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Excellence &

Home Garden February 9, 2011 Week Two 8 Pages


business and economic forecast.

Surfaces with spirit Beer bottles among recycled materials used in countertops Making a home more “green” or environmentallyfriendly has taken on a whole new meaning over the last few years. It’s evolved from changing a few light bulbs and thermostats to choosing energy-efficient appliances, recycled material floors, carpets and even furniture. In fact, there are even home and garden TV episodes dedicated to eco-conscious homeowners who strive to create entire recycled home decors using only renewable materials as alternatives to traditional interior design options. This growing recycled decor craze has led manufacturers to develop some of the most unique and high performing environmentally-friendly home decor alternatives available today. One such product that’s already made a huge impact with eco-conscious home owners and designers

alike is Elements by Durcon, an extremely durable, silky smooth countertop surface made with, among other things, recycled beer bottles. “Designers and architects agree that the product’s unique qualities and highly durable characteristics set it apart from the first generation eco-friendly surfaces currently available,” said Mark Hanna, President of Leeza Distribution Inc., one of North America’s leading distributors of premium countertops such as Elements by Durcon. Molded from a blend of fine quartz, epoxy resin, and recycled glass (clear beer bottles), the material is solid, non-porous, never requires sealing, and is homogenous in consistency. Its unique manufacturing process produces an incredibly silky smooth and durable countertop surface. Please see Surfaces, page 2

Looking for recycled building supplies? The classifides are a great place to look for building supplies. Many contractors find they have a glut of leftover materials from a job and are looking for a way to get rid of it quickly and easily. This can be a great way to save money for the do-it-yourselfer. Also, local construction supply stores, such as Case (see sidebar) offer recycled products. Call around to see what is available and get pricing. Another source that can be used to find salvaged or reclaimed buidling supplies can be found online. The website,, lists

many sources for such products. This “green directory” was established in 1998 and further classifies recycling efforts in building: “Reuse/Salvage/Deconstruction Building Materials: Reusing or salvaging (deconstruction versus demolition) building materials is even more environmentally friendly than recycling materials. Recycling materials involves a further process to make these materials usable whereas reusing and/or salvaging them puts the materials in new hands without an industrial process.”

Making it worth staying put

In a tight economy, homeowners make the most of their surroundings By Ned Campbell In today’s tough economic climate, people are staying in their homes, says Scott McClurg, owner of McClurg Remodeling and Construction in Marcellus. McClurg, who started the company 37 years ago, said early in his career “the average house, people would turn over every three to five years.” But now they’re investing in what they have — often with attention given to kitchens and bathrooms — to make their homes fit their needs. “People are realizing for a reasonable dollar you can really make a big difference in how you use your kitchen … and the same thing with baths,” McClurg said. McClurg has found that the key to renovation in the current economy is

making changes to your home that will stand the test of time. “I think that you can recoup a lot of the money that you put into kitchens and baths even if you do want or need to sell,” he said, adding that McClurg tends to steer its customer not toward trendy renovations, but toward “things that are timetested and proven.” Among those timeless home furnishings are traditional cabinetry like cherries, maples and medium stains as well as solid-surface counter tops and under-mount sinks. “With under-mount sinks, the sink is mounted to the bottom of the granite so there’s no edge to catch dirt and grime, [and it provides a] cleaner look for the counter top,” McClurg said. ‘Greener’ living In addition to helping its customers


Please see Investing, page 2

ith under-mount sinks, the sink is mounted to the bottom of the granite so there’s no edge to catch dirt and grime, [and it provides a] cleaner look for the counter top.” - Scott McClurg, owner of McClurg Remodeling and Construction

Local dealer offers pallette of recycled glass surfaces

It seems everyone is using the buzzword “green” when describing upcoming projects - involving both new contruction and renovations. But what if your “green” update also was pleasing to the eye, as well as the planet? One product that has already been a hit with eco-conscious homeowners for both its beauty Cobalt Skyy and recycling concept is the recycled glass countertop. Done in a mosaicstyle, these surfaces have almost a pointilistic feel to them, with different color schemes and shard sizes lending themselves to a Alehouse Amber With Patina seemingly random, yet pleasing foil to kitchen appliances. One company with products that can be purchased locally is Vetrazzo. With surfaces made of recycled bottles once containing liquids such Hollywood Sage as beer and Skyy images from Vodka, these countertops offer hues to fit every decor. According to, “All of the glass used in Vetrazzo is recycled, and it makes up about 85 percent of the final material by weight.” The website said the largest proportion of glass “comes from curbside recycling proPlease see Vetrazzo, page 2

