Page 1

Heart of the home: Nowadays, family and friends gather in the kitchen, and not just for a meal.

Honored: Hill’s Heating and Air Conditioning Inc. wins Angie’s List ‘Super Service Award’.

On Feb. 20 read about the vehicles and automotive services to be found in CNY in Automotive Excellence as well as what area merchants offer in Excellence in Retail Sales & Service.

“For the Central New York region, Hill’s received an A excellent rating, the highest rating you can get.”

“Homeowners planning a kitchen remodel are no doubt considering whether to include a kitchen island in the design.”

To read more see page 7

To read more see page 2.

looking ahead:


Excellence in Home, Garden & Energy February 13, 2013

on the fence? A supplement to Eagle Newspapers

Market news: Are CNY homebuyers

WORDS FROM THE WISE... “Smart growth to me is building in a way that attracts more people to our area, our lifestyle, our neighborhoods, our schools.” - Dan Bargabos (right) founder, president Heritage Homes

“My recommendation to everybody I know: If you have a good job and good credit, don’t walk, run and buy a house,” - Mark Re (left) vice president, general manager CNY Division of RealtyUSA


By Caroline Mahony

ealtors across the nation mourned on Dec. 30. On that date in 2008, the Case-Shiller home price index reported its largest price drop of housing in its history. Mark Re, vice president and general manager of the Central New York Division of RealtyUSA, remembers the time. “When everything crashed and the housing market got hit, in Phoenix, Ariz., there was a seven-year supply of homes.” However, Re said he is experiencing changes in the market unlike anything he’s seen in his 34-year career.

“Right now, Phoenix has less than one month’s supply. Everything starts on the West Coast and goes east.” Spring has come early for Re, who said the market they usually experience during the season is here now, and buyers need to take advantage of that. “My recommendation to everybody I know, if you have a good job and good credit, don’t walk, run and buy a house,” Re said. “It’ll be the best investment you could possibly make right now.” This is because interest rates are lower this winter than they have been in more See CNY, page 7

L & J.G. Stickley committed to CNY; projects continued growth Edward J. Audi appointed president By Jennifer Wing Edward J. Audi was recently appointed president of L & J.G. Stickley Inc. of Manlius, manufacturer and marketer of premium-quality solid wood and upholstered furniture. Audi was formerly executive vice president of the 112-year-old privately-held company and president of its Stickley International division. “This is a very exciting chapter in the history of our company, Aminy I. Audi, chairman and chief executive of the company, said. “Edward’s appointment ensures continuity and builds on the strong foundation which Alfred and I have laid. His deep appreciation for Stickley’s heritage and for our long-term commitment to our dealers and customers, combined with his vision, passion and innovative spirit, will help him take the company to the next level.” She added that Audi has worked in almost every department during his tenure at Stickley, and has become very familiar with every aspect of the business.

“He is very well prepared for this new leadership role and has the support of everyone at Stickley,” she said. Audi said he has been privileged to work side-by-side with the company’s “incredibly dedicated and capable team” over the past 22 years as well as fortunate to have been mentored in the business by his parents. “Together my parents set the tone at Stickley with a tremendous example of dedication, hard work and integrity,” he said. “My mother’s leadership has been inspirational in the five years since my father’s passing, guiding the company through some of the worst economic times we’ve ever seen. It’s a privilege to be able to continue the journey that my parents started when they purchased Stickley in 1974.” A graduate of Colgate University, Audi also attended North Carolina State University’s Furniture Manufacturing and Management Program. He joined the family-owned company in 1991, holding a variety of positions in manufacturing, purchasing, engineering, design, customer service, accounting and human resources. In 2007 he became responsible for the Manlius manufacturing facilSee Stickley, page 2

Edward J. Audi



Feb. 13, 2013

The kitchen: Heart of the home Are you island bound? Pros and cons of a kitchen island

