Five Star Equipment Opens New Syracuse Facility


November 10, 2020: Bill Farrell, CEO of Five Star Equipment, is pleased to announce the opening of the company’s brand new facility located at 5835 East Taft Road in Syracuse, New York. The facility opened for business on November 9.

The 25,000 square foot facility incorporates state-of-the-art design features geared towards maximizing efficiency and service capabilities for its customer base. Situated on eight acres, the building features an expansive showroom/reception area with parts counters, offices for sales and administrative functions, multimedia training room, a break room with adjacent outdoor patio, parts warehouse with garage door access for receiving and parts dispatch, an eight bay service area equipped with four 10-ton overhead cranes and a separate wash bay. The new facility provides sales, rentals, parts and service throughout central New York State, including Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oswego, Madison, Oneida and Herkimer Counties. The branch is home base for two road service vehicles and 20 employees. 

Key Syracuse branch personnel include: General Manager, Dave Kreis; Service Manager Rob Hecox; Sales Manager Scott Hinman; Sales and Rental Coordinator Valerie Smith, who has been with the company for 27 years; and Corporate Parts Manager Pam Huckaby.

The construction of the Syracuse Branch is part of the company’s long-term strategic growth plan, as it celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, which includes either new facilities or upgrades at all of its locations. Five Star Equipment operates seven locations in 57 counties throughout Western New York and Pennsylvania.

Five Star CEO Bill Farrell stated “this new facility is about more than just bricks and mortar, it’s about commitment. Commitment to our customers, our community and our employees. Five Star Equipment is committed to providing world-class equipment brands like John Deere and Hitachi and backing these brands with outstanding customer support. This new facility in this strategic marketplace equips us to do just that.”


The company was established in 1980 when founders Frank Gallo and Bill Bochicchio, Sr. acquired the John Deere Construction & Forestry dealership in the Scranton, Pennsylvania area. Five Star Equipment is the authorized dealer for John Deere, Hitachi, Topcon and Bomag, and offers products from a number of additional lines, including Eager Beaver and Trail King trailers. The company also offers a wide range of attachments and equipment for applications in construction, forestry, municipal maintenance and pipeline industries.

Northeast HVAC Solutions, Inc.; First choice for highest-quality products, abundance of experience

By Martha E. Conway

Northeast HVAC Solutions, Dillon Barbieto, Parts and Service Manager and Kelli Walsh, VP of Operations.

Northeast HVAC Solutions, Inc. (NEHVAC), specializing in commercial and industrial projects, is an 80-plus-year-old firm that serves as a premier manufacturers’ representative for heating, cooling, ventilation and other mechanical products in New York, Vermont and Western Massachusetts. Service Manager Dillon Barbeito said the outfit, headquartered in Clifton Park, can do everything from providing parts for existing equipment or a full-system design solution.

“We can do it all,” he said. “No job is too large.”

In addition to commercial and industrial work, Barbeito said the firm does a fair amount of public works projects through the company’s many mechanical contractors, as well.

NEHVAC prides itself on having cultivated relationships with not only mechanical contractors, but also consulting engineers, commercial businesses and industrial businesses throughout its more than eight decades in business. Barbeito said the company is proud to let customers know they are trained and certified in all equipment they sell, but they also are willing to provide service for some manufacturers they do not represent.

“We want to meet the needs of customers,” he said. “We are unique in that we are a manufacturer’s representative, installer and servicer.”

Barbeito, a graduate of the Hudson Valley Community College heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration program, said he was working with contractors in the Capital District when he learned about the service position available at NEHVAC.

“I was eager to take on new challenges,” he said, adding that his experience in the field provided him with the credentials necessary to help grow the service department by instilling confidence in potential end-users. “I was someone who actually had experience turning a wrench, and I think that carries weight with our customers. We’ve grown 400 percent in volume, sales and personnel.”

Upon contact, customers can expect NEHVAC professionals to meet with them to inspect and evaluate the condition of their existing equipment or size up what is needed in a new install.

“We use the Marley inspection tool to generate a detailed condition report of the components and overall condition,” Barbeito said. “From there, we generate a life-expectancy projection and develop a detailed report. With that report in hand, we will know whether repair or replacement is more cost-effective and appropriate in each circumstance, and we discuss the options with the customer. From there, we work up a proposal weighing the benefits of each potential solution.”

Barbeito said there are 10-, 15- and 20-year-old cooling towers out there that can be repaired.

