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Not Spoiled   
 By Success


   By Julian Walker
   Times Staff Writer



Vince Marzulli is grateful that his family business has netted praise and awards from a host of professional associations. The owner of Marzulli & Sons Inc., a fourth-generation plumbing, heating and cooling contractor business in Holmesburg, Marzulli has been on the receiving end of some of his industry’s most prestigious honors in recent years. Earlier this month, for example, Marzulli was named Plumbing Contractor of the Year by the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors National Association at an international industry trade show held in Toronto. Appreciative as he is of such kudos, Marzulli takes greater satisfaction from his charitable endeavors. It is while discussing such subjects that his true passion is exposed. He gushes about the success of a Christian-themed school in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, that he helped start in 1998 with a former employee, a Haitian native. The school now provides bilingual schooling to 85 children in a country where the literacy rate is an abysmal 30 percent and unemployment is a staggering 90 percent. Eventually, Marzulli envisions the school growing into a university that will produce future leaders for the impoverished land. Marzulli grows somber when discussing his donations to missing-children charities — he devotes one-third of any piece of print advertising he purchases to that cause, printing the picture of a missing child and a hot line number for sightings. “ Knowing that you’re making a significant difference in the world, that’s success,” he explained. “ The kind of impact you make in people’s lives says what you are about. I’m always looking to help others achieve. Money is a byproduct of service. You can’t just exist to work. You have to stand for something.” Not all of his good deeds are so obvious, but all are motivated by the same sense of altruism. Marzulli has buried longtime customers whose spouses were too elderly to afford itthemselves. Once, he even saved the life of a customer who was experiencing congestive heart failure. 
“ I believe in the old proverb that a good name is better than silver and gold,” 

he said. Business connections, Marzulli acknowledges, have put him in a position to succeed. And he is ever mindful of that. Naturally, each time his business wins an award that is accompanied by a cash prize, Marzulli immediately invests in one of his projects. The $5,000 he won for being named Plumbing Contractor of the Year was spent on the New Covenant Christian Academy in Haiti. Two years earlier, when he was named first runner-up for the same award, winning the coveted Delta Golden Faucet trophy, he used the $1,000 prize to start a child-sponsorship program for orphaned and needy children in the island country. Marzulli’s office is cluttered with awards acknowledging his stature in his profession. 

He received a “ Best of the Home Construction Industry ” award from the Eastern Pennsylvania Better Business Bureau in 1996, and another honor from the group in 1999. In 1991, Marzulli & Sons was named Contractor of the Year by the Master Plumbers Association of Philadelphia. 

He earned a similar distinction in 1995 from the Pennsylvania Association of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Inc. Though Marzulli will tell you “ I’m not a political guy,” his work with the Republican Party got him appointed to the national Small Business Advisory Council, and, more recently, to the Presidential Business Commission. Just last year he was named Pennsylvania Republican of the Year by the National Republican Congressional Commission. All of that hardware and elbow-rubbing with political bigwigs, however, is an afterthought for the diminutive contractor, who looks much younger than his 50 years. It seemingly would be easy for Marzulli to gloat about his spoils. But that’s not his style. Instead, he dismisses his accomplishments with self-effacing modesty. “ I’m nobody, just another guy who somehow along the line happened to achieve all this,” he explained. The Holmesburg resident attributes his grounded attitude to his blue-collar background. In 1925, his grandfather, Michael Marzulli, started the business on Princeton Avenue in Tacony. Initially, Marzulli Inc.
it didn’t become Marzulli & Sons until other family members joined the business — specialized in heating and plumbing installations. Today, the business handles heating, cooling, plumbing and interior remodeling jobs, among other tasks. Salvatore Marzulli became a partner in the business in the 1950s, and his son — that’s Vince — was helping out on jobs by the mid-’60s. After graduating from Lincoln High School in 1970, Marzulli entered the field with another company. He didn’t join the family business until 10 years later. The family tradition continues today with son Vince Marzulli Jr., who runs much of the field operations for the firm while Vince Sr. manages the home office. Though a name change is in the works — Marzulli & Sons will soon become the more modern Marz Award Winning Service Co. Inc. — customers can expect the enduring tradition of honest customer service, Marzulli said. “ Hopefully this will be a fifth-generation business some day,” he mused. “ I think that’d be nice. ”