Welcome in Spring with the 2011 Home & Garden Show The Home Builders & Remodelers of CNY will celebrate spring its annual Home and Garden Show, - one of the largest events of its kind in the Northeast - March 17 to 20. The 2011 Home & Garden Show will highlight hundreds of businesses, services and products to help you improve your home or build a new one. Housed in two buildings at the New York State Fairgrounds with over 800 exhibitors, you’re sure to find great ideas about home-building or improvement projects, with an opportunity to meet local professionals and buy quality products right from the show floor. Home & Garden Show hourse are 5 to 8:30 p.m. March 17, from 2 to 8:30 p.m. March 18, from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. March 19 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 20. Tickets are $8 per person, seniors are $7 and children under 16 are free. For additional information, visit


Excellence Home & Garden February 9, 2011



From the expert

from page 1

grams. Other glass comes from post industrial usage, windows, dinnerware, stemware, automotive windshields, stained glass, laboratory glass, reclaimed glass from building demolition, and other unusual sources such as decommissioned traffic lights.� Among the products offered are (pictured on page 1): Cobalt Skyy This surface features the cobalt blue glass for which Skyy Vodka bottles are known. Skyy is the registered trademark of SKYY Spirits, LLC. Alehouse Amber This hue is named for the beer bottles that are its inspiration. Hollywood Sage According to vetrazzo. com, this product was “named for the celebrity couple that was its inspiration – Ed Begley, Jr. and Rachelle Carson, [and] is made in a tinted matrix, the ‘Georgia Green’ bottles [that] are used for a popular soft drink, for several different brands of wine and for various types of sparking water.� So why did Vetrazzo name the color in honor of the couple?

Four expensive mistakes in buying your first home

A countertop featuring Vetrazzo’s Cobalt Skyy With Patina. It was featured on the their show, “Living with Ed,� which delved into sustainable living. The show ran on the Home & Garden channel, and Begley is known for his desire to help preserve the environ-


Local supplier

Case Supply, located at 601 W. Fayette St. in Syracuse, is one dealer that carries Vetrazzo. For more information visit vetrazzo. com or call 425-1818.


from page 1

It’s this distinct “hot silk� finish that makes these countertops so unique according to Hanna. “You just can’t help to touch and feel these countertops, they’re remarkably smooth.� Designers are also impressed with Elements’ versatility. “Who knew beer bottle countertops could be so stylish and sleek,� said Nancy Soccio, designer of Dolce Design. “They come in the latest pure solid colours or you can have them with trendy metallic flecks. They work beautifully in home designs from rustic to contemporary, with intriguing

applications in virtually every room of the house.� Unlike other eco-friendly countertop options, Soccio said Elements is an incredibly safe and durable countertop surface ideal for kitchens as it is certified by NSF, is a very low VOC emitting material and boasts the highest heat resistance rating of any countertop surface available. More information on eco-friendly countertops is available at and

Excellence A

business and economic forecast.

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Those purchasing a home for the first food, savings, medical care, transportation, time are most likely going to make a couple and other basic needs, is not factored in to of mistakes during the process. That isn’t the equation. to say anything derogatory It is also wise to allow for Jim about first-time homebuyers. some flexibility when deterWhen one pauses to consider Honsinger mining what you can allot to all the elements involved with a house payment per month. Real estate Many optimistic and excited purchasing a first home, such today as credit checks, picking a first-time buyers will borrow mortgage, and budgeting for the very maximum amount any home improvements, it’s that they feel they can payeasy to see a lot of room for mistakes. back, while never stopping to consider a loss These mistakes can be drastically reduced of income or future unexpected expense. if the first-time homebuyer, or any homeFailing to get pre-qualified early buyer for that matter, ill do a little research Too many homebuyers start looking at beforehand and develop a short-term and homes before they consult a lender, which is long-term erspective on purchasing a home. the wrong strategy. A buyer can save himself A reputable, qualified, and experienced a lot of frustration and disappointment by lender can also help prevent many of the taking advantage of the pre-qualification common first-time homebuyer mistakes. process. Some buyers will need to save adFor an idea of what to pay special attenditional funds, increase income, or repair tion to, here are four of the biggest financredit before they can purchase a home. Getcial mistakes that first-time homebuyers ting pre-qualified early on can afford you the frequently make: time to make some of these changes. During Spending their maximum the buyer consultation, the buyer can also get Right off the bat, a first-time homebuyer help creating long-term financial goals and can get into a lot of trouble if they don’t property buying strategies. decide how much money they can spend per Misunderstanding the importance of a month on their housing. It is vital to make a high credit score budget and know what your financial limits The importance of a high credit score is are. Whatever the number range, it should common knowledge, but many are unaware be decided before the buyer ever meets with of just how costly having a low score is. A a lender or real estate agent. mortgage lender uses a tier of interest rates A buyer with a clear sense of what their and terms; where the buyer ends up on the maximum limit is beforehand can avoid the tier is based on their credit score. The best temptation of buying a home that they can’t rate is congruent with a 720 and above credit afford in reality. Many first-time homebuyers score, 720 to 680 is usually congruent with assume that whatever the lender is willing a good mortgage rate, and under 620 will to loan is what their maximum limit should not likely qualify for a loan. In terms of a be. However, lenders qualify a buyer based mortgage loan, there’s literally thousands of on their income and income-to-debt ratio. dollars in difference between various credit Please see Buyer, page 6 Other factors, such as how much is spent on


