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Architecture

Living with the Land

Environmentally friendly ideas are nothing new in the architecture and design world, but advances have come at a rapid pace — not just in how green a project can be, but how effectively the long-term cost savings justify the upfront expense. Clients want to do the right thing, design professionals say, but they’re much more willing if they can see an economic justification. Increasingly, they’re able to achieve both goals.

Sometimes design decisions bring unexpected benefits, Rachel Loeffler says.

Take a project her firm, Berkshire Design Group, designed for East Meadow School in Granby.

“Cost was a big factor, so we looked at using a meadow feed mix instead of traditional bluegrass, which saves the school 100 gallons of gasoline in mowing, as well as the labor,” said Loeffler, a principal and landscape architect with the firm.

“But then, what happened was, some birds moved in almost instantly, including some orioles.”

Orioles, by the way, are among the hundreds of bird species most at risk from climate change and destruction of meadow lands due to development, so creating a healthy habitat for them is significant, she said. “Sometimes, delightful surprises happen.”

When Northampton-based Berkshire Design Group, one of the region’s leading firms in the realm of sustainable design, opened its doors in 1984, its founders might have been equally surprised to see how common green ideas would become a few decades later.

“Back then, we were experimenting with stormwater standards, alternatives that then became state standards,” Loeffler said. “That creative approach is something that was part of us from the beginning.”

C&H Architects, headquartered in Amherst, can track a similar trajectory, emphasizing green and sustainable architecture since its launch in 1989.

“Nobody was trying to do that 30 years ago — it wasn’t even part of the lexicon,” said Thomas Hartman, partner and principal architect. “Over the years, it’s really been interesting to see how what might have been an odd-duck type of client become the norm.”

In those early years, he said, forward-thinking clients would seek out C&H specifically for this expertise, while today, green design isn’t surprising at all. “It’s gone from the occasional project to where, if this isn’t part of the conversation, you’re not really practicing in the mainstream anymore.”

In fact, he noted, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has basically shifted its organizational philosophy to suggest that, if a project isn’t environmentally conscious, if it’s not sustainable, then it’s just not good design.

“Climate change requires a holistic approach, addressing the interdependencies among people, buildings, infrastructure, and the environment,” AIA President William Bates said recently. “Our training allows us to look for solutions and ways to mitigate climate change comprehensively and creatively, which we do every day.”

At their most basic level, Hartman explained, buildings protect individuals from the elements and provide texture to people’s lives. Buildings, however, are also one of the largest contributors to global warming, accounting for nearly 40% of all greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide — a statistic expected to double by 2050. In an effort to mitigate these impacts, there has been a steady increase in sustainable architecture — the design of buildings that work in harmony with the environment.

Installing a meadow instead of grass at East Meadow School in Granby reduces gasoline use and provides a habitat for endangered birds.

C&H Architects has been at the forefront of this effort for three decades. For example, it designed the fifth-ever certified Living Building Challenge project in the world (and the first in New England) for Smith College’s MacLeish Field Station, the most rigorous performance standard for buildings available.

“It’s the most difficult standard — net-zero water, net-zero energy, avoiding certain materials and chemicals,” he said, noting that net zero means producing as much of that resource as one takes from the environment.

The firm has followed similar standards with other commercial and academic projects, and has designed more than 10 homes that boast net-zero energy, the most recent of which won the top honor at AIA Rhode Island in 2018, and includes a solar array that powers both the house and the car of its occupants.

That’s an especially cutting-edge standard, Hartman said, but it may become mainstream as well in the coming years, just as many sustainable practices in building and landscape design have become the norm, not the exception.

Holistic Approach

Loeffler said there are two ways to craft a sustainable philosophy for a project. One is to simply create a checklist of energy-saving or environmentally conscious features.

The other way of thinking actually takes cues from ecological thinking and the way all organisms are interrelated. On the simplest level, she cited the example of humans and trees — plants give off oxygen, while we breathe it in and give off carbon dioxide.

“There’s an understanding that each entity has a need for resources to consume, and has a waste product,” she said. “What sustainable thinking allows us to do is look at a project and look at ways to tie resources and waste together in a project or adjacent use somewhere else.”

Tom Hartman takes meter readings at a mill renovation in Lawrence — part of his goal to make sure energy-saving projects are performing as they are designed to.

One example is a dog park she recently worked on, during which time she approached a company that specializes in taking dog waste and turning it into energy. “Farms are taking waste from grocery stores, and any sort of organic waste products, and generating electricity. These are waste products that are being taken out of the waste stream instead of being shifted to a landfill somewhere.”

Hartman said architects, including those at his firm, are also starting to think about reductions in embodied carbon, which are the emissions associated with building construction, including extracting, transporting, and manufacturing materials.

“What that means is that we’ll be making low-carbon buildings, so we’re not adding to the carbon issue,” he said, adding quickly that this, like all new initiatives, comes with a learning curve. “In the evolution of our practice over 30 years, as soon as we get competent in one thing, we’re going to the next thing.”

Clients in the education sector have been particularly receptive to innovative ideas around sustainability, he noted, but those projects often come with time barriers.

“When you’re doing academic work, doing renovations on an existing building, they’re occupied, so you may have just a couple of weeks to do your job and have a limited budget, so how do you address environmental design and sustainable design on these types of projects?” he asked. “It comes down to the materials you’re choosing and what opportunities are available. For example, if you’re renovating a dormitory, you may only have 12 weeks, so you probably won’t renovate the exterior envelope of the building.”

“Nobody was trying to do that 30 years ago — it wasn’t even part of the lexicon. Over the years, it’s really been interesting to see how what might have been an odd-duck type of client become the norm.”

But all projects must consider their long-term impact on users, said Leon Drachmann, a principal at Payette Associates in Boston, who recently talked about sustainability on the U.S. Green Building Council website.

“The green-building initiative will have a deeper impact by expanding its scope — by shifting its focus to areas outside of building design, such as real-estate economics, zoning regulations and land use, while concentrating on the human experience and societal well-being,” he noted, adding that “sustainability should be considered not as an independent, separate process, but as an integral part of design itself.”

Dollars and Sense

One impact that can never be overlooked is the financial one, Hartman said. After all, while clients want to do the right thing, they’re still focused on the bottom line.

“I’ve never met a client where, if we could provide the economic case for doing good in sustainable design, they wouldn’t do it,” he told BusinessWest. “It’s rarer to find a client who will do the feel-good of sustainable design if it doesn’t pass the economic test.”

So part of his service to clients is actually visiting the site after completion, monitoring elements like energy use, waste production, and the overall costs to make sure the promised efficiencies have come to fruition.

“It has been really important for us to do that,” he said. “Most of the time, we want to maintain a relationship with the client in the future anyway. We will ask for energy bills. We’ve never met a client who doesn’t want us to follow up. That’s probably the most important thing for the profession — to make sure it all works, and if it doesn’t work, figure out why. Otherwise, you’re just waving your arms.”

Loeffler noted that clients that have a long-term vision are much easier to convince of the benefits of green design.

“If an organization’s economic-benefit analysis focuses on a one-year plan, they’re going to make a decision based on that — and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that,” she said. “But if their vision centers around a 20- or 50-year plan, they might be inclined to make different decisions.

“In a homeowner’s situation, with solar panels, there are upfront costs in that initial year. Over a certain amount of time, you’ll recoup those costs, but if you’re only looking at one year, you’re not going to budget for solar panels. If you’re looking at the long term, the cost makes more sense.”

The tipping point for much sustainable design and technology will come when those costs approach those of traditional methods across the board — and many in the industry say those days are getting closer. “When green materials become cheaper to acquire than previous materials, we project there will be a huge increase in the desire for this type of technology,” Loeffler said.

Until then, “we try not to push the issue too hard. We engage every client in the discussion, but they have different comfort levels. At the end of the day, we’re there to meet their needs and goals, and we work with them.”

Hartman is happy he works in a state which saw the value of renewable-energy credits and green standards well before most other states did.

“Massachusetts has been progressive, and they did those things so we wouldn’t be so reliant on fossil fuels from other countries,” he said. “It’s really exciting nowadays.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Architecture Construction

Designs on Growth

As one local architect noted, we’re far enough away from the last recession to start worrying about the next one — and recessions tend to hit this sector particularly hard. Still, despite mixed signals in the long-term economic picture nationally, work remains steady locally, with municipalities, colleges, and businesses of all kinds continuing to invest in capital projects. Even if storm clouds do appear down the road, the 2019 outlook in architecture seems bright.

Curtis Edgin put it in simple terms when asked how 2019 is shaping up in the architecture sector.

“We’re busy; I can’t complain,” he told BusinessWest. Those five words sum up a strong outlook in an industry that tends to be a leading indicator for the economy as a whole — when things slow down, construction, finance, and other areas tend to follow — and is currently trending up, or at least holding steady.

“We’re far from the last recession — maybe far enough to worry about the next one,” said Edgin, a principal with Caolo & Bieniek Associates (CBA) in Chicopee. “But I don’t see that coming yet, looking at our workload.”

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reports a similar outlook, with architecture firm billings nationally strengthening to a level not seen in the previous 12 months. Indicators of work in the pipeline, including inquiries into new projects and the value of new design contracts, also improved in January.

“The government shutdown affected architecture firms but doesn’t appear to have created a slowdown in the profession,” AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker noted. “While AIA did hear from a few firms that were experiencing significant cash-flow issues due to the shutdown, the data suggests that the majority of firms had no long-term impact.”

Broken down by region, the Northeast is performing better than the West, but slightly trailing the South (which continues to rebuild from a rough 2018 hurricane season) and the Midwest. Nationally, billings softened slightly in February from the January pace, but remain strong in the big-picture sense, Baker said. “Overall, business conditions at architecture firms across the country have remained generally healthy.”

Curtis Edgin says specializing in a range of diverse niches is a plus for any firm

Curtis Edgin says specializing in a range of diverse niches is a plus for any firm, serving as a buffer against a downturn in any one area.

Jonathan Salvon, a principal with Kuhn Riddle Architects in Amherst, reports strong business as well, especially in the education realm, traditionally a strength for the firm, with projects for UMass and a historic-renovation conversion project for Elms College.

“Then there’s a mix of multi-family housing and commercial projects,” he told BusinessWest. “We’ve got a new office building for Way Finders going up on the old Peter Pan site in Springfield, which is our biggest commercial project at the moment. And there’s a 36-unit, multi-family housing project going up on University Drive in Amherst.”

Caolo & Bieniek, known for its wide range of public projects, from schools to fire and police stations, has expanded its base of private projects since merging with Reinhardt Associates in 2017.

“It’s been kind of a good synergy. We’ve blended our strengths and their strengths,” Edgin said, noting that one example is the recently completed Baystate Health & Wellness Center on the Longmeadow-East Longmeadow line, as Reinhardt has a solid history in medical office buildings.

“E-commerce has been growing at about three times the rate of traditional brick-and-mortar sales. The slowdown in housing hasn’t helped, as new residential development often spurs new retail construction activity. Instead, larger shares of investment in these facilities is going to the renovation of existing buildings.”

Other recent CBA projects recently started or well underway include a senior center in West Boylston, a police station in Williamstown, a public-safety complex in Lenox, a renovation of Chicopee’s public-safety facility, a pre-K to grade-8 school in Easthampton, and some work with UMass Amherst, Westfield State University, and other colleges.

“There’s a good mix of private and public, and we seem to be doing a fair amount of work with human-services agencies,” Edgin added, noting that the firm just did a project for Guidewire in Chicopee, and Sunshine Village in the city has also been a consistent client. “We seem to have a bit going in that sector right now. We’re busy, and it’s a good mix all around.”

Strong Pace, but Red Flags

The AIA suggests that growth in architecture should continue at least through 2020, but a number of emerging red flags suggest a cautious outlook.

Spending on non-residential buildings nationally is projected to grow by 4.4% this year, paced by healthy gains in the industrial and institutional building sectors, it notes. For 2020, growth is projected to slow to 2.4%, with essentially no increase in spending on commercial facilities, but gains in the 3% range in the industrial and institutional categories.

“Still,” Baker said, “there is growing concern inside and outside of the industry that a broader economic downturn may be materializing over the next 12 to 24 months.”

Nationally, growth in gross domestic product is estimated to be close to 3% in 2019, while the job market continues to be healthy, with more than 2.6 million net new payroll jobs added in 2018, an improvement over 2017’s figure of just under 2.2 million. In fact, the national unemployment rate was below 4% for most of 2018. Consumer-sentiment levels remained strong, and the nation’s factories also were busy, with industrial output achieving its strongest growth in almost a decade.

Jonathan Salvon says one of his firm’s three ‘legs,’ residential work, has been impacted by a slowdown in single-family construction

Jonathan Salvon says one of his firm’s three ‘legs,’ residential work, has been impacted by a slowdown in single-family construction over the past decade, but a rising portfolio of multi-family projects has picked up the slack.

However, there are several signals that point to an emerging slowdown in the broader economy, and therefore in the construction sector, Baker noted. These include declines in leading economic indicators, weakness in some key sectors of the economy, and softness in the markets of major U.S. trading partners. “These signals may be temporary responses to negative short-term conditions, but historically they have preceded a more widespread downturn.”

Meanwhile, since dropping sharply during the Great Recession, housing starts have had a very slow recovery, the AIA notes, and Salvon can attest to that reality locally. But Kuhn Riddle has adjusted in other ways.

“We’ve always been a stool with three legs,” he said. “One-third is work for various colleges, charter schools, prep schools, secondary schools, and even some day cares — we run the whole gamut in education. The second third is residential work; in the past, before the 2009 recession, that was often single-family residences. That market has never really come back, at least for us. But we’ve been lucky to develop a new market in multi-family projects.”

The third leg is a variety of commercial projects, including office buildings, restaurants, and bank renovations, to name a few, Salvon said.

“Hopefully we all stay busy. But we do know it goes in cycles; we’ve been through plenty of slower times and a lot of boom times. But we’ve been very blessed. We’re pretty busy and hope to stay that way.”

Nationally, Baker sees design work on the commercial front as a bit of a mixed bag at the moment.

“Business investments often reflect what corporate leaders feel is the growth potential for their companies. Investment nationally in new plants and equipment saw healthy growth in 2017 and through the first half of 2018, but slowed significantly beginning in the third quarter of last year,” he noted. “Given the recent trends in business-confidence scores, investment is unlikely to accelerate anytime soon. Business confidence fell sharply through 2018, with the fourth quarter showing the lowest levels in six years.”

In the Bay State, the picture is equally muddy. The Business Confidence Index issued monthly by Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) reported a gain in February after dropping in January to its lowest level in more than two years.

“Employers remain generally optimistic about a state economy that continues to run at full-employment levels and a U.S. economy that is projected to grow by 2.2% this year,” said Raymond Torto, Chair of AIM’s Board of Economic Advisors and a lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. “At the same time, the erosion of confidence among Massachusetts manufacturers during the past 12 months raises some concern about the long-term sustainability of the recovery.”

On a sector-by-sector basis, Baker reported, design work for retail facilities continues to suffer from the growth on online shopping.

“E-commerce has been growing at about three times the rate of traditional brick-and-mortar sales. The slowdown in housing hasn’t helped, as new residential development often spurs new retail construction activity,” he noted. “Instead, larger shares of investment in these facilities is going to the renovation of existing buildings.”

On the other hand, office projects represent the strongest commercial sector in construction right now, with 5% growth projected for this year and 1% in 2020. “This sector has benefited from strong job growth and the apparent bottoming out of the years-long decline in office space per employee,” Baker said. “Much of the increase has come from the booming technology sector, so the outlook is dependent on continued growth in this industry sector.”

Meanwhile, eds and meds — or education and healthcare, two pillars of the Western Mass. economy — represent very healthy sectors nationally for architects and general contractors. AIA projects 5.5% in the education sector this year and an additional 4% in 2020, and 4% growth in healthcare in 2019 followed by 3.6% in 2020. 

“We’re pretty diversified and active in a lot of different environments,” Edgin said. “It’s not just schools, not just police stations, not just fire stations, but a little bit of everything.” He cited the recent renovation of Polish National Credit Union’s Front Street branch in Chicopee, as well as a new Arrha Credit Union branch in West Springfield and a project with the Boys and Girls Club of West Springfield. “A lot of things take a while, so it’s that advance planning that keeps you busy a year or two from now.”

Leading Indicator

Baker reported that business conditions at U.S. architecture firms in 2018, as measured by AIA’s Architecture Billings Index (ABI), were essentially unchanged from 2017.

“Since the ABI has been shown to lead construction spending by an average of nine to 12 months, this would suggest that the growth in spending on non-residential buildings in 2019 should be close to the growth rate of 2018,” he noted. “Additionally, new design contracts coming into architecture firms grew at a healthy pace in 2018, underscoring the robust level of backlogs currently enjoyed by most firms.”

Meanwhile, Dodge Data & Analytics recently released its 2019 Dodge Construction Outlook, which predicted that total U.S. construction starts for 2019 will be $808 billion, staying essentially even with the $807 billion estimated for 2018.

“There are, of course, mounting headwinds affecting construction, namely rising interest rates and higher material costs, but for now these have been balanced by the stronger growth for the U.S. economy, some easing of bank lending standards, still-healthy market fundamentals for commercial real estate, and greater state financing for school construction and enhanced federal funding for public works,” said Robert Murray, chief economist for Dodge Data & Analytics.

Locally, both architects and builders are maintaining the same sort of cautious optimism, at least in the short term.

“Right now, it’s strong,” Edgin said. “We’ve increased our staffing.”

Finding talented staff remains a challenge, he said, because strong growth among architecture firms in general means stiff competition, and Greater Springfield isn’t always a top destination for young professionals in the field compared to, say, Boston or New York, where pay scales are higher (but, of course, so is the cost of living).

Salvon understands that reality as well, but said Kuhn Riddle has benefited from its location in downtown Amherst, where it has easy access to the UMass architecture program. “We’ve been a little spoiled — we’ve been privileged to get some employees out of that program over the last decade or so, and we’ve tried to make a nice work environment, so people been staying here.”

All things considered, he told BusinessWest, the outlook seems strong in architecture locally, and others agree.

“We’ve been able to build some good staff and a good team, so we’re happy about that,” Edgin said. “Hopefully we all stay busy. But we do know it goes in cycles; we’ve been through plenty of slower times and a lot of boom times. But we’ve been very blessed. We’re pretty busy and hope to stay that way.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Architecture

Decade of Design

Kevin Shea (left, with Richard Morse)

Kevin Shea (left, with Richard Morse) says Architecture EL built its extensive portfolio of projects largely on direct-design work.

When Kevin Shea launched his own architecture firm after almost two decades working for someone else, it wasn’t exactly a great time to start a business — particularly one in a construction-related field.

It was 2008, actually, right at the start of the Great Recession, which would significantly dry up building activity for the next few years.

“We started at the bottom, but we got lucky, and we worked hard and delivered good client service — the things you want to build on as a new business,” said Shea, who has grown his firm, Architecture EL, from a solo practice to a six-person operation. “Now were seeing some of the firms that survived and hung on — some older, respected firms — start to close up or retire, which puts us in a good spot; we’re well-established at this point, and we can take on the work and fill in the gaps.”

As the East Longmeadow-based firm celebrates its 10-year anniversary in October, Shea can look back at an eclectic blend of projects, ranging from affordable housing to municipal work; from a children’s museum to a country club.

“We started at the bottom, but we got lucky, and we worked hard and delivered good client service — the things you want to build on as a new business.”

“We have a good, diverse mix of work,” he told BusinessWest. “We’ve done some restaurant work locally; we’re looking at significant renovations to Elmcrest Country Club, which had a couple of fires last year; and we’re looking at more affordable housing and some private residential.”

For example, the E. Henry Twiggs Estates, a 75-unit affordable-housing project in the Mason Square neighborhood of Springfield, is being developed by Home City Housing. “We’ve worked through phase 1 with Home City on Twiggs, and now phase 2 is almost slated to begin at the end of the year, so that’s represented a lot of our office time lately,” he said.

Two of the residences in the E. Henry Twiggs Estates, an affordable-housing development in Springfield.

Two of the residences in the E. Henry Twiggs Estates, an affordable-housing development in Springfield.

“We’ve gotten to grow with some good work in housing, especially the affordable-housing sector,” he went on, citing other upcoming work, such as a project with Community Builders, a nonprofit that has become a significant force in the affordable-housing market from Boston to New York. “We’re in the early throes of conversations to do a 70-unit multi-family renovation in Western Mass. — it’s not contracted yet, but well along in the talks. That’ll be nice.”

While developing a strong base in multi-family housing, Shea said his firm has built a diverse portfolio in other areas as well, with recent and upcoming projects including a childcare center in Monson, a fire-station addition in Hampden, and an accessibility project at Hatfield Town Hall, following more extensive design work several years ago on that town’s municipal offices.

“You never know what we’ll be up to,” said Richard Morse, a consultant at the firm — and sometimes, the work can be very outside the box. Take, for instance, a planned project to design a veterans’ memorial on North Main Street in East Longmeadow, in front of the Pleasant View Senior Center, a stone’s throw Route 83 from Architecture EL’s office.

“That’s a relatively modest commission in terms of dollars, but it’s important to us here in East Longmeadow,” Shea said. “A veterans group came to us; they have an agreement for a piece of land in the front yard of the senior center, so we’re in the early stages of a design project for a memorial.”

Morse noted that the project is in the fund-raising stages, but there have already been conversations about what it will look like.

“They came to us with a shopping list, and we’re bringing to it a sense of space and respect and contemplation — and we have to do that in front of a building along a busy street,” Shea said. “We don’t just want to build a chunk of stone; we want to create a space where people come and reflect. That’s one that we’re really honored to have a chance to with these veterans. It’s a nice project, and we’re happy to be doing it close to home, right here in town.”

Unrolling the Future

Shea has always wanted to be an architect, having told the story on occasion of seeing old blueprints lying around his house as a child and being fascinated by what they represented. Architecture ended up fitting his personality, with its blend of hands-on and creative work, mechanical and artistic skills.

So after graduating from Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, he took a job with a small architecture firm for 18 years before deciding in 2008 to strike out on his own.

Architecture EL — the acronym stands for Environment Life — was built on the idea of direct design. It’s more common than ever, in fact, to partner with owners and contractors in the design and construction of a building, whereas, decades ago, those elements were far more often bid separately.

The firm’s recent projects

The firm’s recent projects include restaurants, affordable housing, municipal facilities, and many others.

“I think the trend is toward more hands-on work, more design-build, more working with the trades in the field,” he said. “We see a little of the traditional drawing on spec and bidding to three or five contractors. But we see more of the construction-management side of things, where a developer wants to partner with us and a favorite contractor or builder and basically pull together architects, engineers, and contractors to get an efficient, affordable team.”

That has always been his preferred model, he added. “The nice thing is, you usually get to the point pretty quickly. The contractor is at the table, and you can move from design to construction pretty efficiently.”

With friendly cooperation among all parties, Morse said, “we can be the bridge between the client and the contractor because that gets kind of lopsided without our involvement. We’re able to have dialogue with the builder and come up with ways to control cost and schedule.”

The ‘EL’ in the company’s name doesn’t stand for East Longmeadow, as some may assume, but, as noted earlier, for Environment Life, concepts reflected in the types of work Shea takes on. Green building was on the rise when Architecture EL was born, but it’s become in many ways standard practice, reflected in both customer demands and Massachusetts building codes.

But Shea said he’s not interested in the bare minimum. “On the environmental side, we keep digging further into energy and good design, to deliver not just code compliance but a healthy, safe, well-constructed building. That piece never goes away.”

The ‘life’ piece is a more general idea, but it gets into the whole experience of a space and the specific ways it will benefit the lives of those who live in and use it, whether it’s residents benefiting from affordable housing; the kids who will benefit from an accessibility-improvement project at the Wilbraham Children’s Museum; or the employees of Marcotte Ford who work in that company’s commercial truck center, built in 2015, or its new headquarters, which opens this month.

“We don’t specialize in custom, single-family residential, but it seems that those who end up here need someone to help solve a problem. A lot of times, they have a house, a budget, a program, and can’t figure out how to put it all together.”

“Even a private residential project, that’s very intimate for the client,” Morse said. “You’re designing space where they’ll spend a good portion of their lives, so that always makes our work interesting and impactful.”

Shea agreed. “We don’t specialize in custom, single-family residential, but it seems that those who end up here need someone to help solve a problem. A lot of times, they have a house, a budget, a program, and can’t figure out how to put it all together. It’s nice to work with those people. Those projects can be fun.”

Answer Man

Whether designing a municipal project, a place of business, or a home — or a multi-home development — Shea has never stopped seeing his role as focusing on a client’s environment and life, and coming up with solutions that enhance both.

“We’ve been busy for quite a while, and we seem to be staying busy. Clearly the economy is moving along,” he noted. “We’ve seen a lot of smaller single-family projects creeping up, three or four at a time. These are people who aren’t just hiring a contractor, they want to make sure they get to a good solution. People are looking to invest in the design time up front.”

Morse said the team is cautiously optimistic that the good times will persist.

“We’ve been lucky, and we’ve been busy,” Shea added. “We’ve been growing steadily, though we’re not looking to grow too much. We just want to keep working hard for our clients. That’s what keeps them coming back.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Construction

Creating a Solid Foundation

This lake home in Westhampton

This lake home in Westhampton is one of the many projects in Keiter Builders’ portfolio of residential projects.

While earning his master’s degree in finance at the University of Rhode Island, Scott Keiter wasn’t thinking about using it to manage his own construction company. But after a dose of the ‘real world,’ as he called it, while working for an insurance company, his passion for carpentry took his career in a completely different direction. In a short decade, Keiter Builders has constructed a solid business foundation and a diverse portfolio of projects across several disciplines.

Scott Keiter likes to say his company is what he calls “a typical Valley builder.”

By that, he means it is relatively small, at least when compared to outfits in larger cities, boasts a diverse portfolio — out of necessity and good business sense more than anything else — is agile, and also always looking to add new disciplines to the equation.

Florence-based Keiter Builders is quite atypical, however, in that it is a first-generation company, started just 10 years ago, almost at the height of the Great Recession (we’ll get back to that challenge later), and therefore doesn’t have a long history.

Indeed, most of the builders in the 413 can boast in their ads — and on the sides of their trucks — that they were launched a half-century or more ago. Their principals can talk about starting out working for their fathers, who can talk about starting out working for their fathers.

Scott and Jill Keiter.

There isn’t any of that Keiter Builders, said Scott, who noted that his father is an aerospace engineer and he himself earned a master’s degree in economics at the University of Rhode Island, and while he was earning it, thoughts of putting it to use to manage his own construction company rarely, if ever, entered his mind.

However, and this is a big ‘however,’ Keiter worked as a carpenter during the summer while in high school and college, developed somewhat of a passion for building, and stayed in touch with the industry throughout his education.

“I tried different careers, and between my bachelor’s degree and my master’s degree, I went to work for State Farm Insurance in auto claims — that was my introduction to the real world,” he said. “Which wasn’t for me; when I got my master’s degree, I decided I needed a break and went back to carpentry.”

To move the story along, things “progressed,” as he put it, deploying a word he would use early and often, and Keiter Builders started to establish a foothold and begin its transformation into, well, a typical Valley builder.

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Today, as noted, it is diverse, specializing in commercial, residential, and institutional work, with clients including Smith College and Amherst College, a number of smaller businesses in and around Paradise City, and the city of Northampton itself — Keiter is currently handling a number of projects within Look Park, for example.

As much as Scott Keiter is into building dwellings, commercial spaces, and softball diamonds, among other things, right now he’s mostly engaged in building his business, a process that, like most, he finds enjoyable, but also quite challenging, given the pressures of what comes day to day.

“One of my challenges is looking ahead,” he explained. “You’re just so busy as a small-business owner, it takes everything you’ve got just to get through the day, but you need to focus on tomorrow as well as today.”

With that in mind, he wants to continuously expand the portfolio, and he’s doing that through various initiatives, everything from investments in the ‘heavy construction division,’ as he called it, which is pursuing subsurface utility work, trenching, and heavy civil projects, to efforts toward gaining certification to handle work for the state Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, or DCAM, which would enable it to pick up work at UMass Amherst and other state-run facilities (more on all that later).

For this issue and its focus on construction, BusinessWest turns the spotlight on Keiter Builders, a comparatively young firm that has constructed a solid business foundation and is looking to continue building upon it.

By the Booklet

As part of those business-building efforts he described, Keiter said the company has become more aggressive in its efforts to promote its brand.

Like most all builders, large and small, word-of-mouth referrals have always been the most effective marketing tool, but the company has added another component with a slick promotional brochure that Keiter and his staff, including his wife, Jill, invested considerable time and energy in and are quite proud of.

This booklet does a very effective job of explaining the company’s depth and agility — or that ‘progression,’ as Keiter described it, while detailing not only what it does, but also, and perhaps more importantly, how.

Indeed, it devotes pages to the firm’s work to carefully develop a sound pre-construction strategy and manage the construction process and meet the most fundamental of objectives in this highly competitive business — finishing on time and to the specifications set by the client.

But it mostly focuses on wide array of projects in the portfolio.

That list includes everything from a telescope observatory dome at Smith College to the memorial fountain at Look Park; from the Valentine Hall rooftop deck at Amherst College to the work at Roberto’s restaurant in Northampton; from the new Northampton offices of the law firm Bacon Wilson to the Convino Wine Bar in Thornes Marketplace.

It also includes an addition and renovation to the optical studios almost directly across Main Street in Florence from the Keiter offices, as well as a host of new homes, remodelings, and additions.