Homeowners planning a kitchen remodel are no doubt considering whether to include a kitchen island in the new design. When the space allows, an island can be a fine way to enhance the look of a kitchen and impart an upscale appeal. Interest in kitchen islands has grown steadily for the past several decades. Introduced in the 1970s, islands became a popular place for guests to congregate and provided extra counter space for meal preparation and entertaining. The suburban migration led to bigger homes with larger kitchens. Through the 1980s and 1990s, homes grew even larger, and islands became a popular feature of kitchens across the country. The increase in food-based programming on television has also contributed to the popularity of kitchen islands. As more people dabble with preparing their own gourmet meals, kitchen islands have become more convenient. Although there are many benefits to an island in the kitchen, there are also some disadvantages to kitchen islands. Weighing all the options can help homeowners design a kitchen layout that is functional, affordable and practical for the space they have.


Arguably the most significant advantage to having a kitchen island is the added space it provides. Many times islands are built with cabinetry that matches the rest of the kitchen design, and those cabinets provide storage space for pots, pans and other kitchen tools. Islands may double the storage space available in the kitchen. Kitchen islands are also advantageous when preparing meals. Kitchen counter space can be easily gobbled up by toaster ovens, rotisserie cookers, microwaves, coffee makers, and various other countertop appliances. These appliances can take up valuable real estate that’s sorely missed when preparing meals. An island can be used solely for cooking and preparation, and some homeowners have incorporated cutting boards and a prep sink into the design of the island.

Islands also can be customized according to a homeowner’s needs. Instead of simply having cabinetry beneath the counter, some opt to have a wine cooler or even a bookshelf for keeping cookbooks within reach. An additional small dishwasher or beverage refrigerator may be tucked into the design of the island. For others, the island may be a makeshift kitchen office space.


Expense is a leading negative factor with regard to a kitchen island. The additional material necessary and the labor involved in installation may bust some homeowners’ budgets. Stationary islands can cost several thousand dollars to install, and this is money a homeowner may be better off investing elsewhere. Refrigerator In smaller kitchens, an island may be impractical because of the space limitation. Islands are typically at the heart of the kitchen and may interfere with walking space or cause clearance issues when the refrigerator door or cabinet doors are open. For homeowners who find space is at a premium in the kitchen, an island may not be the best idea. However, a rolling island that can be moved into position when needed, then stored in a convenient, out-of-the-way location might Sink

Work triangle

Homeowners should question whether a kitchen island is a practicality for their renovation projects.

See island, page 4

What is a kitchen work triangle?

The kitchen is arguably the most-used room in the house during waking hours. Having a kitchen that is laid out in an efficient manner can improve productivity and make for a more enjoyable experience. Designers often stress having an effective work triangle (see diagram below) in the kitchen. The phrase “kitchen work triangle” started with the Building Research Council (formerly the Small Homes Council) at the University of Illinois. The idea came from studies of space usage and the search for efficient kitchen designs. What the triangle essentially means is positioning three key items of the Stove kitchen for efficiency. The stove, sink and refrigerator represent the three main points of the triangle. Having these items spaced accordingly can make work easier. Having them too close together can create a cramped, ineffective room. The placement of the triangle points alone does not make a successful layout. According to the University of Missouri Extension, the triangle space should also be measuredaccordingly. Put four to seven feet between the refrigerator and sink, four to six feet between the sink and stove and four to nine feet between the stove and refrigerator, with the ideal size resulting in a work triangle where the three sides total between 15 and 22 feet.

Stickley ity and became president of Stickley International, a factory in Vietnam. He currently serves on the American Home Furnishings Alliance Board and the New York State Council of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation, and previously served on the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry Foundation Board and the Central New York Community Foundation Board. He and his wife, Laila, reside in Fayetteville.

