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In September, BusinessWest presented its 2014-15 Resource Guide. What follows are needed additions and corrections to the charts that appeared in that issue:

• Changes to Accounting Firms
:
Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C.
Services: Management-advisory services; audit and accounting services; multi-state and international taxation; tax planning and return preparation; employee benefit-plan audits; family and independent business services; business valuations; financial planning and wealth management; cost-segregation studies; certified fraud examiners; construction; healthcare; education; not-for-profit; real estate; manufacturing, wholesale, and distribution
Bova, Harrington & Associates, P.C.
Number of CPAs: 7
Number of Partners: 2

• Addition to Audio-Visual/Multi-Media Companies:
Kirby Productions
1 Doane Ave., Agawam, MA 01001
(413) 388-5714; www.kirbyproductions.com
Employees: 1
Services: Full-service HD video production company specializing in writing, videography, and motion design; TV commercials; promotional videos; viral videos; event videos; video blogs; production studio with green screen available
Contact: Al Liptak

• Changes to Auto Dealers:
Balise Chevrolet Buick GMC
General Manager: John Perez
Balise Ford of Wilbraham
General Manager: Charles Dansby

• Addition to Banks in Western Mass.:
Farmington Bank
www.farmingtonbankct.com
Assets: $2,110,028,000
Deposits: $1,513,501,000
Net Income: $3,704,000
Total Equity Capital: $232,209,000
Total Loans and Leases: $1,822,487,000
Commercial Loan Volume: $253,406,000
Secured by Real Estate: $546,350,000
(Figures are year-end 2013. Farmington Bank, based in Connecticut, entered the Massachusetts market in 2014.)

• Change to Colleges with MBA Programs:
Elms College
Contact: Donna Graziano

• Addition to Computer Network/IT Services:
Network Advantage Associates
2098 Roaring Brook Road, Conway, MA 01341
(413) 223-9007; www.net-vantage.com
Contact: Roy Cohen
Service Area: Pioneer Valley
Services: Integrates advanced strategic technologies in small businesses, professional practices, and nonprofits; business continuity/disaster recovery; on- and off-site backup and recovery; information-technology management; systems and network administration; virtualization solutions; custom VoIP solutions; server upgrades and migrations; Enterprise wireless; Google/Oracle solutions

• Addition to Day Spas:
Elements Hot Tub Spa
373 Main St., Amherst, MA 01002
(413) 256-8827; www.elementshottubspa.com
Owners: Jeff and Diana Krauth
Services: State-of-the-art private hot tubs; infrared saunas; aromatherapy steam room; individual and couples massage; advanced therapeutic bodywork modalities; natural facials; spa services
Preferred Product Line: France Laure Natural Care

• Change to Dental Services:
Florence Dental Care
Head of Practice: Benjamin Falk, DDS
Specialties: General and cosmetic dentistry for all ages including  tooth-colored fillings, porcelain veneers, and crowns; smile makeovers and ZOOM whitening; preventive care including all phases of gum (periodontal) treatment; comprehensive dental care including root-canal therapy, oral surgery and extractions, dental implants, and bone grafting; digital X-rays and photographs; emergency care

• Addition to Financial Services/Brokerage Firms:
Gage-Wiley & Co. Inc.
120 King St., Northampton, MA 01060
(413) 584-9121; www.gagewiley.com
Licensed Brokers in Western Mass.: 8
Total Licensed Brokers Nationally: 9
Branch Manager: Christopher Milne
Services: Comprehensive wealth management; independent brokerage and investment-advisory services; retirement, estate, and financial planning; life and long-term-care insurance.
 
• Additions to Home Care Options:
Porchlight VNA/Home Care
32 Park St., Lee, MA 01238
2024 Westover Road, Chicopee, MA 01022
(413) 243-1212; www.porchlighthomecare.org
Director: Holly Chaffee
RN/LPN Care: Yes
Services: Skilled nursing; wound care; infusion therapy; telemonitoring; physical, occupational, and speech therapies; mother/baby care; nutritional counseling; mental-health services; psychiatric nursing; home health aide services; CHF disease management; community health programs
Porchlight Home Care
21 High St., Lee, MA 01238
2024 Westover Road, Chicopee, MA 01022
(413) 243-1122; www.porchlighthomecare.org
Director: Dawn Dewkett 
RN/LPN Care: Yes
Services: Care management; personal care attendants; home health aides; certified nursing assistants; homemakers; companionship; live-in services; transportation/door-to-door program; medication reminders; 24-hour care; complimentary assessments; long-term-care planning; 24-hour nurse oversight; home visiting nurse practitioner

• Addition to Insurance Agencies:
John M. Glover Agency
4 Open Square Way, Suite 213, Holyoke, MA 01040
(413) 534-1500; www.johnmglover.com
Full-time Agents: 2
Full-time Employees: 2
Local Offices: 1
Type of Insurance: Property/casualty, auto, home, business, life, health, workers’ comp
Top Local Officials: Kyle Sullivan, John Sullivan
 
• Change to Insurance Agencies:
The Dowd Insurance Agencies
Type of Insurance: Commercial, personal, life, employee benefits, surety

• Change to Law Firms:
Gove Law Office
Second address: 358 Sewall St., Ludlow, MA 01056
(413) 583-5196; www.govelawoffice.com
Lawyers: 2
Areas of Practice: Business representation; commercial and banking matters; residential and commercial real estate; estate planning and probate administration; landlord/tenant; bankruptcy; personal injury

• Addition to Physical Therapy Outpatient Facilities:
Active Physical Therapy & Wellness, LLC
2301 Boston Road, Wilbraham, MA 01095
(413) 596-5362; www.activeptw.com
Administrator: Patricia O’Brien
Services: Outpatient clinic offering individualized manual therapy treatment for neck and back pain, sports injuries, post-surgery, arthritis, shoulder and knee problems; private treatment rooms; fitness center

• Change to Physical Therapy Outpatient Facilities:
HealthSouth Hospital of Western Massachusetts
Administrator: Victoria Healy

• Addition to Skilled Nursing/PT Facilities:
Life Care Center of Wilbraham
2399 Boston Road, Wilbraham, MA 01095
(413) 596-3111; www.lcca.com/182
Administrator: Dennis Lopata
Services: Subacute and rehabilitation programs provide a bridge between hospital and home; physical, occupational, and speech therapy; orthopedic recovery program; VitalStim therapy for swallowing or dysphagia difficulty; CPI wound care; aquatic-therapy program; long-term and respite care