from page 1

make their homes fashionably sustainable, McClurg Remodeling and Construction encourages environmentally sustainable remodeling as well. McClurg said he is a big proponent of donating discarded cabinets, countertops, faucets, mirrors, windows and doors still in usable condition to the Syracuse Habitat for Humanity — a service McClurg Remodeling has offered for the past three years. “There was a time ‌ not that long ago when all of that stuff would go into a dump-

ster,� he said. Channeling the sun McClurg has gone “green� in another way — by offering solar-powered water heating to its customers. An official distributor and installer of Velux solar water heating, McClurg Remodeling has installed six systems on homes throughout the Syracuse area. “Syracuse, believe it or not, does have enough solar heating days that it really is an efficient system,� McClurg said.

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Excellence Home & Garden February 9, 2011


From the expert

Dreaming of a greener landscape? Think ahead when it comes to gardening; help is available By Caitlin Donnelly Although snow still blankets the ground in Central New York, it is not too early to start thinking about your garden, especially first-time gardeners. Will there be enough sunlight? What types of plants will you grow? Will there be enough space? Relax, it’s still February.

A plant for the Age of Aquarius Patchouli yields white flowers, fragrant scent

They were even hipper than the hipsters, a term originally used to describe beatniks who had moved into New York City’s Greenwich Village and San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district. The hippies, as they were soon known, are best remembered for tie-dyed shirts, countercultural values, “back to the land” communities, psychedelic rock music, marijuana and LSD.  And by embracing Eastern philosophy and eastern customs they also had a distinctive air about them, an air of perhaps the popular Indian perfume Patchouli (Pogostemon heyneanus.) Native to the warm climate of Southeast Asia it is typically grown as a houseplant. This fragrant herb gives off a very heavy aroma that is spicy, musty and sweet. The scent actually improves with age. It was once used to treat headaches, colds, nausea, infections and digestive problems. Placing a few dried patchouli leaves in layers of clothes will help to repel moths. The leaves can also be placed in pantries and cupboards to deter food moths from infesting cereals and flours. You can sometimes find patchouli at nurseries or garden centers or from specialty growers such as Almost Eden Plants (online at or Logee’s Greenhouse ( Patchouli plants will bloom in the fall with tiny, white flowers that give off the tell tale aroma of patchouli. Place your patchouli plant where it will get indirect sunlight for most of the day. Use a rich potting soil with good drainage. They do best with a soil pH level between 5.5 and 6.2. Always keep the soil moist, but not soggy.   Don’t let the soil dry out between watering.  It’s a good idea to check the soil every day. Just poke your finger into the soil up to your first knuckle, and water if the soil feels dry.  During the winter when growth is slower you can reduce watering to about once every three or four days. Because most homes have low humidity you can mist the foliage every day. Once a month fertilize your plant with a diluted liquid house plant food.  You can easily propagate patchouli is by taking cuttings and rooting them in moist sand. Because patchouli is a fast grower, you can prune it back to keep it bushy. Patchouli plants can become infected with leaf blight. If you notice any leaves with many dark spots covering them, immediately pick off the infected leaves and destroy them.  To harvest your patchouli simply cut off several leaves and place them in a loosely closed paper bag to dry.  The scent will fade after a few days only to return even stronger and more powerful after drying for several weeks.  You can use the leaves as insect repellents or to perfume your clothes or even distilled into an essential oil.  Grow patchouli in your house and you just may enter the Age of Aquarius, and the only pot you will need is the pot that you grow patchouli in.

The outdoor garden The ideal time to start physically planning your garden is when the snow melts and you can see the thawing ground, said longtime farmer Allen Freitag, owner of Freitag’s Farm, Market and Greenhouses in Skaneateles. For first-time gardeners, the first step is to figure out where you would like the garden to be located in your yard, taking into consideration the availability of sunlight. The next step is to dig up the area of your new garden, mixing in compost if you plan on going organic. Mark off the boundaries to keep the garden contained using rocks, rope or fencing. Fencing is preferable, to keep rabbits and other animals from getting to your plants, he explained. Finally, research the plants you have chosen for your garden, know how to care for them and get them in the ground. While many plants can be started from seedlings, some plants, such as tomatoes and peppers grow better when started from a small plant. “Remember one thing: All plants are guaranteed to grow until you kill it,” Freitag said with a laugh. Try not to over water or over fertilize your plants, as they will not grow faster if you do so. Crammed for space: Upside-down tomato plants For those tight on outdoor gardening space, growing an upside-down tomato plant may be an alternative. While upside-down tomato plants are being marketed as maintenance free and easy, they are really a matter of preference, said Freitag. “They are good for those lacking space for a garden, but you still need to water and take care of them” he said. If you have someplace to hang it in the sunlight, then it’s a great way to still get your tomato fix. Even growing the plant upright in a hanging basket could be a space-saver, he said. There is no right or wrong way to grow them, from buying a high-tech hanging device to making the pot out of an old paint bucket.