Forecast: continued growth

“We’re committed to manufacturing and retailing here in Central New York and to growing here,” Audi said. “Despite the economy over the past five years, we were able to maintain two shifts with no layoffs.” He said the community has been a factor in the success of Stickley. “I want to acknowledge the tremendous support we have received from the Central New York community throughout the years,” he said. “It’s a region with fantastic talent, wonderful resources and a place I’m proud to call home.” He said they have recently had four people relocate to Central New York for key positions, and “It’s been nice to see how pleasantly surprised they are by the quality of life and all that the region has to offer.” He also noted that the company continues to re-invest in its Manlius factory with new machinery and new technologies. “We’re working hard to steadily grow the

From page 1 company and are once again hiring.” The company recently opened a showroom in Paramus, N.J., and hopes to open an additional five to six retail locations in Metropolitan New York and New England in the next three years. But Stickley is not only expanding in terms of square footage. “On the product side we continue to push forward in diversifying our offering,” Audi said. “Our new casual [line] called ‘Fingerlakes Collection’ is a hit nationwide. People today are living more casually and this hand distressed collection made from solid wild black cherry has become extremely popular.” The company has also developed a line of college dormitory furniture, the “Campus Collection.” “SUNY ESF’s Centennial Hall Dormitory was the first to feature it nationwide,” Audi said. In addition, Stickley has established a Contract and Hospitality division that focuses on providing custom furnishings to four and five-star hotel properties. “[We] are actively bidding on several large projects with some of the major hotel brands,” Audi said.

Dedication, enthusiasm is key

“We have a nationwide network of extremely dedicated and enthusiastic Stickley dealers, along with 14 of our own showrooms,” Audi said. “They’re the face of Stickley to the buying public and continue to do a

submitted photo

Edward and Aminy Audi working together in Stickley’s design department. fantastic job representing the Stickley brand. We work hard to support them with first rate products, designs and services.” And Stickley encourages their staff to be the best that they can be. “We continue to have a strong focus on wellness, with a full-time occupational health nurse on staff and a company doctor that sees patients on-site weekly.”

Audi said they even pay people to quit smoking, and have regular weight loss programs along with cash prizes. “I’d like to publicly thank all of our Stickley employees for their hard work, ingenuity and dedication,” Audi said. “They are what makes Stickley so special, and I’m proud to be associated with them.”


Feb. 13, 2013


How to handle repairs during a home sale Many questions arise during the home-buying process. Buyers looking at homes that require a good deal of TLC may wonder who is responsible for the home’s repairs. Depending on the situation, there is no clear-cut answer. There is no perfect home, and things that are acceptable to the current owner may not be acceptable to the buyer who is looking to become the next owner. The home-buying process is typically a careful cooperation between buyer and seller to find a middle ground. The buyer may have to make some concessions, as will the seller. Ultimately, it is this cooperation that often determines if the sale goes through or is terminated. Before any negotiations can begin regarding repairs, it is advisable for a buyer to have an independent inspector come out and look over the home and property. Most real estate agents will suggest this be done as a first priority — even before a contract is entered on the home. An inspection will unveil any potential problems in a home and indicate things that the buyer may not be aware of, including items that do not meet with code or could be unsafe. An inspector also may point out problems that could cause a mortgage lender to give pause. This may mean the lender will deem problems unsafe and refuse to fund the mortgage until repairs are made. A copy of this inspection report should be sent to the home seller to review with his or her attorney and real estate agent. The buyer working with his own real estate attorney and agent can petition for certain repairs to be made. Many sellers will make such repairs to ensure the purchase goes through, or they will accept a lower purchase price to compensate for the needed repairs, which the buyer will then make. Buyers might want to hire a good real estate attorney to write clauses into the contract to protect their interests. This allows the buyer to forfeit the sale

