Mike Polizzi, of Fenton, and his brother, Joe, started a new business in 1978 with $75 in his pocket by knocking on doors, trying to find customers for his new enterprise. His office was in his mother's basement.
That was in 1978. Today, Polizzi's company, ABF Security, is a thriving firm at 507 Rudder Road, in Fenton. The company designs, installs, services and monitors both home and commercial alarm systems and employs 57 people.
Polizzi, 58, said fresh ideas, innovation and hard work were key factors in making ABF Security successful.
Although he has more than $75 available to him these days, Polizzi said it will be new ideas, innovation and hard work that he will bring to the City of Fenton if he is successful in his bid for the mayor's office. The election is Apr. 2.
Polizzi has long experience in Fenton as the one-time leader of the Fenton Area Chamber of Commerce. He also was a Fenton alderman in Ward 1 for eight years, from 2002 to 2010. Polizzi currently is president of the Fenton Charitable Association board and a member of the SSM St. Clare Health Center advisory board. He is a past reserve officer in the St. Louis County Police Department and even did a 10-year stretch as a Girl Scout troop leader.
In the Fenton mayoral election, Polizzi will square off against Ward 1 Alderman Paul Seemayer. See previous story on Seemayer's candidacy.
Polizzi is a firm believer that people can achieve whatever they strive to do. It's a lesson he learned from his grade school teachers - the nuns at Seven Holy Founders Catholic School.
"They said, 'You can be whatever you want be,'" he said, adding, with a laugh, "Of course they told me I'm Italian and that I should be able to sing, but I can't sing."
Fortunately for Polizzi, singing isn't required of the mayor of Fenton, but planning is, or should be, he said. He hopes to implement 1-, 3- and 5-year plans for the future of Fenton that will continue its growth and the provision of services to residents.
"The ability to plan is the only way an organization can move forward," Polizzi said.
One of his plans, which he said may be a "pipe dream," is to kindle the growing interest in Olde Towne Fenton to restore its local charm. The current Olde Towne Fenton Business Association is a good start, Polizzi said, but more planning will be needed to help the organization grow and thrive. One of his Olde Towne plans is to find a way to leverage funding of a levee along the flood-prone Fenton Creek to protect existing businesses and create more developable land for new businesses.
Part of the Olde Towne plan centers on infrastructure improvements, specifically repaving Old Gravois Road from the new Meramec River bridge to Highway 141.
It would help, Polizzi said, if there were more funds available since building roads is costly. And funding would be less of an issue if the a big portion of the city's sales tax revenue wasn't diverted to other St. Louis County cities under a complicated sales tax distribution formula. Changing the system long has been a priority for the city and, especially, current Mayor Dennis Hancock. Polizzi has some ideas on the matter and will try to enlist additional support from around St. Louis County to change a system that costs Fenton several millions of dollars in revenue each year.
"(The sales tax redistribution system) currently is unfair," Polizzi said. "It's just wrong."
Although Fenton residents have seen little downgrade of city services with the closure of the twin Chrysler plants, Polizzi said he intends to keep those services flowing even as he takes an active role in finding a new tenant for the 200 acres Chrysler left behind. He says the possibilities for the Chrysler site are endless and he intends to be in the middle of the search for someone to develop the property.
Polizzi also said he will work to see a day when people make a more active choice to move to Fenton to make a home and raise a family. Polizzi and his wife, Donna, who moved to Fenton 16 years ago, have four children, Angela, Amanda, Anna and Tony.
As for the election, he says he has confidence in his background as an active resident and businessman and asks voters to take a look at his resume and experience and cast their vote in his favor.
For more information, Polizzi urges voters to check out his website at Mike-Polizzi-for-mayor.com.