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Berkshire Hills to Acquire Firestone Financial
PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Hills Bancorp Inc. announced the signing of a definitive agreement for the acquisition of privately held Firestone Financial Corp. as an operating subsidiary of Berkshire Bank. Based in Needham, Firestone is a longstanding commercial specialty finance company providing secured installment loan equipment financing for small and medium-sized businesses. “Firestone is a terrific fit for Berkshire Bank,” stated Berkshire CEO Michael Daly. “The strength of the management team and their conservative approach to credit has made them a solid performing finance company. Our strategic decision to complement our strong asset based lending platform with this commercial lending business enables us to further diversify our assets while expanding our client offerings. We look forward to adding Firestone’s expertise to our organization, and taking advantage of the synergies available through this acquisition.” George Bacigalupo, Berkshire’s executive vice president of Commercial Banking, added, “We are pleased to expand our commercial platform with this attractive acquisition. The addition of Firestone enhances both the geographic and categorical diversification of our loan portfolio while providing a valuable additional growth channel for us.  The business will continue to be run by Firestone’s talented management team and their experience and conservative relationship-based approach makes this a great fit for our organization.” On March 31, 2015, Firestone had approximately $190 million in loans outstanding spread across multiple industries and market areas. Borrowers are widely dispersed with no state comprising more than 11% of the outstanding balance and the largest borrower representing just 1.2% of outstandings.  The weighted average yield on the portfolio at quarter end was 9.8% and its weighted average remaining maturity was 36 months.  The portfolio’s net charge-off rate has not exceeded 0.23% in any of the last three years. Firestone has been in business for 50 years and is led by industry veterans David S. Cohen and Scott A. Cooper, both of whom joined the company in the mid-1980’s. Firestone’s senior management team has extensive experience in the markets they serve and will continue to run the business following the closing.  The acquisition is priced at 130% of Firestone’s adjusted tangible book value. The deal value is estimated to be approximately $53 million, with 75% of the consideration to be paid in BHLB common stock and 25% to be paid in cash.  The acquisition is expected to be accretive to Berkshire’s 2016 earnings per share and to generate a return on equity in excess of 15%. The transaction is expected to be $0.08 dilutive to Berkshire’s tangible book value per share, with a related payback period of approximately 2.5 years. The transaction is subject to the receipt of regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions and is expected to be completed during the third quarter of 2015. 
 
Log Cabin’s Upper Vista Hosts First Wedding
HOLYOKE — The Log Cabin has long been one of the region’s most popular outdoor wedding venues, due in large part to the panoramic mountain views from its Mt. Tom location. Over the past year, the facility has expanded its outdoor facilities on the uppermost clearing above the outdoor patio to create Upper Vista. On May 23, West Springfield couple Adam Hawley and Courtney Juday became the first bride and groom to be married at the new site. “We are offering couples something very unique,” said Peter Rosskothen, co-owner of the Log Cabin Upper. “Vista is on the highest point of the property; the view is breathtaking.” Upper Vista features a deluxe tent and building fully equipped with restrooms, a bridal suite, and a kitchen. “For some couples, there is a trend toward less traditional venues for weddings,” Rosskothen said. “With Upper Vista, our customers get the experience of the funky outdoor wedding without the logistical headaches of planning it all themselves. They know they can count on our expert wedding staff and excellent chefs to get all the details right.”

American Benefits Group Cited for Customer Service
NORTHAMPTON — American Benefits Group (ABG) of Northampton has been recognized as the 2015 Customer Service Champion by Alegeus Technologies, the industry’s largest healthcare provider of account-based, pre-tax benefits. ABG uses the Alegeus Consumer Benefits Account Management Platform as part of its core service administration system. The award was presented to ABG management on May 8 at the National Alegeus Client Conference in San Diego. “Through its longstanding partnership with Alegeus, American Benefits Group has continuously demonstrated superb business growth and outstanding customer metrics,” said Bob Natt, executive chairman of Alegeus. “American Benefits Group continues to raise the bar in advancing healthcare consumerism and delivering a truly innovative and excellent healthcare experience for all stakeholders.” Added ABG founder and CEO Robert Cummings, “with our relentless focus on customer experience and aggressive adoption of innovative technologies, ABG has grown into one of the industry’s top employee-benefits-administration companies. As a result, we have experienced record growth for the past six years and today are serving more than 1,000 employer clients who collectively have more than 150,000 employees.” American Benefits Group was founded in 1989 by Robert Cummings and provides employers with turn-key, third-party administration of a wide range of pre-tax employee benefits, including health reimbursement accounts, health savings accounts, flexible spending accounts, COBRA administration and compliance, and pre-tax commuter accounts. Customers include more than 1,000 companies — including international, iconic brands such as Ferrari Maserati, Wall Street giant Cantor Fitzgerald, and Mitsubishi — as well as many area employers, such as Mount Holyoke College and Florence Savings Bank. The company has 27 Northampton-based employees. It recently opened a satellite office in Columbia, Md., and is rapidly expanding in the mid-Atlantic marketplace.

