started out 10 years ago, we worked for contractors. Now, we are the contractor." she added.

Cappelletti said they continue to grow and add more customers, including local businesses like Mehlman's Cafeteria and Thomas Jeep Eagle.

"I love what I do ... we're a team," she added.



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