“By putting some money into a unit like that, it could operate another 10 years,” he said. “In a world with a throw-away mentality, we’re a bit different. In addition, we are experts in the products we represent.”

As part of their outreach and to save customers money, NEHVAC employs an aggressive inspection and maintenance program tailored to the type and application of equipment and the needs of each customer.

“Inspection of heating and cooling systems prevents inopportune and costly breakdowns, as well as unexpected downtime,” Barbeito said. “Cooling towers, for example, may need inspection anywhere from monthly to annually. All intervals are based on critical usage and the sensitive nature of the equipment.”

NEHVAC has long believed the philosophy that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, he said.

“COVID made it evident that maintenance and inspection can prevent dangerous and costly failures, which is absolutely critical during a healthcare crisis like the one we’re experiencing,” Barbeito said.

Barbeito said he is particularly proud of NEHVAC projects that kept hospitals and health care centers functioning throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had several projects that were scheduled prior to the COVID shutdown and we picked up more work during the pandemic,” Barbeito said. “One effort that really stands out is Nathan Littauer Hospital.”

Barbeito said NEHVAC replaced aging cooling tower equipment in desperate need of attention at the hospital, preventing a shutdown or interruption in services.

Facilities Engineer Mike Connelly of Nathan Littauer Hospital said it was a pleasure working with NEHVAC.

“Thanks to NEHVAC, we kept moving forward, even under the pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis going on at the time,” Connelly said. “They did a great job and really cultivated a good working relationship with us.”

Another project during this time included a rural hospital operating room in Vermont that needed emergency repair of a hot water pump motor that had failed.

“This hospital is the only facility for maybe hundreds of miles around,” he said. “It was absolutely imperative that we keep them up and running to serve their patients.”

Barbeito looked back on another big fix: there was a crisis at a major pharmaceutical plant.

“In 2018, we scheduled a project at this big pharmaceutical manufacturing plant – they were renovating their cooling system in order to ensure quality control for production,” Barbeito said. “Before the project could get underway, we got a panicked call from the plant that the chiller was down.”

He said NEHVAC coordinated all the moving parts of renting and installing a 400-ton unit – hoisting, running lines, electrical work – to bridge the gap.

“There was a lot to that job,” Barbeito said, “We got it up and running in less than 48 hours; they were able to keep the plant open and staff working at full production.”

Owners Dave Principe, Donald F. Ferguson and Luke Principe talked about other aspects of NEHVAC.

“We all hear about businesses trying to open up safely and how they can effectively do so,” Dave Principe said. “The first idea is to increase fresh air through the circulation of their HVAC system. The second is to replace filters with Merv 12 or 13. This is better than what is typically happening, but what happens when you cannot increase your outside air in the winter, which causes higher heating bills?

“We all know businesses are financially stressed, so why pay more to heat? Merv 12 and 13 is a better safety measure than we have seen in the past, but the current virus is so small, we know they do not catch it in the filter. The Aerisa family of units in layman’s terms basically produces fresh air through the technology that will kill viruses and bacteria in the space and at the filter. There would be no need to increase outside air.

“I do know that if my kids’ school would put these in their facilities, I would send my kids back to school in the fall. This is an added safety measure that would give me, as a parent, peace of mind and more importantly reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

“We also hear that ultraviolet technology is a good product to kill the novel coronavirus, but it has to be at the source, which means the virus must hit the UV light directly. Whereas bipolarionization – like Aerisa technology – kills all the time and in the room 24/7.”

Dave Principe, Ferguson and Luke Principe want to cultivate a legacy of exceptional customer service and establish NEHVAC as a problem-solving organization and a resource for its customers.

“More than 80 years in business has earned us that reputation, and we are always looking for ways in which we can partner with our customers to enhance that resource for their benefit,” Ferguson said.

The trio has a vision for NEHVAC, which has survived more than 80 years that encompassed evolutionary changes.

“As you can imagine, we must adapt to market conditions, manufacturer changes and our internal growth – both in equipment and personnel,” Ferguson said. “Our service department has grown tremendously and has become a major profit center for our five- and 10-year growth plans.

“As Dillon mentioned, we are unique as a manufacturer’s representative because we can service, commission and install, as necessary, the products we represent. We have three distinct parts of our organization, ventilation product sales, mechanical product sales and service capability. All three of these are interdependent on one another, and our plan as an organization is to achieve sustained growth in all these areas, additional satellite locations and an expanded service territory.

