By Kris Gilbertson
You’re not alone. Close-in Northern Virginia neighborhoods are a hotbed of home improvement projects as householders upgrade, renovate, or add on rather than move out of long-established homes. The search for skilled, reliable, and fairly priced contractors is often an on-going, and frustrating, challenge. But residents of North Alexandria, Old Town, and South Arlington in need of an electrician can avoid that problem altogether.
Based in the Parkfairfax neighborhood, Allegro LLC is a full-service, Class A electrical contractor specializing in the older homes and structures that are so much a part of Alexandria’s identity. Its services range from changing out a light fixture to whole-house renovation.
Allegro has been a business since 2007, but owner Greg Drone’s knowledge of this area goes back much farther. Raised in rural Illinois, Drone first came to DC in 1975 as a musician (French horn) with the Marine Band. Seven years later, he moved on to the San Juan (PR) Symphony, but returned to join the Washington Opera at the Kennedy Center. After 29 years with the opera, he retired in 2012.
In 1979, Greg moved into Parkfairfax, where he and his wife Andrea raised a son and two daughters.
Allegro grew out of a hobby. “The opera season is 30 weeks, and even during the season, I had lots of free time,” he says. “I tried different things and found I liked working with electric. I was good at it.”
Drone educated himself and took on increasingly complex DIY projects at home. Then it escalated. Family members were the first to ask for help, then friends. When complete strangers started calling with jobs, Drone knew it was time to get licensed.
The Commonwealth of Virginia issues five levels of contractor licenses, with criteria based on experience, knowledge, and the size of jobs taken on. Allegro holds Class A, the highest level with the most comprehensive requirements. “If you have someone doing electrical work in your home, don’t you really want a Class A contractor?” Greg asked.
Drone stays up to date on industry research and education through membership in the National Association of the Remodeling Industry and National Fire Protection Association. NFPA developed the National Electrical Code, adopted in all 50 states as the benchmark for safe electrical design, installation, and inspection.
When John and Shelly Biechman decided to double the area of the first floor of their mid-century Beverly Estates home, Greg Drone suggested working with builder Bob Odmark. Together with the Biechmans, Drone and Odmark drew up plans to knock out the home’s back wall and add a spacious family room and screened porch.
This evolving, six-month project included numerous decisions made and changed along the way. “Greg and Bob were Renaissance men,” says John Biechman. Pointing out eight recessed LED light fixtures, he said he’d envisioned having a dozen installed, but Greg tamed that number for optimal lighting in the room. “He watched out for our needs rather than our perhaps overly active imagination,” Biechman says.
Focus on a defined market
Allegro LLC gets calls from people throughout the metro area, but concentrates on residential work in neighborhoods from Old Town north and west to South Arlington, including Del Ray, Parkfairfax, Beverly Hills, and Fairlington. The Allegro staff includes Drone and other one full-time electrician, plus part-time employees when needed, and they collaborate with renovation companies working in Allegro’s service area.
Before estimating a job, Greg Drone asks multiple questions about the problem or project and the home’s construction and accessibility. Not every potential customer appreciates the process, but “the last thing you want,” Greg says, “is someone who quotes you $100, then gets on-site and says, no, this will be $300.” Pre-determining the scope of the job tells the customer what to expect in both price and experience.
“Greg gave us a reasonable estimate, handled the permits, coordinated the gas line installation, and wired and installed the 17kw whole house generator,” reports Dave Cavanaugh in Alexandria. “He was courteous throughout the process. We are pleased with the installation and it works as advertised.”
Online reviewer David F. in Arlington noted: “Not only did he fix the problem, but he was also able to give me helpful tips with a better understanding of the problem as well as how it was fixed…I highly recommend Greg. Extremely professional, quick service, and very friendly.”
Allegro LLC is available by phone or email during business hours:
Monday – Friday : 8:00 am – 5:00 pm, Saturday: 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
Address: 1707 Preston Road, Alexandria, VA 22302
Be sure to check out the website gallery—pretty photos mostly of renovation projects. But, as Greg Drone says, “It’s hard to shoot sexy pictures of electrical.”