Overall, that brochure shows a great deal of progression in a decade and how quickly the company has been able to establish itself within this market.

And remember, it started at the height of the recession. Well, sort of.

“We weren’t really a construction company at that time,” said Keiter, adding that the enterprise amounted to him handling a wide array of carpentry work. “We went out and just built a network of clients, and kept at it.”

By that he meant, well, a lot of things, including taking whatever jobs he could get, eventually adding his first employee and then more as the project list grew — “we’re really fortunate to have an excellent group of craftsmen working for us” — and lots of hard work building the solid relationships that are the very bedrock of this sector.

The softball field at Smith College

This relationship-building ability is clearly evident in the list of projects the company is currently handling, including several smaller initiatives at both Smith and Amherst Colleges, for which Keiter has already handled a number of assignments, and ongoing work at Look Park — which is in the midst of a comprehensive capital-improvement project. Renovation of Pines Theater is among the current initiatives.

There are a also a few residential projects ongoing, as well as a new building to support teen housing being developed by a Greenfield-based group called Dial/Self, said Keiter, adding that the company continues to build on the relationships it has forged in its early years while also establishing new ones.

“I don’t think there’s a defining moment over the past 10 years when it comes to how we’ve arrived here,” Keiter explained. “We try to take a long-term approach to our work as it relates to the quality, but also the relationships, and that’s really paid off for us.”

He offered Smith College as an example.

“We’ve been working with them for about six years,” he explained. “We started off doing very small projects, and we’ve just earned their respect and worked our way up to being involved with larger projects. As a first-generation company, we have to consistently prove our value.”

The company currently handles work within a relatively small geographic radius — roughly 15 miles from its Florence base, by Keiter’s estimates — but it is looking to expand that reach as well as its list of core competencies.

Keiter Builders handled renovations of the common area at Amherst College, one of its many institutional clients.

Indeed, Keiter, as noted, is currently investing in a heavy-construction division — a subsidiary of the company, actually — based in Hatfield. This division pursues work with utilities and larger contractors and focus on excavating, trenching, and site work, and it has been growing steadily, said Keiter.

Such diversification is important, especially for a sector so profoundly impacted by downturns in the economy.

“We need to stay engaged in many different disciplines,” he explained. “Sometimes, when commercial or institutional is a little slow, the residential fills the gaps. We really enjoy all the different kinds of projects; it keeps us sharp.”

Meanwhile, the company now owns a number of properties in the Northampton area and will look to develop them, said Keiter, adding that he’s eyeing a mix of commercial and residential development opportunities.

Then there’s the process of becoming DCAM-certified, which, Keiter said, should open a number of doors, including the large one involving UMass Amherst.

“We’re starting to enter the public arena,” he told BusinessWest, adding that DCAM certification should be a catalyst for growth within the heavy-construction division as well as the traditional contracting side of the venture.

Building a Legacy

Keiter, who has young children, said that someday, maybe his company can be one of those that boasts multiple generations of ownership and a half-century of history.

“I really enjoy building the business — it’s a pleasure to build a legacy,” he explained. “My hope is that maybe, sometime down the line, there will be a second generation.”

For now, he’s focused on that business- and legacy-building process, and said the formula for doing that is pretty straightforward.

“You have to keep grinding and building a reputation,” he explained. “And in our industry, there are no shortcuts to doing that.”

Indeed, there’s just hard work — on the job site and in creating and strengthening relationships. And success in those realms has enabled Keiter to come a in way in a short decade.

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

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Partner, Cofab Design and Brick Coworkshop; Age 27; Education: BS, Boston University

Mike Stone

Mike Stone

Stone is a mechanical engineer and designer who’s into multi-disciplinary projects, moving parts, products, machines, prototypes, and hammer swinging. He’s a partner at Cofab Design, a product design and development studio, and a cofounder of Brick Coworkshop, a shared workspace, both located in Holyoke. He’s also part of the team at AF, a national pop-up event series.

What did you want to be when you grew up? A scientist — science rules. Biology and physics had my attention for a while. Unfortunately, that same attention span disposes me to detailed, focused research work, so I ended up in the design world.

How do you define success? I feel successful if I am always learning and reading, always supporting and listening to my collaborators and community, and continually working to realize or facilitate new and energizing projects.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? I love the fact that our region is a crossroads of sorts. Being from the area, I’m excited to see positive energy and projects in many towns and cities. I think the relative size of the region lends itself to a higher likelihood that we can have conversations and initiatives that make this a better place to live for everyone — as well as a hub for art, design, entrepreneurship, and other pursuits.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? If I’m feeling ‘on’ for a given day, my goal is to get through a good swath of substantive to-do list items. If I’m feeling ‘off,’ my goal is to make it through to the next day.

What actor would play you in a movie about your life? Andy Samberg circa 2005.

What are you passionate about? I’m a chronic generalist (terminal generalist may be more appropriate), so I like to dabble with lots of things. I’m passionate about the design world (product, graphic, architecture, planning, etc.). I love to build things. I read fiction and nonfiction as constantly as I can and love print publications. I’ve been trying to play music more often lately, and have a long list of projects to complete and things to learn. Being involved with Brick has turned me on to the general process of community building, and I’m interested to learn and apply more in that discipline.

 

Photography  by Leah Martin Photography

Environment and Engineering Sections

Turning the Page

Bruce Coombs’ office is filled with conversation pieces from the past.

Bruce Coombs’ office is filled with conversation pieces from the past.

The word ‘ephemeral’ means lasting for a short time, which is odd, considering one definition of ‘ephemera’ — and how long some of it has been kicking around.

“Ephemera is old paper — it could be postcards, newspapers, old magazines, sheet music, World War I and World War II posters, movie posters, Civil War correspondence, trading cards,” said Bruce Coombs, owner of both Heritage Surveys and Heritage Books.

The Southampton-based surveying firm, which has been working with developers, architects, and engineers, has been around since 1977 — so it’s anything but ephemeral — while the book business, spawned from a need by Coombs to house his massive collection of used books and memorabilia, is a more recent entity.

“Most of the people who work in this business do it part time,” he said of the bookstore, which has both a physical location, a stone’s throw north on Route 10 at the former Southampton Library, and a robust online presence at heritagebks.com. “I’ve gotten to the age where I’m buying less and selling more.”

Coombs didn’t start his career in either land surveying or old books. He enrolled in the forestry program at Paul Smith’s College in New York, but went to work for the U.S. Postal Service in Long Island shortly after.

Occasionally, he’d visit his sister in the Pioneer Valley, and he liked the area, so eventually he procured a transfer to the Amherst Post Office and enrolled at UMass. Soon after, in the early 1970s, he started working at Huntley Associates, a Northampton-based surveying company. After advancing in that firm and managing one of its offices, he decided to open his own company, and Heritage was born in 1976.

He worked out of a small office on Route 10 in Southampton until 1985, when he outgrew the space and purchased a 13-acre property about a mile south on College Highway. The idea was to grow slowly and steadily, and to focus on surveying rather than engineering. By doing so, he continued, he found that other engineering firms were willing to hire Heritage to conduct surveying for their projects.

“There are engineering firms we’ve worked with for many years; we’ve worked with some engineers for as much as 30 years,” he said. “A lot of engineering firms don’t have a survey contingent, and they like the work we do, so they’re ongoing clients; there are several in Western Mass., and Eastern and Central Mass. as well.”

While he intended to concentrate on surveying rather than engineering, he went on, “in order to do surveying successfully, to be the best at it, you need to do some engineering, and you need to be knowledgable about a lot of other professions, including the legal profession, planning and zoning, and landscape architecture.”

The firm’s growing reputation won jobs at Westover Air Reserve Base, Westfield-Barnes Municipal Airport, Baystate Medical Center’s Hospital of the Future expansion, the Basketball Hall of Fame, and work for the Springfield Redevelopment Authority at myriad sites.

Coombs has been in the business long enough to see surveyors transition from steel tape to electronic total stations, which allow the operator to control the instrument from a distance via remote control, to GPS units that connect to satellites — progress that has reduced crews on a project from three or four to one or two.

Booking Jobs

At the same time, Coombs was collecting old books — lots of them, to the point where he opened a shop, Heritage Books, in the same building that houses Heritage Surveys.

Actually, he collects both books and ephemera — again, a catch-all term for all sorts of printed, often collectible materials. Eventually, his collection and bookstore were outgrowing their space.

The answer to this problem came in the form of the former Southampton Library, which was built in 1904. When the property went up for sale, he put in a bid, purchased the building, and gradually began moving most of the books to the new site. At the same time, he undertook a major renovation and expansion of the Heritage Surveys property.

Today, Coombs’ office is still strewn with shelves and drawers filled with books, ephemera, and other items, including his own great-grandfather’s handwritten Civil War record, as well as numerous plaques, busts, and other images of Presidents Lincoln and Washington, who were, he likes to point out, both surveyors.

“I like things that are nostalgic, graphical, colorful,” he said, holding up, as one example, well-preserved sheet music (“New York and Coney Island Cycle March Two-step,” by E.T. Paull) adorned with colorful illustrations of the historic fairgrounds in the 1890s.

Perhaps the most striking collectible sits on a table in the library: a large ferris wheel — with a working motor and lights — made in the 1930s from about 200,000 medical applicator sticks; he discovered the damaged relic, and some accompanying model circus wagons, and had them all restored for display in the bookstore.

This emphasis on the past is accessible in a thoroughly modern way, a website that links to several e-commerce outlets for Coombs’ collection, including eBay, Biblio, Alibris, and Amazon. Some 30,000 books and other items are searchable online. For the rest, buyers have to visit the old library.

That they can find so much online, though, is a major change in the way used-book dealers operate, connecting hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. and overseas, he noted. “Sales of books and ephemera have gone over to the Internet, and it certainly has changed things.”

Coombs is making some changes as well, mainly to downsize his collection. For 18 years, he’d maintained a 520-square-foot storage unit in the Eastworks basement up the road in Easthampton, with shelves reaching eight feet tall, loaded with books. The rental probably cost him close to $40,000 over that time, yet the materials in it weren’t nearly that valuable, so he eventually moved everything out.

“We took 350 boxes to the Salvation Army in Westfield, and kept some things and blended them into our collection,” he said, noting that he still has plenty of overflow inventory in a six-car garage, but may gradually empty that as well.

“People ask when I’ll retire,” he said with a laugh, “but when you run two businesses — the survey business and a book business — it’s difficult to retire.”

Thus, the next chapter in an intriguing dual career begins.

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Company Notebook Departments

HUB International Acquires Assets of Leitao Insurance

EAST LONGMEADOW — HUB International Limited, a leading global insurance brokerage, announced it has acquired the assets of Leitao Insurance Inc. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Located in Ludlow, Leitao is a multi-line insurance brokerage firm providing products in personal and commercial lines. The Leitao agency will join HUB New England with other local HUB offices in Ludlow (formerly Your Choice), South Hadley, Monson, and East Longmeadow.

CRRC MA Facility Wins Engineering Award

SPRINGFIELD — The CRRC MA rail-car manufacturing facility at the former Westinghouse site was honored as the state’s outstanding engineering achievement of the year by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts. Plaza Construction, which served as the design-build contractor for the property, accepted the award at a ceremony Wednesday. The $95 million project, spanning more than 204,000 square feet — not including the 2,240-foot test track — is the largest industrial investment in Greater Springfield in generations. The Chinese-owned company will start building new cars for the MBTA Orange Line in April, and for the Red Line later this year. In 2014, CRRC received a $566 million contract from the MBTA to build 152 Orange Line cars and 252 Red Line cars at the Page Boulevard site. Two years later, the state ordered an additional 120 Red Line cars at a cost of $277 million, with production set to begin in 2022.

Hofbrauhaus Closing Doors After 83 Years in Business

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Hofbrauhaus owners Joe and Liz Stevens will close its doors for good on April 1, the couple announced on Facebook on Wednesday. “It is official — as of Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018 (and no, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke), the Hofbrauhaus will be closing its doors for good,” they wrote. “We thank everyone for their patronage and support over the years, but we are ready to move on and make some big, wonderful, exciting, and maybe a little scary changes in our lives.’” Hofbrauhaus, the German restaurant that became one of the region’s most iconic eateries, first opened its doors in 1935.

United Bank Joins Connecticut Trolley Museum as Corporate Sponsor

EAST WINDSOR, Conn. — The Connecticut Trolley Museum announced that United Bank has joined the museum as a corporate sponsor. The museum started its corporate sponsor program in 2016, and since then a number of area businesses have joined the museum to support its mission “to provide a historically accurate educational experience of the trolley era through the interpretation, preservation, restoration, and operation of an electric railway.” As its newest corporate sponsor, United Bank joins Sophia’s Restaurant, USA Hauling, Windsor Federal Savings, Collins Pipe and Supply, Simsbury Bank, Connecticut Lighting Centers, Get Listed Realty, and Allstate in support of the museum. The Connecticut Trolley Museum is located off of Route 140 in East Windsor, off exit 45 of Interstate 91. Businesses with an interest in becoming corporate sponsors may contact the museum at (860) 627-6540 or [email protected]

Ohana School of Performing Arts Supports Square One

SPRINGFIELD — The Square One family continues to expand, thanks to its latest partnership with Ohana School of Performing Arts. Ohana owner Ashley Kohl and her team are volunteering monthly to visit preschoolers at the Square One Tommie Johnson Child & Family Center in Springfield. All 150 children will receive lessons in creative movement and dance. “Studies have long pointed to the physical benefits of dance when it comes to keeping children fit and working to combat childhood obesity,” said Kristine Allard, chief development and communications officer for Square One. “More recent research also points to the benefits of dance from the standpoint of emotional, social, and cognitive development, which is a critical component of our work at Square One.” The volunteer support comes in conjunction with Ohana’s recent gift of $1,000 to support Square One’s work with children and families.

Thornes Marketplace to Renovate Front Entrance

NORTHAMPTON — Thornes Marketplace will begin a major renovation of its front entrance on Main Street the first week in April to make practical improvements as well as aesthetic ones that are historically accurate. Richard Madowitz, Thornes owner and property manager, stressed that work on the entryway — one of the last phases of a multi-year capital-improvement project — will be conducted from 9:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. The front entrance will remain open daily during regular business hours. After the project gets underway, Madowitz noted, visitors with questions or concerns can send feedback to [email protected] Photographs will be available on Thornes’ Facebook page, and news and updates will appear at thornesmarketplace.com. Over the past 10 years, Thornes Marketplace has undertaken a series of major renovations to improve and enhance the eclectic shopping center. Thornes has partnered with Keiter Builders Inc. and Emily Estes of Estes Architecture and Design for the renovations to the entranceway. McGee said the practical goal of the project is to improve accessibility and make the entrance more user-friendly by replacing the 30-year-old wooden doors with wider doors equipped with modern power operators compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Aesthetic improvements will include a raised, coffered ceiling; new, custom-stained oak doors; dramatic chandelier lighting; and new floor tiling. The Florence Bank ATM enclosure will also be renovated to fit the period.

Indian Motorcycle to Open Apparel Store at MGM

SPRINGFIELD — Indian Motorcycle, the Springfield-based pioneer of the American motorcycle industry, will debut the brand’s first-ever apparel store as an anchor tenant of MGM Springfield’s retail collection. The flagship location will open its doors at the MGM property later this year. The Indian Motorcycle store will offer items from the brand’s casual apparel line, the Indian Motorcycle 1901 Fashion Collection. This road-ready collection features graphic tees, sweatshirts, hoodies, and jackets inspired by Indian Motorcycle’s rich heritage. Indian Motorcycle jewelry and accessories also will be available for purchase. Mirroring the aesthetic of the store’s product lines, the space will feature an industrial-yet-modern vibe with exposed, vaulted ceilings and concrete and wood elements. Paying homage to its long-standing roots in the heart of Springfield, the location will open onto to the resort’s plaza.

AIC Joins Hispanic Assoc. of Colleges and Universities

SPRINGFIELD — American International College (AIC) joined the Hispanic Assoc. of Colleges and Universities (HACU) as an associate member. HACU was established in 1986 with a founding membership of eighteen institutions. It now represents more than 470 colleges and universities committed to Hispanic higher-education success in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Latin America, and Spain. While member institutions in the U.S. represent only 13% of all higher-education institutions nationwide, together these colleges and universities are home to two-thirds of all Hispanic college students. HACU’s commitment to Hispanic achievement in education ranges from kindergarten through graduate school and into the work force of tomorrow. Key among the organization’s goals is to improve access to and quality of post-secondary educational opportunities for Hispanic students.

Viridi International Resorts Acquires El Silencio Lodge and Spa in Costa Rica

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — Viridi International Resorts SRL, a new upstart in the ultra-luxury boutique hotel and spa space, announced the acquisition of El Silencio Lodge and Spa from Grupo Isilita, San Jose, Costa Rica. El Silencio Lodge is a luxury eco-tourist resort located in the high-altitude cloud forest just one hour from San Jose in Bajos del Toro. El Silencio was recently voted the No. 2 Top Resort in Central America by Condé Nast Reader’s Choice Awards. El Silencio Lodge offers one of the best lodging and dining experiences in Costa Rica. The property’s 16 intimate casitas and six two-bedroom villas offers visitors a one-of-a-kind refuge from a busy world. The resort’s detached suites offer a private viewing deck of the surrounding cloud forest with traditional rocking chairs, and a private heated outdoor Jacuzzi. Viridi plans to add additional rooms and suites in the months and years ahead. The hotel’s Las Ventanas Restaurant offers traditional Costa Rican dishes in addition to an eclectic assortment of entrees and appetizers with organic farm-to-table produce and fresh fish from two on-site fish farms. Guests can actively participate in the culinary experience by fishing for rainbow trout (Costa Rican salmon), picking vegetables, collecting free-range chicken eggs, or venturing out to a community market before enjoying a fun-filled interactive cooking session with the resort’s head chef. A second on-site restaurant, Hierbabuena, is open weekends during high season and offers a more casual menu for family gatherings. Onsite activities at El Silencio include horseback riding, ziplining, waterfall repelling, fishing, yoga, and more than two miles of hiking trails, all located on 500 acres of a pristine Costa Rican cloud forest with three breathtaking waterfalls, including one nearly 200 feet tall, all flanked by two national parks to ensure a quiet and serene experience. The resort’s open space Esencia Spa offers a full array of rejuvenating treatments using indigenous Costa Rican rainforest oils and minerals. Viridi International Resorts SRL was founded by Boston-area media entrepreneur John Gormally with the goal of building a small to medium-sized luxury boutique hotel/spa group with properties throughout Central and South America, the Caribbean, and other highly sought-after destination spots across the globe. Akoya Hospitality LLC, New York, N.Y. acted as advisor to buyer. Resort Capital Partners of Charlotte, N.C. acted as advisor to the seller. The sale price was not disclosed.

Architecture Sections

Home Makers

KithcenInteriorThe ideas home buyers — and those looking to renovate — bring to the table can morph over time, and a few trends, including an emphasis on open floor plans and sustainable living, not to mention natural surfaces and unobtrusive, smart technology, have come to dominate today’s residential-design world. And when the end result matches the initial vision, well, that’s when a house truly becomes a home.

Something old, something new.

That’s not just the first four words of the ritual brides seek to incorporate on their wedding day — it’s at the heart of another long-time commitment people make: Building a home.

“People in this area are definitely more focused on recognizable regional architecture that draws on arts-and-crafts tradition, farmhouse tradition, or Victorian tradition; they like forms that are familiar to them,” said Charles Roberts, a principal with Kuhn Riddle Architects in Amherst.

“People bring to the process their preconceived notions about architecture, from their research and what they’re comfortable with,” he added. “Most people are drawn to a house that’s recognizable in terms of form, something they can relate to.”

The homes on these pages, designed by Kuhn Riddle Architects, are examples of how today’s houses blend traditional ideas with modern space plans.

The homes on these pages, designed by Kuhn Riddle Architects, are examples of how today’s houses blend traditional ideas with modern space plans.

However, he said, when they step inside, they’re definitely not looking for a traditional Victorian layout with many small rooms. “They want more modern, open plans — more light, open space, an integrated way of living with their house. A compartmentalized dining room is one of those components that’s falling more out of favor. They want a kitchen space that opens to living area and the dining area.”

Chris Jacobs, president of Barron & Jacobs Associates in Northampton, a design-build firm with a large residential-renovation portfolio, has witnessed the same trend over the past decade, with many projects focused on creating a more open feel.

“In most of our jobs, we’re opening up living space,” he said. “The traditional dining room is going away; we’re always knocking down walls to open up space.”

It’s a trend the national home-design media has pegged as well; flexible living space ranks among Architect magazine’s top three trends for 2018, driven in part by changing lifestyles and the way families want to interact today. In short, it’s all about flow and compatibility between spaces.

“Dedicated kitchen, living, and dining rooms have largely been replaced by large multi-purpose spaces that can be customized to meet families’ needs,” the magazine noted. “Architects can work with builders to ensure designs offer flexibility in living arrangements by including sliding doors, pocket doors, and other movable dividers in homes to ensure a seamless transition between rooms in the home, as well as between indoor and outdoor living spaces.”

That’s just one way modern home design has shifted in recent years. For this issue’s focus on architecture, BusinessWest takes a look at a few other ways architects and builders are creating spaces that reflect 21st-century tastes.

Lean and Green

Architect’s second big trend in home design is sustainability, and that’s no surprise; ‘green’ building, once a costly outlier in home design, still often comes with a steep cost, but is no longer uncommon.

“Consumers know the importance of reducing their carbon footprints, and want to make sustainable choices that fit with their lifestyles,” the publication noted. “Architects can meet these needs by ensuring the building envelope is well-sealed and insulated and by including sustainable options such as solar panels or energy-efficient appliances.”

That may be even more true in Western Mass., with its reputation as an environmentally-conscious region.

“People are definitely interested in the energy efficiency of building and design right now, moreso than they were as recently as 10 years ago,” Roberts said. “A number of projects I’ve been working on for builders include zero design, really paying attention to the envelope of the building, heat recovery, and ventilation. All the renewable-energy components are in demand.”

Jacobs pointed out that communities in Massachusetts, with its stricter-than-average stretch codes mandating sustainable building elements, already require certain elements, and beyond that, each option comes with a budget hit. “You can definitely surpass [the codes], but most people, when they see the price difference, don’t, for example, use spray-foam insulation through their whole house.”

Beyond energy efficiency, Roberts said, homeowners are trending toward natural materials in the home, like wood floors and stone countertops, and away from plastics and formica. Meanwhile, wall-to-wall carpeting is becoming much less popular as people want to showcase their natural flooring.

They’re also more focused on the kitchen than other areas of the home, he said, not just with natural surfaces, but with high-end appliances. “Kitchen is a place people still focus on, and they want nice refrigerators and ranges and cabinets. The kitchen is still the heart and core of almost every house. Every conversation seems to end up in the kitchen.”

Jacobs said kitchens are probably the number-one target of home renovation projects he’s involved with.

“Everyone wants to go to stone countertops, good appliances, quality cabinets,” he noted, adding that there’s wide range of outcomes depending on the budget. “You can build a kitchen that can last 100 years, or build one that lasts 10.”

Bathrooms are another area where higher-end options like custom shower tile, frameless glass, and heated floors are extremely popular — when the budget allows. Of course, there’s a good reason kitchens and bathrooms get so much attention: they’re important for quality of life.

“The majority of people in Massachusetts live in an older home, so we renovate a lot of bathrooms and kitchens,” he told BusinessWest. “Everyone would love a screen porch, but they don’t necessarily need it. But if your bathroom is leaking, it can’t wait.”

Chris Jacobs

Chris Jacobs says today’s building codes mandate plenty of sustainable and energy-efficient aspects, but some home buyers and remodelers choose to go beyond them.

As for exterior trends, Roberts said, many builders are moving toward fiber cement, a durable, paintable product that replicates many traditional sidings. “It’s nice, because it holds paint forever, and it’s a little less expensive than natural wood, so a lot of housing we’re seeing going up now has that material in the exterior.”

The final top trend on Architect’s list for 2018 is hidden technology, which is becoming more integrated and extensive than ever before. Homeowners enjoy being able to adjust heat and lights, preheat the oven, and perform other tasks from a mobile device.

“Architects,” it noted, “should work with builders to ensure customization is part of the plan from the beginning, and also that new homes are optimized for wi-fi connectivity based on the size and layout of the home.”

Arch2O, an organization that promotes innovative ideas in architecture, also foresees this technology becoming more prevalent. “Smart houses which are entirely automated by an Internet application will prevail,” it notes. “You will be able to heat up the food you left in the oven on your way home and even turn on your coffee machine. This will also apply to lighting, air conditioning, heating, fridges, dishwashers, and windows.”

Home for Life

Bells and whistles are fun, and definitely something 21st-century homeowners crave, but Roberts said the most resonant ideas still revolve around the way people connect. A home can facilitate that in different ways, from an open living plan complemented by a ‘get-away’ room — an office, TV, or game room — in another area of the house, to a move toward moving master suites downstairs.

“As people get up there in life, they’re saying, ‘I want to be here for the rest of my life; I want to age in place.’ With primary suites downstairs, they can live on first floor, with second-floor bedrooms for kids and grandkids, expanded family, and visitors,” he explained. “People are looking for houses that are flexible, that have the ability to absorb extended family.”

In downtown areas, where there aren’t as many buildable lots for single-family homes, other people prefer the community aspects and neighborhood walkability of condominiums and even co-housing projects, he added. “That’s about a lifestyle as much as a style of architecture.”

For those who aren’t in the market for a new home, the past few years, with the recession well in the distance, have proven a fertile time for renovations, Jacobs said.

“People had put a hold on home improvements, and now that the recession is over, we’re seeing more of them scheduling projects. We do a lot of kitchens, and some are adding a level and doubling the size of the house. It’s still cheaper to buy a house and fix it than build it from scratch.”

In all, architects and builders see a positive landscape for turning trendy ideas into something new — often working from something old.

“In this area,” Roberts said, “I’ve have the experience of working with all the various subcontractors putting these elements together, and I really enjoy working with all the great builders on these projects” — in other words, bringing ever-changing visions to life.

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Daily News

NORTHAMPTON — Thornes Marketplace will begin a major renovation of its front entrance on Main Street the first week in April to make practical improvements as well as aesthetic ones that are historically accurate.

Richard Madowitz, Thornes owner and property manager, stressed that work on the entryway — one of the last phases of a multi-year capital-improvement project — will be conducted from 9:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. The front entrance will remain open daily during regular business hours.

“We plan to provide signage, wayfinding, and other helpful measures to minimize disruption, and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our visitors as we know that Thornes is an integral part of downtown Northampton,” Madowitz said. After the project gets underway, he noted, visitors with questions or concerns can send feedback to [email protected]. Photographs will be available on Thornes’ Facebook page, and news and updates will appear at thornesmarketplace.com.

Over the past 10 years, Thornes Marketplace has undertaken a series of major renovations to improve and enhance the eclectic shopping center.

“This main-entrance renovation caps it off,” said Jon McGee, Thornes facilities manager, noting that some of the work in recent years was aimed at improving accessibility.

Thornes has partnered with Keiter Builders Inc. and Emily Estes of Estes Architecture and Design for the renovations to the entranceway. McGee said the practical goal of the project is to improve accessibility and make the entrance more user-friendly by replacing the 30-year-old wooden doors with wider doors equipped with modern power operators compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Aesthetic improvements will include a raised, coffered ceiling; new, custom-stained oak doors; dramatic chandelier lighting; and new floor tiling. The Florence Bank ATM enclosure will also be renovated to fit the period.

Company Notebook Departments

Big Y’s Growth Expands Distribution Center

SPRINGFIELD — It was in 1995 that Big Y expanded its three smaller distribution facilities into the former Rexnord Roller Chain Manufacturing Co. on Roosevelt Avenue in Springfield. At the time, a staff of 27 people distributed produce and other products to 31 supermarkets throughout the region. Three years later, Big Y’s corporate headquarters and store support center moved to the same site. Fast-forward to 2018, when Big Y’s distribution now supports 70 supermarkets out of the same space, and it is easy to see the need for an expanded facility. The current 189,000-square-foot distribution center has 19 receiving bays and operates round the clock seven days a week with a staff of 92 moving product through this system. In 1995, 3.5 million cases of product were shipped each year from this facility. Even eight years ago, Big Y’s distribution-center team shipped out nearly 15 million cases to stores. By the end of last year, that number had increased to more than 20 million cases. Therefore, Big Y plans an expansion in order to provide capacity for the next 20 years, with includes plans for 20 new supermarkets. The company anticipates a total of 53 dock doors are needed to manage this growth, along with an additional 232,000 square feet of space for a total of close to 425,000 square feet. This expansion will improve the efficiency of the flow of goods to all of stores and will require an additional 32 full-time employees at this site. Big Y has worked with Kevin Kennedy, Springfield’s chief Development officer, along with Mayor Domenic Sarno to develop a plan for this $35 million to $40 million project. In addition, Big Y is working with Springfield based Dennis Group, a local full service planning, architecture, engineering and construction management firm on this project. It is expected to be completed over the next 18 months.

UMass Dining App Wins Two Awards

AMHERST — The UMass Dining mobile app has been recognized in the Web Marketing Association’s sixth annual MobileWebAwards competition as both the Best University Mobile Application and the Best of Show Mobile Application of 2017. The UMass Dining mobile app’s key features include up-to-date menus, operating hours, and contact information for all dining common locations, the ability to view real-time traffic updates for each location, having access to UMass Dining’s on-campus events information, and the ability to personalize one’s menu for dietary preferences and allergens. Each website and mobile application in this year’s MobileWebAwards competition were assessed based on creativity, impact, design, content, interactivity, ease of use, and the use of the medium. Each entry was evaluated in comparison to the websites and mobile apps within the same format in its industry and then judged for an overall standard of excellence.

