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.