Some things are meant to be. Just ask Al Rizzo Jr.
He recalls hanging around his father’s general construction company, outfitted like a mini-construction worker at age 6. By 12, he was driving a bulldozer.
It was a little boy’s dream.
But amidst the fun, Rizzo took away a serious lesson: “What he taught me, what’s important, is craftsmanship and doing the job right.”
He also found his calling. Rizzo honestly cannot think of another career path he would have taken if he hadn’t gone into construction. Sounds as if the president/owner of Rizzo Construction Pool Co. in Newington, Conn., is exactly where he’s supposed to be. And the industry is a better place for it.
Ironically, the man who dropped out of high school at age 17 to start his construction career evolved into a powerhouse of industry education. After entering the work force, he attended night school, receiving a diploma from Hartford High School with honors. He followed that with night classes at University of Hartford to further his education while still running his business.
But he also promoted industry education for others. In the 1960s, Rizzo developed a six-week staff training course, which he subsequently shared with the Master Pools Guild and the Northeast Spa & Pool Association. From 1994-2008, he served as Builders Council education chairman for the National Spa & Pool Institute (the precursor to APSP). And he was lead author of the first Builders Reference Manual, aka “the bible” of industry construction.
If he could offer advice to young people entering the industry, it would be this: “Pay attention to detail! It’s a priority in life, too — that and a good education.” In fact, that’s what he tells grandson James Galvin III, an engineering major in college whom he also is training in the pool business.
It’s impossible to list all the offices Rizzo has held at NESPA, APSP, MPG and the Connecticut Spa & Pool Association, or his awards from the industry, city and state. Suffice it to say that “Man of the Year” (NESPA, 1985) and “Mr. Education” (APSP, 2006) are typical accolades. Another honor came his way in March 2012, when CONSPA hosted the “Albert Rizzo Jr. Lifetime Achievement Dinner.”
Colleagues such as John Romano were there. “We’ve been friends for more than 30 years. I’d describe him as a big diamond in the rough,” said Romano, president of All-American Custom Pools & Spas Inc., a Norwalk, Conn.-based PSN Top Builder. He added that Rizzo has been a “driving force behind all things educational to the industry.”
Nor does 77-year-old Rizzo show much sign of slowing down. He still helps oversee daily operations and pool construction at his firm with daughter Gina Galvin, vice president. And he continues industry work, such as helping promote passage of Connecticut’s new pool builders licensing law.