United Personnel Wins 2018 Best of Staffing Awards

SPRINGFIELD — United Personnel announced it has won Inavero’s Best of Staffing Client and Talent Awards for providing superior service to clients and job seekers. Presented in partnership with CareerBuilder, Inavero’s Best of Staffing winners have proven to be industry leaders in service quality based entirely on ratings by their clients and the employees they have helped find jobs. On average, clients of winning agencies are 2.3 times more likely to be completely satisfied. Job seekers who work with winning agencies are 1.7 times more satisfied with the services provided compared to those working with non-winning agencies. Focused on helping to connect people with the right job opportunities, United Personnel received satisfaction scores of 9 or 10 out of 10 from a significant amount of both clients and candidates placed in jobs, resulting in the recognition. These two awards are distinctions that fewer than 2% of all staffing agencies in the U.S. and Canada have earned.

Professional Drywall Construction Inc. Transfers Ownership

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Professional Drywall Construction Inc. (PDC) recently transferred ownership of the company to two of its employees. Ron Perry and Nick Shaink are now carrying on founder John Kendzierski’s legacy as a leading commercial drywall contractor in Southwestern New England. Former owner John Kendzierski will remain on the board of directors as a consultant. PDC will continue to operate from its West Springfield office, but in order to better serve the construction industry in Connecticut, it recently opened a second office in South Norwalk, Conn. The new location allows PDC to react more quickly to requests from Connecticut customers and provide additional on-site consultation in the Southern Conn. area. Affiliated with the carpenters and laborers union since 1997, PDC has grown to become a regional firm with more than employees, working in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticut. PDC is pre-qualified to work in both Massachusetts and Connecticut, and has a bonding capacity of up to $35 million, enabling it to accommodate virtually any size project.

PV Squared Welcomes Five New Worker-owners

GREENFIELD — PV Squared, a worker-owned cooperative and certified B Corp solar-installation company located in Greenfield, recently welcomed five new worker-owners to the ownership team. Each of the new worker-owners — Daniel Berry, Daniel Gomez, Doug Dedischew, Elliot Henry, and Ian Tapscott — has worked at PV Squared for at least two years before being promoted to worker-owner. PV Squared started with four co-owners in 2002 and has since grown to 44 employees, 24 of whom are worker-owners. There are thousands of worker-owned cooperatives around the world, and that number is growing. The cooperative model reflects a growing movement to create an economic and social alternative to ‘business as usual.’ In a worker-owned cooperative, the people who do the work make the decisions together, instead of having them handed down from an executive. It’s a think-on-your-feet model that allows workers to offer their perspective, suggest alternative methods, and affect real change in practices. PV Squared provides renewable-energy solutions to a wide range of clients, including business owners, commercial property owners, academic institutions, and homeowners in Western Mass. and surrounding regions.

MassMutual Foundation Gives $1 Million in Grants to Springfield Schools

SPRINGFIELD — The MassMutual Foundation Inc. — a dedicated corporate foundation established by MassMutual — announced it is providing $1 million to expand the City Connects program into eight additional elementary schools throughout Springfield. This grant aligns with the foundation’s focus on supporting programs that broaden economic opportunity for students and their families by transforming the system of learning. It is also consistent with the company’s recent decision to expand and reinvest in Massachusetts. City Connects, a national program executed by the Lynch School of Education at Boston College, launched in five Springfield public schools in September 2011 and has tripled its reach and impact, serving 15 schools in 2017. The MassMutual Foundation grant will enable City Connects to reach a total of 23 schools. The program provides support for students based on their individual needs by addressing out-of-school challenges that affect student success, and leverages existing community resources and support services to optimize students’ readiness to learn. During the 2016-17 school year, City Connects served more than 5,000 Springfield students, and nearly 100 community partners provided support and services to meet these students’ unique strengths, needs, and interests. Research has shown that the City Connects program significantly improves students’ academic performance; some positive long-term effects include lower dropout rates, higher test scores, and less chronic absenteeism.

HNE Gives Food Bank $30,000 to Support Puerto Rican Evacuees

HATFIELD — The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts announced it has received a $30,000 grant award from Health New England to support Puerto Rican evacuees settling in Western Mass. following Hurricane Maria. The Food Bank has been collaborating with community organizations throughout the region to provide evacuees with their most basic need: food. The grant award will fund the food needs of the two designated welcome centers with the greatest influx of new people: Springfield Family Resource Center and Enlace de Familias Resource Center of Holyoke. Since evacuees began arriving in Western Mass. last October, the Food Bank has been working with these local organizations to ensure everyone has access to healthy food. It has been making weekly deliveries to Enlace de Familias to provide food for approximately 125 families per week. The provisions of canned fruit and vegetables, soup, rice, beans, cereal, pasta, peanut butter, and other staples afford families nourishment as they get themselves settled. The Food Bank has also been delivering food weekly to the Springfield Family Resource Center. Additionally, its agency-relations team has been connecting families with other local partner feeding programs so they can continue to access healthy food, and SNAP coordinators have been on site in Holyoke, enrolling evacuees to receive federal SNAP food benefits.

Community Music School Wins Grant from MDRT Foundation

SPRINGFIELD — The Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) Foundation awarded a $5,000 grant to Community Music School of Springfield (CMSS) through its Quality of Life Grant Program in honor of Jeanmarie Deliso, CFP. Through its global grants programs, the MDRT Foundation is committed to building stronger families and communities around the globe. This year, the MDRT Foundation will award more than $1 million in MDRT member-endorsed grants to more than 200 charitable organizations worldwide. Representing the MDRT Foundation, Deliso will present this grant to Community Music School of Springfield on March 23 at its board meeting. Trained in both music and special education, CMSS faculty work with Springfield classrooms to teach general music concepts in a way that is accessible to special-education students. The AMP Institute expands the reach of this work by training educators to use these methods in their classrooms.

Community Bank, N.A. Ranked Sixth in U.S. in Financial Performance

DEWITT, N.Y. — Forbes magazine recently ranked Community Bank, N.A. sixth in the nation for financial performance in a study analyzing 10 key metrics related to growth, asset quality, capital adequacy, and profitability for the nation’s 100 largest banks and thrifts. This is the seventh year running that Community Bank, N.A. has ranked among the top 15 banks on the list. Forbes began ranking America’s 100 largest publicly traded banks and thrifts after the financial crisis of the late 2000s. Community Bank, N.A. scored above all regional banks serving within the bank’s footprint.

Bumpy’s Natural and Organic Foods Moves to Agawam

AGAWAM — The West of the River Chamber of Commerce recently welcomed Bumpy’s Natural and Organic Foods to the Agawam community. Business owner Derryl “Bumpy” Gibbs and his sister Dishanda Robinson moved the retail store from Granby to the Agawam location last month. As the community becomes more health conscious, Gibbs felt the move was a good opportunity for Agawam and the surrounding region to “eat well, feel great, and save money” — the company’s slogan. It is a family-owned business looking to support healthy families. From an elaborate selection of herbal teas to shampoos to baby needs, Bumpy’s aims to meet the everyday needs of people looking to eat and live healthy, Gibbs said.

WFWM Receives Grant to Support Women’s Leadership Programs

SPRINGFIELD — The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts (WFWM) announced it has received a $25,000 grant from Irving and Sulamith Blackberg Charitable Foundation, Stanley Waxler, Joan Waxlerm and Bank of America, N.A., co-trustees. The unrestricted funds will directly support women and girls in Western Mass. who are participating in the Women’s Fund’s signature leadership-development programs, the Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact (LIPPI) and the Young Women’s Initiative (YWI). Both programs are dedicated to serving local women and girls in their personal and professional leadership development. LIPPI is a non-partisan initiative that provides women with the tools, mentors, and confidence they need to become community leaders and elected officials. The program trains women in the nuts and bolts of impacting policy from a citizen perspective, and develops leadership confidence through 11 intensive workshops held in downtown Springfield over 10 months. YWI, a national, multi-sector project aimed at creating sustainable prosperity for young women, is a cooperative effort of eight women’s foundations across the U.S. The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts is leading the Springfield Partnership, a pilot program that aims to produce systems change in the region’s largest city.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — It was in 1995 that Big Y expanded its three smaller distribution facilities into the former Rexnord Roller Chain Manufacturing Co. on Roosevelt Avenue in Springfield. At the time, a staff of 27 people distributed produce and other products to 31 supermarkets throughout the region. Three years later, Big Y’s corporate headquarters and store support center moved to the same site.

Fast-forward to 2018, when Big Y’s distribution now supports 70 supermarkets out of the same space, and it is easy to see the need for an expanded facility. The current 189,000-square-foot distribution center has 19 receiving bays and operates round the clock seven days a week with a staff of 92 moving product through this system. In 1995, 3.5 million cases of product were shipped each year from this facility. Even eight years ago, Big Y’s distribution-center team shipped out nearly 15 million cases to stores. By the end of last year, that number had increased to more than 20 million cases.

A rendering of Big Y’s future expanded distribution center.

Therefore, Big Y plans an expansion in order to provide capacity for the next 20 years, with includes plans for 20 new supermarkets. The company anticipates a total of 53 dock doors are needed to manage this growth, along with an additional 232,000 square feet of space for a total of close to 425,000 square feet — the size of nearly nine football fields. This expansion will improve the efficiency of the flow of goods to all of stores and will require an additional 32 full-time employees at this site. It will include 152,000 square feet of additional dry product storage and 82,000 square feet of specialized refrigerated storage for various products.

Big Y’s distribution center also houses a large recycling area for cardboard and plastic wrap and serves as a staging ground for meat donations as they are sent to area food banks.

Currently, local farmers have the option of delivering their fruits and vegetables to this distribution facility in order to save them the time and expense of driving to Big Y’s individual stores while ensuring freshness and speedy deliveries. This expansion will make it more efficient for them to get their fresh produce to the distribution center so that they can quickly get back to their farms.

Big Y has worked with Kevin Kennedy, Springfield’s chief Development officer, along with Mayor Domenic Sarno to develop a plan for this $35 million to $40 million project. In addition, Big Y is working with Springfield based Dennis Group, a local full service planning, architecture, engineering and construction management firm on this project. It is expected to be completed over the next 18 months.

Other elements of this expansion include some renovation within Big Y’s headquarters including a new employee café and a test kitchen to develop and test new recipes, concepts, meals, dietary and nutritional options, and products before rolling them out to consumers. In addition, the test kitchen can host food tastings and focus groups as well as serve as additional training for store teams each week. Plans also include a new employee entrance and visitors welcome and reception area.

Big Y Foods Inc. is one of the largest independently owned supermarket chains in New England, operating 78 locations throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut — including 70 supermarkets, 39 pharmacies, Fresh Acres Market, Table & Vine Fine Wines and Liquors, and six Big Y Express gas and convenience locations — and employing more than 11,000 people.

Departments People on the Move
James Harnsberger

James Harnsberger

After an extended national search, James Harnsberger has been named associate vice president for Graduate Education, Grants, and Sponsored Research at Springfield College. President Mary-Beth Cooper and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Martha Potvin recently made the announcement. Harnsberger will join the college on Feb. 15, and will be responsible for elevating the status of graduate education at Springfield College as well as for increasing the college’s capacity to generate and support externally funded grants and sponsored funding. “In both of these primary responsibilities, his thoughtful approach, his experiences in supporting students and the work of faculty, and his success in managing large contracts and overseas operations will serve him well,” said Potvin. A linguist and speech scientist with extensive experience in experimental phonetics, forensic acoustics, and clinical applications, Harnsberger comes to Springfield College from the University of New Haven, having previously overseen the launch of an international branch campus as campus dean. His responsibilities included international grants and contracts, program development, and operations, as well as the inaugural Academic Bridge Program for international students at UNH. Harnsberger earned his doctorate in linguistics from the University of Michigan, where he conducted research on cross-language variation in the perception of non-native speech sounds. Following a post-doctoral fellowship at Indiana University, he served at the Department of Linguistics at the University of Florida, conducting research on the perception of speaker characteristics such age, gender, emotion, dialect, stress, and deception. His research has been published in numerous academic journals and reported in the popular media, including ABC News Primetime, BBC Radio, and Science News. He has served as a linguistic consultant in numerous criminal and civil cases in the U.S., as well as government agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Defense Academy for Credibility Assessment, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and the House Armed Services Committee.

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Dr. Mark Dumais

Dr. Mark Dumais

Dr. Mark Dumais was appointed to the position of chief medical officer for Mercy Medical Center. In this position, he provides clinical leadership and administrative direction in developing and attaining strategic and operating objectives related to medical practice and patient care at Mercy Medical Center and its affiliates. He also serves as a liaison between administration and the medical staff and provides leadership in advancing quality initiatives, clinical care, patient satisfaction, and physician/employee satisfaction. With almost 20 years of clinical leadership experience, Dumais most recently served as a medical hospitalist at Massachusetts General Hospital and as an instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Before coming to Boston, he served as chief medical officer and Senior Vice President of the University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center (UMCRMC) in LaPlata, Md., where he oversaw performance management, quality, safety, risk management, compliance, and privacy, and gained extensive experience in population health, physician network planning, and information technology. Prior to his role at UMCRMC, he served as vice president of Medical Affairs, clinical chief of Internal Medicine, and director of hospitalists at Southern Maryland Hospital Center in Clinton. Board-certified in internal medicine, Dumais received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in Boston and completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, N.C. In addition to his medical education, he holds a master’s degree in business administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. “Dr. Dumais brings a wide range of clinical, operational, and leadership experience to this important position at Mercy Medical Center. We are pleased to welcome him to the Mercy team,” said Mark Fulco, president of Mercy Medical Center and its affiliates. Added Dumais, “Mercy Medical Center has a longstanding reputation for delivering high-quality, patient-centered care, and I welcome the opportunity to serve as a leader at this outstanding facility.

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Karri May

Karri May

Pinck & Co. Inc., a comprehensive real-estate-development and project-management services firm, announced Karri May joined the firm’s Springfield office as senior project manager. May brings to the firm 13 years of design and planning experience with a focus on healthcare, design for the aging, commercial, and higher education. She also has extensive client-management and business-development experience and will help grow the firm’s portfolio in Western Mass. and Connecticut. She previously worked at Steffian Bradley Architects as senior associate, where she specialized in the design and planning of healthcare projects in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York. Prior to that, she worked at Amenta/Emma Architects as a project architect, focusing on design for higher education, commercial, and senior housing/accommodations. May earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Pratt Institute and is a registered architect in Connecticut, a member of the American Institute of Architects, and a LEED-accredited professional. She also holds a Massachusetts Certified Public Purchasing Official Program designation and a Lean for Healthcare certificate. She is a frequent keynote speaker at industry and community events, has volunteered as a design mentor with CANstruction — a charitable organization for the design and construction industry — and has received several awards, including a Woman on the Rise designation from the Connecticut Professional Women in Construction. “As we continue to position our business to grow in Western Massachusetts and Connecticut, I am thrilled that Karri has joined our team,” said Jennifer Pinck, president and founder of Pinck & Co. “Not only does she bring a high level of expertise in planning and design and project management, she is passionate about the lasting impact built environments have on communities. Karri shares our commitment to putting our clients’ best interests first and going above and beyond to help them realize their vision.”

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MGM Springfield President and Chief Operating Officer Michael Mathis announced that his full executive team is now in place. The team, a diverse group of industry professionals, will lead operations for MGM Springfield, set to open later this year. “This is an all-star team,” Mathis said. “Together, they bring years of experience and a broad expanse of skills that strengthens the deep bench of talent we already have in place. Each of them is committed, not only to the day-to-day objectives of their positions, but also to the greater role this property will play in the community. This team is the backbone of MGM Springfield, and we will proudly reflect and represent the diversity of the region in which we work.” For the 12th consecutive year, MGM Resorts International has been recognized as a Top Company for Diversity by DiversityInc, one of the nation’s leading sources on workplace-diversity management. Almost 69% of the company’s employees are minorities. About 44% of employees in MGM Resorts’ management ranks are women, while minorities comprise 43% of MGM Resorts’ management ranks. “The beating heart of MGM Springfield is our commitment to diversity,” Mathis said. Besides Mathis, the MGM Springfield management team also includes Anthony Caratozzolo, vice president, Food & Beverage; Alex Dixon, general manager; Anika Gaskins, vice president, National Marketing; Brian Jordan, director, Surveillance; Monique Messier, executive director, Sales; Sarah Moore, Vice President, Marketing, Advertising & Brand; Marikate Murren, vice president, Human Resources; Jason Rosewell, vice president, Facilities; Jason Rucker, executive director, Security; Lynn Segars, vice president, Slot Operations; Gregg Skowronski, executive director, Hotel Operations; Talia Spera, executive director, Arena Operations; Seth Stratton, vice president and general counsel; Courtney Wenleder, vice president and chief financial officer; and Robert Westerfield, vice president, Table Games. In 2000, MGM Resorts became the first company in the gaming and hospitality industry to voluntarily adopt a formal diversity and inclusion policy. This is a critical pillar of the company’s enterprise-wide social-responsibility platform, which also includes community giving and environmental sustainability as key elements.

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Mary Chiecko

Mary Chiecko

AdCare chose Mary Chiecko, Community Services representative for Western Mass., as its Employee of the Month for January. “Mary Chiecko is always positive and a great listener, which is key to knowing what our referral sources need and want,” said Georganna Koppermann, vice president of Marketing and Development at AdCare. “As part of ‘Team Springfield,’ Mary has connected new patients with our expert clinical staff helping to make Springfield the second-largest outpatient office in our system.” Chiecko’s diverse sales experience includes working as a toxicology representative, presenting services to addiction-treatment facilities, primary-care physicians, and pain-management practices regionally. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from American International College in Springfield.

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Megan Murphy Wolf

Megan Murphy Wolf

The Solidago Foundation, a Northampton-based national social-justice foundation, announced it has hired Megan Murphy Wolf as director of partnerships. A newly created position, the director of partnerships will focus on developing, supporting, and enhancing partnerships for the Solidago Foundation. Wolf will be responsible for the design and implementation of donor cultivation and engagement, as well as foundation partnership strategies. “Megan joins our team with deep expertise in creating meaningful partnerships across unlikely actors, as well as a legislative background that will enhance our support of grassroots advocacy groups,” said Elizabeth Barajas-Román, CEO of the foundation. “We are happy to welcome her at this exciting time for the organization.” Wolf brings a strong background in both development and public-policy work. Prior to joining Solidago, she worked as director of class campaigns and annual fund leadership giving at Amherst College. During her time at Amherst, she was successful in her personal solicitations, securing multi-year pledges and outright gifts, increasing the yearly totals by 300% and successfully breaking Amherst giving and participation records every year. She has also worked as legislative director for two congressmen in the U.S. House of Representatives. “This is an incredible opportunity to be a part of an organization with a long history of impact within the field of social justice, sustainability, and the fundamental right to work,” Wolf said. “I have focused my career on these important issues, and I believe we have the ability to create positive social change through collaboration and collective support for shared goals. I’m honored to join the Solidago family and be a part of this impressive group of people dedicated to support for the common good.” Throughout her career, Wolf has worked to create partnerships, both political in nature and as fund-building coalitions, to bring about positive social change. As director of partnerships, she will be responsible for working on developing programming and content for donor recognition and campaign-related programs and events for the foundation. “I am thrilled to have Megan join our team and looking forward to working with someone with her expertise as we move forward with our new business model,” said Jeff Rosen, chief financial officer of the foundation. “Adding Megan to the team will enhance our ability to bring resources to the field and amplify our impact at an important time for our partners.”

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Marty Holmes was recently named top corporate search consultant at Management Search Inc. Holmes, president of the West Springfield division of the privately held recruiting firm, was recognized with the organization’s prestigious President’s Club Award for sales excellence in 2017. This year also marked Holmes’ 30th anniversary with Management Search Inc. Throughout his tenure, Holmes has worked to perfect a time-tested recruitment process and, in the process, has established deep roots in the market with a diverse client base in manufacturing and a niche focus within the shooting-sports industry. His hands-on consultative approach, along with his extensive knowledge of the industries he works in, have worked together to build and strengthen his reputation among clients and candidates alike. Headquartered in West Springfield with an office in Providence, R.I., Management Search Inc. has grown to become one of the largest privately held recruiting firms in New England, boasting 35 years of recruiting experience and 15 established consultants.

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On Jan. 1, Aelan Tierney became the third principal and the president of Kuhn Riddle Architects. Tierney joins Jonathan Salvon and Charles Roberts, who became principals in 2010 when Chris Riddle retired. John Kuhn passes the torch of leadership and ownership to these three, and he will continue to work on selected projects at Kuhn Riddle. Kuhn Riddle Architects moves into the future as a woman-owned architecture firm as Tierney now owns the majority share of the company. She will continue to work on architectural project design, while also taking on a larger role in day-to-day management of the firm, focusing on business growth and maintaining a strong connection with clients and business partners. “I see this transition as an opportunity to carry on the legacy of Kuhn Riddle Architects, as well as an opportunity for growth,” said Tierney, who has been an architect at Kuhn Riddle Architects since August 2005. “I am honored that the partners have put their faith and trust in me to take on such an important leadership role. We will continue the company culture and its legacy of good design, excellent service, commitment to the environment, and giving back to our community that John Kuhn and Chris Riddle have built over the last 40 years.” Kuhn Riddle projects in which Tierney has played a lead role include Amherst Montessori School and Children First in Granby, the Kringle Candle flagship store and Farm Table Restaurant in Bernardston, the historic Easthampton Town Hall performance space for CitySpace, the Northeast Veterans Rehabilitation and Training Center in Gardner, Olympia Oaks multi-family affordable housing in Amherst, PVPA Charter School Theater in South Hadley, and projects at American International College, Western New England University, and Elms College. Kuhn Riddle Architects has been in business since Riddle and Kuhn founded it in 1977, when they negotiated a $500 fee to produce a design for Northampton’s Armory building renovation and rented two drafting tables in a fellow architect’s office. Since that time, the firm has become a well-known architectural firm in the Pioneer Valley and designs commercial, educational, and residential projects throughout Massachusetts.

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Terry Ramey

Terry Ramey

A seasoned chief information officer for some of the world’s largest healthcare payor organizations, Terry Ramey has joined Holyoke-based healthcare consultancy VertitechIT as an executive project officer (EPO). He will lead engagements with large healthcare systems as the company continues to expand operations throughout the East Coast and across the country. Ramey previously held senior technology titles at PerformRX (a subsidiary of AmeriHealth Caritas), Penn Mutual Life Insurance, CIGNA Health Services, and Dendrite International. As a nationally recognized healthcare technology executive, he says he was looking to make an impact on the provider side of the industry. “At CIGNA, Penn Mutual, and other major payor organizations, my responsibilities were to leverage technology to positively affect the bottom line,” he noted. “At VertitechIT, I have the opportunity to help transform hospital IT departments with a direct impact on patient care. It’s not often that an IT executive gets to do that.” VertitechIT CEO Michael Feld agrees. “Our work at work at major health systems goes far beyond designing and implementing cloud strategies, overhauling infrastructure, and streamlining operations. As an EPO, Terry will counsel clients on the IT initiatives that can literally change the way doctors do their jobs.” Working at the executive level within a healthcare organization, EPOs oversee a collaborative office of the CTO (oCTO), implementing VertitechIT’s proprietary LeverageIT process. Working side by side with senior internal managers, the oCTO refines strategic directives and implements tactical solutions that make organizations more profitable and efficient.

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Max Kiperman joined the Red Lion Inn culinary team as executive chef of the Red Lion Inn’s Main Dining Room, Widow Bingham’s Tavern, and the Lion’s Den. As executive chef, Kiperman will work closely with Vice President of Culinary Development Brian Alberg and Sous Chef Jim Corcoran on all future food- and beverage-related development in addition to day-to-day kitchen management. With a tenure of more than 25 years in the culinary industry, Kiperman comes to the Red Lion Inn most recently from Lucca in Boston’s Back Bay, where he worked as sous chef, and as culinary consultant to the Viceroy Hotel and Resort in Zihuantanejo, Mexico. Kiperman began his culinary career at Rosalie’s Restaurant in Marblehead before training under three Michelin chefs, including Sylvain Portay and Alain Ducasse. Kiperman now brings his expertise and passion for cooking with locally sourced products to the Berkshires. “Max’s diverse culinary portfolio and his commitment to the farm-to-table movement make him the perfect addition to lead the Red Lion Inn’s culinary team,” said Alberg. “We are confident his leadership and expertise will elevate the inn’s dining experience and continue to evolve the offerings to exceed our guests’ culinary expectations.” Kiperman’s extensive résumé includes work in hotels and resorts such as the Ritz Carlton properties in San Francisco, New York City, and Boston, and the Four Seasons Hotel and Resort in Nevis West Indies; restaurants like On Lot Restaurant in Hong Kong and Mix Restaurant in Las Vegas; and work as a private chef in New York and Connecticut. Recently refreshed breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus await guests at the Red Lion Inn’s Main Dining Room and Widow Bingham’s Tavern, highlighting the inn’s long-standing relationships with local and regional purveyors. The inn offers guests two additional dining options, the Lion’s Den, with nightly live entertainment, and seasonal outdoor dining in the Courtyard from June through September.

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The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, in partnership with the Estate Planning Council of Hampden County and the Pioneer Valley Estate Planning Council, has awarded Kate Kane the 2018 Distinguished Advisor in Philanthropy Award. The award was presented by Katie Allan Zobel, president and CEO of the Community Foundation, and Amy Jamrog, wealth management advisor at the Jamrog Group, at a luncheon on Jan. 9. The purpose of the Distinguished Advisor in Philanthropy Award is to recognize the important work that professional advisors (estate-planning attorneys, financial advisors, and accountants) do in encouraging their clients to engage in local philanthropy for the region. As Zobel noted, “professional advisors play a quiet and often unsung role in advancing philanthropy. The Community Foundation has been working alongside local advisors for over 25 years, and we see first-hand the meaningful work they do by connecting their clients’ generous intentions to needs in our community. Their efforts have helped create a significant base of funding for scholarships and grants to nonprofits in our region.” Zobel also said she is pleased to be giving this award to its first female recipient. Past awardees include George Keady III, Dick Gaberman, Dennis Bidwell, Jack Ferriter, and Steven Schwartz. Kane received a plaque and $1,000 to recommend as a grant to the charity of her choice. Kane is managing director of Northwestern Mutual in Springfield, where she matches clients’ needs with innovative solutions utilizing insurance services and internationally recognized investment products. “Financial advising is a business of words and stories,” she said. “The numbers are simply tools to further the pursuit of hopes and dreams for ourselves, our families, and our communities. We give our clients the gift of listening to their stories and helping them connect with the right decisions to fulfill their aspirations and leave a legacy.” Well-known for her volunteerism and philanthropic spirit, Kane is a former board member (2008-15) and past board president of the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts. She currently serves on the boards of directors for Elms College and Girls Inc. of Holyoke and is vice chair of the board of trustees for Springfield Museums. She co-wrote the original business plan for the local chapter of the Dress for Success, which supports the career and economic advancement of women, and she serves as a business mentor for many young entrepreneurs in the region. Kane has been recognized with many awards in the past for her commitment to strengthening her community, including Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield’s Richard J. Moriarty Citizen of the Year in 2015, Western Mass Women magazine’s Professional Woman of the Year in 2012, Professional Women’s Chamber Woman of the Year in 2011, and a BusinessWest Difference Maker in 2009.

•••••

Edward Alford of South Hadley was installed as president of the 1,800-member Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley on Jan. 9. The installation of officers and directors took place at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. More than 100 people attended the organization’s 103rd annual installation ceremony. Donald Thompson, the association’s 2008 president, served as emcee for the event. The other officers installed were Kelly Bowman as president-elect, Sue Drumm as treasurer, Elias Acuna as secretary, and Rick Sawicki as immediate past president. The directors installed include Shawn Bowman, Peter Davies, Janise Fitzpatrick, Sara Gasparrini, Sharyn Jones, Cheryl Malandrinos, Sue Rheaume, and Russell Sabadosa. Alford was joined by Massachusetts Assoc. of Realtors (MAR) President Rita Coffey, who served as the installing officer. Coffey’s leadership team from MAR was also in attendance, including Anne Meczywor, president-elect; Kurt Thompson, secretary/treasurer; Paul Yorkis, immediate past president; and Rob Authier, CEO.

•••••

Heather Roy recently completed the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Pro Coach certification at Conca Sport and Fitness (CSF). Members have been losing more than 20 pounds thanks to the innovative nutrition and fitness plan offered by Precision Nutrition and Conca Sport and Fitness, CSF owner Steve Conca said. He added that being able to deliver comprehensive fitness and nutrition programming that gets results and is easily adaptable for busy lifestyles was paramount in the company’s decision to move forward with the certification program. CSF, which opened in 2009, provides fitness coaching both online and in the studio, either in a one-on-one or small-group environment.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Pinck & Co. Inc., a comprehensive real-estate-development and project-management services firm, announced Karri May joined the firm’s Springfield office as senior project manager.

May brings to the firm 13 years of design and planning experience with a focus on healthcare, design for the aging, commercial, and higher education. She also has extensive client-management and business-development experience and will help grow the firm’s portfolio in Western Mass. and Connecticut.

