Granite City Electric Supply Co., Quincy Mass., has merged with Columbia Electric Supply Co., Brockton, Mass. Going forward the company will operate under the name Granite City Electric Supply Co.

Steve Helle, president and COO of Granite City Electric Supply, will continue in that capacity and Geoffrey Murphy, Columbia Electric Supply's president, will become a regional vice president for Granite City.

The two companies have often been referred to as sister companies, and with good reason: Phyllis Papani Godwin, Granite City's owner and CEO, and Dorothy Palmer, Columbia Electric Supply's owner, are in fact sisters. They are the daughters of Nicholas Papani, who founded both electrical supply companies nearly ninety years ago.

“We are delighted to have Columbia Electric as part of the Granite City family,” said Godwin. “Both companies share a culture of caring for customers and employees and a strategic focus on long-term growth.”

In 2009, Granite City Electric was 75th in the nation according to Electrical Wholesaling's “Top 200” ranking of electrical distributors. Columbia Electric Supply was ranked 190th.

“Adding Columbia's locations to Granite City's 21 locations will expand our market presence and enhance our position as the largest independent electrical distributor in New England,” said Steve Helle.

Palmer, the owner of Columbia Electric Supply, along with her two sons Nicholas and Robert, were pleased that the majority of their work force would remain in place at the new company

The founding of the two companies is a classic American immigrant's tale. Nicholas Papani had emigrated to the U.S. from Italy, settling in Quincy, Mass., where he named his first company after his adopted home town “The Granite City.” When he opened his second company in Brockton, he named it after his adopted country using the country's poetic name Columbia with the Statue of Liberty as the company's logo.

About 40 years ago, the two daughters inherited their companies from their father and each company has grown to be a major player in its respective markets. Granite City Electric's ownership is shared by Phyllis Godwin and her two daughters Valia Marsden and Sara “Gigi” Meehan.

Granite City Electric is a certified woman-owned business enterprise (WBE) through the State Office of Minority and Women Business Assistance in Massachusetts, as well as the Women's Business Enterprise National Council.