From his first days on the job to becoming NJSPBA executive vice president, Pete Andreyev has always looked to fill his role for the greater good of the association and its members
By Mitchell Krugel
Photography by Ed Carattini Jr.
Back in a 1990s summer, your new NJSPBA executive vice president worked as a seasonal police officer in Point Pleasant Beach. And he started out as a parking enforcement officer. Peter Andreyev’s longtime motto of “mouth shut, eyes open, ears open” cemented back then.
He walked foot patrol on the boardwalk, where a young officer would encounter the very best of people. And the very worst.
Pete had already experienced the power of the team, having played sports up through high school in Howell, including being a goalie on the soccer team. So he never minded being the young guy on the job having to make coffee runs for the other officers.
Rookie Point Pleasant Beach Officer Pete Andreyev was assigned to veteran cops Irv Quackenboss and Hank Wurtzberger, who were the Local 106 State Delegate and president. He heard about all the complex nuances of a collective bargaining agreement, and that ignited his passion for the union.
New Local 106 State Delegate Pete Andreyev remembers his first visit to the State PBA office in Woodbridge when it was just the building that is now the garage out back. Eventually he would become the detail-driven PBA Convention Committee chair. But before that, he sat and took tickets from those members coming to convention breakfasts.
Eight years ago, NJSPBA executive board member Pete Andreyev took a flier and sent a flyer to newly named President Pat Colligan, inquiring about coming up to the office to work as the union’s pension consultant. He probably never imagined the volume of phone calls he would get from members in that position or that he would be able to recite the PFRS handbook front to back.
For eight years, Pete Andreyev had the opportunity to accompany Colligan and Executive Vice President Marc Kovar across the country, representing the NJSPBA. He relished the role of “assisting them in advancing the goals and objectives of the association.”
Those who know Pete Andreyev best, like his wife, Jen, know that his greatest passion is protecting members’ rights to make sure that nobody is being taken advantage of. Or Bay Head Chief Billy Hoffman, who came on the job with Pete and became a State Delegate about the same time, who reveals that Pete is old school, will always listen, will always talk things out, but won’t take any you-know-what from anybody.
Or Colligan, who wanted Andreyev on the executive team because of his ability to run a meeting and answer questions, as well as because when asked to step up, he rarely, if ever, said no. Or Kovar, who confirms that Pete will be a successful successor because he’s so easy to get along with and “He likes learning. He’s always learning.”
So that’s the introduction to Pete Andreyev.
But let’s take some time to really meet Pete.
A look at your new NJSPBA executive vice president could easily be a study of all that goes into working your way up over years and years of a career devoted to individually representing all 32,000-plus active members and thousands more retired members. Or an anatomy of what makes for the next in an incomparable line of executive vice presidents.
Of course, if it were all the same to Andreyev, he would be fine as the behind-the-scenes, low-key, unassuming union leader rather than being cast into this spotlight. But that just makes him even more of a great fit for this gig.
“What we do together as an association advances every one of us,” Andreyev philosophizes. “I like to call it an association because it’s all of us. Yes, it’s mine and it’s Pat’s, but it’s also the member who is going to get hired next week. We represent everybody and try to do things that benefit everyone.”
Andreyev impressed the Point Pleasant Beach PD enough during that 1990s summer as a seasonal to be hired and go into the academy at 18. He came out as a Class 2 and took every shift he could get.
He wound up on days, working with Wurtzberger and Rich Otto, who succeeded Wurtzberger – and preceded Pete – as Local 106 president. He has never forgotten what he learned during those wonder years.
“It was an old school kind of way,” he recalls. “They kind of said, ‘All right, kid, this is what we’re going to do.’ And we did it.”
Officers who start their careers working foot patrol on the boardwalk seem to develop a fortitude to “just do it.” Perhaps that’s where Andreyev’s get-it-done propensity initially surfaced.
He would joke that the hardest part of the beat was not giving in to the aromas from the sausage sandwiches, the pizza, the burgers and even the cotton candy constantly wafting over him. But summer on the boardwalk also brings out the visitors who have had a few too many. Perhaps that turned out to be a great training ground for developing the patience to sit across the bargaining table from an unyielding municipality or a legislator in need of perspective.
Andreyev also recalls those days early on when a wave would slam the shore and carry a swimmer 200 yards and in need of rescue. There were several of those days when he would run into the ocean in full uniform because, well, that’s what was needed to get it done.
He walked foot patrols, worked bicycle patrol, did two-officer cars, even plainclothes work in the summertime. And that experience seemed to leave a lasting impact on Andreyev that he believes has become part of his daily M.O.
“I didn’t mind because I knew my role, right,” he submits. “It’s just the thing of being part of team, being a part of everything that transcended into law enforcement because that’s what it’s all about.”
Role with it
When Pete first came on, he went on a particular call with Hank and Irv, and they all went to lunch afterward. Imagine Pete sitting there, mouth closed, ears open—well, you know.
He listened to them discuss contract negotiations, salaries, health benefits and other details. He was intrigued. He thought, “You mean, they just don’t give you the money?”
Six months later, he became a full-time patrol officer and a PBA member. It was contract time. He first saw what a contract wish list looked like. It was an unforgettable reaction.
“What do you mean you have to negotiate this stuff?” he shares. “It was mind-boggling. I was curious about how all that stuff worked.”
Two years later, then-Local 106 President Otto was promoted. Perhaps his curiosity compelled Andreyev to take a look at becoming president. Or maybe he didn’t know what he was getting into. Good thing, though, because he stepped up to become president.
He became Irv’s wingman, going to PBA meetings and wherever else he was called. A year later, Irv retired. Andreyev ran for State Delegate and won. And he has been serving members ever since.