She previously worked at Steffian Bradley Architects as senior associate, where she specialized in the design and planning of healthcare projects in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York. Prior to that, she worked at Amenta/Emma Architects as a project architect, focusing on design for higher education, commercial, and senior housing/accommodations.

May earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Pratt Institute and is a registered architect in Connecticut, a member of the American Institute of Architects, and a LEED-accredited professional. She also holds a Massachusetts Certified Public Purchasing Official Program designation and a Lean for Healthcare certificate.

She is a frequent keynote speaker at industry and community events, has volunteered as a design mentor with CANstruction — a charitable organization for the design and construction industry — and has received several awards, including a Woman on the Rise designation from the Connecticut Professional Women in Construction.

“As we continue to position our business to grow in Western Massachusetts and Connecticut, I am thrilled that Karri has joined our team,” said Jennifer Pinck, president and founder of Pinck & Co. “Not only does she bring a high level of expertise in planning and design and project management, she is passionate about the lasting impact built environments have on communities. Karri shares our commitment to putting our clients’ best interests first and going above and beyond to help them realize their vision.”

Daily News

AMHERST — On Jan. 1, Aelan Tierney became the third principal and the president of Kuhn Riddle Architects. Tierney joins Jonathan Salvon and Charles Roberts, who became principals in 2010 when Chris Riddle retired. John Kuhn passes the torch of leadership and ownership to these three, and he will continue to work on selected projects at Kuhn Riddle.

Kuhn Riddle Architects moves into the future as a woman-owned architecture firm as Tierney now owns the majority share of the company. She will continue to work on architectural project design, while also taking on a larger role in day-to-day management of the firm, focusing on business growth and maintaining a strong connection with clients and business partners.

“I see this transition as an opportunity to carry on the legacy of Kuhn Riddle Architects, as well as an opportunity for growth,” said Tierney, who has been an architect at Kuhn Riddle Architects since August 2005. “I am honored that the partners have put their faith and trust in me to take on such an important leadership role. We will continue the company culture and its legacy of good design, excellent service, commitment to the environment, and giving back to our community that John Kuhn and Chris Riddle have built over the last 40 years.”

Kuhn Riddle projects in which Tierney has played a lead role include Amherst Montessori School and Children First in Granby, the Kringle Candle flagship store and Farm Table Restaurant in Bernardston, the historic Easthampton Town Hall performance space for CitySpace, the Northeast Veterans Rehabilitation and Training Center in Gardner, Olympia Oaks multi-family affordable housing in Amherst, PVPA Charter School Theater in South Hadley, and projects at American International College, Western New England University, and Elms College.

Kuhn Riddle Architects has been in business since Riddle and Kuhn founded it in 1977, when they negotiated a $500 fee to produce a design for Northampton’s Armory building renovation and rented two drafting tables in a fellow architect’s office. Since that time, the firm has become a well-known architectural firm in the Pioneer Valley and designs commercial, educational, and residential projects throughout Massachusetts.

Construction Sections

Building Momentum

construction-2018artdpAfter years of slow recovery after the recession that struck almost a decade ago, area construction firms are reporting strong volume in 2017 and predicting the same, if not better, in 2018. Whether relying on diverse expertise, a widening geographic footprint, or repeat business from loyal customers, there are plenty of ways to grow in the current economic environment, and contractors are optimistic they will do just that.

Even during good times for the construction industry — which 2017 certainly was, to hear area contractors tell it — everyone still has to keep on their toes.

“We’re optimistic for next year, but there are a lot of smart people working in New England, and everyone’s trying to get their fair share of the pie,” said Jeff Bardell, president of Daniel O’Connell’s Sons. “It’s still very competitive, and it’s been that way for a long time.”

While O’Connell is based in Holyoke, the firm has branched out over the years to develop a significant presence in Eastern Mass., Connecticut, and Rhode Island, particularly with large utility projects, while closer to home, it has maintained strong activity at area colleges and universities, including work at Amherst College and UMass, not to mention Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and Marist College in New York.

We’re optimistic for next year, but there are a lot of smart people working in New England, and everyone’s trying to get their fair share of the pie.”

“We’re busy, but not out-of-control busy, in Western Mass. The projects we’re doing now aren’t as big as they were for awhile, but we’re still fairly busy.”

However, the heavy civil side has been a different story, featuring projects like upgrades to the Uxbridge Wastewater Treatment Facility, a runway rehabilitation at Hanscom Airfield in Bedford (one of many projects for MassPort), and a biogas co-generation facility at the Bucklin Point Wastewater Treatment Facility in Rhode Island — not to mention some MassDOT highway work in Worcester and a pedestrian bridge over the Providence River.

“Things are going fairly well for us,” Bardell said. “Everyone is working.”

Kevin Perrier, president of Five Star Building Corp. in Easthampton, had a similar outlook, noting that “2017 has proven to be one of our busiest years, with work from one end of the state to the other. Both public and private work has certainly kept our guys busy, and it looks like next year will be more of the same.”

While margins are still tight, workload has remained busy, including two large mechanical upgrade projects for MassPort and increasing work at Logan International Airport over the past several years.

While those two firms have broadened their reach, Chicopee-based A. Crane Construction recorded a strong 2017 mostly close to home, said partner A.J. Crane. “We do a lot of local, private commercial work, and it seems that sector is booming, with a lot of small to medium-sized businesses either building new facilities or renovating their existing facilities. It’s nice to see. And we’re helping as much as we can with that, which we really like to see.”

Recent projects include a remodel of the Sunshine Village offices in Chicopee, Arrha Credit Union’s new West Springfield branch, a new office for Ameriprise Financial in South Hadley, two renovations for Oasis Shower Doors, an office renovation for Noonan Energy, and ongoing work for Ondrick Natural Earth and AM Lithography.

Five Star Building Corp

Five Star Building Corp. opened its Boston office to handle a growing volume of business from the eastern part of the state.

“We’re in that sweet spot between small firms and huge commercial industrial contractors,” he told BusinessWest. “We’re a good size where we can serve a lot of those people that are upgrading and building new, local businesses. We’ve recently serviced quite a few financial-services offices, some retail, and, obviously, the whole legalization of medical and recreational marijuana is going bananas, and we’re doing quite a bit of that, too.”

Clearly, these are high times for area builders, and they expect to keep rolling in 2018.

Branching Out

Bardell said O’Connell’s broad geographic footprint — and its expertise in many different types of work — are both hedges against shifting economic tides.

“We see it rotate from place to place. I would say from ’09 to ’12 or ’13, we were really busy in Rhode Island, hundreds of millions of work there. Now we have maybe $20 million in work there. When we’re not busy in the Eastern Mass. region, we’re doing a lot of work for MDC in Hartford, redoing their treatment plant. It just rolls from one area to the other.”

As a result, he went on, “we pursue a lot of college work, and then we pursue heavy civil work. We do bridges, water and wastewater plants, drinking-water facilities — those have kind of become the bread and butter of our company.”

From a backlog standpoint, O’Connell is in pretty good shape, he told BusinessWest, but firms need to stay aggressive. “Talk to any contractor, and they’ll say they’re looking for more work; you burn it off quickly. But we’re here working through the holiday, with a lot of projects coming out in all kinds of places. There are projects in the Hudson Valley in New York out to bid right now, projects with Connecticut treatment plants, a very large university job in upstate New York, and some treatment-plant projects in Rhode Island.

Now boasting 50 employees, Five Star has developed a strong presence out east as well, opening a Boston office to support the “booming” seaport and commercial construction happening there. Long-term relationships with airlines like Southwest and Jet Blue have kept the firm busy at Logan, while projects like a new Westborough Town Hall, a library in Sherborn, a new charter school in Plymouth, and the Uxbridge fire station attests to the company’s diversity. Closer to home, major projects have included new life sciences laboratories at Holyoke Communtiy College and an ongoing upgrade of the entry at Noble Hospital in Westfield.

“Between healthcare and the airport and transportation sector, we’ve found ourselves all over, with a lot of long-time clients keeping us very busy this year,” Perrier said. “We’re fortunate enough to have another $30 million on the books for next year, so we’re happy about that.”

One goal has not to become too focused on one particular niche or industry, like some companies that focus almost all their energy on, say, healthcare or auto dealerships, he went on. “We’ve always been somewhat reluctant to do that, because it makes you more susceptible to shifts in the economy. We’ve been lucky to have some diversity and to be spread out across the state.”

That said, he added, “we’ve seen our fair share of the work. It’s safe to say the bad economy is behind us. Everyone has a pretty full plate.”

Crane has diversified in other ways, opening divisions in property management and condominium management, and taking on more and larger commercial jobs. And customer loyalty is important, because a construction job might lead to other jobs down the line. “We’re not just building someone a new, 5,000-square-foot facility. They’ll call us for everything else, which is nice.”

The benefits of a strong local construction market are twofold, Crane went on. “Businesses are spending money on their real estate here, which brings everybody’s property values up, and second, if they’re investing in property here, that means they’re not moving their business anywhere else, which is huge. Everyone knows construction drives the economy.”

Help Wanted

Perrier says contractors remember what the recent recession years were like — and how many years it took to return to something resembling normalcy — so everyone is a little gunshy, but they’re also optimistic that a strong 2017 will spill over into an even better 2018.

“The last two or three years, the economy has been strong,” he told BusinessWest. “We’re fortunate to stay busy. During the recession, most general contractors just wanted to keep people busy, try to see some growth and not lose their key players, and weather the storm. We made it out of that, and we continue to see growth. Last year was one of our best years.”

Bardell added that most operations professionals in construction will say they don’t have enough good, quality workers.

“It seems like things are picking up a little with availability of work to pursue, so we’re pretty optimistic, to be perfectly honest with you,” he said. “The biggest problem is finding people to do the work. That’s not getting any easier, and it’s going to be the biggest issue for us. We actively recruit at a lot of colleges; we’re trying to build a little farm team of guys and gals who can move up the ranks. We’ve been pretty successful doing that, but sometimes you can’t keep up with the volume.”

Not that high volume is a bad thing, of course.

“Things were good last year, and next year is looking great, too,” Crane concluded. “Hopefully it keeps rolling.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Daily News

AGAWAM — The RhinoBond system and Etanco, OMG Roofing Products’ distribution partner in Spain, were awarded a prestigious 2017 NAN Architecture and Construction Prize at a ceremony in Barcelona, Spain on Nov. 30.

Based on Etanco’s work in Spain, the RhinoBond system was recognized as one of Europe’s most advanced methods of securing single-ply membranes. Etanco has used RhinoBond on more than 50 projects representing more than 2.7 million square feet of installed single-ply membrane. Based in Madrid, Spain, Etanco has been a partner with OMG Roofing Products since 2015.

“This is not only a superb award for the RhinoBond system,” said Web Shaffer, vice president of marketing for OMG Roofing Products, “but, more importantly, it recognizes the great work that Etanco has done with RhinoBond in Spain. We are very pleased with our partnership and with the great work Etanco does.”

Architecture Sections

Blueprint for Success

Jonathan Salvon says Kuhn Riddle continues to make its mark on area colleges.

Jonathan Salvon says Kuhn Riddle continues to make its mark on area colleges.

While national forecasters are predicting a slight slowdown in the construction industry, area architects report a healthy flow of projects in the pipeline, and they see that trend continuing for the foreseeable future.

Even during tougher economic times than these, Jim Hanifan says, communities still have to maintain — and often rebuild — their schools, libraries, police stations, and municipal offices.

“The beauty of public work is they’re always putting money in one sector or another,” said Hanifan, a principal with Caolo & Bieniek Associates. “Right now, public safety may be at the forefront — and that goes back to 9/11 — but now more senior centers are being built for the aging population, and they’re not just places to hang out and play bingo; it’s an active place, a community gathering spot. Senior centers have become important.”

Curtis Edgin, another principal at the Chicopee-based architectural firm agreed. “We’ve been very busy — a lot of public-sector work, a lot of education work, from pre-K to university levels,” he told BusinessWest. “We’ve done a lot of public-safety work. These projects — public safety, police, fire, things of that nature — are important to communities. They recognize the need to provide those services.”

Colleges and universities keep building too, said Jonathan Salvon, a principal with Kuhn Riddle Architects, and his firm has certainly reaped the benefits.

“We’re lucky to be located right here in Amherst, so we’re conveniently located near the Five Colleges. We’ve always had a certain percentage of our work at the colleges; it’s probably one-third now.”

For instance, the firm is in the planning stages on two UMass Amherst projects, and has also performed a variety of work at Smith College, most recently an intriguing conversion of an historic boathouse into studio space for students of dance.

“That’s an interesting site,” Salvon said, and makes creative reuse of an existing space — a hallmark of New England, where there’s plenty of existing building stock but not as much land and opportunity to design and build new structures.

“We do a certain amount of new construction,” he said, “but a good bit of our work is turning one thing into something new.”

The architects BusinessWest spoke with for this issue uniformly reported a healthy pipeline of projects this year, which belies a cloudy national forecast for the construction industry. After projecting 6% growth in construction spending in 2017, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) adjusted that to 4% at midyear, and expects that slower pace to continue into 2018.

“However, a somewhat more optimistic view is coming from architecture firms,” Kermit Baker, the AIA’s chief economist, reported in July. “While this could be viewed as architecture firms merely working down their backlog from a few stronger years, that doesn’t appear to be the case … New project inquiries and new design contracts were stronger on average in the first half of 2017 than in 2015 and 2016, and as a result firm backlogs have been growing, not shrinking.”

That’s certainly true at Architecture EL in East Longmeadow, which is so busy, principal Kevin Rothschild-Shea called the pace of projects a double-edged sword — but one he’s happy to face.

“We’re busy with multi-family housing, a bunch of new commercial work, and we’re seeing some new consrtruction, finally, not just renovations,” he noted. “The commercial market is moving along pretty strong. We’ve got more phone calls coming in than we can get to.”

For this issue’s focus on architecture, these regional players explain why they’re optimistic, not just for this year, but beyond.

Rising Tide

One of Caolo & Bieniek’s projects, the South End Community Center in Springfield, just opened last week, Hanifan said. “It’s a nice project because they were displaced from the tornado and finally have a permanent home again.”

Other projects the firm has recently tackled include Easthampton High School, Dupont Middle School in Chicopee, and, at the university level, academic and residential buildings at UMass Amherst. The company has also worked on the Little River fire station in Westfield, recreational fields in Agawam, the Chicopee public-safety complex, new branches of Polish National Credit Union and Arrha Credit Union, and a new senior center and police station in West Boylston.

Edgin said the more the firm works in one niche — senior centers, for instance — the more its reputation grows in that area, and it becomes easier to kand similar jobs.

“We’re diversified — we don’t focus on one project type,” he added. “The problem is, a lot of these communities recognize the need to replace outdated facilities or build new ones; they recognize the need to bring them in line with the current trends, but the costs are often an obstacle.”

Caolo & Bieniek Principals, from left, Curtis Edgin, Jim Hanifan, and Bertram Gardner.

Caolo & Bieniek Principals, from left, Curtis Edgin, Jim Hanifan, and Bertram Gardner.

Still, he added, municipal work never really dries up. “It goes in cycles, up and down. But we’ve been fortunate, and we hope it continues.”

Beyond its healthy niche in higher education, Kuhn Riddle is currently tackling two early-education facilities — Belchertown Day School is moving and Children’s First Enterprises in Granby is expanding — while taking advantage of a rebounding housing market, moving from multi-family projects into more high-end, single-family homes, a niche that dried up during the Great Recession.

“Before 2009, about third of our work was college, a third was general commercial, and a third was residential,” Salvon said. “That single-family home, we’ve had a little bit of that, not like it used to be.”

Rothschild-Shea agreed. “It really tanked after 2008. Multi-family has been starting to move the past few years — we’ve been doing a lot of rehab on multi-family, affordable housing — but we’re starting to see some new construction coming through, which is nice. We are just literally swamped, in best possible way, and we’re happy to see an uptick; it’s good for the whole industry.”

Salvon is equally gratified by what seems like a healthy outlook ahead.

“We feel better off than we were right after the recession, a lot more stable. I don’t feel like we’re getting close to anything like a bubble; it doesn’t seem like the market is too hot,” he said, before emphasizing the importance of repeat business, especially in the higher-ed sector. “What we try to do with the colleges is do good work and keep them happy with our services. Of course, we try to do that with all our clients. It really is about long-term relationships.”

Lean and Green

Caolo & Bieniek has seen a different sort of growth this year, forming a union with Agawam-based Reinhart Associates, which also has a strong track record in municipal work.

“We’ve both been around long enough — 60-plus years now — that we’ve built a loyal clientele that appreciates the services we provide,” Edgin told BusinessWest. “By drawing those resources together, we can compete with some larger firms from outside the area. There are more opportunities to draw on each other’s strengths.”

That said, he and his partners also keep an eye on industry trends, aiming to ensure they remain on the cutting edge at a time when bank branches, senior centers, medical offices, and police stations are designed a lot differently than they were a 20 years ago.

“We put a lot of effort into watching those trends, not just in Massachusetts, but across the country,” he said. “We’re not just looking at our projects, but all projects, seeing what the best practices are for that particular project type.”

Sustainable design is a good example, he went on, noting that ‘green’ was a buzzword a decade ago, but sustainability is here to stay. “The code revisions that continue to roll out keep setting the bar higher and higher, and complying with and exceeding those goals in Massachusetts touches on energy efficiency, quality of space, natural lighting, storm-water runoff on the exterior, and reuse of water.”

Hanifan agreed. “Clients are much more educated and in tune with green building and energy-efficiency standards, but the codes have caught up, and these things are mandated now. Three or four years ago, it was considered advanced building; today it’s all pretty much energy-efficient.”

Edgin isn’t about to rest on the firm’s laurels, but said its local roots are a plus, especially when it comes to developing long-term relationships and earning repeat business “It all comes down to the level of service you offer.”

“That’s probably our strongest marketing tool,” Hanifan added. “If you do a good job on a project, you’re more likely to get selected for the next one.”

And those projects keep on coming. After all, there will always be a need for the next school, library, or senior center.

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

DBA Certificates Departments

The following business certificates and trade names were issued or renewed during the month of September 2017.

AMHERST

Joy Art Space
196 North Pleasant St.
Lily Friedling

Pioneer Valley Driving School
256 North Pleasant St.
Mary Paciorek

CHICOPEE

Arrowspeed Archery
769 Prospect St.
Paul Banas

Economy Auto Service
957 Meadow St.
Ariel Ortiz

New England Racers Auction Trade Show
123 Watson St.
Donald Sorel Jr.

NGR Home Improvement
55 Forest St., Unit 1
Nelson Lopez

R. Tetreault Roofing & Siding
70 Westport Dr.
Red Tetreault

Truehart Wellness
264 Exchange St., Unit 2
Rochelle Truehart-Lambert

EAST LONGMEADOW

Ascent Dental Solutions, LLC
250 North Main St.
Kevin Coughlin

Kind Hands Care at Home, LLC
296 North Main St., Suite 20
Janet Maggs, Elizabeth Davila

Permanent Makeup and Skin Care by Rhonda
38 Harkness Ave.
Rhonda Black

Vicky Linda’s
741 Parker St.
Victoria Campbell

HADLEY

Ecuador Andino Store
41A Russell St.
Luis Gavay

Shine Acupuncture
226 Russell St.
Stephanie Mattrey

HOLYOKE

Almonte Market II
129 Sargeant St.
Brian Almonte

Big Buddha Pet Services
127 St. Jerome Ave.
Danielle Pikul

Digital Soul Web Marketing
63 Jackson St.
Igor Poltavets

Dollar General Store #19121
2261 Northampton St.
DG Retail, LLC

Tapestry Health System Inc.
15A Main St.
Tapestry Health System Inc.

Tapestry Health System Inc.
306 Race St.
Tapestry Health System Inc.

LUDLOW

3 Arrow Taxidermy Studio
66 Chapin St.
Vincent Kersey

AJE Financial Services
588 Center St.
Robin Wdowiak

Country Paw Mobile Grooming
531 Pinecone Lane
Alexa Wurszt

NORTHAMPTON

By Thy Grace
45 Main St.
Cher Lemire

Dobra Tea
186 Main St.
Allissa Jukiro, Joel Jukiro

Elo Blue
26 Bedford Terr., #2
Christina Lorimer, Rafael Bresson da Silva Teixeira

Familiars Coffee & Tea
6 Strong Ave.
Isaac Weiner, Daniel McColgan

Maria Katharine
840 Florence Road
Maria Ramsey

Pinch
179 Main St.
Jena Sujat

Pioneer Valley Death with Dignity Action Group
65 Franklin St.
John Berkowitz

Sitelab Architecture & Design
35 Maynard Road
Caryly Brause

Urban Mamasong Inc.
1 Venturers Field Road, #2
Gabrilla Ballard

SOUTHWICK

Ed Roberts Staffing Solutions
72 Vining Hill Road
Edward Roberts

New Ears Affordable Hearing Care
610 College Highway, Unit 13A
Gary Winn

New England Disc Golf Center Inc.
51 John Mason Road
Freda Brown

Rideout Builders
17 Powder Mill Road
Larry Rideout

SPRINGFIELD

A & J Automotive
1307 Worcester St.
Ayyub Abdul-Alim

Advance Stores Co.
1100 St. James Ave.
Bonita Johnson

Bright Eyes Daycare
21 Belmont Place
Rebecca Maldonado

Caleb’s Auto Detailing
69 Wilmont St.
Nehemias Enrique

D.R.S.
64 Fox Hill Road
David Smith

Elegance Limo Services
21 Belmont Place
Albert Maldonado

Elsie’s Flower Shop
182 Main St.
Vicente Porfirio

Kamys Handyman, LLC
50 Leyfred Terr.
Luis Casiano Acosta

Lilac Gray
7 Matthew St.
Carol Boardway-Chapin

S.E.A.L. Trucking
394 Canon Circle
Anthony Goncalez

Secrets of a Diva
152 Lamplighter Lane
Latasia Echols

Tapestry
1985 Main St.
Tapestry Health

Tapestry
11 Wilbraham Road
Tapestry Health

Tapestry
130 Maple St.
Tapestry Health

Tattoo Royale
94 Island Pond Road
James Randall

WEST SPRINGFIELD

Adam & Co. Furniture
900 Riverdale St.
Adam Bouley

Always Polished Perfect
242 Westfield St.
Anita Williams

BA’s Home Improvement
45 Witch Path
Bruce Chelkonas

Grosso Chiropractic, P.C.
615 Westfield St.
Cynthia Grosso

Longhorn Steakhouse #5196
1105 Riverdale St.
Rare Hospitality

Salamon Flooring Inc.
103 Myron St.
Mitchell Salamon

SSD Construction
13 North Blvd.
Simon Slivka

St. Joseph’s Family Dental
258 Main St.
Susana Aguero

Tapestry
425 Union St.
Tapestry Health

WILBRAHAM

Kate Forest Self Care Yoga
84 Main St.
Kathie Forest

Verdon’s Gutter
65 Main St.
Diane Verdon, Real Verdon

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival is expected to bring more than 10,000 people together in Court Square on Saturday, Aug. 12 to celebrate a shared love for music, food, and community. Now in its fourth year, the festival will offer a festive atmosphere featuring locally and internationally acclaimed musical artists, including Lizz Wright, Miles Mosley, Rebirth Brass Band, Sarah Elizabeth Charles, Christian Scott, Zaccai Curtis & Insight, Natalie Fernandez, Jeremy Turgeon Quintet, Community Grooves, and many more.

The Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival was developed by Blues to Green, led by the efforts of founder Kristin Neville, along with Evan Plotkin, president of NAI Plotkin and director of Springfield City Mosaic, with the hope that people of many different communities could unite in Springfield, the urban center of Western Mass., to share their love for music and art.

The festival celebrates music as well as its host the city of Springfield, whose many cultural attractions, historical legacy, and architecture are too often overshadowed by a negative perception of the city. By presenting the festival in the heart of downtown, the organization seeks to bolster a positive image of Springfield, engage artists and a diverse community in fueling its revitalization, and emphasize its place as a cultural hub and driver of cultural excellence in the region.

For a full lineup and schedule, visit springfieldjazzfest.com.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — A memorial service for E. Denis Walsh, formerly president of Weld Management, is scheduled for today at 11 a.m. at Veterans Park in Holyoke. Walsh passed away on Dec. 26, 2016.

Walsh was instrumental in renovating Holyoke’s historic architecture into the grand condition of days past. His most notable projects included the Caledonian Building at 189 High St., the current home of the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce at 177 High St., and most recently the renovation of the neglected former Holyoke Catholic High School and the convent.

He graduated from Boston College with a degree in economics. After graduating from Boston College, he traveled to the Middle East, where he taught English at Baghdad College in Iraq. When he returned, he earned his MBA from Boston College and joined the Army Reserve. Later, he began his real-estate career and in 1976 founded his own real-estate-development company, Weld Management, where he worked with his son Lucas.

Walsh will be honored at a dedication ceremony for his vision and investment in improving downtown Holyoke. Mayor Alex Morse and Chamber of Commerce President Kathleen Anderson will preside. Also in attendance will be Mountain View Landscapes and Lawncare President Stephen Corrigan, who prepared the dedication parcel directly across from the Chestnut Park Apartments, as well as friends and family of Walsh.

The public is invited to attend. Anyone interested in attending the memorial service may contact the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce at [email protected] or (413) 534-3376.

Community Spotlight Features

Community Spotlight

the Morgan/Sullivan Bridge

A $31.5 million project to replace the Morgan/Sullivan Bridge would create a new and improved gateway into Agawam.

Richard Cohen is now halfway through his 16th year as mayor of Agawam — a tenure marked by four two-year terms, a two-year hiatus of sorts, and then four more terms. (And, yes, he’s seeking a ninth term this fall.)

For that duration, if you will, he’s been coping with many of the same issues impacting this community of roughly 29,000, which is technically a city (hence, it has a mayor), but in most ways considers itself a town. In fact, that’s the word you see over the front door of the municipal offices on Main Street, just a few hundred yards from where most of these ‘issues’ are clustered.

“These are complex matters … there are no easy answers, and that’s why we’ve been dealing with some of them for 15 to 20 years or more,” said the mayor, referring to concerns that include the Morgan/Sullivan Bridge over the Westfield River that forms a border with West Springfield and serves as the gateway in the community.

The bridge, built nearly 70 years ago, has long been inadequate to handle the traffic in that area — especially during the 17 days of the Big E each fall — and plans to replace it have been on the drawing board for years.

That list also includes what has long been known simply as the FoodMart Plaza, located just north of the bridge. FoodMart anchored the plaza more than a decade ago, but after it closed just after the start of this century, filling the retail area has been an ongoing challenge for the community. It also includes a stretch of road known as Walnut Street Extension (it borders the FoodMart Plaza), which is most often described with the words ‘old’ and ‘tired,’ which have been used, well, since Cohen first took office.

And there’s the so-called Lanes and Games property (on Walnut Street Extension), which has been long-closed, an eyesore, and a subject of considerable controversy for most of Cohen’s tenure in the corner office.

As he talked with BusinessWest recently, Cohen was still discussing these same issues, although, in many instances, he was relating what he considers progress and the sentiment that, sometime soon, some of these matters might just be addressed in the past tense.

This new bridge is something that’s long overdue and definitely needed. It’s going to be very complicated when it starts, but the end result will enhance all of the gateways to Agawam and West Springfield.”

Start with the bridge. Designs for a new span, complete with a unique, elevated pedestrian walkway and dedicated bicycle lanes, are now complete, said Cohen, adding that the project should go to bid in August, preliminary work will be underway later this year, and construction should begin in earnest nest spring.

Like most infrastructure projects of this type, this $31.5 million initiative, to be funded with state and federal dollars and undertaken in conjunction with West Springfield, will bring some inconveniences during what is projected to be a three-year construction period, said the mayor. But in the end, it will generate much smoother traffic flow and a far more appealing gateway to the city.

“This new bridge is something that’s long overdue and definitely needed,” he said. “It’s going to be very complicated when it starts, but the end result will enhance all of the gateways to Agawam and West Springfield.”

The FoodMart Plaza, meanwhile, has several new tenants (more on them later), and is bringing more people and vibrancy to the community, he said.

As for the Games & Lanes property, if you’re an optimist, there is some light at the end of the tunnel there. Property owner David Peter, president of Site Redevelopment Technologies, recently informed city officials that the site, long hamstrung by environmental issues in the form of groundwater contamination, is now clean and ready for reuse.

Whether the development community has any interest in the property in its current state remains to be seen, but if it doesn’t, Peter said, he will tear down the structure and then attempt to sell the land.

But for Walnut Street Extension as a whole, it’s more a case of going back to the drawing board.

Indeed, this spring, the City Council unanimously rejected a $5.3 million streetscape-improvement project for that area. Cohen then scaled the project back somewhat, with a $3.6 million initiative, but that, too, was rejected unanimously by the council.

Following these setbacks, Cohen created something called the business modernization advisory committee, which will conduct a needs assessment of the area just over the bridge, including Walnut Street Extension, Suffield Street, and Main Street, and recommend a course of action moving forward.

For this, the latest installment of its Community Spotlight series, BusinessWest looks at how this community is finally achieving some progress with some of its long-standing issues, but still has considerable work to do.

Coming to a Crossroads

In the run-up to the vote on the Walnut Street Extension plan, Cohen put the well-worn line from Field of Dreams — “If you build it, they will come” — to work as he made his case for the initiative and what it might mean for that area, which has a number of retail establishments, but bears a look from the ’60s or ’70s, not 2017.

And in voting it down, the council, and especially its president, James Cichetti, who is now a candidate for mayor, threw it right back at him.

