DALY CITY – Gerry Reyes knew he wanted to be an electrician at a young age, but rather than getting his training through an apprenticeship, he opted for a more ceremonious route: the military. “When I joined the U.S. Air Force, I told the recruiter I wanted to be an electrician,” he remembers. “Once I was stationed in Texas, I received my training to become an electrical power production specialist. It was my responsibility to handle all the electrical power needs on the base.”
Following his stint in the Air Force, Gerry worked in a couple related industries before eventually striking out on his own. “My first job after the military was as a copy machine technician,” he says. “The company was going to send me to training school, but since I had a strong background in electronics, I was actually able to read the schematics and fix the machines without any additional training.” Gerry’s next job was working for American Airlines as a maintenance mechanic. “We took care of all the jet bridges, and we also repaired and maintained the x-ray machines and security devices.” After a while, Gerry decided to leave and fulfill his dream of starting his own electrical contracting business. In 1994, he founded Aren Electric Co., which he continues to operate nearly 20 years later.
Gerry hasn’t always lived in the Bay Area, or even in the United States. Originally from the Philippines, he immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 16 and made his way to the Bay Area, where his mother and several other family members were already situated. “I came here in 1982,” he says. “After the Air Force, I returned in 1988 and have been here since.” Gerry now has his own family—his wife, Eleanor, and their children Ashley, 24, and Matthew, 19. “Ashley just graduated college and wants to follow in her mother’s footsteps to become a physical therapist,” he says. “My son is studying bioscience at Dominican University in San Rafael. I’m trying to convince him to go into medicine, because it would be great to have a doctor in the family.”
While Gerry concedes that owning a business involves a lot of hard work, he finds the sense of independence it gives him to be very gratifying. He also draws inspiration from the variety of people he meets while on the job. “One of the things I enjoy most is meeting new people, talking to them and learning how they live,” he says. “Seeing other people who have been successful in life motivates me to work harder and strive for more.” Outside of work, Gerry enjoys taking part in outdoor activities like golfing, basketball, running and fishing on the bay.
Gerry says helping those in need is an integral part of his personal ethos, particularly when it comes to his occupation. “I like helping customers with problems in their homes. Occasionally, I’ll encounter a customer who is elderly or financially disadvantaged and has a problem that he or she simply can’t afford to have fixed. I’ll often fix those problems at no additional charge. It makes me feel good when I go home.” In the past, Gerry has donated his time to Rebuilding Together, a national nonprofit that rehabilitates homes for disadvantaged homeowners, which he says is something he’d like to do more of when he retires. “It’ll be a great way for me to keep busy and help others in the process.”