“As long as the plant is exposed to the outside of the pot and watered regularly, it will grow toward the sunlight, no matter how you plant it,” Freitag said. The indoor herb garden, a matter of preference Indoor herb gardens are also a possibility for a gardener lacking outdoor space, or one hoping to use the herbs during the winter months. Freitag said herbs flourish best indoors under a grow light, or in a window with southern exposure sunlight. While indoor herb “gardens” are easily accessible during the winter months, they may not be all that beneficial to an avid cook, because of the small yield quantity. Once the plant has been fully harvested, it takes some time for the plant to grow again, especially when it is not exposed to the sunlight and moisture like an outdoor plant. One way to solve the problem is to grow the herbs in pots, one indoors and one outdoors, and rotate them as you harvest their yield, suggested Freitag. The LibraryFarm in Cicero For new gardeners hoping to learn more about gardening before they plan their first crop, or avid gardeners hoping to brush up on their skills, stop by NOPL at Cicero, 8686 Knowledge Lane, to learn more about the LibraryFarm and its monthly gardening workshops. The LibraryFarm, an organic community vegetable garden located across the street from the library, provides community members with an opportunity to learn gardening techniques, test them out in “rented” garden plots, and make new gardening friends. Workshops are Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. at NOPL at Cicero, 8686 Knowledge Lane and include the following: Feb. 19 – Starting seeds indoors March 19 – Planting seeds and seedlings outdoors April 9 – Watering and fertilizing May 14 – Pests and other problems All workshops are taught by gardening experts from local gardening clubs and organizations looking to share their knowledge and love of gardening. For more information on how to sign up, call Meg Backus, NOPL adult programming librarian, at 699-2534

The seven easiest vegetables to grow at home Rising costs at the supermarket and worries about unhealthy pesticides or preservatives on foods has led many people to start a vegetable garden at home. Growing vegetables is easier than one would think. Plus, you don’t need an expansive plot of land to grow a garden. Many popular varieties can be grown right in containers or in compact spaces. Perhaps you’re wondering what vegetables are the easiest to grow if this is your first attempt at a food-based garden. There are several to try. 1. Tomatoes: While commonly considered vegetables, tomatoes are actually fruits. But tomatoes can be an integral part of a vegetable garden. Tomatoes are high in lycopene and other antioxidants. There are also myriad varieties to tempt your palate. Tomatoes can be planted after the soil has thawed and there is no other chance for frost. They’ll require plenty of sunlight. Fruit will be available to harvest toward the latter part of the summer. 2. Zucchini: Zucchini are an Italian squash variety that appear similar to a cucumber. They can

be green or yellow in coloring. This vegetable is full of potassium, folate and manganese, making it a great addition to your menu. Zucchini take about a month to mature and be ready to harvest. They grow on vines and produce large flowers before bearing fruit. 3. Beets: Root vegetables like beets and radishes work well in the garden as well. The bright purple color of beets indicates they are full of many essential vitamins and minerals. Toss beets in salads or use them in the traditional soup, borscht. 4. Carrots: Another subterranean-growing veggie, carrots require moist soil as they germinate, but as the plants mature need less water. Carrots can be enjoyed in a number of ways and are a staple of cooking year-round. 5. Peas: Peas grow inside the pods of legumes. These plants like moist soil that drains well. Water frequently but make sure the soil doesn’t become flooded if you want peas to flourish. 6. Peppers: Peppers come

in so many varieties it’s easy to find ones that appeal to your taste in cooking. Generally peppers thrive in soil high in magnesium. Using compost and Epsom salt in the soil can help achieve the environment peppers desire. 7. Lettuce: Lettuce is another staple and the basis for many salad dishes. Lettuce also tops sandwiches and can be filled and wrapped for other recipe ideas. Seeds should be planted between 8 and 16 inches apart. Water in the morning instead of at night to prevent disease from developing.



Excellence Home & Garden February 9, 2011


Profiles of Excellence

What can the homeowner do to fight the inflation? Hills has been in business since 1972 and has seen recessions come and go before. The bad news: “We had predicted increased fuel cost in November and we expect them to continue upward at least till spring,� Terry Hill, owner of Hill’s Heating and Air Conditioning, said. Some in the media are predicting $4 per gallon gasoline by Memorial day. We are seeing commodity price increases as much as 20 percent in steel and copper and expect to see more increases through out 2011.� The good news: “A rise in inflation is a normal indicator that our economy is coming out of