At first, he just wanted to get involved. He would call the state office and ask if they needed anybody to help out. Whatever they needed, Andreyev volunteered.
Mike Madonna had become president and Tony Wieners was his executive vice president. They seemed to like the new kid.
“When I would call, Mike and Tony would say, ‘Yeah, come on up, kid. We’ll show you. Let’s go,’” he continued.
A few years later, Madonna wound up asking Pete to take a position on the State PBA executive board.
Hoffman was the Bay Head–Mantoloking Local 347 State Delegate at the time and came on to the executive board just before Pete. They were such good friends that Hoffman still carries a photo of himself in uniform holding Andreyev’s daughter, Natalie, who is now a senior in college, when she was born. They still laugh about the photo every year on her birthday.
Hoffman remembers Andreyev as always, always smiling. He remembers working alongside Pete and being struck by him being very knowledgeable about police work and the union.
He remembers Pete always wanting to know more about the union and how to take care of members. He remembers Pete establishing a record of always calling people back.
“He’ll never blow anybody off,” Hoffman emphasizes. When considering how Andreyev would acclimate to being NJSPBA executive vice president, Hoffman surmises that Pete may start out not knowing as much as he wants but has the patience to learn it.
“He takes it as a challenge, and he was always willing to move forward, learning as he went,” Hoffman adds. “He learned that if you’re going to get something, you need to work for it. And I think that’s what he appreciates the most.”
When Pete talks about the NJSPBA, he refers to it as the “Association.” Kind of evokes the same reverence as that other Association, the one with Lebron, Steph and KD as members.
He accentuates “associates” in reference to the common thread in the union. The way Andreyev learned the PBA, the sum of the whole is greater than any of the parts. Maybe it seems basic, fundamental or even trite, but his union work has always been aimed at being a cog in the machine.
Early on in his association acclimation, Andreyev knew that intimidation that many new State Delegates feel. The magnitude of the association and the powerful presence of the president can be tough to adjust to.
But Pete did what he has always done. He dove right in. The Polar Bear Plunge was held in Point Pleasant Beach back then, before it moved to Seaside Heights. The PBA special services team would come with its trailer to provide provisions for plungers. Pete joined the force working the trailer.
That lend-a-hand mentality will undoubtedly be an asset as he dives into the executive vice president role. It’s really been that way the past eight years as Andreyev has been part of the association’s starting leadership lineup, backing up Colligan and Kovar.
He asserts that being part of the team with Labor Relations Coordinator Mike Freeman, Health Benefits Coordinator Kevin Lyons, Special Projects Coordinator John Hulse and Director of Government Affairs Rob Nixon will continue to drive the association’s success. And having been in the thick of that dynamic, there is an approach he wants to perpetuate.
“One of Pat’s big things is to keep everybody informed, giving everybody the information and tools they can use to take back to their Locals,” Andreyev details. “So we can all sit down and make the right decision for the association.”
Colligan noticed the leadership attributes in Andreyev from that first pension seminar he conducted. He knew Pete had the personality to handle cops in a situation like that, when they might not always be so cordial. And he knew that Pete’s longtime experience as a State Delegate and executive board member would establish credibility with the members from the jump.
And what he saw made Colligan realize those credentials would be a great calling card for Pete to move up to executive vice president.
“I would constantly get rave reviews of his pension seminars,” Colligan reports. “And he was there to go to a lot of the events that Marc and I couldn’t make. And since becoming EVP, he has filled in on things that have to get done and adapt to quickly. I know I can hand something off to him and know it’s being done right.”
Nobody knows the path Pete is walking better than Kovar. He’s walked a mile in those shoes. Well, thousands of miles.
The retired executive vice president shares how he, too, leaned on Hulse, Lyons, Nixon and others in the beginning.
“You’re nervous, and you don’t want to make mistakes because you have the lives of 32,000-plus members and their families in your hand,” Kovar says. “So it’s head-spinning in the beginning.”
But Kovar notes that members and politicians alike will plug into Pete’s prowess as a people person.
“He’s going to figure it out,” Kovar assures. “He knows everybody, and he knows all this stuff. I think he’s going to do a great job.”
Andreyev also brings an attribute to the role that every devoted association leader has had – the fam behind him. Even his kids are so devoted that Natalie and her brother, Jason, can always be seen wearing their PBA logo shirts and jackets.
Because of her business ventures, Jen Andreyev might know more PBA members personally than Pete. When she met Pete more than 25 years ago, he was already a State Delegate, and she quickly noticed how he found a passion for protecting the rights of members.
She noticed how he never wanted to let anybody down or fail anybody. Jen recalls how Pete mentioned one time years ago that a sergeant’s exam was coming up. But he told her that he could never give up all his PBA stuff to go for promotion.
“I think he’s always looking out more for someone else’s best interests than his own,” Jen admires. “You feel like if you’re doing better for someone else, it keeps you going and keeps you happy. For Pete, now it will just be on a bigger scale.”
The bigger scale has left Andreyev with a few more details to fulfill his role. A guy who many members know as loving his polo shirts and khakis, Pete now must make sure he has plenty of clean suits in the closet.
“And matching socks,” he quips.
Beyond that, the walls of his office show precious few trappings of the job. Clearly, there has been no time to fully move in, save for the framed Ken Daneyko jersey, showing his allegiance to his beloved New Jersey Devils, and a PBA hockey jersey autographed by members of the team, which is also framed.
Of course, there’s nothing there to detract from his laser focus.
“Let’s go out and do the thing,” he submits, evoking the same go-get-’em energy with which he walked the boardwalk. “And always remember that we might be the leadership team, but the members are the ones who are really in charge of the thing.”