“We are unlike most other representative firms … we work hard to foster a team approach to what we do and to make sure we are a ‘family’ in which all members of the team are in alignment with the goals we are working to achieve. We out-work and out-perform our competition, and we like to have fun doing it. When we bring on a new member of our organization, we invest a lot, and we expect a lot; when we commit, we commit to that person for a career and do all we can to inspire, teach and promote them throughout that career with us. We truly are only as successful as our people are.”

The trio said they began having discussions about re-introducing/re-branding the company in late 2019.

“We wanted our brand to reflect our growth and the increased services we could offer,” the owners said.

“The actual work of re-branding began in January 2020,” said Vice President of Operations Kelli Walsh. “As COVID began shutting things down, it made it challenging to complete this rebranding with limited people working.”

“With all the in-person restrictions, I knew there would be a challenge introducing it to customers in person, as we normally would,” said Luke Principe. “But with the team in place, we worked around these added obstacles to complete the task. We reintroduced a quarterly newsletter to introduce the new logo and keep customers, manufacturers, engineers, architects and end-users informed about our products and services now and in the future.”

The owners also stressed the importance of being a part of their community and of making a positive community impact.

“What really stands out for us is that we provide a critical service to customers such as hospitals, nursing homes and research facilities, especially during this COVID challenge,” they said. “We are proud to know we are really helping to facilitate the needs of these critical customers who need to lean on us in order to carry out their essential responsibilities during this crisis.

“It’s also very important to us that we be good corporate citizens, so we donate company and personal time and resources to causes such as the Run for Life, the Epilepsy Foundation, March of Dimes, local homeless shelters, and the American Cancer Society to name a few.”

“Long story short, if a customer is looking for a company that prides itself on being experts in the products and services they want, NEHVAC is the company to call,” Barbeito said.

More about Northeast HVAC Solutions

Northeast HVAC Solutions are manufacturer’s representatives for some of the leading names in mechanical products – including Acme Fans, American Aldes, Ampco, Armstrong Fluid Technology, Durkeesox, EHG Duct, Flexmaster, Flow-Tech, Halton, Hartzell, Honeywell Analytics, Hunter Fans, Indeeco, Marlo Coil, Marley, Movex, Neptronic, Pennbarry, Perry Fiberglass, Precision Air Products Co., Pro Hydronic Specialties Proco Products, Inc., Puroflux, Recold, REDD-I, Rovanco Piping Systems, Rupp Air, Ruskin, Seiho, Solaronics, SPX Cooling Technologies, Titus, TMI Climate Solutions, Vibro-Acoustics and Viron International – that provide the best technologies in air handling equipment, air measuring products, air rotation, airflow and zone control, automatic and manual balancing valves, baseboard heaters, breeching, cabinet heaters, coil hook-up kits, coils (all types – fluid, steam, process, refrigerant, AHRI cert.), commercial and industrial fans, counter-flow space heaters, custom air handling units and advanced hydronics, diffusers, direct- and indirect-fired make-up air unit, dryer venting, duct coils, electric unit heaters, duct heaters cabinet, energy recovery units, environmental protection and gas detection systems, exhaust extractors, expansion joints, fabric dispersion systems, fans, fiberglass fans, filters, filtration and control systems, filtration for hospital operating rooms, fire and smoke dampers, flexible connectors, flexible duct, floor and radiant heaters, FRP duct, grease duct, grilles, hose kits, HVLS ceiling fans and industrial, industrial air distribution systems, industrial and commercial humidifiers, industrial and control dampers, industrial fans and blowers, kitchen ventilation, lab exhaust systems, laminar air flow, local extractors, louvers, low and high-intensity infrared heaters, make-up air systems, Marley and Recold cooling towers and fluid coolers, noise control, non-chemical water treatment pre-insulated double wall FRP duct, pre-insulated flexible and containment piping systems, pumps (all types – hydronic specialties, heat exchangers, boiler and chiller plant control solutions, fire pumps, pressure boosters systems), PVC-FRP ductwork, registers, residential system solutions, restraint systems, round and oval duct and fittings, rubber check valves, scrubbers, sheet metal fittings, specialty fans (paint booths, green houses, poultry), specialty spot diffusers and grilles, stacks, terminal boxes, vibration isolation and wall heaters.