Adam Quenneville Earns Top Honor
SOUTH HADLEY — Adam Quenneville Roofing, Siding & Windows announced that GAF, North America’s largest roofing-materials manufacturer, recently recognized the company with a prestigious 2015 Presidents Club Award for high-quality workmanship, safety, training, and reliability. Quenneville was one of five North American contractors to receive this award. GAF, North America’s largest roofing manufacturer, developed the Presidents Club Award for Master Elite contractors who excel in workmanship, service, and responsiveness. Adam Quenneville Roofing has been recognized for its long-standing support of GAF products, success in offering homeowners peace of mind in GAF warranties, and attention to detail in all GAF roofing systems. “Some people might think, after owning a business for 20 years, that the passion would dwindle,” Quenneville said. “I feel just the opposite. I am more excited than ever to help area homeowners with their roofing concerns. Having this many years of experience, I can offer unique solutions and recommendations.” He added, “I would like to take a moment and thank my team. I couldn’t have achieved this award or any of the success over the last two decades without them.” For more information about Adam Quennville Roofing, Siding & Windows, visit 1800newroof.net.

<strong>East Longmeadow Skilled Nursing Center Earns Perfect Survey Score
EAST LONGMEADOW
— East Longmeadow Skilled Nursing Center passed a recent state Department of Public Health (DPH) survey with no deficiencies, indicating perfect compliance with stringent state standards for skilled nursing care. A deficiency-free result in the state’s rigorous annual examination is one of the top indications of excellence for nursing facilities. Each facility is thoroughly surveyed and rated on core criteria including quality care, safety, administration, food service, nursing care, and patient rights. The unannounced inspections by representatives from the DPH are conducted annually, nine to 15 months following the prior survey. This evaluation, conducted by a team including at least one registered nurse and social worker, includes a review of residents’ and patients’ clinical records, a thorough tour of the facility, and interviews with residents, patients, family members, and staff members. This honor is the most recent in a series of outstanding accomplishments by East Longmeadow Skilled Nursing Center, including a Bronze Commitment to Quality Award presented by the American Health Care Assoc. and National Center for Assisted Living, based on the criteria of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program. Other recent accolades include East Longmeadow’s scores in the top 5% in the nation for customer and workforce satisfaction, as measured by My InnerView and National Research Corp.

Smith Steps Down as CEO of YMCA of Greater Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — Kirk Smith has resigned from his position as CEO of the YMCA of Greater Springfield, and will continue his 17-year career with the YMCA at the executive level in Florida. Jeffrey Poindexter, the recently appointed board chair of the YMCA of Greater Springfield, announced that the board will establish a search committee to identify a permanent replacement to lead the organization. The search committee will likely consult YMCA of the USA, the national parent organization, to provide any necessary executive resources in the short term. Smith will continue to be available to the board to assist with the transition through July 3. “Kirk Smith brought unique talents in his leadership of the Y, and under his direction, the YMCA launched or expanded programming, including the building of the new Agawam YMCA Wellness and Family Program Center on Springfield Street,” Poindexter said. “He also was instrumental in maintaining the services of Dunbar Community Center, a vital asset to the Mason Square community. He expanded programming at the Scantic Valley YMCA in Wilbraham and represented the YMCA in a number of community organizations and causes.” He added, “Kirk also established the YMCA’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee and helped to secure an additional $4 million from the Department of Education for pre-school expansion and added educational programming sites, one of the YMCA’s key service areas. These initiatives, and Kirk’s leadership, were vital to the YMCA and the varied constituencies we serve. I know I speak for the entire YMCA board in expressing my appreciation for Kirk Smith’s stewardship of the Springfield YMCA, one of the oldest in the United States, and wish Kirk and his family great future success.” Since 1852, the YMCA of Greater Springfield has been a way of life for thousands of youth, teens, families, and seniors throughout the 14 cities and towns it serves.

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