New York City-based Argo International Corp. reached the half-century mark this year. The now $90-million-company began in 1952 as a single-location marine supply house serving the shipping industry in lower Manhattan.

“We started out as a ship's chandler operating out of a five-story building that had no elevator, just a hoist with a sling,” said Argo founder and current chairman, John Calicchio, who was featured on the August 1997 cover of Electrical Wholesaling. “Now we have 6,000 customers in 50 countries.”

Argo International's expansion was linked to diversification as Calicchio took note of the cyclical nature of the maritime industry and decided to branch out into other areas. One of the company's earliest diversification efforts was into electrical wholesaling, taking on a variety of General Electric lines in 1956. Currently, 45 percent of Argo's revenues are from sales of GE electrical and mechanical product lines.

“Our objective on the electrical side of our business is to be the one-stop shop for motors, drives, and controls,” said John SantaCroce, Argo president and CEO. “We've hired additional mechanical product specialists globally and continue to build our pump business as well. A major effort over the past year or so has been the integration of our mechanical and electrical branch operations.”

“As we move into our second half-century we will continue to capitalize on the synergies inherent in our various businesses, strengthen our position in our existing niche markets and continue to seek new opportunities,” said Calicchio.

The firm recently opened locations in Philadelphia and Dallas as well as in Bari, Italy, and New Delhi, India. This brings its total locations to 27 (10 domestic and 17 abroad). More openings are in the planning stages for the Middle East, possibly in Algeria, Jordan, or the United Arab Emirates.

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