Gina Antonelli-King & Christie Farinella, Tom Antonelli, Inc.
In an industry dominated by men, two Bucks County women are following in their father’s footsteps to the top of their profession.
Gina Antonelli–King and Christie Farinella are the second generation of family members leading Tom Antonelli, Inc. The family-owned heating and air conditioning supply company has been providing “winter warmth and summer cooling” supplies to service companies in Pennsylvania and throughout surrounding areas for more than 50 years.
Raised in the business before stepping in to lead it after the death of their father, Tom, Christie and Gina have been steeped in the HVAC industry for so long, they sometimes forget how unique they are. Of the 466,000 Americans employed in the HVAC industry in 2019, only 1.5 percent are women, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Yes, the industry is male dominated now, but offering people personal, knowledgeable service is more important than gender,” Gina continued. “We know our product, we know the industry, we know our customers, and we go out of our way to say, ‘How can we help you?’ That’s how our mom and dad ran the company, and that’s how we run it today.”
Today, the company carries rebuilt parts, as well as oil and gas boilers, furnaces, hot water heaters, indirect units, air conditioning units, and any and all parts needed to install, repair, or rebuild heating and air conditioning systems. And the Antonelli family is always on the lookout for ways to support the community whenever it can.
On any given day, visitors to Antonelli’s warehouse might encounter a four-legged member of the family. Since 2008, the Antonellis have worked with the nonprofit Canine Companions for Independence to train puppies to become service dogs for people with disabilities.
“Our job is to take that puppy from 8 weeks old to 18 months old and teach them 30 basic commands and get them used to different situations,” Gina said. “We usually take them out to restaurants, movie theaters, and other public places. We socialize them so that once they leave us they are ready to go to professional training where they learn even more commands. They learn to string commands together, to turn light switches on and off, and other amazing things. They learn that there is a time to play and a time to work.”
Since 1975, Canine Companions for Independence has provided assistance dogs free of charge to qualified recipients. But the work is not cheap. Raising and training each dog and caring for it throughout its lifetime can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $60,000, Gina said. Nearly all of that money is raised through donations, particularly the organization’s signature fundraiser, DogFest.
“Penn Community Bank’s sponsorship of DogFest is quite significant,” Gina said. “Being able to demonstrate to other local businesses that this local bank supports us adds credibility and helps us with our fundraising. When you have someone with that kind of influence in the community, it makes a difference.”