and walk away from the contract should an issue arise. The rules often change when buying a home that is a short sale or in foreclosure. A home that is in distress is typically in this situation because the current owners cannot afford to pay their mortgage, and thusly, are not able to afford repairs. According to Think Glink, a money-management Web site, buyers may try to negotiate repairs with the seller, but they shouldn’t assume that sellers (or lenders in the event of a bank-owned home) are responsible for the repairs. Generally speaking, most short sales and foreclosures are sold “as is” and may even specify that repairs and requirements for the certificate of occupancy are the buyer’s responsibility. A buyer also can ask to have the home price reduced to cover the repairs. But foreclosures are often already deeply discounted. Buyers should know that, for a home that is not in foreclosure, there are some repairs that should ultimately be the responsibility of the seller. If these repairs are not made, a buyer should think strongly about walking away from the deal, according to, a real estate marketing site. Such repairs include: ✓ lender-required repairs that could impact home safety ✓ leaky pipes ✓ water penetration issues, including a bad roof ✓ unsafe decking or handrails ✓ wet basements or crawl spaces ✓ insecure foundations or obvious structural damage ✓ poorly functioning sewer lines or septic system It is always adviseable for buyers to speak with a reliable real estate attorney and a trusted real estate agent to guide them through the process of buying a home. These people can help buyers navigate the important decisions that can affect the home they'll be living in for the next several years.

Home buyers may be able to negotiate that sellers repair major structural issues, such as a leaky roof. If not, negotiate a lower sale price.

White’s Farm Supply puts the customer first Art White loves his so-called toys. His tractors, mowers, trailers and more, available at the family-run White’s Farm Supply, make up one of the most diverse selections found at any dealership in the country. “We offer people more flexibility with equipment so that it is easy to have a good purchase the first time,” White said. “As well as excellent service to back it up.” Cumulatively, the White’s Farm Supply staff of 80-plus has well more than 1,000 years of experience. White’s Farm Supply holds awards from many of the companies it represents for top honors in sales and service, but their cutomers coming back is the biggest reward and the most important part of their business. Their repeat customers are the true

story of their success. White noted that Kubota and Case IH are two of the many brands the dealership carries that do particularly well. Some of the other brands carried are Cub Cadet, Ferris, New Holland, Land Pride, Stihl, Kuhn-Knight and all total well over 200 brands for onestop shopping at White’s. Willard and Nettie White founded White’s Farm Supply in 1946 as the Oneida Valley Garage, and the enterprise has been growing strong ever since over more than 65 years of doing business. White said White’s Farm Supply has been experiencing good growth, despite the bad economy of the past few years. The quality of the service and newly enhanced products continues to bring clients back, he said. Willard and Nettie’s sons — Art,

Dale and Doug — now co-own the family-run company based in three locations around Syracuse: Canasota, Lowville and Waterville. “You have to remember your family is number one,” White said of working closely with his two brothers. And at White’s Farm Supply, everyone is treated like family. White’s Farm Supply invests continually in its employees’ training. “The people who work here know what they’re doing,” White said. He described them as great people with great personalities, and noted that they are “really striving to learn more. and to be the best in the industry.” The customers are also treated exceptionally well at White’s Farm Supply. “We strive very, very hard to take care of their needs,” White said.

Submitted photo

White’s Farm Supply offers a wide range of brands allowing for one-stop shopping. White thoroughly enjoys what he does, and called working at White’s Farm Supply “a great experience.”

“I consider it a job,” he said, “but I don’t consider it work.”

8207 State Route 26, Lowville, NY 13367 (315) 376-0300 4154 State Route 31, Canastota, NY 13032 (315) 697-2214 962 State Route 12, Waterville, NY 13480 (315) 841-4181 *$0 down, 0% A.P.R. fi nancing for terms up to 36 months on purchases of select new Kubota equipment from available inventory at participating dealers through 03/31/13. Example: A 36-month monthly installment repayment term at 0% A.P.R. requires 36 payments of $27.78 per $1,000 borrowed. 0% A.P.R. interest is available to customers if no dealer documentation preparation fee is charged. Dealer charge for document preparation fee shall be in accordance with state laws. Only Kubota and select Kubota performance-matched Land Pride equipment is eligible. Inclusion of ineligible equipment may result in a higher blended A.P.R. Not available for Rental, National Accounts or Governmental customers. 0% A.P.R. and low-rate fi nancing may not be available with customer instant rebate (C.I.R.) offers. Financing is available through Kubota Credit Corporation, U.S.A., 3401 Del Amo Blvd., Torrance, CA 90503; subject to credit approval. Some exceptions apply. Offer expires 03/31/13. See us for details on these and other low-rate options or go to for more information. **Kubota’s 2013 Limited Warranty applies. See your local Kubota dealership for details. Optional equipment may be shown.