• Addition to Telecom/Voice/Data Providers:
Network Advantage Associates
2098 Roaring Brook Road, Conway, MA 01341
(413) 223-9007; www.net-vantage.com
Contact: Roy Cohen
Service Area: Pioneer Valley
Services: Integrates advanced strategic technologies in small businesses, professional practices, and nonprofits; business continuity/disaster recovery; on- and off-site backup and recovery; information-technology management; systems and network administration; virtualization solutions; custom VoIP solutions; server upgrades and migrations; Enterprise wireless; Google/Oracle solutions

• Change to Web Development Companies:
Last Call Media
136 West St., Suite 01, Northampton, MA 01060

• Addition to Western Mass. Area Computer Retailers:
Northeast IT Systems Inc.
777B Riverdale St., West Springfield, MA 01089
(413) 527-8090; www.northeastit.net
Employees: 8
Owner/Manager: Joel Mollison
Products/Services: Computer and network equipment sales and service; hardware and software; computer network and IT consulting services for small to midsized businesses and municipalities; firewalls; network security; remote access/VPN; servers; virtualization; VoIP phone systems; backup and disaster recovery; spam filtering

Sections Supplements
Forget Time Management … Are You Managing Your Energy?

Phrases like ‘manage your time’ and ‘do more with less’ have become buzzwords for this decade. The idea is that, if you can manage your time well, you’ll be more productive in all areas of life.
The only flaw in this thinking is that time is finite. In other words, you can manage time all you want and continually push yourself to get more done. But all this managing and pushing tires your brain, drains your spirit, and disengages your soul. That’s when mistakes occur and burnout ensues. The key, then, is not simply to manage your time, but also to manage your energy.
Unlike time, energy is restorable. And when you manage your energy well, you’ll have more energy for your priorities, whether they are personal or professional in nature. If you don’t manage your energy, you can’t manage your time. Sure, you can think about all the things you need to do, and you can even schedule them, but if you don’t have the energy to do the tasks, you won’t be able to accomplish them appropriately.
Realize, too, that managing your energy goes beyond work/life balance. While many people talk about work/life balance (devoting ample time to all areas of your life), few address those things that make life rich and fun.
With so many things competing for your attention daily, you need to give attention to energy replenishment so you can devote time your life’s priorities demand. This is why it’s important to manage your energy before you manage your time.
Keeping your energy in check means giving attention to your brain, your spirit, and your soul. Think of it like a three-legged stool. For the stool to be useful, you need all three legs. Remove one leg from the equation, and the stool topples over and is useless. The same is true for your energy. Therefore, to keep your energy replenished, implement the following suggestions into your daily life.

Stimulate Your Brain
The human brain likes control and certainty, and it’s very good at predicting the next thing that is likely to happen based on the information it has. That’s why you often feel better when you perceive you have control over a situation and feel stressed if you think you have no control over events.
Additionally, the brain is programmed to fear. This is a good thing, though, because the inborn fear is what has allowed our species to evolve. The only drawback to this natural fear is that the brain will take three pieces of information and make a story out of it — usually a negative one. This negative story becomes your reality until you get another piece of data. Talk about an energy drain on your brain!
In order to replenish your brain’s energy, do the following:
• Since your brain is part of your body, it needs to be fed the right food for optimum health. Eat three nutritious meals a day, exercise to increase the oxygen flow to your brain, and drink plenty of water to keep hydrated.
• Reconstruct your stories. You have to purposefully stop the story and seek out the missing pieces of information. For example, if you get an e-mail from your boss telling you not to take part in a task you volunteered for, with no explanation why, you would likely think your boss doesn’t believe you’re capable of the task. In reality, your boss may need you for another task, he or she may think the task is not challenging enough for you, or your boss may simply not need any assistance on the task any longer. But you’ll never know (and never stop the negative story) until you ask.
• Analyze what helps and hurts your thinking ability. For instance, do 200 e-mails staring at you first thing in the morning make you exhausted before you even start the day? If so, then don’t do that task first thing. Do the most important things when you’re alert and at your best, as those tasks will actually energize you so you’re able to handle the stressful tasks later.
• Give yourself two hours a day for focused attention on a key project — the earlier in the day, the better. No multi-tasking during this time! Whether you are a night person or a morning person, the fact is that your brain is rested after you sleep, so this is the key time for focused attention and productivity.

Awaken Your Spirit
The human spirit yearns to soar. The spirit enjoys lofty goals and challenging tasks to accomplish. How spirited someone is often relates to how purposeful he or she is. In fact, it’s common that, when people lose their purpose in life, they feel deflated and even depressed. Hence the phrase ‘her spirit was broken.’
An energized spirit is what catapults you out of the mundane and into a new and exciting endeavor. In order to replenish your spirit’s energy, do the following:
• Do one thing every day that makes your spirit soar. Whether it’s reading poetry or listening to music, if you feel your spirit is fed by that, do it.
• Think about what you want to do in your life. Dream big! Give planned time to your future in order to nurture your spirit.
• Read things that stretch your mind. Your spirit wants to reach for the next best thing. Unleash the power of your spirit by exposing your mind to new things — even things that you feel are impossible to accomplish right now.
• Take time each day to think and concentrate. Many people are in knowledge-oriented jobs and need some degree of quiet time. So even though a particular task must get done, that task often requires planning and thinking. Your spirit can’t gain energy to tackle big goals unless it has some quiet time to prepare. So let people know that you require quiet thinking time, and actually put this time in your schedule. If others know your needs and intentions, they will respect them.

Feed Your Soul
The human soul likes the familiar, the deep, and the poignant. The soul likes ritual, doing the same thing at the same time every day. It also enjoys the simple things in life, beauty, and nature. The soul is what connects you to life and to what is deeply meaningful to you.
In order to replenish your soul’s energy, do the following:
• Clarify your intentions and plan what you want your tomorrow to be like before you go to bed. This allows your subconscious to work on your challenges and big decisions while you sleep.
• Take time for enchantment. Linger through a museum. Enjoy preparing a simple, elegant meal. Go outside regularly and really look at nature. Your soul loves beauty and wants a connection with the earth.
• Experience the present fully. Focus on the things around you — the colors and textures. Be mindful of your current surroundings and activities rather than always trying to multi-task. Really engage in life in the moment. Feel yourself breathe.
• Build rituals for yourself and your family. Even something as simple as eating dinner at the same time every day is a ritual. Both your soul and your brain crave ritual and gain energy from it.