Hill’s Heating and Air Conditioning Inc. Auburn: 2121 West Genesee Street • 253-6869 Baldwinsville: 7852 West River Road • 638-2945

recession,â€? Hill said. “We look forward to a better economy in 2011with business returning to more normal levels and employment increasing.â€? What can the homeowner do to fight the inflation? Hills offers: • Natural and LP gas furnaces and boilers that run at 95 percent efficiency. • Napoleon Pellet stoves, wood stoves and fireplace inserts that can supplement the majority of your heating bill. • Napoleon gas stoves, fireplaces and fireplace inserts

that heat the area of the home you spend most of your time in allowing the main heating thermostat to be set lower than normal. Some customers have said this scenario has reduced their heat bills by as much as 30 percent. Hill’s installs everything they sell, and offers 24-hour service. In addition to Rheem and Trane, they also offer Amana, Napoleon, Thermo Pride and Kozy Heating brand products. Hill’s approved products come with at least

a five-year parts and labor warranty. Hill’s Heating also sells and installs microprocessor energy management control systems. They offer residential, commercial and industrial equipment and service. Service contracts are available, stabilizing customers’ parts and labor costs when maintenance time comes around. Hill’s has a fleet of six fully-stocked trucks. When asked how his company was different from other companies in the field, Hill said customer service. “We have over 15,000 customers in our database and we take care of them all,� Hill said. “Our database software enables us to look at their history,

24-hour service

Fully-stocked service trucks mean quicker repairs.

from day one to the present. It’s a big advantage – we’ve been able to help with extended warranty issues because we have the data.� Hill’s was featured in an online article, “How to Run a Data-Driven Business,� by Gene Marks, that appeared on on April 23. In the

article Marks writes, “Terry Hill, owner of Hill’s Heating and Air Conditioning in Baldwinsville, NY, thrives on data and he uses the CRM (Customer Relationships Management) Program that I sell. Data is powerful and it’s essential to good customer service.�

Seneca Federal: Navigating economic changes, same solid community foundation Katrina Russo, President – CEO of Seneca Federal Savings and Loan Association is very passionate about her community bank and its solid decision making. 2010 marked Seneca Federal Savings and Loan Association’s 83th year of providing financial services to communities within Central New York. “This milestone is rare in today’s financial industry and

we’re proud of it. Given the competitive environment and state of today’s economy, within which Seneca Federal operates, the association is fortunate to have a dedicated staff of employees who continue to provide exceptional, personal customer service to our members. This dedication has proven to sustain us through many years,� Russo said. Russo continued, “The

national economy has been marked by high unemployment rates, a rising number of foreclosures, declining home prices and contractions in business and consumer credit. The unemployment rate locally was slightly below the national average, which was 9.4 percent in December 2010.� She explained that in 2010, the association continued to have strong asset quality based

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on the association’s conservative underwriting standards and diligent monitoring of delinquent and nonperforming loans. “We have remained committed to our charter of fostering homeownership during 2010 by originating over $12.4 million in residential mortgage loans,� she said. “Our net interest income is above last years’ level and we have maintained liquidity while preparing our balance sheet for the risk of inflation, and expanding our residential mortgage loan business as well as to invest in what management believes will be a future higher rate environment.� The association’s operating expenses are below last year’s level as a result of various factors including the completion of the final phase of the succession plan, developed by the board over four years ago. “The succession plan was a slow, seamless process that was completed in mid 2010.

At left, Seneca Federal Savings President-CEO Katrina M. Russo and Wendy K. Bodnar, EVP-CFO. We were able to navigate our skill sets necessary for the asown internal changes while sociation to carry on for many also navigating all the various more decades under the thrift changes in the economy and charter and to this end we are banking regulations,� Russo very thankful to be given this said. opportunity entrusted to us.� “Many small banks face a Looking ahead to 2011, merger at the time executive management remains comand senior officers retire,� she mitted to maintaining a steady said. “The continued viability course in carrying out the reof Seneca Federal is not only sponsibilities entrusted to them a tribute to the board, but also by the board, as the merger to the retiring officers and between the Office of Thrift employees who provided oth- Supervision and the Office of ers with the knowledge and See Seneca Federal, page 5

Since September 2010...It all adds up!

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2121 West Genesee St, 253-6869






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Excellence Home & Garden February 9, 2011


Profile of Excellence

Merle Builders: Providing CNY with unique, quality homes Since 1962, Merle Builders Inc. has provided Central New Yorkers with unique, high quality homes. In fact, out of the hundreds of homes built, founders Scott and Ron Merle have never built the same home twice. “Hundreds of new home buyers have given us the opportunity to create their oneof-a-kind home,” reads the company’s brochure. “That [one-of-a-kind] policy is reflected in the many distinct homes found in communi-

ties all around Central New York.” Reflecting many different lifestyle choices, the company has built homes in the traditional, transitional and modern style. Featuring beautiful craftsmanship, both Scott and Ron have committed to using the finest materials and employing the area’s finest contractors to build heirloom quality homes. “The way you live is as individual as the person you are,” the brochure said. “We take pride in creating homes that function for people in all

stages of life.” Merle Builder’s Account Manager Sandy McQueen has provided numerous buyers with direct assistance from the earliest phases of the home building process. Working with a team to visualize each person’s unique home, McQueen assists buyers with home plans, the perfect area to construct a home, financing and other options. McQueen “is one of Central New York’s most experienced agents.” Merle Builders has built homes throughout Central