“This is a great movie line, but really cannot be the basis of our capital planning, can it?” Cichetti wrote in his weekly Council Corner column as he criticized the mayor’s plan for being little more than cosmetic changes, with little, if anything, in it concerning business development or revitalization of the Games & Lanes property.

But Cohen, who chalked up the council’s votes to election-year politics more than anything else, has used that movie line often over the years, and he says there is ample evidence that it is more than catchy rhetoric.

gameslanes

Redevelopment of the Games & Lanes property, top, is considered one of the keys to revitalization of the Walnut Street Extension retail corridor, above.

Redevelopment of the Games & Lanes property, top, is considered one of the keys to revitalization of the Walnut Street Extension retail corridor, above.

Indeed, he cited examples ranging from several new parks and park-restoration efforts the city has undertaken, to the now much-more-crowded parking lot at the FoodMart Plaza, to a new laundromat that opened in a spot just over the Morgan/Sullivan Bridge once occupied by Dunkin’ Donuts. Called Stay & Play, the state-of-the-art facility features play areas for children (and adults) and other amenities, and has been a popular spot since it opened.

And then, there’s the pickleball facilities at Borgatti Field. The game, described as a cross between tennis, table tennis, and badminton, and played with a wooden paddle and a plastic Wiffle ball, has caught fire in Agawam, said the mayor, who told BusinessWest that he was one of many people who needed to be told what this game was and how it was played when the courts were first proposed, and now he gives tutorials to the curious.

“Those pickleball courts are so heavily used, I had some people in here the other day looking to add more courts,” he noted. “It’s huge … people are coming from all over to play here.”

Despite these examples of facilities and businesses being built and people coming to various destinations in Agawam, Walnut Street Extension, and especially the Games & Lanes property, remains a case that will test that theory.

As noted earlier, that area has been a thorny challenge since the start of this century. There are more than two dozen businesses in that area, but, as noted, the street has a dated look and feel to it and is sorely in need of a spark.

It could come in the form of redevelopment of the Games & Lanes property, which is ready for reuse (although that appears to be a daunting proposition) or complete redevelopment.

“The building itself is stable,” the mayor said of the Quonset hut-like structure. “The outer layers are greatly deteriorated, but the site itself is now clean — it’s a viable site for resale.”

Walnut Street Extension is one of the key focal points of the most recent strategic plan for the community, drafted in 2010, said Marc Strange, Agawam’s director of Planning & Community Development.

Its location, just over the bridge and off several major thoroughfares, makes it an obvious priority, he told BusinessWest, and a likely catalyst for further developments in the city.

“The architecture is old and disjointed, and the area needs to be freshened up,” he said, adding that the engineering firm Tighe & Bond was hired to come up with a streetscape plan — the one that was rejected by the City Council.

“This was a missed opportunity — I believe our plan would have greatly enhanced that area for the businesses there,” said Cohen. “But we’re not giving up.”

The mayor said he is optimistic that the business modernization advisory committee can create a game plan for that area that will win the City Council’s approval and, more importantly, achieve desired progress, especially with the new bridge and its capacity to make that section of Agawam more accessible.

Strange agreed. “There is great inertia in that area, with the bridge project, the Colvest Group’s investment in the city, and other initiatives,” he said. “And the business modernization committee has been charged with coming up with ways to capture that inertia, and we think there’s good stuff coming.”

Another priority identified by that strategic plan is still another stubborn issue within the community — development of a large parcel off Tennis Road just off Route 57.

Mayor Richard Cohen

Mayor Richard Cohen says Agawam is generating progress with many of the challenging issues that have dominated his 16-year tenure as mayor.

This matter actually pre-dates his tenure as mayor, said Cohen, adding that a high asking price on the part of the parcel’s owner and anxiety among voters concerning its best use have kept it from being developed.

However, there remains strong interest in the property, and there is potential for progress, said Strange.

“It’s a spectacular location for a regional destination,” he told BusinessWest, adding a broker is trying to identify big-box stores that may serve as anchors on the property.

Getting Down to Business

While the community grapples with larger issues such as the bridge, Walnut Street Extension, and Tennis Road, several smaller projects are in various stages of development, and together, they represent both progress and optimism within the community, said Cohen.

He started with that aforementioned new vibrancy in the FoodMart Plaza. There have been several recent additions, including Building 451, Macho Taco, Aquarius Hydroponics, and a cigar lounge and smoke shop, he said, adding that these new arrivals are bringing more traffic to the area and filling a parking lot that has been mostly empty in recent years.

“I drove by there recently on my way to the high-school graduation, and the parking lot was just humming with people; it was packed,” said Cohen, adding that the only vacancy of note (and a large one, to be sure) is the former satellite location of the Greater Springfield YMCA. He added quickly that there is considerable interest in that location, including a few pub-like establishments.

Meanwhile, there may be more new development in the area just over the bridge. The Colvest Group, which is developing a retail and office complex just a few miles east on Memorial Drive in West Springfield, has acquired a former motel on Suffield Street and some adjacent properties.

No plans have been announced, but Cohen noted that the company has a strong track record for developing successful retail and mixed-use properties (it already developed a CVS in Agawam), and there are hopes — and expectations — that the intersection just over the bridge will be the site of the next one.

Also, an already established, and growing, retail area — the intersection of Route 187 and Springfield Street, not far from where the multi-lane section of Route 57 ends — is due for a much-needed facelift.

The intersection will be expanded to accommodate more traffic and create better traffic flow, said Cohen, adding that the work is sorely needed and should help a number of new businesses in that area.

“This will be a monumental redesign of that whole intersection, with specified turn lanes, widening, and signalization improvements,” said the mayor, noting that, while Agawam and other communities will continue to advocate for the extension of Route 57 into Southwick (something they’ve done for 40 years now), they understand that such a project is a very long shot, and will continue to find ways to live with and improve the current infrastructure.

Other recent additions and improvements, including everything from an $8.1 million track and sports complex at Agawam High School to a new dog park to those pickleball courts, are making the community more livable and attractive to people of all ages, said Cohen.

As evidence, he cited the city’s recent designation as both an AARP-friendly community and a ‘dementia-friendly community.’

“I’m excited about where we are and we’re going,” said Cohen as he summed up matters in his town. “We have something for everyone.”

Bottom Line

Referring to his frequent use of that classic quote from Field of Dreams, Cohen said it’s much more than a line from a 30-year-old movie.

It’s a mindset of sorts, he said, and a roadmap for putting some issues that have been plaguing the community for decades into the realm of the past.

It’s already happened with several parks, the FoodMart Plaza, and even the new laundromat. And it can happen, he believes, with Walnut Street Extension, the Games & Lanes property, and the larger gateway to the city.

“‘If you build it, they will come’ — it’s not just a line from a movie, it’s a fact,” said the mayor, adding that he hopes to provide the City Council, and the community as whole, with much more evidence of that in the months and years to come.

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

 

Agawam at a glance

Year Incorporated: 1761
Population: 28,976 (2016)
Area: 24.2 square miles
County: Hampden
Residential Tax Rate: $16.18
Commercial Tax Rate: $29.98
Median Household Income: $63,682
Median Family Income: $72,258
Type of Government: Mayor, City Council
Largest Employers: OMG Inc., Agawam Public Schools, Six Flags New England
* Latest information available

Construction Sections

Blueprint for Growth

From left, the principals at Caolo & Bieniek Associates, James Hanifan, Bert Gardner, Curtis Edgin, and John MacMillan.

From left, the principals at Caolo & Bieniek Associates, James Hanifan, Bert Gardner, Curtis Edgin, and John MacMillan.

“More horsepower.”

That’s the phrase summoned by Curtis Edgin when he was asked to identify the primary advantage gained through the union of two architecture firms, Caolo & Bieniek Associates (CBA), which he serves as a principal, and Reinhardt Associates, a long-time competitor.

He would go on at length in his answer and use a number of different words and phrases, but the term ‘horsepower’ probably summed it up best.

He used it to describe everything the union brings to the table: experience, client bases, contacts within both the public and private sectors, and simple know-how — about this business, this market, and much more.

It’s a case of simple addition by … addition, said Edgin, noting that this new, larger firm has a bigger engine, if you will, one capable of fueling additional growth.

And by engine, he meant people in particular.

“In a service business, and especially architecture, it’s about the people; it’s not about tables and chairs and computers,” he explained. “Your main resource is the intelligence you bring to the table; architecture is about designs, but it’s really about relationships.”

John MacMillan, formerly president at Reinhardt Associates and now a partner with Caolo & Bieniek, agreed. With a larger team, he noted, the firm brings more experience to the forefront, especially in several specialty areas shared by CBA and Reinhardt, including schools, public-safety complexes, senior centers, and others.

“The competition is getting tougher, and you have to be able to show people more of what you can do,” he explained, touching on a theme he would return to often as he spoke with BusinessWest. “This union certainly strengthens the résumé; we can show 30 or 40 examples of past projects.”

Both MacMillan and Edgin agreed that, because of these shared specialities, talents, and especially relationships forged through decades of work with common institutions, cities, and towns, the union of the companies made sense on a number of levels.

“John and Reinhardt have a good, established client base, and CBA has a good, established client base,” Edgin explained. “And we thought that joining together those assets would be beneficial as we continue to serve those past clients and also pursue future clients.”

For this issue and its focus on construction, BusinessWest takes an in-depth look at the union of the two firms and what this additional horsepower means in terms of growth potential.

Progress — by Design

The walls of an architecture firm’s lobby — and this case, the conference room as well — usually tell a story.

It’s told through photographs and renderings of projects that have made it from the drawing board to reality — and the firm’s portfolio as well.

The walls within Caolo & Bieniek’s offices in Chicopee relate such a story, with images of schools, public-safety complexes, senior centers, bank branches, municipal offices, libraries, and more.

Actually, the walls and the images tell two stories — well, sort of. Caolo & Bieniek’s deep portfolio and wide diversity of projects mirror the body of work assembled by Reinhardt Associates.

The new Easthampton High School

The new Easthampton High School is one of many education-sector projects in the Caolo & Bieniek portfolio.

Indeed, both firms focused on both private and public-sector work, and especially the latter. In fact, they competed against each other for probably hundreds of individual projects for the better part of 60 years. (Caolo & Bieniek was founded in 1955, and the Reinhardt firm in 1957.)

These common specialties were among the most common-sense reasons for the firms coming together in what the principals prefer to call a “strategic alliance.”

Talks began sometime last fall, and they culminated in an agreement earlier this year that saw MacMillan and another architect join the Caolo & Bieniek firm.

As noted, the union gives the firm more horsepower at a time when it is certainly needed. Indeed, while the economy is relatively strong and work somewhat plentiful — in both the public and private sectors — competition for that work is as keen as ever.

And it’s coming from all points on the compass, especially the east, said MacMillan, where a number of Boston-area firms are becoming more aggressive in their pursuit of work in the 413 area code.

“We’re getting more competition from the east, including some of the larger firms, which have set up satellite offices in this area,” he explained. “And everyone is looking for specialists these days, so it’s harder to be a general practitioner.”

Overall, the firm intends to use its additional horsepower and existing strengths and contacts to generate more growth, said Edgin.

One of these strengths is simple diversity, a trait that helps keep operations afloat when one segment of the industry falls off, as school construction did years ago when the state cut back on funding. But it also helps when times are better and there are a number of projects to bid on.

And the company’s portfolio — not to mention those walls in the lobby and conference room — reveal that it has undertaken everything from restoration work on the clock tower of the Old Chapel at UMass Amherst to the new transit center in downtown Westfield; from a host of police and fire stations to school projects across the region and well outside it.

Roughly 75% of the joined firms’ portfolios fall in the public-sector realm, said Edgin, adding that schools are a big component of this work, and projects run the gamut from preschool to colleges and universities.

umasspolicefacility

Among the many projects in the Caolo & Bieniek portfolio are the new UMass Police facility, top, and the new Arrha Credit Union branch in West Springfield.

Among the many projects in the Caolo & Bieniek portfolio are the new UMass Police facility, top, and the new Arrha Credit Union branch in West Springfield.

The firms have collectively done a considerable amount of work for UMass Amherst, for example — the new police headquarters there is another example — and Westfield State University, where projects include a residence hall, classroom spaces, and the Eli Campus Center.

Public-safety complexes have become another strong niche, said MacMillan, noting that experience with such structures certainly helps in the highly competitive bidding process, and it has helped the firm amass nearly a dozen such projects over the years.

And he believes the combined experience of the firms helped CBA as it won the contract to build a new public-safety complex for the town of Westhampton.

Other specialties include libraries and senior centers, he went on, adding, again, that the firms have been very similar in the composition of their portfolios, although Reinhardt would often venture out of the 413 area code — it did a lot of work on both the North and South Shores of the Bay State — while CBA stayed closer to home.

The union of the companies also allows CBA to be more responsive because it can bring more resources to bear, said Edgin, adding that this is another important trait within a market that has become, in a word, more demanding.

“People want things faster, they wants things to be less expensive — they want it all,” he said. “By joining together, we can be responsive to clients.”

Building Momentum

Architects use numbers and images in their work, but, as Edgin noted, this is a relationship-driven business, where people make all the difference.

But ‘horsepower’ is a term that works, well, because it has a number of definitions, in this case the ability to offer valuable resources and experiences in efforts to serve the client.

And through this union of two former competitors, a larger firm can bring considerably more horsepower to bear.

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

Restaurants Sections

Pop On Over

Judie’s

Judie’s has expanded its space multiple times over the years to meet growing demand.

David Williams worked in architecture, not food service, when he was inspired, 40 years ago, to open a restaurant. His inspiration was a young woman named Judie Teraspulsky.

“We had an office in Boston, in Faneuil Hall Marketplace, and one here in Amherst,” he said over lunch one recent afternoon at a brightly sunlit table overlooking the stretch of North Pleasant Street that passes by Judie’s restaurant. “We used to take clients to the Lord Jeffery Inn, where Judie was the baker and a lunch waitperson, and we’d always sit in her section.”

Those lunches became well-known and well-liked by clients. “They would come to my office and say, ‘can we cut this meeting short, and go to the Lord Jeffery and sit in Judie’s section?’”

He had an idea.

“One day, I mentioned to her that I recently designed three restaurants in food courts in shopping centers. I said, ‘we should start a restaurant together.’” She found the possibility appealing.

The location they chose had recently housed a natural-foods restaurant that didn’t last long, so Williams bought the property and all the equipment, procured financing, and brought Teraspulsky on as an equal investor. Judie’s opened in May 1977 — 40 years ago this month — and quickly became, and has remained, one of the Valley’s most celebrated culinary success stories.

SEE: List of Restaurants in Western Mass.

“The first day we opened, Judie came to me and said, ‘can I be the manager?’” Williams recalled. “I said, ‘Judie, you own 50% of the business. It’s named Judie’s.’”

He said that particular idea wasn’t hers — she would rather have kept her name off the façade. But he also knew that her reputation at the nearby inn would help bring in patrons in those early days.

The target audience, at first, was professional women, who Williams and Teraspulsky felt were underserved by the town’s culinary choices in the late ’70s. “It was all pizza and hot dogs; there wasn’t a lot of ‘adult food’ in town,” he said. “She targeted women realtors, attorneys, insurance agents — and it took off like a shot.”

David Williams

David Williams says he and Judie Teraspulsky saw a need for more eclectic fare in downtown Amherst in the late ’70s.

The idea was that women were more open to experimental food — “and they tip better,” Williams said with a laugh — and, indeed, Teraspulsky’s eclectic menu, rife with fresh ingredients and interesting combinations, proved an immediate hit.

Even with that early success, what the restaurant needed, they felt, was a signature item. They certainly found one.

Enter the Popover

The fateful inspiration was the Proud Popover, a Boston-based restaurant and tavern affiliated with the Magic Pan. After trying that eatery’s namesake starch, Teraspulsky wanted to create something similar in Amherst — but bigger, and more impressive, than the smaller version she enjoyed.

“She came back here and experimented and managed to come up with the Judie’s popover, and it’s been the staple ever since. Nobody else went that big,” Williams said, adding that they’ve never made public how they’re baked. “There’s a very special way you make them in terms of heat and periods of time. It’s a closely guarded secret.”

A popover slathered with apple butter may be the Judie’s classic, but over the years, she’s turned them into sandwiches, incorporated them in stews and salads, filled them with everything from basil pesto chicken to a spicy gumbo, and even used leftover batter to make popover crepes. The Souper, a soup served alongside a popover and salad, has long been a best-selling item.

“I wanted people to have a ‘wow’ experience,” Teraspulsky told BusinessWest several years ago, “so when we put the trays down, the first thing out of their mouth is ‘wow.’”

The popover isn’t the only well-regarded Judie’s original, though. Williams said she’s been ladling out her popular seafood bisque since day one, among other early creations. And her variety of meal-size Caesar salads are another mainstay.

The experimentation that has made Judie’s menu a hit — and with a much wider audience than professional women — reflects a wave of culinary inspiration that has settled across downtown Amherst in the ensuing decades. Visitors can still get pizza or a hot dog, but Judie’s and the Lord Jeffery Inn are now joined by institutions like Johnny’s, Chez Albert, and Oriental Flavor. Of the latter, Williams noted, “a good friend of mine from Taiwan said that’s the best Chinese food you can eat outside of China.”

He doesn’t think it odd to talk up these offerings while simultaneously competing with them for business, noting that the restaurant scene is part of a downtown renaissance that benefits everyone.

“I’m never scared of competition,” he told BusinessWest. “It means there’s going to be more people coming here, and we’ll always get our percentage because we have a unique menu. Judie has crafted a unique destination in terms of the menu, and, having been a waitperson, she is crazy about the service — it’s got to be perfect.”

Art of the Meal

The years have seen plenty of changes and innovations at Judie’s, many of them related to the restaurant’s consistent growth and need for more space. The partners built out the front of the structure early on, and in 2007, they turned an adjoining bar into still more seating, along with an expanded kitchen and new restrooms; the renovation shut the restaurant down for only five days.

Donna Estabrooks’ wildly colorful tabletops have become a hallmark of Judie’s.

Donna Estabrooks’ wildly colorful tabletops have become a hallmark of Judie’s.

A third partner, Katie Day, took on that role in 2000, after coming to work at Judie’s in the 1980s; her sister was the general manager in the restaurant’s early days, and she learned the business from the ground up.

Judie’s has also become known for its striking, colorful paintings that adorn the walls and tabletops, all created by Florence artist Donna Estabrooks, which has effectively turned the restaurant into a gallery. Patrons are welcome to buy the paintings — and, yes, even tabletops — and Estabrooks changes out the offerings on a regular basis.

“Judie has always been fond of artists,” Williams said, noting that she gave additional vent to this passion a few years ago by opening Judie’s Art Bar, an art classroom tucked behind the restaurant where people come and learn how to unlock their own muse — and leave with their own painted creations.

But Judie’s remains best known for its culinary creations, with head chef Michael Babb firing up everything from sea scallops with tomato tart tatin to lamb shank served with a crisp, shredded potato pancake stuffed with grilled tomatoes, caramelized onions, and mascarpone whipped potatoes.

One might assume a restaurant with a four-decade arc would have passed its peak days, but Williams said business continues to increase an average of 4% every year.

“Of course, the area keeps growing,” he was quick to add, pointing out the window at the main artery through downtown Amherst. “Look at this traffic. In 1970, you could lie down in the middle of the street and never get run over, but now, it’s super busy.”

As Judie’s celebrates its 40th anniversary, Teraspulsky, Williams, and Day continue to welcome patrons eager for a hot, fresh popover or any number of other tempting offerings, in an atmosphere drenched in sunlight and dappled by Estabrooks’ artistic visions.

“When Judie realized she was not the manager, but the owner,” Williams recalled, “she really threw her body, mind, and spirit into this place. She knew what she had here.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Features

Designs on New Digs

Kerry Dietz, left, and Nancy O’Brien

Kerry Dietz, left, and Nancy O’Brien offer a tour of the space in Union Station that will become the company’s new home.

Kerry Dietz was asked about the circumstances that will bring the architecture firm she put her name on 32 years ago to the second floor of the recently renovated Union Station this summer, making her company the celebrated first tenant in the spacious office area of the landmark.

She paused for a long moment, as if she were reconstructing (that’s one industry term) the timeline of events in her mind, before summoning another phrase used by those in her profession.
“Let’s just say it was a process,” she told BusinessWest before breaking into a broad smile, something she would do repeatedly as she talked about this move, what it means for the company, and what it might mean for the nearly 90-year-old station itself.

But first, that process. It began, she said, with the realization that, while there are many reasons to love the company’s home for 22 years in the so-called Patton Building (circa 1872) on Hampden Street in downtown Springfield — everything from a large skylight to ornate tin ceilings to brass handrails — there just aren’t enough of them.

Or, to be more precise, perhaps, there are not as many as there were when this company was younger and smaller.

Indeed, the venture that started with three employees has grown to now boast 25, and they are spread over two floors of the Patton Building, said Dietz, noting that the company has grown within that building in an organic, but “not very thoughtful way.”

“One of the things that this space has are these great big offices,” she explained. “They were in many ways too big for two people, two small for three people … it’s lovely space and great windows, but it’s not an efficient flow, and it tends to isolate people.”

Nancy O’Brien, an interior designer with the firm who has spent the past few months designing the new space at Union Station, agreed. The existing space makes things logistically difficult, and collaboration … well, that’s not as easy as it should be.

“There’s no open studio space, so when we’re trying to collaborate, we’re running up and down stairs,” she noted. “That’s great exercise, but it’s not good for efficiency.”

Such introspection and close examination of quarters is commonplace when a lease is up, and this was the situation facing the Dietz company, said its founder, adding that this amounted to step one in that aforementioned process.

Step two was deciding whether these shortcomings were enough to warrant a move; eventually, the answer became what amounted to a “soft yes,” said Dietz, who at one point in the conversation with BusinessWest turned to O’Brien and, while adding up all that the company was leaving behind on Hampden Street, said under her breath,“tell me why we’re moving again?”

The answer to that question was the roughly 8,000 square feet of space now being fitted out just around the corner from the conference room where she was talking with BusinessWest.

Kerry Dietz says her company’s move into Union Station makes sense on many levels.

Kerry Dietz says her company’s move into Union Station makes sense on many levels.

“This is what an architect’s office should look like — or, at least it will be once we’re done with it,” said Dietz, referring specifically to the floor plan O’Brien had placed on the table. It revealed a spacious, wide-open area with light streaming in from large windows on three sides.

“We’ve got light coming in from all directions in this space,” Dietz said of the company’s new offices, adding that, in addition to more light, the space provides more and better space in which the team can function. “There’s not a single dark space there except for one little quiet room.”

On top of all that, the move places the company in a landmark building and within a landmark restoration and redevelopment effort, one that city officials believe will be a catalyst for further development in that area and a point of pride for the community.

Dietz said all these points were part of the discussion and part of that aforementioned process. She might have summed things up best by relaying the comments of one of her male co-workers.

“He said, ‘the 6-year-old boy in me is excited about being in a train station,’” she recalled, adding that she’s excited, too, and for a number of reasons.

Blueprint for Growth

Dietz called it “de-papering.”

No, that word is not in the dictionary, but it effectively conveyed her point.

Her company, which has, as one might expect, accumulated vast amounts of paper over its history and kept far more than it should have or needed, has been getting rid of some.

About 7 tons of it, to be exact.

“We’ve filled 49 of those recycling barrels — the big blue ones, not the little ones,” she said, using language everyone in business would understand. “That’s about 14,000 pounds of paper we took out, and we needed to. We don’t need 14 iterations of a schematic we did years ago; it’s all on computer.”

These de-papering efforts are just another part of that process that will have the Dietz company — which has designed everything from the UMass Center at Springfield to a number of senior-living projects to dorms at Smith College — in its new digs, one full floor above the station’s main concourse, by mid-July, according to the latest timeline.

That’s a very aggressive target date, said Dietz, noting that this process began just a few months ago, really, but it’s a timetable the company and the Springfield Redevelopment Authority, which manages the station, are quite eager to meet.

As for exactly when the process began, Dietz was having a harder time with that date, but she believes it was last fall, as the company began that introspective, forward-looking analysis that commences as a lease gets set to end, and soon decided that relocation was needed.

“I needed to move us to the next level,” said Dietz. “And this was a way to do that.”

She told BusinessWest she did look at a few other sites in Springfield, but admits that the search ended when she got her first look at the space being renovated within Union Station, a building she had never been in but had read and heard about — always with use of the past and future tenses — throughout her career.

That visit might have occurred earlier this year, by her estimation, although O’Brien recalls that the first tour was probably taken before the holidays. Whenever it happened, it was enough to soon take the discussion about whether to move, and to where, to a new place — its conclusion.

When asked about what cinched matters for her and the company, Dietz said there were many factors.

This included everything from the ability to eliminate those shortcomings with the space on Hampden Street to those aforementioned windows; from a desire to assist the city as it went about the stern challenge of making the station a viable entity to something that would resonate with any architect, and any business owner — new systems in an historic, nearly century-old building.

Indeed, above all, this move had to make sense for the company, and to Dietz, it did, on every level (still another industry term), especially the one regarding practicality.

“I wanted to be in a building that had all new stuff in it — brand-new systems, brand-new everything,” she explained. “But new stuff in an old, historic building — that’s even better; there’s history here that’s really quite wonderful.”

And with that, both she and O’Brien waxed nostalgic about the role the station and the trains that rumbled in and out of it played in the city’s history — while also expressing the hope that such prominence can be restored in the future.

“One of the things I’m really hopeful for, and I hope it happens in my professional lifetime, is the east-west train to Boston,” said Dietz. “I spend so much time on the road between here and Boston, and it’s such a waste of resources, time, and money. It’s crazy.”

Whether the east-west train becomes reality or not remains to be seen, but the Dietz company’s future in Union Station is already secure, and its founder is proud to be a big part of the next chapter in the landmark’s history.

Blueprint for Progress

As she talked with BusinessWest, Dietz was only a day removed from finalizing the furniture and the finishes for the new space in Union Station.

“It’s starting to get real now; we picked this color and that color … it’s really exciting, and I can’t wait to get in there and get to work,” she said, using words and phrases that could be echoed by countless others who have been involved with Union Station’s renovation for nearly four decades now.

Her company’s move has become part of a blueprint for progress at the station and within the city — in every sense of that phrase.

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

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — As part of the ongoing BusinessWest and HCN Lecture Series, Comcast Business will host an informative program titled “Big Data … Your Strategic Advantage” on Wednesday, May 10. The event is part of a series of lectures, panel discussions, and presentations that address timely and important business information. This is an opportunity to meet industry leaders and network with area business professionals.

“Big Data … Your Strategic Advantage” will be presented by Dennis Perlot, vice President, Enterprise Architecture at CleanSlate Centers, and former ‘technology evangelist’ at Microsoft and BI specialist master at Deloitte. It will take place at La Quinta Inn & Suites, 100 Congress St., Springfield. Perlot will address how other organizations are using their data to provide them with a competitive advantage. Attendees will learn how data can be analyzed for insights that lead to better decisions and strategic business moves.

On-site parking is available. Registration is scheduled for 7:15 to 7:30 a.m., followed by breakfast and Perlot’s presentation from 7:30 to 9 p.m. RSVP at businesswest.com/lecture-series.

Agenda Departments

Stroke Assoc. Forum for Survivors, Caregivers

May 3: May is National Stroke Awareness Month, and the American Stroke Assoc., a division of the American Heart Assoc., will once again host a forum open to stroke survivors and their caregivers. The 2017 Pioneer Valley Stroke Survivors and Caregivers Forum, “The Future Belongs to Those Who Dream,” will take place at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. The event will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the day will include exhibitors, local healthcare providers, and stroke survivors who will educate and share information. The forum will once again be hosted by Boston comedian and American Stroke Assoc. supporter Chris Tabb, whose family has been personally touched by stroke. The Pioneer Valley Stroke Forum is open to the public, and admission is $5, which will include a light breakfast and heart-healthy lunch. For tickets, call the American Heart Assoc. local office at (203) 303-3373.

Kentucky Derby Fund-raiser for Square One

May 6: The Colony Club in Springfield will the setting for hats, horses and hors d’oeuvres to celebrate the 143nd annual Kentucky Derby. Presented by the Gaudreau Group and Northeast IT, with sponsorship support from Nuvo Bank, American International College (AIC), the Colony Club and others, the event, starting at 4:30 p.m., will raise much-needed funds for Square One’s programs and services. Tickets cost $45 in advance and $50 at the door. The event will include big-screen monitors to enjoy the race, hearty hors d’oeuvres, and a complimentary mint julep. Prizes will be awarded for the best Derby attire. Tickets may be purchased via Eventbrite or by calling Heather at Inspired Marketing at (413) 303-0101.

Women Build Week

May 6-14: Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity (GSHFH) and future Habitat homeowners will work alongside Lowe’s volunteers and all-female construction crews for Habitat for Humanity’s 10th annual National Women Build Week. The event invites women to help make a difference and devote at least one day to help build decent and affordable housing in their local communities. More than 17,000 women, including Lowe’s Heroes volunteers, are expected to volunteer at construction sites across the country as part of Habitat’s 2017 National Women Build Week. In the Upper Hill neighborhood of Springfield, volunteers will work to frame the exterior walls on the first floor of the house as well as tackle interior walls and prep to start the second floor. This year, Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity will be kicking off its new construction in Springfield as part of National Women Build Week. In support of Women Build Week and Mother’s Day, an annual fund-raising event, Men Can Cook, will be held on May 9, and several men, including local business owners, Habitat board members, and others, will volunteer as chefs and waiters to put on an evening of food and fun to honor the women in their lives.