By Cheryl Seligman



Feb. 13, 2013


From page 2

be a viable option. Depending on the complexity of a kitchen island, its installation may extend the amount of time required to complete the kitchen renovation. This can prolong the length of time needed to complete the work. Running a gas or electric line and plumbing to the island may re-

quire a major overhaul and demolition. Kitchen islands are popular components of home designs. Before homeowners engage in any kitchen renovation that may include the incorporation of an island, they should know the advantages and disadvantages.

Marty’s Barn Cellar to celebrate 40 years in CNY

Owner Mike McLaughlin, daughter Erin and wife Colleen take a break to enjoy the Syracuse University basketball game as they celebrate the start of Marty’s Barn Cellar’s 40th year in business.

McLaughlins continue tradition of excellence


By Jennifer Wing As it enters in its 40th year in business, Marty’s Barn Cellar, the well-known unfinished furniture store in Elbridge, has shown continued growth, according to owner Mike McLaughlin. “We keep expanding,” McLaughlin said. “It has been a great, positive experience, and it is amazing that we’ve been able to take the business and grow with it in a somewhat shaky economy.” In fact, McLaughlin received a note from state Senator John A. DeFrancisco congratulating him on the business.

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“He said he was glad to family. In fact, his wife said Mike hear about us purchasing Marty’s Barn Cellar and coming back to Marty’s Barn helping the local economy,” Center is “like he’s returning to his roots, and he loves it.” McLaughlin said. In 1982, McLaughlin was a As a longtime member of teenager lookthe communiing for work. ty, McLaughIt was winter lin knows what break when Central New he was hired York families are faced with, Route 5 and Kingston by Hemming to move some and knows Road, Elbridge what they want f u r n i t u r e at the store. when it comes 689-9927 Then, a month to home furlater, Hemnishings. “We now offer a large ming found he was in need of inventory of finished furni- another employee, and hired ture,” he said. “And we still McLaughlin, then almost 17 have unfinished furniture years old. McLaughlin would conavailable as well.” It’s obvious that the word tinue to work at Marty’s has gotten out about the Barn Cellar until 2001, when many changes that have he left to take a job at New occurred since McLaughlin Process Gear. It was an opand his wife, Colleen, took portunity he couldn’t pass over the business a few up, he said, but it was still difficult to leave the job he years ago. “ There have been so had held for so many years. Fast forward about eight many changes,” he said. “We are not just an unfinished years to a phone call he furniture store, and we want received from Hemming people to come and see after he took the buyout. It what’s different here – even turned out that two of Hemthe décor of the store is com- ming’s employees needed some personal time off, so pletely different.” he needed someone to mind Looking back Mc L a u g h l i n t o o k a the store for a little while. roundabout route to get From there, the two men started talking and struck a where he is today. When he took a buyout deal, as Hemming was ready from New Process Gear, he to retire. And so, the tradition didn’t really have a plan for where he would go to work, continues at Marty’s Barn Cellar, with the McLaughor what he would do next. Little did he know that he lins at the helm. With a fresh would revisit his past, and perspective on the business, that past would lead him to the couple made cosmetic improvements to bring the his future. Before working at New building up-to-date and Process Gear, McLaughlin make the shopping experiworked for Dennis Hem- ence even more appealing ming at Marty’s Barn Cel- to customers. The store is located at lar for about two decades. The business, started by Route 5 and Kingston Road the Hemmings, was well- in Elbridge. For more inforknown by McLaughlin, and mation call 689-9927 or visit the Hemmings became like

Marty’s Barn Cellar


Feb. 13, 2013


Often imitated, never duplicated Family business marks 125th year of satisfying customers By Jennifer Wing Christine Bauer Armstrong and her husband Mark Armstrong are celebrating one big anniversary this year. Their family business, Bauer Plumbing – Roto-Rooter, is 125 years old.

