It's been 27 years since Todd Morgan and his wife, Shelly, founded what would become one of Florida's largest plumbing and mechanical contractors, and in the time since, it's become something of a family business. In fact, son Michael was just 2 when the entrepreneurial bug bit.
"He came into the new office every day and we'd put him to work fetching the faxes, page by page," Morgan told GrowthSpotter.
These days, Michael still works for CES, along with his wife, Blake, and older brother, Todd Jr. There's a cousin on the payroll, too. Having family onboard wasn't necessarily a goal at the outset, but Morgan says he has always been goal-driven.
A native of Amityville, NY (yes, the one from the horror movie), Morgan was a wrestling star in high school, rising to New York State Champion his senior year. The win brought with it a host of scholarship opportunities.
With an eye not only on wrestling, but an eventual career in engineering, Morgan chose Pennsylvania's Lehigh University, where he did well, but occasionally "disappointed" his Great Uncle, Alexander Kartveli.
"[Uncle Sasha] was a native of Tbilisi, Georgia, and one of the most brilliant aviation engineers who ever was. He designed the P-47 that helped us win World War II, the F-105 that was used in Vietnam, and then the A10 Warthog, which is still used today. He was an early adviser for NASA.
"It was also kind of brutal when I was in college and I'd only get an A- on a calculus test," Morgan chuckles. "He would grill me!"
These days, that's wife, Shelly's job – but Morgan likely finds it charming. The pair met on his second day in her hometown of Pittsburgh, where he'd moved for a job. His first night he'd spent out partying with friends.
"The next day I decided I had a serious job and couldn't be going out all the time," he laughs, "so I went down to the health club at the bottom of the building to join."
Shelly was working the front desk.
"We went out afterwards and from then on – that was it. We did everything together. And we still do today."
Including the business venture that would bring them – and CES – where they are today.
The Morgans eventually moved with his job from Pittsburgh to Florida; they were happy in their new home, but eventually that goal-oriented nature begged for change.
Before long, young Michael became VP of Faxes and from there, the company mushroomed, its Longwood HQ spawning others in Tampa, Gainesville and Pompano Beach, employing nearly 400 and making the community a big part of its vision.
Under Morgan's leadership, CES has significantly grown its capabilities in self-performed specialty niches such as "Special Effects" and "Ride and Show" controls for theme park attractions, Medical Gas for hospitals, plus state-of-the-art Building Automation Systems and Indoor Environmental Services for all CES clients.
CES has also raised hundreds of thousands for AdventHealth Cancer Institute Foundation and other organizations including the American Red Cross and Kid's House of Seminole.
"We're involved in many charities," he says, with a nod to his spouse. "If it's a good cause, Shelly's likely to show up there…. I call her 'Mother Teresa with an attitude,'" he says affectionately. "She's the most giving person I have ever known, but you don't want to mess with her!"
It's probably not a side of her they worry about at the Vatican, though, where Shelly has family connections. As such, the Morgans – avid travelers – make regular trips to Rome; they've been visiting the Vatican for roughly two decades.
The Morgans' first wedding was not in a church, but a couple of years ago, the pair renewed their vows in a small Catholic ceremony, then went to the Vatican, where they were blessed by Pope Francis himself. In fact, Morgan notes, His Holiness knew Shelly was coming.
"There are thousands of people there when he does these appearances," says Morgan, who estimated some 70 photos were snapped as they spent time with the Pope. "Him spending time with Shelly, blessing her, our marriage, with me standing behind holding his hand. It was an unbelievable experience."