Energize!
By focusing on these three areas of your life — your brain, your spirit, and your soul — you’ll gain the much-needed energy to tackle life with enthusiasm and zest. With your energy fully replenished, time will no longer be an issue. You’ll feel ready to handle anything that comes your way with ease … and you’ll do it much faster.
So make it a habit to stimulate your brain, awaken your spirit, and feed your soul. It’s one investment in yourself you can’t afford not to make.

Jean Kelley, industrial sociologist and founder of Jean Kelley Leadership Consulting, has personally interviewed more than 20,000 people.  She is the author of Get a Job; Keep a Job and Dear Jean: What They Don’t Teach You at the Water Cooler; www.jeankelley.com.

Sections Supplements
New Initiative Strives to Identify and Develop Regional Leaders

Lora Wondolowski

Lora Wondolowski

Recognizing the need to identify and cultivate young leaders, area civic and economic development leaders have created an initiative called Leadership Pioneer Valley. As the name suggests, this is a regional program — covering Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties — crafted to take emerging and existing leaders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, immerse them in a program to build leadership skills and educate them on the Valley, and then provide them with opportunities to put what they’re learned to work. This is a program, said its recently appointed director, that will have benefits for participants and the region as a whole.

In 2004, the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission’s Plan for Progress, initially created a decade earlier, was overhauled, with 13 new strategic goals identified as “critical for growing the people, companies, and communities that grow the region.”
Lora Wondolowski is now working out of a small office just down the hall from PVPC Executive Director Timothy Brennan because of what’s known colloquially as Action Item 7: “Recruit and train a new generation of regional leaders.”
Indeed, Wondoloski, hired in April, is program director of an initiative known as Leadership Pioneer Valley, which operates with a simple core mission: “To identify, develop, and connect diverse leaders to strengthen the Pioneer Valley.” As she talked with BusinessWest about her new assignment, she conveyed the message that each word in that mission statement was chosen carefully, and it’s her job to sharply define each one.
That starts with ‘identify.’ Wondoloski is now in the process of recruiting the first class of 40 to 50 emerging and existing leaders (ages 25-45) from the private, public, and nonprofit sectors to participate. “These are mid-career professionals, people who have been identified as having potential for leadership within their own company or organization,” she explained, “or people who have gotten involved locally somehow; we’re not looking for recent college graduates, and we’re not looking for CEOs ready to retire next year. For employers, these are people they want to keep around, people they want to root in the community.”
‘Develop’ is the next key word in the mission statement, and it will be addressed through a 10-month curriculum (one day per month) that will include a balanced combination of retreats, day-long seminars, and small-group activity, and is still a work in progress, with several weeks remaining before the start of the first planned program in October.
Which brings us to ‘connect’ — once the leaders have been identified and developed, they will be connected to the communities in ways designed to utilize the skills and knowledge they have acquired to benefit the region and specific communities and agencies as program alumni — and ‘diverse.’ Wondoloski said those chosen will, as a group, accurately reflect this region’s changing demographics and, in the process, develop leaders from several different ethnic groups. But it will be diverse in other respects as well, including industry representation.
As for Pioneer Valley, this is a truly regional concept, involving all of Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties, she explained, which separates LPV, as it’s called, from some other leadership programs created in Springfield and Northampton. Meanwhile, one of the goals of the curriculum is to familiarize participants with the whole of the Valley and the specific challenges and assets of specific areas and communities.
“We want participants to get a deep understanding of the Valley and the communities that make up this region,” she explained. “A lot of people don’t leave their communities — people from Springfield don’t often get up to Franklin County, and vice versa; we want to get people out of their silos.”
For this issue, BusinessWest talked at length with Wondolowski to gain some perspective on Leadership Pioneer Valley, it’s goals and emerging strategies for meeting them, and the reasons why it has become the embodiment of Action Item 7.

A Leadership Position
Since starting her new assignment, Wondolowski, formerly the founding executive director of the Mass. League of Environmental Voters, has been working with a 27-member steering committee on several components of that aforementioned mission statement, from curriculum development to the multi-faceted task of recruitment.
For example, she was in attendance at BusinessWest’s 40 Under Forty gala on June 23 at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House, meeting with several potential members of the first class of leaders. She’s also been finalizing the application form for those desiring to be members of the first class — it now appears on the recently launched Web site www.leadershippv.org — and meeting with area business and civic leaders to gauge what they want and need to see result from this initiative.
The broad yet simple goal is developing leadership, she continued, adding that this has been identified as one of the more critical economic-development priorities in the region for some time. And to achieve that goal, the PVPC, the Community Foundation of Western Mass., and several area businesses are collaborating to create a program modeled after several local, regional, and national initiatives, said Wondolowski.
As examples, she cited a one-year pilot program created six years ago by the Northampton Chamber of Commerce and the United Way called Leadership County, an effort launched nearly 30 years ago called Leadership Greater Hartford — administrators there have served as consultants for LPV — and an initiative in the nation’s capital called Leadership Greater Washington.
LGW, as the Washington-area program is called, was created in 1986, put together by six area chambers of commerce and three economic-development-related organizations — the Greater Washington Board of Trade, the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, and the Junior League. The linchpin of the program is its so-called Effective Leadership Institute, which provides one-day-per-month coursework focusing on communication, team building, emotional intelligence, and diversity.
“We’re taking the lessons learned from Hampshire County and applying them to a region-wide leadership program, and the Hartford team has helped put together a business plan for us,” said Wondoloski. “We’re taking best practices from a number of different models.”
Hiring a director and assembling a steering committee were the first real steps in the process of getting LPV off the ground, said Wondolowski, adding that recruitment and curriculum development are the next matters in the to-do list, and there has been significant progress with both.
The recruiting process will be highly competitive, she told BusinessWest, adding that she expects the volume of applications to far exceed the number of seats in the classroom. But more important than the quantity of applicants is the quality, she went on, noting that is why she’s working hard to get the word out to individuals and constituencies like the 40 Under Forty Class of 2011 and those that preceded it, as well as the area’s young-professionals organizations.
Meanwhile, she’s reaching out to LPV sponsors, which include MassMutual, Baystate Health, PeoplesBank, United Bank, Westfield Bank, and others — who are each contributing $5,000 to $10,000 toward the program’s $257,000 annual budget — to help recruit candidates.
Diversity is also a key factor in finalization of the first class, she said, adding that there will be targets established for specific ethnic groups, and to reach them, organizers will reach out to groups like the Latino Chamber of Commerce and others like it that serve a specific constituency.