Seneca Federal

from page 4

The Comptroller of the Currency occurs in July of this year. “The extensive regulatory changes brought about by the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the passing of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010 marks yet another transformation in banking activities, which can stretch the resources of small community banks,” points out Russo. Reform will be far reaching into such areas as Federal consumer protection law compliance, state law compliance, and Homeland Security Regulations. The regulatory burden is always disproportionately heavy for reputable lenders such as Seneca Federal as attempts are made by the federal government to police the dishonest few. Russo is emphatic that the association will continue an ongoing commitment to educate and train its employees regarding new and

changing compliance regulations to better assist both customers and noncustomers. She believes that it’s reassuring for members to know our officers and employees have the capability and initiative to successfully implement programs required by the complex regulatory environment. This ability is just as necessary as financial performance in keeping community banks viable as dictated by the federal examination process. Russo said, “The association remains continued commitment to the financial needs of our members regardless of economic conditions here or nationwide. Whether the need is for home ownership (regardless of income level), home refinancing, auto loans and other consumer loans, business needs, or our community and charitable financial support, Seneca Federal will be here.”

New York including Crane’s Watch, Melia Park, Seneca River Estates and Whisper Ridge. “Discover homes with outstanding architectural design, beautifully handcrafted interiors, and careful workmanship throughout,” reads the company’s brochure. “For any style or size, we’re ready to create your one of a kind home.” Merle Builders has also expanded to rent waterfront commercial property. For

Merle Builders Inc. is located at 2 Canton St. in Baldwinsville. more information, call 6356917. Merle Builders Inc. is lo-

cated at 2 Canton St. in Baldwinsville. For more information, call Sandy at 635-6917.

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Excellence Home & Garden February 9, 2011


From the expert

Understanding trusts: Make your What are they and should you have one? By Ami Setright Longstreet Mackenzie Hughes, LLP A trust is a way for someone who owns assets, known as a “Grantor” or “Settlor,” to transfer those assets to a “trustee” through a document created by the grantor. The people who may benefit from a trust may be almost anyone, including the grantor, the grantor’s family, or organizations, including charities. The benefit may be of income, principal, or a combination of both and may continue during the grantor’s lifetime or beyond. There are essentially two basic types of trusts—revocable, which may be amended or revoked, and irrevocable, which in most cases may not be changed. Revocable Trusts Revocable trusts may be created and used for the benefit of the grantor during his or her lifetime, and may be amended, modified, altered or revoked by the grantor at any time. These trusts do not offer any estate or income tax benefits that cannot be obtained with a properly drafted will, nor are they probate property, however, the trust must be funded in order to avoid probate. It should also be noted that these types of trusts do not protect assets from Medicaid or other creditors.

dream kitchen

Why do people use revocable trusts? Revocable trusts can provide for a smooth transition of the management of property if the grantor becomes incapacitated. Others use revocable trusts to avoid probate or just to maintain privacy after their death. Wills become public documents for all to see after death, but trusts in many cases stay private. Irrevocable Trusts Irrevocable trusts may not be altered, amended or changed after creation in most cases and may be used to reduce estate taxes. In most cases, they are created for the benefit of a spouse or children. In order to avoid estate taxes, the trust cannot be for the benefit of the grantor, except under special circumstances, nor can the grantor be the trustee in most cases. There is a wide range of tax saving irrevocable trusts. Split Interest Charitable Trusts, for example, allow for income and estate tax deductions. Life Insurance Trusts can remove life insurance from the taxable estate. Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts allow assets to pass to the next generation at a reduced tax cost. Qualified Personal Residence Trusts allow up to two residences to pass to the next generation at a reduced tax cost.

What to expect when meeting with a designer By Liz Mattox

Ami Setright Longstreet Testamentary Trusts A testamentary trust is a trust created under a will and does not come into effect until the individual who created it is deceased and his or her will is probated. Testamentary trusts may be created for a variety of purposes, including estate tax planning, providing for a disabled or minor child, and/or in marital planning in a second marriage situation. There are many other types of trusts that may be used to achieve many tax and non-tax goals. Whether a trust is right for you depends on your individual circumstances. Ami Setright Longstreet is an elder law/ trusts and estates attorney and partner at the law firm of Mackenzie Hughes LLP in Syracuse, New York. She can be reached at 315-233-8263.

