In the People Business

Eugene “Gene” Ravizza ’50 grew Cupertino Electric into one of the largest electrical contracting firms in the nation with the help of a loyal team.

When asked what line of work he was in, Eugene “Gene” Ravizza ’50 would say, “the people business.” Sure, the company he founded in 1954, Cupertino Electric, was instrumental in powering many of the foundational companies that made Silicon Valley the tech capital of the world. But Ravizza knew that to be truly successful, you had to have a happy team.

You should be proud to tell a stranger on the street that you work for Cupertino Electric Inc. (CEI), “because we never screwed anybody—in plain English,” chuckled Ravizza in a 2019 promotional video celebrating the company’s 65th anniversary. “I think employees appreciate that: Employees like to do what’s right.” Those who worked for him confirmed this golden ruledness. Treat your employees, your vendors, and your customers as you’d like to be treated, he’d say. He was old school like that.

Born on July 21, 1928, to Albert and Georgia, Ravizza was raised in Sunnyvale with his sister Aline and brother Armand ’62.  He helped work his parents’ ranch and attended Fremont High School before majoring in electrical engineering at Santa Clara University.

Gene Ravizza
Gene Ravizza, seen here at graduation from Santa Clara in 1950, attributed his business success to his team of “energetic and ethical” employees. All photos courtesy Cupertino Electric.

After graduating, he built U.S. airbases in Morocco in fulfillment of his ROTC service requirement. When he returned home, a friend told him about a small local electric company for sale. Despite never having owned a business nor working as an electrician, Ravizza said his time abroad gave him the confidence—and savings—he needed to build Cupertino Electric into something big.

Over the next six decades, CEI grew exponentially into one of the largest electrical contracting firms in the U.S. Ravizza would say he got lucky in being in the right business at the right time—helping build facilities for the likes of Fairchild Semiconductor, Intel, and Hewlett Packard—but he also prided himself on maintaining a company culture that was “fair, just, and equitable.”

Gene With Hat & Plaque

Active in his faith, Ravizza supported numerous charitable causes, including SCU, Martha’s Kitchen, and Hope Rehabilitation Services, and was a longtime active member of the Serra Club and the Knights of Malta.

He passed from this life on Oct. 2, 2019, preceded in death by his beloved wife, Dianne. He is survived by his most cherished people: daughter Claranne Long ’78, sons Mark Ravizza, S.J., ’99 and Greg Ravizza, five grandchildren including Matt Long ’09, and three great-grandchildren.

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