A legacy of customer service

In 1888, the company was founded by Christine’s greatgrandfather. In the beginning, Christine’s great-grandfather offered plumbing services, steam fitting, pumps, sinks, tinning and tin roofing, in a building that was just a few blocks north of their shop today. The family built this building in 1913, 100 years ago, to house a grocery store. In 1927, Bauer Plumbing moved from S. State Street to its current location at 1911 S. Salina Street, as a plumbing shop, tinsmith and hardware store, operated by Christine’s grandfather. In 1937, Christine’s father, Donald J. Bauer, the company’s licensed master plumber, traveled as boy to Rochester with his father to see this new machine entering the plumbing industry called the Roto-Rooter, with an available franchise serving Onondaga County. Over most recent years, the Company made the decision to brand the Roto-Rooter

our community,” Mark said. “We would like to say ‘Thank you’ to all our customers for allowing us to be the company of choice.”

company name. The name is a familiar one to many people Offering a wide range of across the country who may services More people depend on be relocating to the area. In Roto-Rooter than any othtoday’s world with similar name confusion it’s impor- er company for residential tant for them to have their plumbing and drain cleaning customers identify the right services, and homeowners can trust Roto-Rooter for all company. “We pride ourselves on of their installation, repair and replaceour company’s ment needs inhistory, profescluding: sewsionalism and ers and drains, unmatched Mention this faucets, sinks, customer serarticle at your toilets, showvice to all of ers and tubs, next service call our customers waterlines, serving Ononand receive a pipework, disdaga County,” free anniversary posers, dishMark said. “We gift. washers, water are the oldest heaters and R oto - R o ote r septic tanks. franchise in the In addition, Roto-Rooter nation and have owned the is the company to call for any franchise for over 76 years.” As anyone who has had a commercial plumbing work, plumbing emergency knows, drain cleaning, high-pressure time is of the essence when a water jetting, underground repair is needed. The company leak and line detection, video specializes in commercial and camera pipe inspections, residential Roto-Rooter 24/7 grease trap and liquid waste emergency service plumbing- pumping, backflow protecsewer and drain cleaning tion, automated drain care service. Their history of ex- programs and pipe repair and cellent customer service and replacement. professionalism has allowed The tradition continues Mark and Christine startthem to continue the legacy started long ago by Christine’s ed with Bauer Plumbing – Roto-Rooter, more than 25 great-grandfather. “We have had many great years ago when the company employees over the years was celebrating its Cententaking care of all the needs of nial, 100 years in business.

Special offer

Submitted photo

Christine Bauer Armstrong and her husband Mark Armstrong are celebrating one big anniversary this year. Their family business, Bauer Plumbing – Roto-Rooter, is 125 years old. Now, with their son Brandon Armstrong, who works part time at the business while attending Syracuse University College of Law, and daugh-

ters, Ashleigh Armstrong, employed full time in the office, and their youngest Aryanna Armstrong, helps out part-time when off from

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Seneca Federal: Navigating economic changes, same solid community foundation

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At left, Seneca Federal Savings President-CEO Katrina M. Russo and Wendy K. Bodnar, EVP-CFO. future higher rate environment.” The association’s operating expenses are below last year’s level as a result of various factors including internal cost cutting. “The continued viability of Seneca Federal is not only a tribute to our board, but also to the retired officers and employees who provided us with the knowledge and skill sets necessary for the association to carry on for many more decades under the thrift charter and to this end we are very thankful to be given this opportunity entrusted to us,” she said. “Looking ahead to the remainder of 2013, management remains committed to maintaining a steady course in carrying out the responsibilities entrusted to them by the board. The merger between the Office of Thrift Supervision and the Office of The Comptroller of the Currency See seneca federal, page 6