Course of Action
While recruitment work continues, Wondoloski and the steering committee are also finalizing the curriculum for the 10-month program, the cost of which will vary according to a sliding scale. For participants from large companies, the price tag will be roughly $2,500, while those from the smallest nonprofits will pay $850. Participants will be asked to contribute $300 themselves, and scholarships will be available.
Most of the components are in place, she told BusinessWest, adding that they include:
• A retreat, to be staged in September, which will focus on self-assessment of leadership skills, an introduction to the region, and selection of group projects;
• Challenge days, or day-long seminars, held monthly, that will focus on leadership skills and significant challenges facing the region such as education, sustainability, transportation, and the regional economy;
• Field experience in the shape of day-long workshops, also held monthly, at locations around the region to introduce participants to local leaders, the diversity of the region, and an area’s challenges, assets, and potential; and
• Leadership learning labs. Each class will work in small teams to devise strategies to address one of the themes or challenges identified in the PVPC’s Plan for Progress. The teams will have time to meet on training days, but will also meet independently between the monthly sessions.
The seminars will be held at venues across the region, said Wondoloski, listing the Springfield Museums, Greenfield Community College, and Yankee Candle as examples of potential sites chosen to connect participants with the businesses and institutions that shape the Valley.
Meanwhile, to provide what she called a 360-degree view of the region, the field experiences will be staged at locations chosen to broaden participants’ knowledge of the entire Valley. Details have not been finalized, she said, but there will likely be a Springfield Day; a Five College Day to familiarize the class with the Amherst-Northampton area; a day in Holyoke, Chicopee, and perhaps South Hadley to gain perspective on that area; and a Hilltowns and Franklin County Day.
The sum of these curriculum elements will provide participants with opportunities to refine their personal and public leadership skills, said Wondolowski, while also developing diverse contacts and an effective communication network, receiving recognition for themselves and their organization, and gaining opportunities for taking an active and effective role in addressing community needs.
In short, participants will be gaining and honing leadership skills, while also getting a comprehensive education in the region as a whole, but also its specific areas and communities — and then opportunities to apply what they’ve learned.
Looking down the road, Wondoloski said that some of the programs that LPV is modeled after have developed some measures for quantifying the success of their initiatives. These include everything from the percentage of participants gaining promotions in their firms to the number of nonprofit board seats filled by individuals who have taken part in the training regimens.
Ultimately, though, success will more likely be qualified, and the indicators will be quality of life, overall vibrancy, and greater diversity in the business sector, government, and other realms.

Class Act
Graduates of the LPV program will receive a certificate of some sort identifying them as a participant and perhaps some course credits, said Wondoloski, adding that these are some of the details still being worked out.
But they’ll get much more than a piece of paper, she told BusinessWest, adding that they’ll gain not only additional leadership skills, a new network, and a broad education on the Valley, but also, and more importantly, motivation and opportunities to put what they’ve learned to work.
In that respect, they will be helping to address Action Item 7, but also address the critical need for leadership across the region.

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Sections Supplements
Why Your Retirement Plan Is Still One of the Best Ways to Build Wealth

Charlie Epstein

Charlie Epstein


While there are unlimited approaches to accumulating wealth, your company’s ERISA-qualified retirement plan still provides one of the best ways for you as the owner and your employees to create sustainable wealth, all on a tax-favorable basis.
Let’s examine some of the unique features of this timeless mechanism that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Convenience
Establishing a qualified retirement plan, either a profit-sharing, 401(k), or, yes, even a pension plan (cash balance), has never been simpler and less costly. Today, most major retirement-plan providers or independent third-party plan administrators can establish, design, and administer your plan for minimal cost. And if total assets in your plan are large enough, i.e., in excess if $5 million, the cost will be picked up or reimbursed by the carrier.

Capital Creation
When I ask business owners what their retirement plan is, they unanimously say, “Charlie, you’re sitting in it!” Yes, your business and your ability to turn a profit each year and eventually sell that business and sail off into the sunset will always be your greatest wealth-accumulation vehicle.
But what if the best-laid plans don’t come true? What if continued globalization and commoditization reduce your margins until you have no business to sell? Or if your kids eliminate that option for you by coming into the business? While your business will always be your ‘first economy,’ paying for your current lifestyle, your retirement plan can become your ‘second economy’ for creating wealth on a tax-favorable basis. With a properly designed plan, you can begin to capitalize your company by transferring taxable income or corporate earnings today into to tax-deferred dollars for tomorrow’s future paychecks.
A standard 401(k) plan affords anyone the ability to invest a maximum of $16,500 per year, $22,000 if you are over 50. This is a sizable amount for the average income earner and, invested over a long term, would allow them to create enough wealth to replace their income in retirement. But for the owner of the company (or a professional service corporation), depending on your company demographics, a properly designed combo profit-sharing/cash-balance pension plan will allow you to shift $100,000 to 300,000 a year from your corporate earnings to your retirement-plan economy, all on a tax-favorable basis.
Over a 20-year period, this would create a significant amount of wealth outside of your company and enable you to generate an income for life, in the event that you are unable to sell your business.

Asset Protection
Real wealth accumulation should also be protected from unforeseen forces, and I don’t just mean a prolonged bear market. Accumulating wealth inside your qualified plan affords you the asset protection of an offshore island trust without the expense or the travel. Qualified assets are creditor-proof, and in today’s litigious society, that is a valuable attribute for securing and creating real long-term capital creation and wealth.
OPM
As Danny Devito taught us in the funny movie Other People’s Money, the best way to accumulate wealth is with someone else’s money. A qualified plan allows you, the business owner, access to tax dollars you would have otherwise given to Uncle Sam each year on your taxable wages or corporate dollars. Inside your qualified plan, you are afforded the luxury of investing and maximizing the government’s money for your future benefit.
This can accomplished with either Uncle Sam’s pre-tax basis dollars or with after-tax Roth contributions. Both offer the power of OPM. Best of all, your employees will enjoy the investing power of Uncle Sam’s money, and your OPM as well, should you provide a company match or profit-share contribution.

Fiduciary Care
The investment options available in today’s high-tech retirement plans are almost limitless, from mutual funds to ETFs, stock-brokerage windows, managed money, etc.
More importantly for you and especially participating employees of your company-sponsored plan, an ERISA-qualified plan offers the highest ‘standard of care’ in the investment world. That is a fiduciary standard of care.
Simply stated, you, as the plan fiduciary-sponsor, must operate the plan and manage its assets for the exclusive benefit of the plan’s participants and their beneficiaries. Achieving this standard is always a slippery slope. However, today’s major retirement platforms offer both limited and full-scope (section 3(21) and 3(38)) investment fiduciaries and managers who can take on these prudent roles and responsibilities for you. (Most businesses today outsource; you can do the same inside your retirement plan.) These providers take on the fiduciary liability and ensure that the quality of investment options for you and your employees is rigorously monitored and managed. Past performance is never guaranteed, but a superior investment lineup can be.
In summary, your company’s retirement plan, properly designed, managed, and administered, is an ideal mechanism for wealth creation. Don’t underestimate this time-tested approach for capitalizing your business and creating greater financial peace of mind for you and your employees.