Most people do not realize what it takes to design a dream kitchen. There is a lot more to it then just taking a bunch of different size boxes (cabinets) and fitting them into a space. A true designer is going to incorporate the layout of a kitchen to optimizing the space and functionality while creating an astatically pleasing room. When you see a kitchen in a magazine with a beautiful cooking center that has a keystone hood, or a bi-level island that is both beautiful and functional, there is a lot of intricate pieces that have to be put together to create that look, so while designing the kitchen the designer is also determining how and what the carpenter will need to pull it all together. It typically takes at least three visits with the designer to complete the design process, and there are a lot of questions the designer will have, the better prepared the client is the sooner you can get to the fun of designing that dream kitchen. Here are a few things the home owner should think Please see Kitchen, page 7

a reality

Profile of Excellence

Visit Hearth, Cabinets and More’s showroom for ideas for your home When you visit the newly remodeled Hearth, Cabinets and More showroom, located at 4483 Buckley Road West, Liverpool, it is much like taking a tour of fabulously decorated homes in the area, with a vast array of beautiful gas and wood fireplaces, stoves and inserts and cabinetry displays, along with many accessories for your home. According to hearthcabinetsandmore. com, brands available include:


This company “provides a custom look, with the widest selection of styles, finishes, storage solutions and decorative enhancements in built-to-order cabinetry all without the custom price or lengthy custom lead times.”

Omega Cabinetry

“With Dynasty and Omega you can have it all. Fashionable selections for the outside, intelligent storage solutions for the inside; all within exceptionally-built, all-wood cabinetry that lasts a lifetime.”

Quality Cabinets

Considered “one of America’s largest and most reliable cabinet manufacturers, a status that can only be achieved and maintained by 30-plus years of providing value at a fair price and backing it up with service, consistent quality and on-time delivery.”

Shiloh Kitchen Cabinets

Built by W.W. Wood Products Inc, a family-owned company since its beginning in 1977, Shiloh has “enjoyed steady, robust growth because of our commitment to provide quality products made from quality materials and by hard-working employees.” For more information on Hearth, Cabinets and More, visit the showroom at 4483 Buckley Rd W, Liverpool; call 641-1197 or visit

Eric Mower & As


scores. The homebuyer should also keep in mind that a second credit check is often done prior to settlement, and taking on new debt between the first and second credit check can make an impact. Picking the wrong mortgage product A 30-year-fixed mortgage is the most often chosen mortgage with first-time homebuyers, mainly due to the purported dangers of other common loans. However, the fixed mortgage isn’t right for every homebuyer. For example, a buyer that knows he will be relocating for his job within five years might find a 5/1 ARM a more beneficial mortgage to avoid paying premiums for a product that he won’t need. A homebuyer that is seeking to build equity might find a 15 or 10-year mortgage more appealing. Research the different types of loans and pick one that is accommodating.


L I K E W E D O T H E B E N C H.

L I K E W E D O T H E B E N C H. At Mackenzie Hughes, we bring care and respect to all your legal needs—from business and litigation to estate planning. With a depth of knowledge and experience, our attorneys bring more than their expertise to the table; they bring an ability to effectively counsel in a way you can understand. We pride ourselves on working with you to create solutions—forging a partnership based on mutual respect by speaking with you in plain terms so that with our help you can make better business, personal planning, and legal decisions.

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101 S O U T H S A L I N A S T R E E T

from page 2

Jim Honsinger is a licensed real estate agent for Baker Real Estate, 20 Oswego St., Baldwinsville. To contact Jim call 635-1606 or visit



Excellence Home & Garden February 9, 2011


Profile of Excellence

L. & J.G. Stickley: A company on the move

Legacy of family business’s success credited to loyal employees, customers, dealers and Stickley’s unparalleled quality One couple with great aspirations certainly had their work cut out for them when they decided to purchase a struggling furniture company with a sterling reputation. That company, L. & J.G. Stickley, was known for its beautiful furniture and fine workmanship, but had only 25 employees and $235,000 in annual sales in 1974 when Alfred and Aminy Audi took over its helm. That same company now boasts 1,500 employees, 14 company-owned showrooms throughout the country, 150 dealers nationwide and an international division. In addition, the company is “continuously investing in new designs and technology to keep ahead of the curve,” Aminy Audi, president and chief executive officer of L. & J.G. Stickley said. “We are a company on the move. We also have purchased five other companies over the years – including John Widdicomb, the crown jewel of the furniture industry and most recently Nichols & Stone.” “In the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, the company was successful, but after Mr. Stickley’s death in 1957, his wife Louise inherited the business and it was difficult for her,” said Audi. “Many of the dealers gave up – they’d have to wait two years for their order to come in.” She and her husband, who passed away in 2007, decided on a game plan for making the company a success. “When we first bought Stickley, our first priority was to hire and train the right people, then introduce new product and open new dealers,” Audi said. “Over the years we have also diversified our product offering. In addition to our trademark Mission style, which we reissued in 1989, we now offer contemporary, traditional and casual designs. The upholstery and leather, which we manufacture in our plant in North Carolina, represent the softer side of Stickley. Comfortable and cutting edge,