‘Big Data … Your Strategic Advantage’

May 10: As part of the ongoing BusinessWest and HCN Lecture Series, Comcast Business will host an informative program titled “Big Data … Your Strategic Advantage. The event is part of a series of lectures, panel discussions, and presentations that address timely and important business information. This is an opportunity to meet industry leaders and network with area business professionals. “Big Data … Your Strategic Advantage” will be presented by Dennis Perlot, vice President, Enterprise Architecture at CleanSlate Centers, and former ‘technology evangelist’ at Microsoft and BI specialist master at Deloitte. It will take place at La Quinta Inn & Suites, 100 Congress St., Springfield. Perlot will address how other organizations are using their data to provide them with a competitive advantage. Attendees will learn how data can be analyzed for insights that lead to better decisions and strategic business moves. On-site parking is available. Registration is scheduled for 7:15 to 7:30 a.m., followed by breakfast and Perlot’s presentation from 7:30 to 9 p.m. RSVP by Tuesday, May 2 HERE.

Lunch ‘n’ Learn on the ‘Trump Effect’

May 10: Skoler, Abbott & Presser will present a talk on how Trump administration mandates could potentially affect employers at the Springfield Regional Chamber Lunch ‘n’ Learn from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Lattitude restaurant, 1338 Memorial Ave., West Springfield. Attorney Amelia Holstrom will discuss recent developments and her predictions about what may happen at both the state and federal levels under the new administration and what it could mean for employers. Holstrom will talk about what is happening with the Affordable Care Act and steps Massachusetts may be taking while the issue is sorted out at the federal level, the potential for paid family leave both at the state and federal levels, and her predictions regarding trends in the enforcement of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission requirements, including the new EEO-1 requirements. She will also address what employers should be watching for relative to medical marijuana and what an employer’s current legal rights are, and her predictions for labor-relations developments under the new National Labor Relations Board. Reservations for the Lunch ‘n’ Learn are $25 for members ($30 at the door) and $35 for general admission ($40 at the door). Reservations may be made online at www.springfieldregionalchamber.com or by e-mailing Jessica Hill at [email protected]

Film and Media Exchange

May 12: Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative (BFMC) will partner with Vitec Videocom to bring their nationally touring ‘Roadshow’ to the Sheraton Springfield from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. This will be BFMC’s 4th Film and Media Exchange — a “Day 2 Play” — with workshops and an exhibit hall showcasing the latest in production equipment. The event will focus on cost-effective production techniques designed for anyone in broadcasting, filmmaking, photography, communications, and marketing. The exchange also includes lunch, a keynote speech, and networking opportunities with others in the industry. For more info on programs and tickets, contact BFMC at berkshirefilm.org or (413) 528-4223.

Continued Excellence Award Nomination Deadline

May 12: There’s still time to nominate someone for the Continued Excellence Award, as BusinessWest will accept nominations through Friday, May 12. The winner of the award will be unveiled at the magazine’s 40 Under Forty gala on June 22. Two years ago, BusinessWest inaugurated the award to recognize past 40 Under Forty honorees who had significantly built on their achievements since they were honored. The first two winners were Delcie Bean, president of Paragus Strategic IT, and Dr. Jonathan Bayuk, president of Allergy and Immunology Associates of Western Mass. and chief of Allergy and Immunology at Baystate Medical Center. Candidates must hail from 40 Under Forty classes 2007 to 2016 and will be judged on qualities including outstanding leadership, dedicated community involvement, professional achievement, and ability to inspire. The award’s presenting sponsor is Northwestern Mutual. The nomination form is available HERE. For your convenience, a list of the past nine 40 Under Forty classes may be found HERE.

40 Under Forty

June 22: The 11th annual 40 Under Forty award program, staged by BusinessWest, will be held at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke, honoring 40 of the region’s rising stars under 40 years old. An independent panel of judges has chosen the winners, and their stories are told in the April 17 issue and at businesswest.com. The event is sponsored by Northwestern Mutual (presenting sponsor), PeoplesBank (presenting sponsor), Moriarty & Primack, Health New England, the Gaudreau Group, the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst, Six-Point Creative Works, Renew.Calm, and the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield. Tickets cost $75. A limited number of tables are available, and some individual and standing-room-only tickets are also available, but are expected to sell out quickly. To purchase tickets, call (413) 781-8600.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — As part of the ongoing BusinessWest and HCN Lecture Series, Comcast Business will host an informative program titled “Big Data … Your Strategic Advantage” on Wednesday, May 10. The event is part of a series of lectures, panel discussions, and presentations that address timely and important business information. This is an opportunity to meet industry leaders and network with area business professionals.

“Big Data … Your Strategic Advantage” will be presented by Dennis Perlot, vice President, Enterprise Architecture at CleanSlate Centers, and former ‘technology evangelist’ at Microsoft and BI specialist master at Deloitte. It will take place at La Quinta Inn & Suites, 100 Congress St., Springfield. Perlot will address how other organizations are using their data to provide them with a competitive advantage. Attendees will learn how data can be analyzed for insights that lead to better decisions and strategic business moves.

On-site parking is available. Registration is scheduled for 7:15 to 7:30 a.m., followed by breakfast and Perlot’s presentation from 7:30 to 9 p.m. RSVP at businesswest.com/lecture-series.

Daily News

STOCKBRIDGE — After nearly a nearly a two-month-long construction project, Main Street Hospitality will unveil the new, 1,600-square-foot kitchen at the Red Lion Inn with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, April 27 at 3:30 p.m. Open only to hotel guests with a select menu since late February, the dining room at the historic hotel has reopened to the general public with new seasonal menus.

The new kitchen represents the third significant renovation project at the hotel in the last 10 years, and brings a much-improved dining experience. Among the necessary improvements that preserve and reinforce the historic building are enhanced work-flow measures for kitchen and wait staff, integration of the bake shop into the renovation, and steps to ensure the dining operation is greener and more ecologically friendly.

At the ceremony, Main Street Hospitality executives Nancy Fitzpatrick, owner and chairwoman, and Sarah Eustis, CEO, will join other key figures from Main Street, the Red Lion Inn, and its partners in the project: Lacey Thaler Reilly Wilson Architecture and Preservation, LLP of Albany, N.Y., and David J. Tierney Jr. Inc. of Pittsfield. Kitchen tours and light refreshments will be available.

Agenda Departments

Economic Outlook Luncheon

April 20: The stock market is up, and soon, so might be interest rates. The Trump administration wants to make historic budget cuts, and unemployment rates are at historic lows. While these are much better than the worst of times for local businesses, are they going to turn into the best of times? Business leaders, who do not like uncertainty, will get some insights into the economic future at the PeoplesBank Economic Outlook, a free luncheon featuring James Hartley, professor of Economics at Mount Holyoke College. The luncheon will take place from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Willits-Hallowell Conference Center, Mount Holyoke College, 50 College St., South Hadley. It is open to the public, but space is limited, and registration is required. “The economy is improving, and business owners want to know where it is going,” said David Thibault, first vice president, Cash Management at PeoplesBank, who will introduce Hartley. “At this luncheon, we hope to give them some of the data necessary to help with business planning for this year and next.” Registration information can be found at bit.ly/pb-register.

Planned-giving Seminar

April 20: Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and the Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires invite nonprofit executive directors, development staff, and board members to attend “Planned Giving Basics: What Every Nonprofit Should Know.” Led by planned-giving consultant Ellen Estes of Estes Associates and attorney Virginia Stanton Smith of Smith Green & Gold, LLP, the workshop will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. at Saint James Place, 352 Main St., Great Barrington, Mass. This training will explore the various elements of planned giving, including how to launch a planned-giving program, identify prospects for planned giving, discuss giving options, and build personal relationships with donors and prospects. This event is part of Berkshire Taconic’s popular annual “Seminars in Nonprofit Excellence” series. Tickets cost $40 per person, and light food and beverages will be provided. To register, visit www.berkshiretaconic.org/pgbasics.

Trump’s First 100 Days

April 21: Glenmeadow will present a panel of political analysts who will lead a discussion about President Trump’s actions in office thus far. The event will take place from 10 a.m. to noon at Sleith Hall’s Wood Auditorium at Western New England University, 1215 Wilbraham Road, Springfield. The election of Trump as the 45th president of the U.S. polarized the country. In Glenmeadow’s program, called “The First 100 Days: Governing Across the Great Divide,” the panel will look at Trump’s first 100 days in office and discuss his performance on topics including domestic and foreign policy, healthcare, immigration, polling, and media coverage. Political analyst Bill Scher, a contributing editor to Politico and the founder of the blog liberaloasis.com, will serve as moderator. Other panelists will include Tim Vercellotti, professor of Political Science at Western New England University and director of the New England Polling Institute; political consultant Tony Cignoli; Ron Chimelis, a columnist for the Republican; and Marie Angelides, an immigration attorney with her own firm and chair of the Longmeadow Select Board. The program is free, but seating is limited, and registration is required. To register, call (413) 567-7800 or e-mail [email protected] Visit glenmeadow.org/learning for more information. Glenmeadow Learning is one of many free programs Glenmeadow offers to members of the wider community. These programs represent one facet of the life-plan community’s mission to serve seniors across the region and to operate as a socially accountable organization.

Real-estate Sales Licensing Course

May 1: Beginning Monday, May 1, the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley will sponsor a 40-hour, 14-class sales licensing course to help individuals prepare for the Massachusetts real-estate salesperson license exam. The course will be completed on June 1. Tuition is $359 and includes the book and materials. The course curriculum includes property rights, ownership, condos, land use, contracts, deeds, financing, mortgages, real-estate brokerage, appraisal, fair housing, consumer protection, Massachusetts license law, and more. Classes meet Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m. at the association office, 221 Industry Ave., Springfield. For an application, contact Joanne Leblond at (413) 785-1328 or [email protected], or visit www.rapv.com.

Forum for Stroke Survivors, Caregivers

May 3: May is National Stroke Awareness Month, and the American Stroke Assoc., a division of the American Heart Assoc., will once again host a forum open to stroke survivors and their caregivers. The 2017 Pioneer Valley Stroke Survivors and Caregivers Forum, “The Future Belongs to Those Who Dream,” will take place at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. Close to 300 people are expected to attend the event, which is designed to bring together stroke survivors and caregivers so they may become better connected with the network of resources available. The event will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the day will include exhibitors, local healthcare providers, and stroke survivors who will educate and share information. The forum will once again be hosted by Boston comedian and American Stroke Assoc. supporter Chris Tabb, whose family has been personally touched by stroke. The Pioneer Valley Stroke Forum is open to the public, and admission is $5, which will include a light breakfast and heart-healthy lunch. For tickets, call the American Heart Assoc. local office at (203) 303-3373.

‘Big Data … Your Strategic Advantage’

May 10: As part of the ongoing BusinessWest and HCN Lecture Series, Comcast Business will host an informative program titled “Big Data … Your Strategic Advantage.” The event is part of a series of lectures, panel discussions, and presentations that address timely and important business information. This is an opportunity to meet industry leaders and network with area business professionals. “Big Data … Your Strategic Advantage” will be presented by Dennis Perlot, vice President, Enterprise Architecture at CleanSlate Centers, and former ‘technology evangelist’ at Microsoft and BI specialist master at Deloitte. It will take place at La Quinta Inn & Suites, 100 Congress St., Springfield. Perlot will address how other organizations are using their data to provide them with a competitive advantage. Attendees will learn how data can be analyzed for insights that lead to better decisions and strategic business moves. On-site parking is available. Registration is scheduled for 7:15 to 7:30 a.m., followed by breakfast and Perlot’s presentation from 7:30 to 9 p.m. RSVP by Tuesday, May 2 at businesswest.com/lecture-series.

Run for River Valley

May 20: River Valley Counseling Center (RVCC), an affiliate of Holyoke Medical Center and member of Valley Health Systems, will hold its sixth annual Run for River Valley fund-raiser on Saturday, May 20. Funds raised will support RVCC in providing critical behavioral-health and other supportive services to individuals, families, and groups throughout the Pioneer Valley. The 5K run and 1.5-mile walk will take place at Ashley Reservoir in Holyoke. Registration starts at 8 a.m. at Elks Lodge 902, 250 Whitney Ave., and the race begins at 9:30 a.m. An awards ceremony will be held at the Elks Lodge following the race. The registration fee is $25 ($10 for children 12 and under). Adults who pre-register will save $5, and the first 100 registrants will receive a free race T-shirt. To register online, visit accuspec-racing.com or download a registration form at rvcc-inc.org. The deadline for mail-in registration is Saturday, May 13, with online registration accepted until Wednesday, May 17. Sponsors of the 2017 Run for River Valley include PeoplesBank, Palmer Paving Corp., Holyoke Gas and Electric, Hamel’s Catering, Laurel Pure, and Gallagher Real Estate. For additional information, visit www.rvcc-inc.org or contact Angela Callahan at (413) 841-3546 or [email protected].

40 Under Forty

June 22: The 11th annual 40 Under Forty award program, staged by BusinessWest, will be held at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke, honoring 40 of the region’s rising stars under 40 years old. An independent panel of judges has chosen the winners, and their stories are told in the pages of this issue. The event is sponsored by Northwestern Mutual (presenting sponsor), PeoplesBank (presenting sponsor), Moriarty & Primack, Health New England, the Gaudreau Group, the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst, Six-Point Creative Works, Renew.Calm, and the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield. Tickets cost $75. A limited number of tables are available, and some individual and standing-room-only tickets are also available, but are expected to sell out quickly. To purchase tickets, call (413) 781-8600 or go HERE.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — As part of the ongoing BusinessWest and HCN Lecture Series, Comcast Business will host an informative program titled “Big Data … Your Strategic Advantage.” The event is part of a series of lectures, panel discussions, and presentations that address timely and important business information. This is an opportunity to meet industry leaders and network with area business professionals.

“Big Data … Your Strategic Advantage” will be presented by Dennis Perlot, vice President, Enterprise Architecture at CleanSlate Centers, and former ‘technology evangelist’ at Microsoft and BI specialist master at Deloitte. It will take place on Wednesday, May 10 at La Quinta Inn & Suites, 100 Congress St., Springfield.

Perlot will address how other organizations are using their data to provide them with a competitive advantage. Attendees will learn how data can be analyzed for insights that lead to better decisions and strategic business moves.

On-site parking is available. Registration is scheduled for 7:15 to 7:30 a.m., followed by breakfast and Perlot’s presentation from 7:30 to 9 p.m. RSVP by Tuesday, May 2 at businesswest.com/lecture-series.

Features

50 Shades of … Everything

Amy Woolf

Amy Woolf

Amy Woolf, a certified architectural color consultant, says color can, and very often does, affect people physiologically and psychologically. And for these reasons, it’s very important to pick the rights ones, especially in business. Indeed, the chosen colors should reflect the products or services being sold, and the people selling them.

Amy Woolf says colors have long had meaning, importance, and symbolism; that’s not a recent phenomenon.

Centuries ago, she noted, royals and those in the clergy wore purple because that was a rare, very expensive dye, and thus that color translated directly into money and power.

And while they are still relatively few in number, individuals have been putting the title ‘architectural color consultant,’ or words to that effect, on their business card for some time now, she went on. In fact, there is a trade group comprised of such professionals — the International Assoc. of Color Consultants (IACC) — that has chapters all over the world; the one in North America stages classes once a year in San Diego.

But in recent years, color has seemingly taken on more importance in architecture, office design, and business in general, she noted, listing as reasons why everything from the growing number of colors (or shades of them, to be exact), to high-definition television, which brings everything into sharper focus; from the proliferation of decorating shows on TV to an increased emphasis — in business and in marketing — on sending the proper message, in part through colors.

These would be the colors on the walls, the company logo, the home page of the website, the business card, the fleet of vans or trucks, and on it goes. But much of her work involves commercial and residential real estate.

“To me, the most important thing is to unravel how someone wants to feel in a space, and how we can choose a color that’s going to have the right physiological outcome and the right psychological outcome,” Woolf said while trying to quickly explain what she does and how she does it. “Because color really does have a physiological impact; it changes our heartbeat, it changes how we perceive temperature, those kinds of things.”

There is such a focus on color now that Woolf — whose business is based out of her home in Northampton — and others in this profession make a decent living from what could certainly be described as a solid mix of art and science, one with many variables and focus points.

Indeed, just listen to this description of a job she worked on recently involving a lengthy search for the right color for the exterior of a commercial building in Amherst.

“The building had been brown, and the client was expecting me to specify gray,” Woolf told BusinessWest. “The tenants are diverse, including light manufacturing, a Comcast office, and a martial-arts school. The color eventually chosen, which sits between the blue of the sky and the green of the trees, settles into the landscape nicely, but provides a much more welcoming first impression than brown or gray would have. Heaven knows the world is not lacking for more brown and gray buildings.”

Also consider this summation of her work to “break a tie” among leaders at Greenfield Savings Bank concerning the exterior color for the branch on King Street in Northampton; two browns and a gray were under consideration.

“Their goal for the architectural design was to help increase the sense of a “walkable, village-like feeling for King Street,” she recalled. “I suggested they do a 180 away from neutrals and go with an olive green instead. I encouraged them to break up the monotony of gray and brown so prevalent in the King Street corridor with something fresh and friendly.”

Like we said, it’s a blend of art and what is certainly now a science.

The exterior color chosen for this commercial building in Amherst

The exterior color chosen for this commercial building in Amherst “sits between the blue of the sky and the green of the trees,” says Amy Woolf.

And one of the key aspects of this work is working in partnership with the client, said Woolf, adding that the key words in those remarks above are ‘suggested’ and ‘encouraged.’

Indeed, Woolf says she doesn’t choose colors for her clients. She advises, explains the reasons behind this advice, and works to achieve buy-in. Ultimately, the client has to be more than comfortable with the decision, she said, and essentially own it.

“I explain to my clients why I’m choosing the colors I’m using,” she explained. “I’m as much a coach and a teacher; I don’t just come in and say ‘do this’ and ‘do this’; I’m always explaining why.”

For this issue, BusinessWest takes an in-depth look at the business of colors, or, more specifically, the art of picking the right ones.

No Black and White Issues

As she grabbed a large fan deck, this one created by Sherwin Williams, Woolf made an emphatic point about just how many colors there are to choose from by stopping in the ‘whites’ section.

It was not a short visit.

“Look at all of these whites,” she said as she flipped through the wheel. “And they all have a slightly different, subtle quality to them, and that’s where people get in trouble; they say, ‘I’m just going to paint white.’ But if it’s a pinky white, then they end up with pink walls.”

Helping people make sense of, and perhaps choose among, all those whites — and blues and greens and grays — is essentially Woolf’s stock and trade, only it’s much more complicated than looking at swatches and finding one that looks good, as she would explain in detail. Because ‘good’ is certainly a relative term in this discussion, and one with myriad meanings.

Other professionals involved in art, architecture, and interior design obviously work with clients on color selection, she noted, but this is all she does. She’s not sure if she’s the only certified color consultant in the 413 area code, but she does know that it wouldn’t take long at all to call the roll.

Nonetheless, hers is a vibrant business (that’s a technical term in many respects), and she quantified that by saying she’s generally juggling more than 20 clients at a time, with a healthy mix of residential and commercial, probably a little more of the former than the latter.

And her work, as she told BusinessWest, involves almost anything, design-wise and business-wise, that comes in colors. That includes flooring, window treatments, furniture, etc. (She noted that, when she mentions she’s a color consultant, many ask if this extends to fashion and coordinating one’s wardrobe; it doesn’t.)

“I liken it to an algebraic equation — everything’s a variable that all comes together in a certain way,” she said of most projects in both the commercial and residential realms. “As you tweak one thing, everything around it moves, so it’s good to look at it all at once.”

Like most of those who are certified architectural color consultants, Woolf was greatly influenced by the work of the late Frank Mahnke, who wrote the book on the subject — quite literally. It’s called Color, Environment & Human Response, and that name goes a long way toward explaining this profession.

Indeed, there are human responses to various colors, she went on, adding that these responses should help dictate which ones people, especially those in various businesses, should choose.

As she talked about all this, Woolf referenced the color chosen for the walls of her home office — called ‘cooking apple green.’

She chose it because she likes it and finds it comfortable to be in and around. But BusinessWest was among the very few people outside her family who have been in this office (Woolf obviously needs to do her work on location in almost all cases), so this played into the decision.

“This is just for me,” she said, adding quickly that it might be suitable in a traditional business office; that’s might.

“The important thing about color is that we do have these sort of prescriptive ways of talking about it — ‘this is good for business,’ or ‘this is good for a nursery,’ or ‘this is good for a bedroom,’” she explained. “But what that doesn’t really examine is the individual, personal relationship with color.

“For me, I find this green to strike the right balance between restful and having enough liveliness so that it’s somewhat energizing,” she went on, diving into the real science of her work. “But for someone who doesn’t really like green, it would be the wrong choice. So you probably need to think of it in terms of a bell curve — for a large number of people at the middle of the bell curve, this would be an acceptable color, but for some people who are maybe outliers, it wouldn’t work. The bottom line is that one needs to be careful not to generalize over colors that are ‘good.’”

For her new office in Agawam, Jean Deliso

For her new office in Agawam, Jean Deliso desired colors that make clients feel comfortable and convey a sense of trust.

So, just what goes into choosing the right color or colors, especially for a business setting? Woolf said it all comes down to how the client would like someone to feel in that space. Sometimes, that someone is the client themselves, but for a business that entertains customers, it’s more about how those individuals will feel in that space.

Business owners want that individual to feel comfortable, obviously, she went on, but often there’s more to it. In settings where the visitor might be anxious — a doctor’s office or any other place where delicate matters are discussed, for example — calming colors are required. Meanwhile, in most professional settings, like lawyers’ and accountants’ offices, colors that somehow generate trust and respect are preferable.

“In a commercial environment, you want to choose colors that send the appropriate message for the product or service being sold,” she said, adding that, while this sounds obvious, it is often an overlooked or underappreciated matter.

“I would never — OK, never is a big word … I would be unlikely to use trendy colors in an office or business environment where the message and the branding is that of solidity or trust,” she went on. “We talk about ‘IBM blue’ or ‘banking blue,’ the kinds of colors that create a sense of trust and reliability; we can use colors like that.”

And, as one might guess, there are, well, fine lines everywhere when one is talking about this subject.

Take yellow, for example. “It’s a very energetic color, it’s very buzzy; that’s why we paint school buses yellow, so we can see them,” she told BusinessWest. “But sometimes, people are sensitive to the level of energy in that yellow, and might think it’s overwhelming.

“In my training, we talk about this continuum of understimulation versus overstimulation,” she went on, “with understimulation being monotonous and boring in the environment, and overstimulation being so vivid, so bright, so much data that it becomes overwhelming and is too much. So what I want to unravel with my clients is, what does their environment call for in terms of that feeling?”

Hue and Cry

What this unraveling process has revealed throughout her career is that, while there are rules of sorts in this science and this business, they are not exactly hard and fast, and sometimes rules are made to be broken.

“The classic example is using a restful color in a bedroom,” she explained. “People want calming, soothing colors. But I did work for a physician who really wanted a wake-up call, so her bedroom is a soft orange, which flies in the face of those rules, or those shortcuts.”

One of those rules pertains to colors at opposite ends of the color circle, such as yellow/purple, red/green, and orange/blue. While celebrated artists liked to bring such contrasts together on a canvas, and doing so might work from a fashion perspective, it’s generally best to avoid such practices in a business setting, said Woolf.

“Color schemes that are high-contrast really don’t work,” she said. “Strong black and white, which arguably is trendy and in style in the architectural world, really creates eyestrain,” she explained. “My training says to keep the colors closer to the center and not to the extreme end of light and dark.”

However, strict adherence to the common practices of using all warm colors or all cool colors might not yield the kind of dynamic color scheme and interesting environment that results from working from both ends of the color wheel.

“You can do it, but do it just enough,” she said of contrasting colors, adding that this, in itself, is part of the art and science of this work. “That’s where the magic is.”

There are some other general guidelines to follow, she said, adding that it is wise, especially in a business setting, to focus on colors that work for that particular setting, meaning sending the right message, and not, as she noted earlier, colors that are ‘trendy’ at that given time.

Colors in that latter category now include turquoise and aqua, said Woolf, adding that, while they may be ‘hot,’ they still wouldn’t be suitable for a lawyer’s office. A pediatrician’s office? Well, probably.

However, businesses should look to avoid what she called “outdated” colors in order not to appear behind the times. Asked for examples, she listed dusty rose and Colonial blue.

“When we go to a doctor’s office, we want to feel like they’re up to date on everything — they’ve got the latest equipment and the newest science,” she explained. “If the color schemes are holdovers from the ’80s, you’re not really sending that message.”

conference room at Deliso Financial

Amy Woolf says the colors in the conference room at Deliso Financial were chosen to have a calming effect.

While talking about colors in the hypothetical can he helpful, Woolf said an actual project from her portfolio might help put matters in perspective. She was right.

BusinessWest accompanied her on a visit to Deliso Financial Services in Agawam. Jean Deliso, principal and financial advisor, most recently served the magazine as a judge for this year’s 40 Under Forty competition. This time, the assignment was to explain how Woolf helped her make over her new space in the office building on Meadow Street Extension, and, more specifically, how and why the colors now on the walls were chosen.

And she embraced it enthusiastically because the walls of this space, formerly occupied by a pest-control company, were white (which shade she doesn’t know), and she wanted to replace this blank canvas with something that “said something.”

“This is a great space, but it needed a transformation,” she recalled, noting that she was essentially moving across the hall and into a bigger office. “Everything was white, and it was soooo non-inviting, and I need to have something inviting, and I needed help to do that.”

Elaborating, she said she desired something that was “comfortable and non-intimidating,” which is understandable seeing that she works in financial services, dealing with a subject that the vast majority of people would prefer to not talk about. She also wanted to convey professionalism and trust, two character traits required of those handling such work.

She hired Woolf, who has also done work at her residence, and who set to work picking colors that would convey all that. For one wall, she chose a color called Wilmington tan, which is kind of like beige, but a little richer (“people think of beige as insipid, but this has a lot of depth to it”), because it has a calming effect.

For the back wall, the one a client would be looking at if he or she were sitting across Deliso’s desk from her, Woolf chose something called Newburyport blue.

Deliso likes the name — she’s a sailor (paintings of boats dominate her walls), and Newburyport is right on the water — but likes the color better. It complements the IBM blue on her business card — sort of — and that’s by design, said Woolf, who noted that Deliso had a much brighter blue (like the shade on her business card) on the walls in her old office. And that wasn’t exactly working, at least in her judgment.

“We toned the blue down a little bit,” she explained. “Because what looks great on letterhead doesn’t always translate into a comfortable wall color. We can use those brand colors as an inspiration, but you don’t, or shouldn’t, just pull it off a card and stick it on a wall.”

Elsewhere in the Deliso Financial suite, Woolf used Providence olive in the conference room, again to create comfort and a sense of ease among clientele who might be nervous upon entering, especially for the first time, and carefully positioned Deliso’s many awards and news clippings on what the client calls the ‘trophy wall,’ again to convey professionalism and generate confidence.

When asked if all this focus on color was worth the time and expense, Deliso issued an enthusiastic ‘yes’ that speaks to why Woolf’s schedule is pretty tight these days.

“My clients feel very comfortable here; they enjoy coming here,” she explained. “They feel great when they come here, and it’s a good experience, and I think the colors play a very big part in that.”

Positive Tones

In her next life, Woolf joked, she wants to be the one who gets to assign names to all those colors on the wheel — like ‘cooking apple green’ or even ‘Bedford Stuyvesant boiled chicken,’ the name one client attached to a wheat-like color she eventually chose for her summer home.

For now, though, she’s content to work with all those hues and, more to the point, help clients choose the right ones — like the color on that building that “sits between the blue of the sky and the green of the trees and settles into the landscape nicely.”

It’s rewarding work on a number of levels, one that has made for a colorful career to date, in every sense of that phrase.

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

Entrepreneurship Sections

Business Is Blooming

Christine Adams

Christine Adams combined a long-time love of flowers, design expertise, and an entrepreneurial itch to create a success story in Florence.

 

Christine Adams tells of a trip she and her husband, Chip, took to the White Mountains in New Hampshire many years ago, and a sign that caught her attention along a scenic hike.

“We walked by this rickety old bridge, and I looked up and saw a sign that said ‘Badger’s Realty,’” she said, adding that the name struck her for some reason. “I said to Chip, ‘that’s going to be the name of my store someday.’ It wasn’t just the name — the look of the building was ratty, and I loved it. I just love rustic. And it just stuck with me.”

Fast-forward to Adams’ current business, Florence-based Badger’s Flowers & Co., where she creates floral arrangements for weddings and other events that are anything but ratty; in fact, she has won awards from WeddingWire and the Knot for her work with clients. But she took a circuitous route to entrepreneurship.

“I was a bookkeeper for an architecture firm in my single days,” she said. After she got married, her husband, a TV producer, wound up traveling quite a bit, and she stayed home with her two children. When they reached school age, she worked part-time — mother’s hours, as she put it — at a local florist for the better part of a decade.

“When the kids went off to college, it was time to reinvent myself,” Adams told BusinessWest, and she again looked to the world of flowers, but as her own boss this time. “I thought, why not try doing this? So, about three years ago, I had a website made, and a friend of a friend told a friend getting married, they called me, and it just slowly started trickling in.”