Charlie Epstein is president of Holyoke-based Epstein Financial; (413) 932-6236.

Sections Supplements
Some Basic Steps for Taking Control of Your Money

Doug Wheat

Doug Wheat


If you are like most people, you are anxious and concerned about the economy, your job, and the future. While we may have a limited impact on the world around us, we can each take control of our own financial situation to ease our concerns. Whether you are wealthy or not, having specific financial goals and a plan for achieving them will help you be more in control of your financial life.
If you have a financial plan in place, make sure you review it on a regular basis. Life can take unexpected turns, and your financial planning may need to be appropriately altered. If you started implementing some changes to your finances but ran into a roadblock, got bogged down in the details, or your life got too busy, now is a great time to pick up where you left off.
Here is a challenge for you to complete this summer. Read through this article detailing nine basics of financial planning. Pick two action items that would be helpful to you, and implement them in June. In July, read a personal-finance book and pick two more action items to implement. You will be on your way to taking control of your finances for the next decade.
• Spend Less Than You Earn: While there are many different strategies for financial planning, no strategy will work unless you spend less than you earn. It doesn’t matter if you make $30,000, $100,000, or $250,000 per year; spending more than you take home each month will make all of your plans collapse. The amount you spend in a year is the result of hundreds of independent decisions. How are you making these decisions? Do you know the difference between your wants and your needs? If you have trouble spending less than you earn, it’s time for you to do some research and some experimentation to find a system that helps you have some money left at the end of every week. One alternative to a traditional budget is the ‘first-step cash management’ system that suggests dividing your money into separate bank accounts, each with a different purpose.
• Have a Cash Reserve: Having cash in the bank is a type of insurance against the unexpected. At some point everyone will face an unexpected large bill, possibly a car-repair bill or a hole in the roof. If you have cash on hand, you can pay the bill without going into debt. Should you lose your job, it is doubly important to have resources available until you can secure new employment. A good goal is to have three months of expenses available in cash; six months would be even better. It is helpful to put your cash reserve in a place that makes it difficult to spend, such as a separate bank.

• Pay Off Debt: Debt can be useful and sometimes unavoidable whether you are paying for college, a medical bill, or a new refrigerator. The average American household with credit-card debt owes $14,743 and pays nearly $2,000 in interest expense per year, according to creditcards.com. It is no surprise that 69% of people with credit-card debt find it difficult to save, according to a 2011 America Saves survey. Whatever the source, you will be better served by paying it off as quickly as possible. You might try the ‘snowball’ method of debt repayment. With this strategy, after you pay off one debt, you add its monthly payment to the next debt on your list until all debts are paid off. Unless you have no other choice, don’t use credit to make additional purchases.
• Establish Specific Goals: Too many people live on a day-to-day basis without thinking about their priorities and developing plans to reach them. The more specific you can make your goal, the easier it becomes to measure your progress. For example, instead of simply having a goal of paying off your credit-card debt, add a date by which you want to have a zero balance and figure out your monthly payment to make it happen.
• Multiply Your Money: We all know the best time to start saving is early, and the second-best time is now. There are lots of competing uses for our money, but the power of compounding is not available to us until our money is invested and earning money. When our money is earning money, then our wealth can build much more rapidly. A 25-year old who saves $1,000 per year for 40 years and earns 5% interest will have $133,880 at age 65. A 35-year-old who saves $1,000 per year for 30 years and earns 5% interest will have $74,083 at age 65. Starting to save early can give you a big jump on meeting a long-term goal.
• Understand Account Types: Tax-advantaged accounts are available to help all of us meet some of our most important goals. Understanding the difference between these accounts will help you minimize the taxes you pay and maximize the money you have available to reach your goals. There are essentially three types of accounts: tax-free, tax-deferred, and taxable. With tax-free accounts, both the money you put in the account and the money earned in the account can be taken out tax-free. Retirement Roth IRAs and 529 Educational Savings Accounts are two examples of tax-free accounts.  If you make a contribution to a tax-deferred account, it will reduce your taxable income this year, but withdrawals of both your contributions and earnings in the future are considered income, and you will owe income tax on it. Traditional IRA accounts, 401(k) accounts, and 403(b) accounts are examples of tax-deferred accounts. For a taxable account, you owe income tax and capital-gains tax each year based on your earnings. Taxable accounts include savings accounts and brokerage accounts.
• Invest in a Diversified Portfolio: Since we cannot predict the future, investing in a diversified mix of assets will help you weather economic storms or drops in the market while also having better growth potential than a savings account alone. Being diversified becomes more important as you get older and have accumulated money that you do not want to lose. There are many strategies for building a diversified portfolio. If you don’t have the opportunity to research the subject, a default choice can be either a retirement fund based on your age or an educational fund based on the age of your child. Try to find investment products with low fees.
• Prepare for Pitfalls: It is important to be prepared for unexpected events. Having a cash reserve is one way to be prepared. Having insurance and wills in place is another. Most people have health, automobile, and homeowners insurance because they are often mandatory and it is easier to see a relationship between risk and benefits. However, people often don’t realize their vulnerability to misfortune in other areas of their lives. According to the Social Security Benefit Administration, approximately 30% of 20-year olds entering work today will become disabled before they retire, and 1 in 6 Americans will die before reaching age 67. Finding cost-effective means to insure against the risks we all face will provide you and your family financial security if the unexpected happens.
• Expand Your Learning: Personal finance is a complicated subject with a number of different facets. There is a wealth of information available on the Internet as well as in publications such as Money, Kiplinger Personal Finance, and Smart Money. Basic books on financial planning include Personal Finance for Dummies by Eric Tyson, The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and William Danko, and The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom by Suzy Orman. Even if you don’t like dealing with money, reading a few personal-finance items every year will help keep you up-to-date and better-able to plan for your future.

Early-Career (approx. age 23-35) Action Items:
• Establish a cash reserve equal to 3-6 months of expenses.
• Make a plan to pay off non-mortgage debt by a specific date.
• Invest in a 401(k) retirement account at least up to your employer’s match but hopefully 10% of your salary or more.
• Utilize a Roth IRA retirement account if you don’t have a retirement plan at work.
• Pay yourself first by setting up automatic transfers into a long-term savings or investment account.
• Watch your expenses. It is easy to burn through money on nights out or daily coffee. Make sure you are spending less than you are taking home.