they are available in over a thousand fabrics and leather. Our large gallery of Oriental rugs, many of which we design and import directly, represent a great value and add beauty to any room,” Audi said. Audi also credits her staff for the topnotch service that is associated with Stickley. “The people who work at Stickley make the difference.” Besides the many craftsmen and other employees, the company employs interior designers who will not only help clients select products in the showroom, but will also make house calls. “They will help customers pick out what is right for them and help them with the layout of their rooms,” Audi said. “They are very talented and have transformed many homes for people.” The company is very much in the family. Audi’s three children, Carolyn Audi Fischi, Andrea Audi and Edward Audi, who is the company’s executive vice president and president of its international division, are all partners in the business. And the fact that it is family-owned works to the benefit of both its employees and customers. “We tend to think long term,” Audi said. “Throughout the years we have attracted the most talented employees and we have the most loyal customer base and dedicated dealers.” Looking ahead The Stickley name has been synonymous with success, and the future looks bright, with expansion and innovation always on the horizon. “This year we bought the old Goldberg’s showroom [located at 206 S. Main St., North Syracuse] and are turning it into a warehouse and clearance center,” Audi said. “In fact, our next clearance event, from March 4 through 6, will be held there.” Other upgrades include the movement of both of Stickley’s north and south Denver, Colo., showrooms to what Audi calls “A-plus locations.” “We’ve also invested in state-of-the-

from page 6

about or do in preparation for the first meeting; The home owner should expect to spend about an hour to an hour and a half on the first visit with the designer. Answering questions, picking out door styles, and educating the home owner on there cabinet options. Basic over all dimensions, including the location of doors and windows. It’s best to have the entire perimeter to the room, not just where the cabinets currently are. An experienced designer may be able to see a better layout for your new kitchen then your current one. Is it an open floor plan that is open to a family room? You want to keep in mind with this type of a layout that the door style, wood species, wood finish and countertop choices you make will affect both areas. While blue may be your favorite color today will it be five years from now? The designer will want to know if this is new construction or a remodel. If it is a remodel, what do you want to accomplish by this remodel: to get a better flow to the kitchen, add more storage, to update the kitchen or all of the above? How extensive do you want to get with the remodel? Are you willing to move plumbing and electrical to get a more efficient flow? What is your budget for this project? And what does that budget include, are you gutting the kitchen to the studs and redoing everything or are you just looking to do the cabinets and counter tops. I tell my clients to bring in pictures from magazines of kitchens they like or items they would like to have in there kitchen, such as roll out shelves, tray base, pull out pantry, ext... I have even had clients bring in a bowl, light fixture or piece of art work they would like to highlight in there kitchen. This helps me to see the clients’ vision for their kitchen.

Photos courtesy of L. & J.G. Stickley

Aminy Audi, president and chief executive officer of L. & J.G. Stickley, is pictured with her son, Edward Audi, the company’s executive vice president and president of its international division. Edward’s recent marriage was the inspiration for a special signature piece - a wedding mirror,pictured at right. art machinery in Manlius and are spending $2.7 million on an ERP [Enterprise Resource Planning] system, thus updating our information technology to make us much more efficient,” she added. Stickley continues to add personal touches to its presence in Central New York, hosting the Onondaga Historical Association’s “Our Glorious Workplaces” event in 2010. The event featured tours of the Manlius factory as well as the original Stickley factory, now home to the Fayetteville Library and Stickley Museum. The showroom in Fayetteville has also been the setting for Jowonio School’s “Friends, Flowers and All that Jazz” annual celebration. “Also, on a personal level, my son Edward got married this past year, and we

have a signature piece to honor this event, with a wedding mirror offered as our 2011 Limited Edition Collector’s Piece,” Audi said. “We are always looking to improve our lines and our company, and in the future, we will continue to invest in people, product and in infrastructure. If new opportunities present themselves, we will seize them.” “We are grateful to this community,” she added. “Even in this economy, we have had continued growth. This is a credit to our customers, employees and dealers, as well as to the unparalleled quality of Stickley.” Visit the Stickley showroom at 300 Towne Drive in Fayetteville, or call the showroom - 637-7770, the home office - 682-5500 or visit for more information on L. & J.G. Stickley.

Let your kitchen reflect your personality

Hearth Cabinets

• Hundreds of design options • Let our showroom inspire you • Let our experts help make your dream kitchen come true

Visit our showroom at:

4483 Buckley Road, Liverpool, NY 13089 Phone (315) 641-1197 •


By Jennifer Wing



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Stickley, Audi & Co., Towne Center at Fayetteville 315.637.7770 Mon., Wed., Fri., Sat. 10-6; Tues., Thurs. 10-8:30; Sun. 12-5 STICKLEYAUDI.COM


Save on the world’s finest furniture during the final days of our Winter Sale, now through February 14th.

Excellence Home & Garden 2011  

Excellence Home & Garden 2011

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