Helping clients decide on everything from bridal bouquets and boutonnieres to table centerpieces and outdoor arbors, in styles ranging from rustic to garden to classic elegance, Adams has taken her passion for design (she attended Rhode Island School of Design, and holds a degree in business management) and married it — pun intended — to a desire to provide brides and their families with what she calls ‘wow’ moments.

“I love the experience of meeting with people. I’ve had brides, grooms, moms, and dads spend hours here, chatting over coffee or wine,” she said, explaining that she takes on no more than one event per weekend, often traveling to New York or Boston during the week — as well as local flower farms — for some hard-to-find flower or specialty ribbon. “It’s a boutique style of business. I pride myself on bringing something with a specialty touch. I’m always looking at how I can make it a little different.”

Tech Savvier

Interestingly, it wasn’t the floral-design element of Adams’ business that challenged her at first. It was the decidedly 21st-century business models she had to get used to.

“It’s funny — at one point, I noticed I was getting nothing, so I hired a guy to take a look at my website. He said, ‘whoever did your website didn’t fill in your geographic information, so you’re located in New York.’ Since he tweaked it, I started getting hits again.

 

Flowers come easy for me. My learning curve has been social media and having to learn, at this point in my life, how Instagram works. I met with a marketing consultant, and as soon as I did what she suggested, my visibility doubled.”

 

“Learning technology and social media is so new to me, but it’s such an integral part of this business, because that’s where everyone goes for their information,” she went on. “Much of my demographic is out of state; I get calls from San Francisco, San Diego — people whose parents live here, or they went to college here, and they’re coming back to get married. I don’t feel like I’m competing with local businesses, with so much of my business coming from out of state.”

She did, however, recently join the Berkshire Wedding Collective, a group of wedding vendors that provides an online information portal for people seeking such services in Western Mass., and also got involved with the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce, through which she has taken classes in Google AdWords, Excel, and other business tools.

“Flowers come easy for me. My learning curve has been social media and having to learn, at this point in my life, how Instagram works,” she said, before opening up her account and scrolling through dozens of examples of her work that potential clients can peruse. “I met with a marketing consultant, and as soon as I did what she suggested, my visibility doubled. I wouldn’t have guessed that.”

Christine Adams makes effective use of Instagram

Christine Adams makes effective use of Instagram to display dozens of photos to inspire clients planning their own weddings.

As someone who was once very shy, business networking is new for her as well. “But at the same time, I can see the benefit, and I’m slowly growing more comfortable.”

It’s the one-on-one sessions with clients where she feels truly at ease, though. It’s in those discussions where she can formulate a vision. Sometimes the budget doesn’t match the wish list, but when everything comes together and the client gets that ‘wow’ feeling, it’s gratifying. “It’s a collaboration, and I want people to be happy.”

She told of a bride from San Diego coming back to Western Mass. to be married near her parents, who live in South Hadley. She loved patriotic colors, but didn’t want a bright, gaudy red, white, and blue design. Adams found a ribbon featuring a motif of American flag colors, but more subdued, and when she showed her the ribbon via Skype — and how it could match with ivory fabric — the client loved it.

That give and take is the heart of the business, but an element she wouldn’t have as much time for if she operated a storefront flower shop rather than working out of her home, a restored 1800s farmhouse that’s been in her husband’s family for five generations. “When you have a flower shop, you can’t take all this time with people.”

Bursting to Life

Adams delights in hard-to-find flowers to pepper arrangements of more traditional choices. “I might hit Boston or New York for those specialty stems that say, ‘wow.’ You don’t need a lot of them. Even few items like that gives it a special look, and really sets it apart.”

The challenge doesn’t always end with the order, however.

“It’s in my contract that Mother Nature is a variable,” she said, recalling one wedding where cafe au lait dahlias were a featured item. When she went to pick them from the wholesaler a few days before the wedding, inclement weather had rotted those particular flowers. But while her heart was racing, she called local farmers and ended up with smaller dahlias that were just as striking, and visited a market in Boston for some other unique pieces. “When I delivered them, there was a ‘wow,’” she said.

Indeed, weather that’s too hot, too wet, or too dry can mess with the best-laid plans, she said, but scrambling to replace an item and still coming up with something impressive is an oddly gratifying experience.

Adams’ satisfaction isn’t priority one, of course; her clients’ happiness is. And the comments on her website testify to that.

“She is truly a floral artist with an eye for design like I have never witnessed in my life,” one bride from Westfield wrote. “She is so extremely talented, but most importantly so extremely passionate about her work, and her clients. When I first saw her stunning work, I was truly taken back. I witnessed her hard work first-hand — the time, effort, and passion she put into every arrangement, like a piece of art.”

Reactions like that provide a ‘wow’ factor of their own.

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Departments People on the Move

Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. (MBK) announced the following:

• Kara Graves, CPA has been promoted from audit and accounting senior associate to Manager. Graves, who has been with MBK since 2011, has spent the past six years developing a diversified technical skill set with a focus in the company’s commercial audit niche. She has also had the opportunity to develop a leadership skill set, serving as the in-charge accountant on a variety of large-scale projects. During that time, she has demonstrated her ability to lead teams through challenging projects, all while delivering a quality client service experience. Before coming to MBK, Graves worked as an associate at a regional public accounting firm in Westwood. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Roger Williams University and a master’s degree from Western New England University;

• Joe Vreedenburgh has been promoted from from audit and accounting associate to Senior Associate. Vreedenburgh, who was promoted to senior associate in the audit and accounting niche, has been with MBK since 2014. His promotion is the result of his continued commitment to technical development, excellent client service, and team-oriented approach. As a senior associate, he will be leveraging his 10 years of accounting experience to help lead teams in conducting the audit process. He specializes in commercial audits and accounting, employee-benefit plans, not-for-profit entities, and individual and business taxation. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Washington and holds an master’s degree from UMass Amherst. He is a member of the AICPA and MSCPA and treasurer of the Hitchcock Center for the Environment;  and

• The company welcomed Nathan Nicholson to the firm as a Tax Senior Associate. Nicholson comes to MBK from the Ayco Company, L.P., a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs in Latham, N.Y., where he worked as a tax associate, handling individual, trust, and gift-tax returns for high-net-worth individuals. He has a range of experience working with governmental, nonprofit, and for-profit entities, including banking, manufacturing, healthcare, real estate, and small family-owned businesses. He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Siena College. He has mentored high-school business classes on the basics of tax preparation and financial planning.

“Kara and Joe have worked hard to develop themselves technically and as leaders within our organization,” said partner Howard Cheney, CPA. “Our succession plan demands that our next generation be not only technically competent, but ready to deliver premier service and value our clients have come to expect. We are confident in Kara and Joe’s ability to provide that exceptional experience, and Nathan’s addition to our team only serves to strengthen our next generation.”

•••••

Bert Gardner

Bert Gardner

Caolo & Bieniek Associates Inc., a full-service architecture, planning, and interior-design firm located in Chicopee, announced that Bert Gardner has become a principal. A graduate of Roger Williams University, Gardner is a registered architect in Massachusetts and New Jersey. Since joining Caolo & Bieniek Associates in 1999, Gardner has served in key roles on numerous project teams with increasing levels of responsibility. Most recently, he has been the project architect for projects at Westfield State University, UMass, and the Dupont Middle School in Chicopee (former Chicopee High School), and is currently overseeing the Maple Street Elementary School project in Easthampton. He has been an active board member for the Chicopee Boys & Girls Club, serving as president in 2013 and 2014. Caolo & Bieniek Associates has been providing architectural services since 1955. Its design process integrates a creative approach to problem solving with a sustained commitment to client needs. The firm’s scope of services includes renovations, adaptive reuse, new construction, facilities assessment, feasibility studies, master planning, interior design, historic preservation, and sustainable and ‘green’ design expertise.

•••••

Elizabeth Daley

Elizabeth Daley

Elizabeth Daley, a 20-year veteran in the public and private accounting sector and a 10-year employee of Webber and Grinnell Insurance, has been named Finance Manager at the agency. Daley is also concurrently pursuing her SHRM-CP certification in human resources from Westfield State University School of Graduate Studies. She will oversee accounting, finance, and human resources. “Elizabeth has been a great asset to our organization for many years, and it’s nice to fill this position from within the agency,” said company President Bill Grinnell. “The fact that Elizabeth has chosen to earn her Society for Human Resource Management certification is a professional distinction that sets her apart and further elevates both her own and the agency’s credentials.”

•••••

Blair Robidoux

Blair Robidoux

Elise Kowal

Elise Kowal

Melissa Mann

Melissa Mann

Country Bank announced that Blair Robidoux has been appointed Branch Manager of the West Street Office. It also welcomed two new branch managers to its Retail Banking division — Elise Kowal and Melissa Mann. Robidoux has been with the bank for 12 years and began her career as a teller before working her way up to branch manager. Robidoux’s strong operational and management skills, along with her desire to help people, provides leadership at one of the bank’s busiest offices. Kowal is located at the West Brookfield office and has been in banking for more than eight years. She began her career at Country Bank as a teller and worked her way to a teller supervisor position before moving to the bank’s Corporate Risk Department. She will graduate this summer from Western New England University, where she is studying for her bachelor’s degree in business administration. “I love working with people, educating others, and providing encouragement and guidance in reaching their professional and financial goals,” she said. Mann will work in the Belchertown office. She has been in the banking industry for 14 years in various positions in Western Mass. and Central Conn., most recently at PeoplesBank in Sixteen Acres. She is a graduate of Belchertown High School. Relocations, family needs, and professional development have brought her back to Belchertown. “As a branch manager, I’m most proud of the personal connections that my team builds with our customers,” she said. “We want our customers to know just how much we appreciate them.”

•••••

Robert Cummings

Robert Cummings

Robert Cummings, CEO and founder of American Benefits Group (ABG), has been nominated for the 2017 EBN Innovator Award by Employee Benefit News, a leading national benefits-industry publication serving 106,800 senior-level benefits decision makers across all platforms. This audience includes human-resources executives and benefits directors, whose sphere of responsibility and influence spans health and retirement plans, voluntary benefits, legal and regulatory compliance, employee training and development, benefits procurement, technology, strategic direction, and finance. Cummings founded ABG in 1987 and was an early adopter and innovator of flexible spending accounts in the late 1980s. The company added COBRA administration services and commuter benefit accounts in the 1990s, and health savings accounts and health reimbursement arrangements when they came into being in the early 2000s. For decades, ABG focused exclusively on working with Western Mass. employers, providing full benefits strategy, funding, communications, and administrative solutions. The company began to focus on a national expansion of its specialty employee-benefits administrative services beginning in 2007. Today, ABG serves a diverse base of more than 1000 employer clients nationwide from its home offices near downtown Northampton. ABG’s employer clients range from small and mid-size businesses to high-profile Fortune 1000 employers and global organizations, covering all of the continental U.S. Recognition on the national stage is not new for ABG. In 2014, the Institute for Health Care Consumerism presented the company with a Superstar Innovator Award, and in 2015 ABG was recognized by its platform provider, consumer account technology giant Alegeus Technologies, as its national Customer Service Champion. ABG also serves as the preferred platform partner for consumer-account-based plans and COBRA administration services for NFP, one of the largest global insurance and corporate benefits brokers and consultants. Cummings has been on the leading edge of technology innovation since before the Internet, as ABG was one of the first benefits administrators in the nation to adopt debit-card payment technologies. The ABG debit card allows consumers to pay expenses from their consumer pre-tax accounts directly at the point of service, and auto-substantiates the majority of their transactions. ABG was one of the first adopters of web-based participant portals and mobile applications that offer instant account access and management anytime, anywhere. In 2010, ABG was again at the forefront of the market with its introduction of a live participant-feedback review portal, where participants could rate their experience and post live reviews that are shared online. Basically a private Yelp review and rating portal for its own clients, the company has leveraged this to garner thousands of five-star feedback reviews. Working with the top global benefits consulting and brokerage organizations like Mercer, Lockton, HUB, Gallagher, and NFP, as well as leading independent benefits consulting and brokerage firms from across the country, ABG has been able to achieve consistent growth. In 2016, the company grew revenue by a record 35%, and it has achieved compound annual growth since 2010 of more than 20% per year.

•••••

Springfield College Assistant Professor of Physical Education Tan Leng Goh recently received the 2017 Hally Beth Poindexter Young Scholar Award presented by the National Assoc. for Kinesiology in Higher Education (NAKHE). The award was presented at the annual NAKHE Conference in Orlando, Fla. “Tan Leng Goh’s recent award from NAKHE is a true testament to her commitment to her scholarly work,” said Springfield College School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation Dean Tracey Matthews. “I look forward to her continued scholarly successes at Springfield College.” During the 2017 NAKHE’s annual conference, Goh presented her paper titled, “Children’s Physical Activity and On-task Behavior Following Active Academic Lessons.” Goh’s presentation focused on the amount of hours a day children remain sitting when receiving academic instruction. Goh’s presentation hypothesizes that sitting for an extended amount of time is detrimental to children’s physical health, and may cause off-task behavior in the classroom. The purpose of the study was to examine the effect of active academic lessons on children’s physical activity and on-task behavior. The NAKHE organization provides a forum for interdisciplinary ideas, concepts, and issues related to the role of kinesiology subdisciplines in higher education with respect for social, cultural, and personal perspectives. Kinesiology is an academic discipline that involves the study of physical activity and its impact on health, society, and quality of life. It includes, but is not limited to, such areas of study as exercise science, sports management, athletic training and sports medicine, socio-cultural analyses of sports, sport and exercise psychology, fitness leadership, physical-education teacher education, and pre-professional training for physical therapy, occupational therapy, medicine, and other health-related fields.

•••••

Berkshire Bank Foundation Inc., the philanthropic arm of Berkshire Bank, announced the appointment of Thomas Barney to its board of trustees. Barney, a certified financial planner, is a senior vice president and wealth advisor with Berkshire Bank Wealth Management in Lenox. Barney has spent more than 19 years with Berkshire Bank, rejoining the wealth group out of retirement to work on all aspects of client relationships, including financial planning and strategy implementation. He previously served as an officer of the foundation. “While Berkshire Bank has grown as a successful company, serving the community has always been at the forefront,” he said. “The Berkshire Bank Foundation was established to demonstrate the bank’s dedication to its communities and neighbors. I am honored to join their board and support the foundation’s work.” The mission of the Foundation is to strengthen and improve quality of life in communities where Berkshire Bank or its affiliates have offices. The foundation supports programs that enhance opportunities for children and adults, specifically in the areas of community and economic development, education, and meeting the needs of low- and moderate-income individuals. The foundation also administers the bank’s comprehensive volunteer program, called the X-Team, in addition to a scholarship program for high-school seniors. Barney has more than 40 years of experience working on investments, trusts, and planning, including tenures at Michigan Avenue Financial Group of Chicago, Bank of Boston’s Private Bank, Fleet Investment Services, and the First National Bank of Geneva. He is a member of the Estate Planning Council of Hampden County, recently serving as its treasurer, vice president, and president. He is a graduate of Monmouth College, Loyola University of Chicago, the National Trust School, and the Trust Management School at Northwestern University. “We are so pleased to welcome Tom to the foundation’s board as he shares our vision to support the many community needs throughout our growing footprint,” said Lori Gazzillo, director of Berkshire Bank Foundation. “Tom’s close community ties and breadth and depth of knowledge will serve as a valuable asset to our talented board.”

Daily News

CHICOPEE — Caolo & Bieniek Associates Inc., a full-service architecture, planning, and interior-design firm located in Chicopee, announced that Bert Gardner has become a principal. A graduate of Roger Williams University, Gardner is a registered architect in Massachusetts and New Jersey.

Since joining Caolo & Bieniek Associates in 1999, Gardner has served in key roles on numerous project teams with increasing levels of responsibility. Most recently, he has been the project architect for projects at Westfield State University, UMass, and the Dupont Middle School in Chicopee (former Chicopee High School), and is currently overseeing the Maple Street Elementary School project in Easthampton. He has been an active board member for the Chicopee Boys & Girls Club, serving as president in 2013 and 2014.

Caolo & Bieniek Associates has been providing architectural services since 1955. Its design process integrates a creative approach to problem solving with a sustained commitment to client needs. The firm’s scope of services includes renovations, adaptive reuse, new construction, facilities assessment, feasibility studies, master planning, interior design, historic preservation, and sustainable and ‘green’ design expertise.

Sections Tourism & Hospitality

Past Is Prologue

Michelle Rondeau and Michael Glick

Michelle Rondeau and Michael Glick say the addition to the Chamberlain House includes a patio and suite for wedding parties or groups holding functions in the Garden Tent.

Michael Glick says the Publick House Historic Inn and Country Lodge in Sturbridge is two miles — and two centuries — away from the Mass Pike.

“We have every modern amenity, but when people come here, they step back to a period in time when things weren’t so fast-paced. It’s a place where they can really relax,” said the general manager.

Throughout its 246-year history, the Publick House has been known for its hospitality, excellent food, and New England charm, and has become a popular venue for weddings, celebratory events, and family gatherings. Part of the draw is its central location: it is in close proximity to Route 20 and Interstates 90 and 84 and easy to get to from all of the New England states as well as New York and New Jersey.

The historic inn was built in 1771, houses two restaurants and a pub, sits directly across from the Town Common, and offers a retreat from stress on its 43-acre campus that contains more than eight buildings.

Publick House

Michelle Rondeau says the multi-million-dollar investment in the hotel portion of the Publick House has led to an increase in corporate business.

During the fall and winter, guests lounge in comfortable chairs next to wood-burning fireplaces and spend hours reading or talking to co-workers, friends, or family members.

In the spring and summer, meanwhile, they stroll along meandering brick walkways through lush gardens, relax on patios with sweeping vistas, and enjoy outdoor fire pits.

Although its 11 event rooms can accommodate corporate gatherings of up to 200 people, in the past, marketing efforts were focused almost entirely on weddings and events in the dining room. The complex was never promoted as a place to stay overnight, and Glick says that was purposeful.

The reason was simple: the inn offered 17 rooms, and the Chamberlain House next door had six rooms outfitted with period furnishings and décor. But the remaining 80+ rooms were in the outdated Country Motor Lodge. It was built in the ’60s on a hill behind the inn, has drive-up entrances to each room, and falls short of offering the luxury and amenities people expect today.

Minor upgrades were made over the years, including installation of new hotel bedding, but the discrepancy between the rooms in the Motor Inn and the Publick and Chamberlain House next door was so great, they couldn’t market it as a place to hold multi-day business meetings or group gatherings.

“All of our rooms are sold out every weekend because we have so many weddings here,” said Rooms Division Manager Michelle Rondeau, adding that they hosted 183 weddings last year, and 179 nuptial celebrations have already been booked for 2017.

“But corporate groups were offended by the idea of having to put some of their participants in the old motor lodge,” she noted. “Everyone wanted to stay in the inn or the Chamberlain House, and in order to book multi-day events, we needed to be able to offer similar accommodations.”

In 2014 a decision was made to help resolve that discrepancy, and 15 months ago a $3.2 million renovation and addition to the Chamberlain House was completed that includes 20 new hotel rooms.

It has changed the focus of the Publick House from a quintessential New England restaurant to a charming hotel that can custom-tailor events for businesses and other large groups.

New jobs were created as a result of the project, and salespeople who were hired to market the rooms were successful in attracting businesses, craft-oriented groups, and more for multi-day stays.

The trend is continuing, and construction on a new $5 million to $6 million building is expected to start soon to replace more of the old rooms in the motor inn. It will be built on a site that houses an old barn originally built to store horse feed.

“We’re a boutique hotel, and we are not looking to grow larger,” Glick said, adding that town bylaws allow the facility to have only 125 hotel rooms on the campus. “We just want to replace the motel rooms with ones of a higher quality.”

For this issue and its focus on tourism and hospitality, BusinessWest looks at recent changes that have taken place at the Publick House Historic Inn and Meeting Lodge, what people can expect in the future, and the reasons behind the facility’s success.

New Focus

Glick said the Publick House first approached the town about six years ago with the idea of making changes, and in 2014 the architectural and landscape design firm Siemasko and Verbridge was hired to find a creative and appropriate way to add new guest rooms to the campus.

Its design plan involved retaining the exterior of the 1830 Chamberlain House with its wide columned porch, gutting the interior, replacing outdated plumbing and electrical wiring, adding a handicapped entrance, and building an addition onto the rear of the structure that would add 14 new rooms and blend in seamlessly with the neighboring historic buildings.

After the renovation and addition was complete, the rooms were decorated in a simple manner befitting the history of the home and Publick House. Window treatments were purchased from Country Curtains in Sturbridge, and the rooms were furnished with solid-wood bureaus and beds whose high wood posts are topped with pineapples, which are a sign of hospitality commonly seen at New England inns during the Colonial era.

In addition, an outdoor courtyard was built between the Chamberlain House and the Publick House that overlooks the bucolic area where the Garden Tent area is set up three seasons of the year. It can hold 200 guests and is a popular place for weddings.

historic building on the Publick House campus

The new hotel has been designed to meld with the architecture of the historic building on the Publick House campus.

A brick pathway leads directly from the Chamberlain House to the tent, and the suite that faces the area is used as a hospitality room for bridal parties, large gatherings, and corporate events, while the patio is often the setting for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

Two of the five buildings that make up the old motor lodge have been phased out, and more rooms will be closed when the new building is complete, but Glick said they plan to leave a few open for travelers seeking a modest price point.

“The addition and renovation of the Chamberlain House has definitely increased our corporate business,” Rondeau said, noting that companies that have held training sessions, seminars, meetings, and themed events in the country setting.

For example, a Hawaiian Luau in the Garden Tent was created for a business party and included carving a fully cooked pig in the patio area.

“We created a beautiful atmosphere. The outdoor fire pit was burning, tiki torches were lit around the perimeter of the area, and there were lush flowers blooming everywhere,” Glick said, explaining that the acreage allows the company to offer events that might not be possible in a downtown hotel in a large city.

He added that business guests who enjoy the atmosphere and hospitality the Publick House offers are returning for overnight stays with their entire families.

The investment in upgraded rooms proved so successful that Siemasko and Verbridge were rehired last year to create a design for the new hotel building. Its plans involve tearing down the white clapboard-style barn that sits next to the Publick House and replacing it with a 21,314-square-foot structure with 28 hotel rooms.

The building will face the street and resemble a Colonial home on a raised, red-brick foundation linked to a red-barn-style structure with a raised stone foundation.

“It will be nestled between the Publick House and Sadie Green’s,” said Rondeau, referring to the retail emporium, jewelry store, and curiosity shop housed in buildings on the property.

“The new lobby will become the hotel registration center and will feature a double-sided wood-burning fireplace with lots of comfortable seating,” she continued. “The design and layout have a lot of character that includes roof gables and a mock hayloft door. We can’t recreate the Publick House, but we’re doing our best to give the new building a historic feel.”

The town’s design review board approved the plan in November, and it will go before the planning board in April.

However, the project was delayed in December when the Historical Commission put the demolition of the existing barn on hold for a year, but Glick said they are working closely with the commission and hope to come up with a compromise that will allow them to move forward this year.

“But the Publick House will continue to serve as the hub of the property,” he said, noting that its two restaurants and historic pub are convenient for overnight guests.

Ongoing Traditions

The Publick House is known for its fine food, New England specialties, and bake shop, which does $700,000 in business annually.

Glick noted that the majority of dishes on the menu in the dining room never change and include pot roast, chicken pot pie, lobster pie, and a full turkey dinner with all of the fixings that is offered every day throughout the year.

“People come here and expect to be able to order the foods we’re known for,” he explained.

Indeed, families have been coming there for generations and expect things to stay the same. Glick told BusinessWest that the bakery offers a frosted sugar cookie with a smiley face, and when the chef altered the recipe to make it healthier, they received calls and letters of complaint even though there were no signs alerting people to the slight difference in taste. “So we went back to the original recipe,” he said.

Rondeau added that the Publick House is rooted in tradition, and many grandparents bring their grandchildren there to experience history in the same way they did when they were young.

But ultimately, what all of their guests look for and find is the service, attention to detail, and personal touch that Colonial New England inns were known for.

“We have all the luxuries of a downtown hotel, and the quality of our food drives business here. Until last year, we were never known as a hotel, but that is changing,” Glick said. “We’re targeting business groups of about 50 people, but no matter who our guests are, our focus will always remain on offering them true hospitality.”

Construction Sections

Building on the Past

Chris Jacobs

Chris Jacobs took the reins at Barron & Jacobs last year after more than 31 years with the company.

Chris Jacobs has construction in his blood.

“I’ve been with the company since it opened in 1986,” said Jacobs, who succeeded his father, Cecil Jacobs, last year as president of Barron & Jacobs Associates Inc. “I was 15 then, working summers, and I kept working summers through college.”

After graduation, he came on board full-time and worked his way up the chain, serving long stints as general manager of construction, then general manager of the whole company, before taking the reins from his father.

Growing up, he doesn’t recall a time when he didn’t want to work in the family business. “What young kid doesn’t like construction?”

But he also has an appreciation of history and tradition, and Barron & Jacobs is steeped in both, starting with its offices in an 1895 Victorian home in downtown Northampton, purchased from the city’s historical society and restored to its original look.

Behind that home sits a carriage house that once sheltered the first car-repair garage in Northampton — a garage visited frequently by Amelia Earhart early in her flight career, to learn about reciprocating engines.

That sort of history reflects the value that Cecil Jacobs, who’s known as “Jake,” places on the historical and architectural integrity of a building — a quality that has informed his company’s work and helped him forge a pioneering name in design-build construction — a tradition Chris Jacobs is excited to continue.

“We invented design-build back in the ’80s; previous to that, it was all general contractors,” he told BusinessWest. “Then everyone became design-build companies, even if they didn’t have designers and drafting people on their staff.”


Chart of General Contractors


His father established a philosophy at the company that whatever enhances a home should not take away from it — to have alterations and additions look like they’ve been there from day one, and to duplicate existing architecture and at the same time bring in modern conveniences.

“We’re doing a lot of the same: kitchens, additions, bathrooms, whole-house renovations,” the new president said. “The recession put a little slowdown on the bigger residential projects, but they are definitely coming back.”

Reconstructing History

Cecil Jacobs began laying the foundation for his future company in 1963 when he completed his tour of duty in Vietnam with the 6143rd Engineering Group, and went to work as a  designer for the Architectural Building Products Division of Reynolds Metals Co. (also known as Reynolds Aluminum). In the mid-’70s, he was appointed vice president of the division, overseeing the development, sales, and marketing of energy-conserving building products.

He loved working there. But his future started to shift when, in the early 1980s, David Reynolds, the company’s president, asked a question: is there another market for us other than remodeling and building new homes? In other words, is there something remodelers weren’t doing because it was too big, and that homebuilders didn’t want to do because it involved existing structures?

whole-house remodel in Longmeadow

This whole-house remodel in Longmeadow is an example of the way Barron & Jacobs updates homes while retaining their original character.

That was the birth of design-build. Jacobs was tasked with investigating the feasibility of a third major market that would encompass whole-home renovations and other major projects beyond the scope of smaller-scale remodeling. Over a two-year period, he conducted that study for Reynolds, establishing test locations in Springfield, Boston, and California, and became convinced there was a significant market.

However, Reynolds retired soon after, and the new president had virtually no interest in the project. Then, In 1986, the head of Jacobs’ division, Jim Barron, retired, and Jacobs, at age 45, felt that was a good time for him to leave as well. So after the company agreed that he could pursue and develop his design-build research on his own, Jake launched his own firm with his wife, Kathleen, putting Barron’s name on the door symbolically, to honor his mentor.

The company has benefited from the fact that Western Mass. isn’t a hotbed of new building, but there are plenty of older homes in need of renovation, meaning existing structures take on a higher value than they would in a more booming region for new construction.

As for individual projects, Chris Jacobs said, “it’s really up to the individual whether they want a European style or a traditional style. As full-service design-builders, we go shopping with them.”

That’s when many decisions are made, he went on. “The shopping is a crucial piece. Many homeowners don’t know a good cabinet from a bad cabinet, so the shopping is a crucial key to making sure the project goes correctly. We make sure they’re getting good appliances; the industry is plagued with bad appliances. We have people that we trust, that we’ve been shopping with for years.”

It takes not only skill to tackle whole-home remodels, he said, but also the personal touch and flexibility to interact with the homeowner, who may change their minds several times during a project. But, generally, detailed planning and productive shopping create a strong foundation for a successful remodel.

Steady Growth

In addition to home remodeling and whole-house renovations, Barron & Jacobs’ portfolio includes additions, add-a-levels, kitchen and bathroom remodels, screened porches and porch enclosures, three-season rooms, sunrooms and conservatories, garages and carriage houses, attic and basement conversions, as well as business renovations and expansions.

In the commercial realm, the firm recently did a rec-room project for Coca-Cola in Northampton, and is currently working on a financial building in West Springfield. While commercial building rebounded from the Great Recession quicker than residential construction, and most of Barron & Jacobs’ work is residential, the company managed to ride out those years successfully, thriving on its reputation. “It’s a tradition of building satisfaction,” Chris Jacobs said. “We’ve been doing it for over 30 years.”

In fact, the recession didn’t really hit the company until three or four years after it began in 2007,” he added. “We had a little bump in the road — as it turned out, bigger than a bump — but we could see it coming back last year, and this year is already looking good.”

As for new building, it’s not something the company pursues, although it recently built a house in New Hampshire for a past customer. “It’s usually a past customer who requests it. We don’t have our own building lots.”

Meanwhile, the firm has strived to develop a reputation as an environmentally friendly builder, both in its emphasis on energy-efficient insulation, windows, and other materials, and through an extensive focus on recycling building materials.