Mid-Career (approx. age 36-50) Action Items:
• Make specific mid- and long-range goals and develop a plan to meet them.
• Pay off non-mortgage debt and kick the debt cycle by building up your savings.
• Step up your retirement savings in your 401(k) to 10% or 15% of your salary if you are not already doing so. The default investment option can be a target date fund based on your age.
• Review your insurance needs, including term life insurance and disability insurance.
• Establish a will, health care proxy, and power of attorney.
• Start saving for your kids’ college in a 529 account. The default investment option can be a target date fund based on your son or daughter’s age.

Pre-retiree (approx. age 51-64) Action Items:
• Review your long-range goals and adjust your spending and savings to meet them.
• Develop a realistic budget.
• Consider fully funding your 401(k) with $16,500 per year plus $5,500 per year in step-up contributions for people over age 55.
• Make sure your investments are diversified.
• Review your Social Security benefit information.
• Consider paying off your mortgage before you retire to increase your cash flow when you don’t have a job.
• Don’t sacrifice your retirement to pay for your kid’s college.
• Consider how you will pay for future health care costs, including long-term care.

Retiree (age 65 and up) Action Items:
• Determine your income, including pensions and Social Security.
• Set up your investments to transfer money to your checking account on a monthly basis. Starting with a 4% withdrawal rate can help make your money last.
• Finalize a realistic budget based on your income and asset withdrawals.
• Consider part-time work or delaying retirement if your numbers do not add up.
• Review your will, health care proxy, and power of attorney.

Doug Wheat, CFP is director of Family Wealth Management Inc. in Holyoke; www.fwmgt.com

Sections Supplements
Construction Industry Benefits from Manufacturing Deduction

Cheryl Fitzgerald

Cheryl Fitzgerald

What was once an incentive for manufacturers who exported now benefits many more taxpayers. Better yet, you don’t even need to export to benefit.
A tax incentive enacted to help offset the repeal of a tax break for U.S. exporters actually benefits many contractors and engineers as well. This tax incentive provides a deduction for many U.S. businesses that’s allowed for both regular tax and alternative minimum tax (AMT) purposes. The deduction has become known by many different names. It’s been called, among other things, the ‘U.S. production activities deduction,’ the ‘domestic production activities deduction’ (DPAD), and the ‘domestic manufacturing deduction’. For simplicity’s sake, we’re calling it the DPAD deduction.
The DPAD deduction equals a percentage of the net income from eligible activities — 9% after 2009. However, the amount of the deduction for any tax year may not exceed the taxpayer’s taxable income or, in the case of individuals, the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income.
As noted above, the DPAD deduction equals a percentage of the net income from eligible activities. Among the more common eligible activities are:
• The manufacture, production, or growth of tangible personal property, in whole or in significant part within the U.S.;
• The construction of real property in the U.S.; and
• The performance of engineering or architectural services in the U.S. in connection with real property construction projects in the U.S.
Purely sales activities aren’t eligible for the deduction, nor are purely service activities, except for construction, engineering, and architectural services.
Construction activities are eligible for the DPAD deduction, but only if the construction is of real property performed in the U.S. The real property may consist of residential or commercial buildings; permanent structures (like docks and wharves); permanent land improvements (like swimming pools and parking lots); oil and gas wells, platforms, and pipelines; and infrastructure (like roads, sewers, sidewalks, and power lines). Real property doesn’t include machinery unless it’s a “structural component” — for example, an elevator.
Examples of businesses conducting eligible construction activities are residential remodelers; commercial and institutional building construction contractors; foundation, structure, and building exterior contractors; structural steel and pre-cast concrete contractors; and electrical, plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning contractors.
Eligible construction activities don’t include tangential services such as hauling trash and debris, and delivering materials, even if the tangential services are essential for construction.
Construction includes ‘substantial renovation,’ but not decoration (or redecoration).
Substantial renovation does not include mere cosmetic changes, such as painting. However, painting is an activity constituting construction if it’s performed in connection with other activities (whether or not by the same taxpayer) that constitute the erection or substantial renovation of real property.
For purposes of the rules allowing the DPAD deduction for U.S. real property construction activities, real property construction includes substantial renovation of real property. Substantial renovation means the renovation of a major component or substantial structural part of real property that materially increases the value of the property, substantially prolongs the useful life of the property, or adapts the property to a new or different use.
For example, a plumbing contractor’s installation of a plumbing system in a new building may qualify as a construction activity eligible for the DPAD deduction. However, replacing the fixtures in the bathroom of an existing house won’t qualify because the job isn’t connected with a construction activity — unless the work is performed as part of a substantial renovation.
The DPAD deduction is allowed to all taxpayers — individuals, C corporations, farming cooperatives, estates, trusts, and their beneficiaries. The deduction is passed through to the partners of partnerships and the owners of S corporations (not to partnerships or the S corporations themselves), and may be passed through by farming cooperatives to their patrons. And, despite the deduction’s history, it’s fully available to taxpayers who don’t export.
In addition to taxable income limitations, the amount of the DPAD deduction can’t exceed 50% of the business’s ‘W-2 wages’ paid to employees working in the qualified activity. This means that businesses operated as sole proprietorships or partnerships with no employees aren’t eligible for the deduction.
There’s a lot more to the DPAD deduction — for example, determining whether your particular business construction activities are eligible for the deduction, how to compute the net income from activities that are eligible, and how to determine the amount of the deduction when you’ve got income from both eligible and ineligible activities. The statutory rules are complicated, and the IRS has issued voluminous — and equally complicated — guidance on those rules. You should contact your accountant if you think that your constructing business activities may fall into a category that would allow for this deduction.

Cheryl Fitzgerald is a senior tax manager with the public accounting firm Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C., in Holyoke; (413) 536-8510.

Sections Supplements
Amherst Construction Company Has a Solid Foundation

Donald Teagno, left, and Louis Gallinaro

Donald Teagno, left, and Louis Gallinaro say the majority of the work handled by Teagno Construction is in residential settings.