Rethinking K-12 Renovations

Paul Johnston, RA, REFP, Sr. Project Manager, King + King Architects

Our region is home to many K-12 school buildings exceeding 60 years old. Often these early to mid-20th century structures are still in use and have encountered few upgrades. These facilities were designed around an outdated educational model preparing students for a workforce that largely no longer exists. As education philosophies and delivery methods adjust to our modern world, all too often instruction is occurring in physical spaces that do not sufficiently accommodate or support it. Teachers and students are seen using hallways, closets, and even obsolete locker rooms for a variety of crucial individual and small group activities that do not fit in the traditional classroom.

Upstate NY school districts rely on State Building Aid as a significant funding source for capital improvement projects. In most cases, aid is maximized through renovations; rarely can new replacement buildings or significant additions be justified due to flat or declining student enrollment (a major factor in aid formulas).

As districts are steered toward renovations, existing building layout and structural elements must be evaluated and often can pose challenges to the redesign. Limitations such as long narrow classroom wings, circulation and exit requirements, fire-rated walls, and structural systems are hurdles to significantly rethinking and reorganizing the floor plan.

However, as school districts strive to go beyond just recreating 21st century versions of their 1950’s classroom wings, they are finding creative ways to overcome these obstacles to provide school facilities better fit for student learning.

The North Syracuse Bear Road Elementary School is currently under construction, and as part of a full ‘gut renovation’ of the single-story school, the building is being upgraded with a sprinkler system. This fire suppression system takes the place of fire-rated walls at classrooms and corridors, allowing for a greater amount of design flexibility. Classrooms can now have larger amounts of interior glass, open doors, and stronger connections to adjacent areas. This allows students to spread out into a variety of open and enclosed small group work areas beyond the classroom, while still allowing teacher supervision and students remaining connected to the larger group.

The Vernon-Verona-Sherrill School District is nearing the completion of a significant Middle School renovation, one which required the demolition and rebuild of an entire single-story wing on the original footprint. The existing bearing wall construction did not allow for the flexible/ adaptable team-teaching environment required by their STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) teams. This became an opportunity to address an area of the building beyond its useful life and provide unique learning spaces specifically designed around team-teaching and students working in teams. This wing was also uniquely situated to allow direct access to each STEAM team area without the original corridor. This recaptured floorspace, equal to the size of another classroom, allows larger communal work areas that can accommodate each 120-student team.

Finally, the Romulus Central School District recently completed an interior renovation of its High School located on the 2nd floor of the original 1930’s portion of their K-12 building. Existing rooms were too small, isolated, and did not promote the District’s cross curricular team-teaching approach. To remedy this, classrooms were enlarged and, in several zones, completely removed allowing the corridor to gain back this additional space. Classrooms were organized on either side of these enlarged corridor nodes. The added double doors create a strong visual and spatial connection across these classrooms and communal break-out spaces. Reorganizing these spaces encourages the integration of disciplines like Math-Science and English-Social Studies as teachers, students, and subject matter collaborate together.

Finding strategic ways to better utilize areas like corridors, for more than just circulation, is a key component to breaking the limitations of ‘double-loaded’ corridor and provides more adaptive and supportive spaces for student learning moving forward. 

For more information on rethinking K-12 renovations, you may contact Paul Johnston and King + King Architects at 315-671-2400, email or visit online at

History Has Shown the Construction Industry will Endure

By: Earl Hall, Executive Director, Syracuse Builders Exchange

It is early September.  The cool mornings and slight tint of colors in trees illustrate the beginning of change.  It is a timely and expected change, transitioning summer to fall.  The annual upstate New York tradition also means contractors are busy wrapping up projects over the next few months in preparation for the expected change to winter.

Unexpected change is inevitable, but how we as a society and construction industry executives react to uncertain changes can vary.  Although the country is still in the midst of a pandemic, construction industry employers have adapted to new “norms” both in the office and on the construction job site.  What are the new “norms” when bidding a project?  What lessons have been learned about how to bid on projects during a pandemic, and for how long will these new “norms” be in place?  Have contractors and project owners alike done all they can do to mitigate risk and liability exposures, and are those measures adequate protections in the event of unexpected issues?

Over the decades, the construction industry has endured many eras of uncertainty and recessions.  The industry has many wonderful success stories of second and third generation construction companies which have survived similar times.  Lessons have been learned and new best practices have been adopted during each occurrence, so I suspect the current economic and industry turmoil resulting from COVID-19 is no different – except for those who have no experience.

