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@Work: Angel Electric

July 12, 2005 – Angel Electric is one busy place at 7 a.m. Owners Chris and Elsa Angel are getting their day organized while their crew loads the trucks with supplies needed for the day's jobs.
"We are always looking for good, qualified and licensed electricians. And, they are paid well," Chris Angel, 58, said.
He said finding electricians is the number one frustration in running his business. It's so difficult that Chris Angel is willing to train people with potential.
In 1994 they opened Angel Electric, with Elsa Angel, 53, running the office out of an old trailer in Susannaberg. Business has boomed since the beginning, a reflection on St. John’s busy construction industry, and they've since moved to an office and home complex on Gifft Hill Road.
"We're going to stay real busy for a long time," Chris Angel said.
They now employ nine electricians and helpers plus one part-time office person.
Elsa Angel said that the electrician end of the business pretty much runs itself because they have a solid crew, but if she didn't have Lori Barlas to help in the office, she and her husband would never be able to get away.
"Our goal is to take three months a year off," she said.
Although they haven't quite made it yet, the couple did manage a month in Europe this year and travel regularly to the states for meetings with other electricians.
The Angels sailed into St. John in 1988. More than a bit on the broke side, they soon found jobs at St. John Watersports. Elsa Angel pumped gas at the fuel dock and Chris Angel made boat repairs, but she soon put her office skills to use in St. John Watersport’s office.
When Hurricane Hugo hit in 1989, putting a brief lid on the island’s tourism industry, Chris Angel started working as an electrician.
They both graduated from the University of Wyoming in 1974. After graduation – Chris with a degree in psychology and Elsa with a degree in anthropology – they began working careers that spanned several decades.
Elsa worked office jobs, mainly in banks and savings and loans, while Chris held positions ranging from director of unemployment in a Wyoming state program for handicapped people to manager of a bicycle store in Los Angeles, grant writer, and executive with U.S. West, which is now Quest Telephone. When U.S. West cleaned its management house, Chris got his pink slip.
When Elsa said she’d like to go sailing, the two sold their house and furniture, headed cross-country to visit friends in Vermont, and wound up buying their sailboat, the 30-foot monohull Rafiki.
They've since built their trimaran Rafiki, but the two don't have much time to go sailing.
While they both spent time in cities – Elsa grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and Chris was an army brat who moved around the country and Europe with his family – the two like St. John for its rural life.
They're both active in the community. Elsa is on the Friends of the V.I. National Park board and Chris is the immediate past president of the Rotary Club of St. John.
Angel Electric wired the July 4th Celebration village as well as the children's village. He said his time was donated. The committee paid only cost for the materials and his crew's time.
"It's very important for a business such as ours to contribute to the community," Chris said.
You can reach Angel Electric at 779-4666.
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