When Donald Teagno was young, he never dreamed he would preside over an award-winning construction firm that would weather three recessions, employ 20 people, and specialize in historic renovations, museum work, and other niche services.
In fact, when the founder and president of Teagno Construction Inc. (TCI) in Amherst graduated from the UMass School of Education in the early ’70s, his plan was to teach English.
“I taught for six months at the junior-high-school level,” he recalled. “But I was in a fairly conservative school district, and I couldn’t use the creative techniques I had been taught at UMass.”
After that experience, he decided to embark upon an entirely different pathway that would allow him to utilize his natural talents. “I had always been pretty handy, and I started working as a carpenter for a developer in Amherst,” he said.
While doing so, Teagno became acquainted with a few local architects who needed work done on their own homes. He accepted one job at a time that included making custom furniture for some of his clients. By 1974, word of mouth had spread, and he began operating under the business name ‘Donald Teagno Building Contractor.’
“I was a lone carpenter and a sole proprietor,” he told BusinessWest. “When I became busier, I took on a partner. And little by little, the jobs got larger until I had three or four people working for me. But I had no preconceived notions that I would end up where I am today.”
However, by 1985, the company had grown substantially, and he incorporated under the name Teagno Construction. But he continued working in the field alongside his employees until it became necessary for him to remain in the office to give estimates and keep up with up with his payroll and other paperwork.
Leaving the construction sites to do office work was not an easy transition for the craftsman. “There are certain times during our company’s history when we made major leaps, and his was one of them,” Teagno explained. “But it was very difficult for me to delegate work to other people; I wanted things done in a certain way with a certain quality. Little by little, I was able to relax, once I was sure my reputation was being supported by my employees. But it was a slow process.”
In the early years, he worked almost exclusively with homeowners, putting on additions and doing interior renovations. “It was almost all negotiated work, but in 1985 I started doing larger jobs and branched out into multi-family work and the competitive market. And after about 10 or 15 years, I had built a reputation by doing unique projects,” he said. “We are not famous for it, but we have jacked up buildings to replace foundations, which we started doing in the ’80s.”
One of those jobs resulted in some recognition. TCI is certified by the state as a historical contractor, and its work on an 18-unit row house on South Street in Northampton won an award for historic preservation.
“We did a total renovation and extensive structural repairs there,” he explained. “The building was sliding down, and we had to pick up the foundation, level it, then pour a new foundation underneath it, which can cause some of the plaster inside to crack. These jobs are especially challenging, as it is really hard to figure out their cost. In the process of picking up a house, you find its weak points, so you have to look at it carefully to determine any problems that may arise. In the worst-case scenario, a project will become cost-prohibitive.”

On the Home Front
TCI’s portfolio is diverse and includes work in museums and local colleges. “We even built a ski lodge — the Swift River Inn in Cummington — which is now a school,” said general manager Louis Gallinaro. “And our marquee project on the industrial side was building All Saints Church in South Hadley.”
But the majority of the company’s projects have always been in the residential setting. It is in this realm where the business began and the reason TCI remains so sensitive to its customers’ ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
“Our residential work all started with my reputation for quality work and attention to people’s needs,” Teagno said.
In fact, almost 90% of his work comes from customer referrals. He does little advertising and relies mainly on word of mouth.
Teagno says he has been able to weather three recessions, two of them quite severe in nature, due to his company’s diversity, his commitment to listen closely to what customers say they want, and his quality work. In fact, these are core values that are adhered to during every project, although, on commercial jobs such as restaurant renovations, timing sometimes takes precedence.
“When you listen to people closely, you are able to do what they want in the way they want it,” Gallinaro explained.  “Most homeowners have never done this type of work before, and they want to be educated about the entire process.”
Teagno says his employees take the time to inform and explain exactly what they are doing each step of the way, which helps clients feel comfortable.
“Each customer is a whole new experience. We don’t just build things, we have relationships with our customers. And you can’t put a price on a relationship,” he said.
“We want them to have a good experience, so we do the absolute best job we can. Listening to our customers is not lip service for us, and it’s not always in our best financial interest. It would be easier to cut corners to save money, but we don’t do that.”
He says most homeowners are more concerned about quality workmanship than the length of time a project will take to complete.  Working in the industrial/commercial arena is a different story, however, as venues such as restaurants have opening dates and tight timelines.
Competitive bidding for such jobs makes up about 25% of TCI’s portfolio, and results in added benefits for residential customers. “It keeps our pencils sharp and allows us to give more value when we negotiate work with homeowners,” Teagno said.

Making History
TCI Inc. has done a considerable amount of work in local museums. Its most noteworthy project was a renovation made to the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst.
It was built as a private residence around 1856 and is the site where Dickinson composed the majority of her 1,800 poems. “We helped create the visitor’s room within the structure. One section was renovated extensively, but we left portholes in some of the wall sections so people could see how the building was initially constructed,” Gallinaro said.
He told BusinessWest that it was a privilege to work in such a historic setting. “We got to walk on hallowed ground in a building that is on the state and federal register.”
However, working on such old structures presents a stern set of challenges.
“Historic buildings were not built to the same standards we have today; in order to do the work, you need a good foundation, which is how the whole thing started,” Teagno explained, alluding to his firm’s diverse specialty work and the first time he had to raise a building to lay a new foundation. “I was brought in to make some repairs when I was on my own, and the jobs I got after that became increasingly challenging.”
The company is also responsible for renovating the Words and Pictures Museum in Northampton, which has since closed its doors. “The building had all kinds of structural issues. It had been renovated many times and was compromised over the years,” Teagno said.
TCI has also done work at local colleges, which runs the gamut from dormitory renovations to building new science labs and structures, such as an 18,000-square-foot classroom and administration building for the Bement School in Deerfield. Another noteworthy project was the construction of a 10,000-square-foot day-care center for Mount Holyoke College.
“We have also done a number of renovations for medical and dental facilities,” Gallerino said. “Nine years ago, we converted the gas station across the street into a successful practice. The building had been closed for years before we started the work.”
In addition, the company has built and renovated many area eateries, sometimes working in the same building more than once. “Restaurants are usually complicated because they involve a lot of equipment along with special heating and plumbing requirements and fire-safety issues,” Gallinaro said. “And the people we work with all have different needs.”

Plane Speaking
But no matter who their client is, their approach remains the same.
Teagno’s employees go in with an ear to the ground, making sure they understand the meaning behind a customer’s words so they can transform their dreams into reality.
It’s an interesting way to do business and perhaps not that far afield from the creative teaching methods Teagno wanted to employ long before he started his unique construction company.

Sections Supplements
The B-G Companies Continue to Make Degrees of Progress

James Reidy, operations manager of B-G Mechanical Services

James Reidy, operations manager of B-G Mechanical Services

The B-G Companies, launched as a small plumbing outfit more than 80 years ago by a German immigrant, remained a small family shop for decades afterward. But the past 30 years have seen significant expansion of the HVAC venture, which now boasts an impressive footprint across New England. Today, it’s making a name for itself in energy-efficiency projects, being sure to stay on the cutting edge of an industry that remains highly competitive.