Through all of this, the company, which boasts 15 employees, continues to grow, with Jacobs and co-designer Adam Skiba — who comes from an architectural background and has been on board for a year and a half — looking to add another designer this year.

And, of course, the new president is already eyeing the third generation of leadership at the company, although that transition is far off — specifically, his 5-year-old adopted son.

“He’s already banged his first nail, and he’s good at it,” Jacobs said. “No pressure, though.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Architecture Sections

Come Together

By Joanna Smiley

The homes at the Pioneer Valley Cohousing community

The homes at the Pioneer Valley Cohousing community are tightly clustered around a pedestrian loop, fostering informal social interactions and preserving open space on the rest of the site.

It’s no understatement to say Laura Fitch has dedicated her life to the philosophy of cohousing — not only through her architecture career, but because she has lived in a cohousing community for nearly 20 years. The model, which encourages togetherness and elements of both private and communal living, is becoming more popular among young families, retirees, and students, making it an ideal opportunity for intergenerational connection.

It’s hard to miss Fitch Architecture & Community Design’s Amherst office.

The space is nestled inside a sun-drenched building at the entrance of Pioneer Valley Cohousing, a 22-acre stretch of private homes clustered around a communal space.

Laura Fitch, a principal with the company, helped design the community, which has garnered attention as the East Coast’s first cohousing development. Fitch herself has lived in Pioneer Valley Cohousing for nearly 20 years.

“I grew up in Concord, Mass.,” she explained. “We had Thoreau and Walden, and I lived in a sort of cluster subdivision where we shared green space and community land and resources. It left an impact on me.”

A past board member of the Cohousing Assoc. of the U.S., Fitch first learned about cohousing during a trip to Denmark in 1980, the country where the concept was first developed.


List of Architecture Firms in the region


That knowledge was followed by a stint with Peace Corps in Mali, West Africa in 1984, an experience that built in her a desire to seek out socially and ecologically responsible projects — and which partly explains why cohousing has become the heart and soul of her firm.

Laura Fitch (right, with intern architect Aviva Galaski)

Laura Fitch (right, with intern architect Aviva Galaski) says cohousing builds community ties that can enhance the health and well-being of residents.

Houses in most cohousing communities range anywhere from 600-1,400 square feet. A complex typically includes a shared community room, where group meals are served several times a month, prepared by community members on a rotating basis. At Pioneer Valley Cohousing, members are encouraged to eat together twice a week. A 4,200-square-foot common house includes a communal multi-purpose room, commercial kitchen, children’s playroom, two guest rooms, and additional recreational space.

Cohousing members are expected to participate in the work that needs to be done to keep the community running smoothly, and Fitch relies on what is called an ‘affinity work system.’ That means she ensures every member pitches in by giving them the option to choose a task they’d like to complete that will benefit the community as a whole. Fitch’s husband, for example, helps with the members’ plowing each winter.

For this issue and its focus on architecture, BusinessWest talks to Fitch about why the cohousing model is an ideal choice for certain people, and how she has crafted a career around her long-time passion for community.

Welcoming Environment

Since the first cohousing community was completed in the U.S. — Muir Commons in Davis, Calif., which recently celebrated 25 years — more than 160 such communities have been established in 25 states plus the District of Columbia, with more than 120 in process. Most cohousing communities are intergenerational, with both children and elders; in recent years, senior cohousing focused on older adult needs have grown. Small and large, urban and rural, newly built and retrofits, these communities have consistently been at the forefront of environmental and socially sustainable neighborhoods, according to the Cohousing Assoc. of the United States.

Cohousing units are intentionally designed to feel welcoming and comfortable to surrounding neighbors, so they may freely stop by each other’s homes to converse, share resources, or help watch young children. That said, families living in such proximity also have the potential to conflict. Fitch preemptively mitigates potential arguments by encouraging open lines of communication with fellow neighbors and peaceful negotiation. The complex also designates a ‘community life issue member’ who can facilitate classes for non-violent conflict resolution.

Fitch calls her cohousing community, and others like it across the country, “community at your doorstep, with privacy at your home.”

Young families, single working parents, retirees, professionals, and even students are among the demographics typically attracted to cohousing. Fitch believes cohousing offers a desirable model, one that is universal for people from all walks of life who, simply put, seek togetherness.

“If you went to summer camps, enjoyed undergrad time in dorms, if those were things you liked when you were younger, then I always tell people, you can naturally understand what it’s like to live in cohousing,” Fitch said.

She sees the senior cohousing movement exploding across the U.S. and believes that this trend will continue to grow in the coming years as a better alternative to costly assisted-living facilities or elderly people living in isolation.

“There are studies that show community is healthy for you,” she told BusinessWest. “People age faster and have more problems when they’re aging alone. Senior cohousing is becoming a real phenomenon.”

In addition to the social issues central to the design of a cohousing community, the ecological concerns of sustainability are a primary focus for cohousing groups. Many groups include sustainability as part of their vision statement, and Fitch’s firm has helped them to reflect these goals in the built community.

In general, she explained, site design is sensitive to land use. The buildings have solar access, and energy-efficient construction practices are employed. Materials and systems are specifically selected to minimize ecological impact and maximize indoor air quality. Units have front porches, which provide a bridge between public and private spaces in a cohousing community. Meanwhile, the houses are scaled to ensure they’re friendly to pedestrians.

Earth Friendly

Fitch’s specialized focus on sustainable design has earned the firm a spot in Natural Home & Garden magazine as one of the top 10 green-architecture firms in North America.

“People are recognizing now that it makes business sense … if you invest enough to reduce mechanical costs, that’s where you get to the sweet spot,” she said.

The new theater studio at Smith College

The new theater studio at Smith College was created by capturing space from a large and underutilized lobby at the Mendenhall Center for Performing Arts.

Fitch and her team have led hundreds of residential, commercial, and institutional projects, including net-zero-energy homes, educational facilities, and deep-energy retrofits.

In 2013, the firm received a Historic Preservation Award from the Northampton Historical Commission for its work at Smith College’s Dewey House. The 1827 building needed significant upgrades, so, after completing an initial feasibility study, Fitch’s firm was asked to complete full services for energy improvements and a new exterior lift. Working with energy consultants, it ultimately achieved a 65% reduction in air infiltration.

Meanwhile, the Hartsbrook School, a Waldorf educational facility in Hadley, chose to work with Fitch and her team for a project focused on creating a new early-education building.

The new classroom building at the Hartsbrook School.

The new classroom building at the Hartsbrook School.

But cohousing remains Fitch’s calling card, and she has earned national accolades for her work in this field. Alice Alexander, executive director of the Cohousing Assoc. of the U.S., calls Fitch a “real pioneer” in getting the nationwide cohousing movement off the ground.

“Laura Fitch is one of our outstanding cohousing professionals,” Alexander said. “Not only is she an outstanding architect, but also she is adept at group process — at working collaboratively with large numbers of folks who can come to the table with diverse views. That takes talent. Laura is also committed to environmental sustainability and nurturing community for health and resilience.”

Fitch’s fusion of professional and personal interest in cohousing has proved to be an asset to her firm’s clients. “It enables me to understand what early cohousing groups are going through when it comes to making tough decisions about their money and the future,” she noted. “I can answer questions on the architecture, process, and what its like to live there as a resident.”

One of Fitch’s best ideas so far? An outdoor ping-pong table at the cohousing development she calls home.

“It reinvigorated our community life,” she said with a smile. “We all sit around the courtyard after meals egging each other on in ping-pong matches.”

It’s just one more way she has made a career — and a life — out of creating connections and community.

Features

A Real Page Turner

Diane Pikul

Diane Pikul, Northeast regional sales manager for National Library Relocations.

You might say this is a business that does things by the book. But that tells only part of the story. It also stores, moves, cleans, and inventories everything from maps to photographs; from pieces of art to railroad equipment. And if you called National Library Relocations a ‘volume business,’ that wouldn’t exactly be accurate, either. Here, they measure collections in linear inches and feet — lots of them. In fact, just last summer, the company, with a huge warehouse in Palmer, moved more than 20 miles of books.

As she walked among the seemingly endless rows of books, journals, and boxes of photographs, Diane Pikul stopped to admire what is easily one of the more intriguing items now in her care.

And one that, like those books on the shelves, tells a story. Well, sort of.

The old train lantern is from the collection owned by the National Railway Historical Society. Pikul, Northeast regional sales manager for National Library Relocations (NLR), looked for some clue as to how old this artifact was, and couldn’t find one. She did learn, however, that the lantern was put to use in Chicago.

It is stored next to a large wooden rack that once held dozens of train schedules, an indication of just how dominant that mode of transportation was a century ago and even 60 years ago. And it’s just one small part of a collection measured not in pieces, or volumes, as one might expect, but in linear feet, as will be explained later.

The story it helps tell? Well, it’s more the NLR story than anything else.

Indeed, the railway historical society’s library was kept in the Robert Morris Building in Philadelphia’s Center City, a handsome Gothic Revival structure built in 1914 by hotelier Rutherford Jennings that later served as a college dormitory and academic building and then as an office tower until 2007. That’s when it was acquired by 806 Capital with designs to remake it into a hotel, plans that were scuttled by the recession and later revamped to feature upscale apartments.

We’re unique because we can offer customers a unique blend of experience from the fields of architecture, library science, and transportation.”

To make a long story short, the NRHS needed a new home for its library collection — and it still needs one, although Pikul says it’s closing in on a site. The extended search for new quarters, which has featured a number of twists and turns, explains why this collection, which was supposed to be in NLR’s care for maybe a year or two, has now been at the company’s location in the old Tambrands complex in Palmer for close to a decade.

“It’s a really fascinating collection and a great client — they’re a joy to work with,” said Pikul, who deploys such language to talk about most every client — and means it when she says it.

Indeed, the client list includes some of the most famous and revered institutions in the world, from Harvard University to the Smithsonian to the Clark Art Institute. And what NRL provides to those clients is solutions to problems, or issues.

They range from renovations to fallout from natural disasters; forced relocations (like the NRHS’s) to simple space limitations, which many facilities are now facing.

That constituency includes Wellesley College, which currently stores thousands of books and journals at NLR. Collectively, these items fall into the category of “lesser-used,” said Pikul, which doesn’t mean not used. Indeed, requests from students and teachers at the renowned women’s college for items in the stacks at NLR come in almost daily — with the volume increasing during finals week, she noted, adding that they are overnighted and in the hands of those who requested them within 24 hours.

It also includes Bay Path College, Springfield Technical Community College, and a host of other clients, she said, adding that long-term (or what could also be considered permanent) storage is just one line on the company’s list of services.

Others include far more temporary storage for libraries dealing with some of those aforementioned issues, especially renovations and expansions, and also cleaning of collections, inventorying items, and, as the name of the business suggests, moving them as well.

“We’re unique because we can offer customers a unique blend of experience from the fields of architecture, library science, and transportation,” said Pikul, a former librarian at STCC, as she explained what sets the company apart.

And despite those rumors that the Internet will soon make books and libraries somewhat obsolete, Pikul is firmly of the belief that this is a growth industry. Indeed, as more books are published and institutions grapple with space limitations, storing lesser-used books, as Wellesley and other schools do, is far less costly than building an addition or a new library, she explained.

For this issue, BusinessWest takes an in-depth look at a rapidly growing company in a truly unique industry, a business that continues to add new chapters to a compelling success story.

Reading Between the Lines

Pikul has a large, well-appointed office within NLR’s 28,000-square-foot home in what is now known as the Palmer Technology Center, home to dozens of small businesses. But you won’t find her there much these days.

Instead, she’s on assignment, if you will, handling aspects of a massive initiative involving several of the Five Colleges in the Amherst-Northampton area to relocate parts of their vast library collections in a huge annex now being constructed on a 12-acre parcel in Hatfield.

Due to open in the spring, the facility will have the capacity to shelve 2.1 million to 2.5 million volumes, which is sorely needed because the space now being used by the colleges — the famous Cold War-era bunker built into the side of Bare Mountain in the Holyoke Range in 1957 — has now reached capacity.

The current schedule calls for starting to move things in May, said Pikul, adding that much of her time over the past several months has been spent on this project — “I go into the office on weekends to do payroll; people like to get paid,” she joked — in preparation for the move. NLR has been hired to clean items and get them ready for travel, storage, and, if needed, retrieval.

And in many ways, the annex project, although much larger in size and scope than most initiatives, is exemplary of what the company does and how it does it.

Diane Pikul shows off the train lantern

Diane Pikul shows off the train lantern, part of the collection amassed by the National Railway Historical Society, that is one of the more intriguing items now in her care.

NLR goes  — meaning Pikul usually goes — where its clients need it to go, be it to area libraries or to the University of the Pacific’s main campus in Stockton, Calif. (she and other team members will be going there next month to measure a collection in advance of a renovation project), or to Harvard’s campus in Cambridge, where NLR handled a number of projects over the years, including the relocation of one of the its collections to China.

“That was a fun project … that library was shipped to the Ocean University in Qingdao,” she said, searching her memory bank for details on a project undertaken a dozen years ago. “We packed the books into boxes and then used conveyor belts to put the boxes into sea containers; it took a few months for the books to get there, and they used a manual I wrote to put the collection back on shelves; everything is packed left to right and top to bottom.”

Such projects help explain why Pikul, who has been with NLR for nearly two decades now, talks repeatedly about just how much she enjoys what she does.

“I love my job — I think I have the best job in the world. We have terrific clients, and helping them with their collections is very rewarding work,” she said, adding that her role blends elements of library science, architecture, mathematics (adding up all those linear feet), and even antiquities. The company moved a Gutenberg Bible on one of its assignments, for example, and more valuable items stored at the Palmer site, including some pictures of trains owned by the NRHS, are kept in what’s known as the ‘inner-sanctum room,’ which features additional security and climate control.

Our story begins nearly 50 years ago with NLR President Scott Miller. He was working for a company that was part of the Allied Van Lines family in the mid-’60s when his unit was assigned the task of moving a library. Eventually, the company — and Miller — became good at this kind of work. After struggling to find employment after graduating from college with a degree in architecture, Miller returned to Allied (and moving libraries) before starting his own venture in 1985.

Then, as now, libraries comprised the main focus, said Pikul, adding that, from the beginning, there has always been a steady supply of work, because there are tens of thousands of school, college, and municipal libraries, as well as museums and archives, and eventually, most all of them will require some of the services offered by the company.

This is made clear by a look at NLR’s portfolio of projects. It’s broken down by year, and each one has dozens of bullet-pointed undertakings.

In 2011, for example, the company did work with almost every college in the Ivy League, including Harvard (a frequent customer, as noted), Columbia, Princeton, Yale, and the University of Pennsylvania. But the ledger also lists work with dozens of other colleges, several school libraries, nearly two dozen public libraries, a medical library, and several ‘special libraries,’ including those at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, and Travis Air Force Base in California.

The consistency and high volume of work is also reflected in Pikul’s comments about next summer — and the one after that, as well — because that is traditionally the busiest time of year as colleges and public schools try to get work done when students are on break.

“This coming summer is completely booked,” she said slowly and without acknowledging there was a decent pun within that explanation. “This past week, I’ve been telling people, ‘we’ve been booked for eight months now; I can’t even give you a quote.’ They call and say, ‘we’d like to move in May,’ and I say, ‘this May, really?’

“When things are really good, we’re booked a year in advance,” she went on. “I have several projects booked for 2018 already.”

Good Story Lines

As she talked about the various forms of work undertaken by NLR, Pikul said that, as one might expect, part of it is simple physical labor — loading books onto trucks (or shipping containers, as in that case involving Harvard mentioned earlier) and transporting them to and from the warehouse in Palmer, or to other locations, including China.

But the vast majority of this work would be described as both delicate and intricate, undertaken by people — a good deal of them retired librarians or educators — who have an understanding of books and library science itself.

Indeed, Pikul and those she works with (mostly on a project basis, although she is hopeful to add more permanent employees in the future) have a thorough understanding of not simply the Dewey Decimal System, but the many other library classification methods.

These include the Library of Congress System, the Cutter System, the Pettee, or Union Classification System, and many others, she said, adding that this cumulative knowledge enables the company to play an invaluable consultative role for clients and potential clients.

Elaborating, she said NLR representatives can provide advice on everything from how much space to leave for a collection or parts of it (not only for today but years and decades down the road) to how to design a library or expansion, to the best course of action when mold attacks a book or a collection — which it often does.

And Pikul, as you might expect by now, is well-versed on that subject as well.

“My staff is trained to recognize mold issues,” she said. “Sometimes, you get dead mold, which you can just wipe right off. But sometimes it can be colorful — black or psychedelic (I’ve seen some interesting things out there), and that’s when our staff knows enough to stop, recognize that there’s something wrong, and bring the item to me.

“If it’s a small thing, we can treat it with isopropyl alcohol, isolate the item, see how it dries, and then decide whether it can go back in the collection,” she went on. “If it’s really, really bad, those spores can spread and get into carpeting and curtains and upholstery.”

Meanwhile, simple cleaning of books is not exactly simple, she said, adding that great care is taken to preserve the materials, meaning no chemicals are used in these processes.

the company moved more than 20 miles of books last summer alone

At NLR, they measure volume of business not by volumes, but by linear feet of materials; the company moved more than 20 miles of books last summer alone.

Actually, there are several options for clients when it comes to cleaning, depending on how serious they want to get with such an undertaking.

“If they’re going from one building to another, and it’s a newer collection, we can do a reverse vacuum where we just blow the dust off the tops of the books,” she explained. “We can do a light cleaning where we’re doing the spines and the tops of the books just to get the surface dust off, and then there’s a really detailed cleaning we’ve done for some clients, especially special collections, where we clean all six sides of the book and wipe the shelf down using cloth treated with mineral oil so it’s anti-static and you’re not getting dust glomming back onto the shelf.”

The vacuums are triple-filtered, like those used in hospitals, and the brushes used are made of natural horse hair so as not to scratch the items, she went on, adding that attention to details like this has enabled NLR to become one of the top companies nationally in what is now a highly competitive field.

Looking forward, Pikul said the company is looking to grow, has the capacity to do it — there is considerably more space at the Palmer Technology Park for the company to rent if it so desires, and it has already expanded several times — and the need will certainly be there.

As evidenced by the massive project in Hatfield involving the Five Colleges, schools, public libraries, and other kinds of institutions will continue to add to their collections, and many will need help storing, cleaning, and moving items, or perhaps all of the above.

Part of the growth equation is education, said Pikul, adding that libraries need to understand that those assignments listed above are not — or should not be — do-it-yourself projects.

Thus, the best marketing strategy the company has is word-of-mouth referrals, and there have been hundreds of those over the years, she told BusinessWest.

“We rely on testimonials — they’re very important in this business because of the work that’s involved and the trust that clients are putting in us,” she explained, adding that the phone is ringing even more often these days thanks to the company finally earning placement on the state bid list for such projects involving the moving of libraries.

Tome-honored Practices

As for those references to linear feet, Pikul actually summoned a different unit of measure to convey how busy this company has been.

Indeed, just last summer — remember, that’s the busy season — it moved some 20 miles of books.

How many volumes is that? Pikul doesn’t know, and doesn’t really care, because that number is not particularly relevant; 500 children’s books would certainly take up far less space than 500 books from a law library.

This is just one of the many intriguing nuances in a business where things are done by the book — and the journal, map, microfilm box, and, yes, train lantern.

That’s what makes it so fascinating, and enjoyable, to Pikul, and why it’s a business story that has become a real page turner.

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

Departments People on the Move
Christopher Visser

Christopher Visser

Christopher Visser, formerly an associate attorney with the firm, was elected Partner at Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas, LLP effective Jan. 1. He joined Bulkley Richardson in 2011 and works principally in its Springfield office, where he is a member of the firm’s Litigation/ADR Department and Health Law Practice Group. Visser’s practice consists primarily of handling complex litigation with a focus in professional malpractice defense. He has represented physicians, mid-levels, nurses, and healthcare organizations in all types of medical-malpractice cases, ranging from labor and delivery cases to cancer cases. He has also successfully represented physicians before the Board of Registration in Medicine, and other healthcare providers before their licensing boards. He also has experience representing clients in insurance-coverage litigation, insurance subrogation, products liability, personal injury, trust litigation, and other civil-litigation matters. He has handled all aspects of prosecuting and defending civil-litigation actions and has represented clients in housing, district, and superior courts, as well as in federal and appellate courts. He has also represented clients in administrative proceedings, arbitrations, and mediations. Visser is a 2003 graduate of Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario. He attended Western New England University School of Law, where he was a member of the National Moot Court team, and earned his juris doctor in 2009, cum laude. He returns annually to Western New England University School of Law to mentor first-year students in the Introduction to the Legal Profession course. After graduating, he worked for an immigration firm in Hartford and a civil-litigation firm in Springfield prior to joining Bulkley Richardson. He is admitted to practice in Massachusetts and New York.

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The Gaudreau Group Insurance and Financial Services Agency recently welcomed back to its team Kate Roy, Director of Marketing. In her new role, Roy helps communicate the firm’s mission: “we help our clients discover, protect, and enhance the people, places, and things that are important to them.” Working closely with the Gaudreau Group’s strategy advisors, account managers, and President Jules Gaudreau, Roy delivers communications that help current and prospective clients understand the benefits of working with the Gaudreau Group. As a certified insurance counselor, she has a deep understanding of the insurance industry and worked for several years in the personal-insurance business, both for a large national carrier and for several agencies. “We’re excited to have Kate back on our team. Her combination of marketing expertise and in-depth insurance experience is rare, resulting in a greater ability to communicate the Gaudreau Group’s mission to a broad audience in a unique and effective way,” Gaudreau said. A graduate of Springfield Technical Community College’s teleproduction technology program, Roy has experience in several different media channels. She was featured on roughnotes.com, the online presence of Rough Notes magazine, for her expertise on digital marketing in the insurance-agency world. She is also a graduate of the Springfield Leadership Institute, has volunteered with the East of the River Five Town Chamber of Commerce (ERC5) and Minnechaug Regional High School’s Career Readiness collaboration, and is a current contributor to the Westfield Education to Business Alliance. Roy was with the Gaudreau Group previously from 2008 to 2014 in customer-service and administrative roles. Prior to her years in the insurance industry, she was a videographer and editor for a local NBC TV affiliate.

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Whittlesey & Hadley announced Lisa Wills, CPA has been elected to partner, effective Jan. 1. Wills has been working primarily with nonprofits over her 25-year career, growing her practice and navigating ever-changing regulation. Her progressive approach to complex audits has helped her build a reputation as an industry thought leader. Wills is an active member of the AICPA as well as the CTCPA. “Lisa is a talented auditor and trusted advisor to nonprofits throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts,” said Managing Partner Drew Andrews. “Nonprofits are one of Whittlesey & Hadley’s largest practice areas, so expanding our leadership team with a professional of Lisa’s caliber demonstrates our ongoing commitment to providing exceptional service to the nonprofit community.”

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HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Western Massachusetts recently welcomed Susan Barone to its senior leadership team as director of Marketing Operations. She brings extensive healthcare experience to HealthSouth, as she has worked in the Western Mass. community for 25 years as a registered nurse and has held roles in hospital operations and medical practice leadership. Barone’s area of expertise includes healthcare business development and marketing, with a vast knowledge of the area’s healthcare community. She received her nursing education from Baystate Medical Center School of Nursing, a bachelor’s degree from Bay Path University, and an MBA in healthcare leadership from Elms College.

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Jill McCarthy Payne

Jill McCarthy Payne

American International College (AIC) Professor of Criminal Justice Jill McCarthy Payne has been appointed by Gov. Charlie Baker to a two-year term on the Gaming Policy Advisory Committee, a subcommittee of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. The committee advises the Gaming Commission on matters including annual resource agenda, public safety, addiction as it relates to gambling, mitigation, and other issues. Along with Payne, committee members include two senators, two legislators, representatives from public health and labor, and Gaming Commission Chair Stephen Crosby. Payne, who resides in Springfield and represents Region B as a Springfield member, was selected by Baker because of her previous involvement with the casino project in Springfield. Appointed by Mayor Domenic Sarno, Payne served on his five-member committee that helped select MGM as the casino of choice for Springfield. In addition, and prior to her recent appointment by the governor, Payne was tapped to be a member and chair of the local Community Mitigation Committee, thereby serving dual roles at the state and local level. “I’m excited to be part of this opportunity for Springfield. Although streets are narrowed currently due to construction, upon its completion, the casino will bring a new vibrancy to downtown,” Payne said. “The MGM project itself is unique in the gaming industry because it is considered an ‘inside-out’ model, meaning that patrons will be able to visit all amenities, including restaurants and entertainment venues, without ever entering the casino itself. In addition, the casino is being built within an urban area, using the MassMutual Center, Symphony Hall, and CityStage, to become part of the fabric of the community. It is really a first of its kind.” While initial meetings have already begun in Boston, the work of the Gaming Policy Advisory Committee will begin in earnest once all facilities are open.

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Loyalty360, the professional association for customer loyalty, tapped PeoplesBank Senior Vice President of Retail Sheila King-Goodwin to present on the bank’s approach to customer engagement at the 2016 Engagement & Experience Expo in Denver. Her presentation was titled Branch of the Future: It’s Not Just About the Building, It’s Your Brand. King-Goodwin touched on a number of aspects of customer engagement, including service, innovation, and authenticity. “When they come in a branch, we really have to nail that customer experience,” she said. “We create differentiation through authenticity.”

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Kerry Bartini

Kerry Bartini

Berkshire Design Inc. announced that Kerry Bartini, AIA, earned her architectural license in December and is now a registered architect in Massachusetts. Bartini has more than 14 years of experience in the architectural profession, and her expertise encompasses design and project administration for residential and commercial architectural design projects. Bartini has been a member of the Berkshire Design team for over five years. Her recent projects in collaboration with the Berkshire Design team include work on private residences throughout Berkshire County, as well as work on a new community building for Gould Farm in Monterey, the redevelopment of the former DeSisto School property in Stockbridge, and the Residences at Bellefontaine Canyon Ranch Condominiums in Lenox. In December, Bartini was honored as one of only 12 recently licensed architects from across the country who were selected to participate in the 2016 National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) Think Tank. Participants in the think tank are responsible for providing critical feedback to the NCARB regarding its mission, programs, and services. Bartini graduated from Roger Williams University in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in architecture.

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Holyoke Rotary President Venus Robinson announced the selection of Helene Florio as the 2016 recipient of the William G. Dwight Distinguished Service to Holyoke Award. The selection jury, chaired by last year’s recipient, Carl Eger Jr., has chosen Florio to be the latest recipient of this coveted award. The first award was presented in 1940 by the Transcript-Telegram to Joseph Weis. Holyoke Rotary was pleased to take over presentation of the awards when the Dwight family was no longer involved in the newspaper business in the city. A native of Holyoke, Florio attended schools in Torrington and Goshen, Conn., graduating from Wamogo Regional High School in Litchfield, Conn. before coming back to this region. She attended school at the University of Miami followed by Katharine Gibbs School in Boston. Florio most recently was president of the Rotary Club of Holyoke during its centennial year. During this time, she was awarded Rotary’s highest recognition, the Paul Harris Fellowship, which acknowledges individuals who contribute, or who have contributions made in their name, to the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. Paul Harris was the founder of Rotary in 1905, and the foundation was established in 1957. Florio joined the Holyoke Rotary Club in 2002, becoming the first third-generation Rotarian in the Club, and has a community-service classification within Rotary. She currently serves as executive director of the Holyoke Taxpayers Assoc., where she is also president of the board of directors. She is also vice president of the WestMass Elder Care board of directors. She has also served as president of the former Junior League of Holyoke, the Area Mental Health Center, the Holyoke Hospital Aid Assoc., and the former Holyoke YWCA. She has served on the boards of the United Way, the Holyoke chapter of the American Red Cross, Loomis Communities, and Holyoke Junior Achievement Foundation. She has lent her skills to Wistariahurst Museum Assoc. In addition, Florio is a trustee of the Mansir Fund, serving the needs of disabled children in the Greater Holyoke area. In 2009, she was elected as one of the nine local citizen volunteers to serve on the Charter Revision Committee. From CIT experience at Camp Maria Pratt as a Girl Scout to Brownie leader in Holyoke, to Ski Club and PTO, she has worked to serve children in and throughout the area. During Holyoke’s centennial celebration, she was honored as one of Holyoke’s top 100 volunteers. Florio follows in the footsteps of an aunt, Hortense Alderman Cooke, and her father, Wayne Alderman, previous recipients of this award. She will be honored at a celebration on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at the Delaney House in Holyoke. Call Deb Buckley at (413) 534-7355 for information about tickets to the dinner.

Daily News

GREAT BARRINGTON — Berkshire Design Inc. announced that Kerry Bartini, AIA, earned her architectural license in December and is now a registered architect in Massachusetts. Bartini has more than 14 years of experience in the architectural profession, and her expertise encompasses design and project administration for residential and commercial architectural design projects.

Bartini has been a member of the Berkshire Design team for over five years. Her recent projects in collaboration with the Berkshire Design team include work on private residences throughout Berkshire County, as well as work on a new community building for Gould Farm in Monterey, the redevelopment of the former DeSisto School property in Stockbridge, and the Residences at Bellefontaine Canyon Ranch Condominiums in Lenox.

In December, Bartini was honored as one of only 12 recently licensed architects from across the country who were selected to participate in the 2016 National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) Think Tank. Participants in the think tank are responsible for providing critical feedback to the NCARB regarding its mission, programs, and services.

Bartini graduated from Roger Williams University in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in architecture.