History is a great teacher of delivering the most difficult lessons.  Some examples of recessions in the United States that have led to eventual recoveries and survival of construction contractors include:

The Asian Flu Pandemic lasted from the summer of 1957 through April of 1958.  While the coronavirus originated in China, the Asian Flu originated in Hong Kong.  It ripped through India and Europe and eventually made its way to the United States.  It killed over 1 million people world-wide and initiated a global recession.  In an effort to end the recession, then President Dwight D. Eisenhower convinced congress to pass a stimulus package addressing national infrastructure needs in the Federal Aid Highway Act.  Notice any similarities today?

The Oil Embargo from 1973-1975 resulted in the longest U.S. economic recession since the Great Depression from 1929-1933.  Unemployment reached approximately 8.8% and gas prices soared, increasing the cost of consumer goods and services.  In an effort to end the recession, the Federal Reserve significantly lowered interest rates, which would later lead to high inflation in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  Sound familiar?

From July 1981 to November 1982, the U.S. endured yet another oil-related recession when the Iranian Revolution ended and the new regime exported oil at very low prices, keeping gas prices in the U.S. high.  With inflation in the U.S. at an all-time high, the Federal Reserve increased interest rates to 21.5% which then lowered the inflation rate, however, the economy declined by 3.6% over the next 16 months while unemployment soared to over 10%.  Then President Ronald Reagan attacked this problem by reducing taxes and increasing military spending.

The Savings and Loan crisis and Gulf War lead to a recessionary era from July 1990 through March 1991.  This modest recession saw GDP decline to 1.5% while unemployment reached 6.8%.  Although the recession officially ended in 1991, the U.S. experienced 7 consecutive quarters thereafter of very slow growth.

Who could ever forget the short and swift Dot-Com crash in 2001, and the horrific events of September 11, 2001?  During this recession, the Nasdaq fell 75% while the S&P 500 lost 43% between 2001 and 2002.  What lead the U.S. economy out of this recession:  The housing market.  What later initiated the next recession?

From December 2007 to June 2009, the housing market imploded and triggered the Great Recession.  Some of the largest U.S. financial institutions collapsed under the default weight of mortgage-backed securities.  During this time, unemployment rates hit 10.5% and the GDP declined 4.4%.  What did the government do to re-energize the economy?  Congress passed a $1.5 trillion stimulus package.  

What lessons did the construction industry learn during these past recessions and why is history so important to those who are responsible for developing a strategy for 2021?  The circumstances and events we find the U.S. in today, and those in upstate New York, are not unique.  History has proven the construction industry has endured those same challenges we are experiencing today.  And while the politicization of the coronavirus is evident, some pundits have argued the over-reaching of governmental authority has crippled the economy more than the virus itself.  Through it all, the construction industry has learned how to not only endure times of uncertainty but position itself to be stronger when the crisis is over.

People often ask me what I think about the current state of the construction industry in upstate New York.  My answer is the current state of the industry is strong, despite the pandemic and the new “norms” mentioned above that has caused the industry much angst and money.  While 2020 is still in play, I do have concerns for 2021 and 2022 for the reasons mentioned in my prior article about the lack of funding for future public and private projects.  The many regional architects and engineers I speak with share my belief, in that this recession will end when a vaccine is developed and our elected officials in Washington, D.C. pass a meaningful infrastructure stimulus package to address the crumbling infrastructure in our country – but specifically in New York State.

During this time, and while planning for 2021, I would encourage construction industry executives to identify:

  • Means to become more efficient
  • Market segments that provide your company the best return on your investment
  • How to improve the quality of your team
  • How to improve your firm’s information technology
  • Future training and/or equipment needs
  • Other areas to achieve economies of scale

Recessions and market trends come and go.  Those of you who have been in the construction industry long enough know this and have positioned your company to endure the hardship, only to ultimately persevere and prosper in the long run.  What is new about the current environment?  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s ability to unilaterally control businesses opening and closing.  Such strict governmental mandates and regulations on businesses is unique in our history, so we have no history lessons to lean on to know how to react when governmental mandates adversely impact businesses and the employees they hire.

In the end, upstate New York’s construction industry and those executives who lead their companies will be resolute.  Perseverance will overcome fear and determination will overcome governmental mandates.  Lessons will be learned from COVID-19 that will resonate for generations. 

The construction industry will lead the way to our regional economic recovery; unfortunately, there will be tumultuous times ahead as I anticipate a very challenging time in 2021.