It may no longer be a family business, but B-G Mechanical Services still feels like family to James Reidy.
“There are a lot of long-time people here,” said Reidy, the Chicopee-based company’s operations manager. “I’m one of the newer people, and I’ve been here 11 years.”
That stability speaks to the long-term success of an HVAC firm launched more than eight decades ago which boasts an impressive footprint in New England. Today, the B-G name — which includes sister company B-G Mechanical Contractors — is backed by the clout of its parent company, Pennsylvania Power & Light Corp. (PPL), one of the largest energy conglomerates in the U.S., which bought the outfit in 2000.
B-G is comprised of several divisions that handle very different types of work, Reidy explained.
“Here in the service division, we do smaller projects, and the crux of our business is contract maintenance,” he explained. “We’ll go to your building, change your filter, check your belts, and do whatever else is needed for your equipment to maintain it. When we see something wrong, we’ll let you know, and can hopefully repair that for you.”
A second division handles special projects, including design-build work for existing customers and smaller projects up for bid, up to around $1 million, Reidy explained. “They have engineering expertise and guys who are equipped to go out and do smaller projects.”
Meanwhile, B-G Mechanical Contractors performs mainly bid and spec work for larger projects, he explained, for both private companies and municipal properties.
“Our business contracting does a lot of school work; that seems to be a good niche for us,” Reidy said. “Plastics is very big around here, and we have a lot of customers involved in that, and we have a lot of customers in the printing industry, too.
In addition, “if a town needs a contractor, we’re big enough to handle just about any need from any town around here,” he added. “We’re unionized; if we really need extra manpower, we can call the hall, and hopefully they’ll have a few guys on the bench, ready to come to work.”
Just as B-G has been ready to answer the call for the past 80-plus years.

Steady Growth
B-G was started as a family business in the 1920s by German immigrant Bruno Goeldner. In 1956, he passed it on to his son, William, who incorporated the company in 1957. William’s son, Robert, joined the company in 1960 and became CEO upon William’s retirement in 1969. That was when what had been a small outfit began to grow and expand.
In 1970, Pioneer Plumbing and Heating was formed, prospering until the late ’70s, when it was merged with what had long been known as Bruno Goeldner Plumbing and Heating. The new entity was incorporated as B-G Mechanical Contractors Inc.
“Bob built B-G from a little plumbing shop into one of the premier mechanical firms in all of New England,” Reidy said. “In addition to B-G Mechanical Contractors, he started B-G Service, Titan Mechanical in Hartford, and Millennium Builders in Rocky Hill. Those were his four basic companies. He really built it from a mom-and-pop plumbing shop to a real contracting firm. He turned it into what it is today.”
In 2000, Robert Goeldner sold his companies to PPL. “Pennsylvania Power and Light owns 13 contracting companies from Virginia to Boston,” said Reidy, noting that the conglomerate recently bought Tennessee Electric Co. and Louisiana Power & Light Co.
Locally, B-G’s focus is mainly on commercial and industrial work, he emphasized, “but we have occasionally been involved in homes — bigger homes that have commercial systems in them.” Larger customers range from UMass and Holyoke Community College to Hartford’s post offices and the city of Springfield.
We’re fortunate that we have UMass; there are a lot of projects up there,” Reidy said.
“We also do a lot of work at Yale, which has a big endowment and is always doing projects. They’re a good customer, and we like dealing with them.”
These days, in the wake of the recession, “we find that municipalities are strapped; budgets are cut because tax revenue is down, and towns don’t have the money to spend on infrastructure.” But having a wide range of services and a broad client base helps shelter the company somewhat.
“We’re fortunate that, even with the downturn in the economy, we’re diversified enough to survive,” he said. “If people don’t want to replace a system, they’ll service parts of it. So it’s one end of what we do, or another. It’s busy.”

Lean and Green
He’s especially excited about the company’s forays into alternative-energy projects, such as the recent installation of new boilers and and other equipment for Springfield’s municipal buildings after the city undertook what is known as an ‘energy makeover.’
“There are companies that will come into a facility, or a city like Springfield, and do an energy audit on all the buildings, and come up with recommendations on how to save a certain amount of money,” Reidy said. “Then they’ll turn around and give you guarantees on that. Then a contractor — in this case, B-G — will come in and install these energy improvements.” The company has also completed similar work for the Worcester Housing Authority.
In addition, “we recently completed a geothermal project right here in Springfield, for the Local 7 electrical union,” Reidy said. “We installed a geothermal refrigeration system that heats and cools their building, and they’re receiving good savings from that installation.”
B-G has also begun taking on more photovoltaic work, such as the installation of 100 rooftop solar panels at the Hampshire County Jail.
“That’s a fast-growing industry,” Reidy said. “I think people are starting to pay attention to efficiency all the way down the line, from large projects to small pieces of equipment for homes.
“We’ve done quite a few green-building projects,” he continued. “Its time has come, as people keep looking for ways to save money. It’s a perfect storm, if you think about it: fuel costs are up, people are more aware of the environment now, and conservation is kicking in.”
That economic consideration is key, though, to getting many people to move toward energy-efficient solutions. “In my own experience, I converted from oil to gas in my home this year and saved 50% on the fuel bill,” Reidy said. “That’s a quick payback, and that’s what people want, a quick payback. They want to know, ‘how many years will it take for this investment to pay me back?’ Energy efficiency today is huge.”

Up to Speed
Even as B-G embraces these trends, it has seen the HVAC field in general become more challenging on many levels, but more exciting as well.
“The speed at which jobs get done has increased dramatically; everything is faster, faster, faster,” Reidy said. “And the computer has changed the building automation controls amazingly. Every piece of equipment today has some kind of plug-in computer board. It makes troubleshooting the equipment so much easier. It reminds you of when service is due, reminds you of filter changes … all that is done through the computer today; it’s all automated. That’s probably the biggest change in the industry.”
In addition, he said, “there have been a lot of changes in the way pipes are put together — quicker, faster, better — that saves labor in projects.”
Being faster also means staying nimble against what has become stiffer competition in recent years, he told BusinessWest.
“We’re finding that competition keeps you moving faster because, if you’re not out knocking on doors, someone’s going to be out there in front of you,” he said. “We’re finding, when we bid on projects here in Springfield, guys from Rhode Island, Boston, and New York are here to bid on the work, because they know the work is here.”
In other words, even a struggling economy hasn’t cooled off business too much for this ‘little plumbing shop’ that has become much more.

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]