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Katrina Russo, president – CEO of Seneca Federal Savings and Loan Association is very passionate about her community bank and its solid decision making. 2013 marks Seneca Federal Savings and Loan Association’s 85th 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,” Russo said. “Given the competitive environment and state of the economy over the last couple of years, 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 and rough economic environments,.” Russo said, “The national economy has been marked by a continued high unemployment rate, continued foreclosures, declined home values and continued contractions in business and consumer credit. The local unemployment rate has now experienced a rise as the local effects ‘catch up’ to the national effects .” She explained that in 2012, the association continued to have strong asset quality based 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 2012 by originating over $9 million in local residential mortgage loans as of year-end,” she said. “Our net interest income remained steady 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

school, they serve as a fifth generation strong working the family business. “And away go troubles down the drain.”



Feb. 13, 2013

Customer service sets RK Johnson & Associates Insurance Agency apart Firm specializes in quality auto, home, business and life insurance

New Yorkers when it comes to auto, home, business and life insurance R K Johnson & Associates Insurance Agency serves the insurance needs of individuals, families and businesses in Onondaga, Cayuga, Oswego, By Jennifer Wing Madison and Cortland counties. Their website said the company is commitRK Johnson & Associates Insurance Agency ted to providing “as near perfect protection, Inc. is a firm of proven professionals, caring and as near perfect service, as is humanly possible conscientious people, the kind you can depend and to do so at the lowest possible cost.” on. Committed to maintaining a high standard “What sets us apart is customer service,” of excellence in all that they do, their goal is to always establish a firm relationship of mutual Johnson said. “We are top notch. We decided from day one that trust and service with customer satisfaceach of their clients. RK Johnson & Associates tion is what it is all Agency principal, about.” Insurance Agency Inc. R. Kevin Johnson, has Johnson said they 4921 W Genesee St, Camillus, NY 13031 27 years of insurance also offer highly experience. petitive rates. Born and raised in 468-3062 “We offer high Camillus, Johnson’s quality insurance at professional affiliagreat rates because of the top-rated insurance tions include Camillus Chamber of Commerce and the Independent Insurance Agents carriers we represent,” he said. Those agencies and Brokers of New York (IIABNY). He also include Erie Insurance Company, Security is a member of the National Federation of Mutual Insurance Co., Travelers, Farmers Independent Business (NFIB) and Syracuse Mutual Insurance Group, Metlife Auto & Home, Dryden Mutual, New York Mutual Chamber of Commerce. Currently living in the town of Onondaga Underwriters, Countryway, Hagerty, Infinity, with his wife, Jennifer, and their two children, Foremost Insurance Group, Progressive and Johnson knows the needs of his fellow Central Madison Mutual. “We also offer multi-policy discounts for

submitted photo

RK Johnson & Associates Insurance Agency principal, R. Kevin Johnson, has 27 years of insurance experience. personal lines, auto and home so our clients can save even more while getting top-of-theline insurance,” he said. In addition, the company is always prepared to provide clients with a no-cost, noobligation review.

Visit for tools including a life insurance needs calculator and insurance cost cutter tips as well as links to Kelly Blue Book, the National Safety Council, NADA Guides and the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.

CNY in Bloom comes to SRC Arena Country Cupboards, Farm Tables, Windsors, Upholstered Furniture, Floorcloths, Period Lighting, Pewter, Textiles & Other Handcrafted Necessities For The Early Home Visit Us Wednesday ~ Saturday 11am-5pm 4538 Apulia Road, Jamesville • 492-1977


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CNY In Bloom, a Living, Leisure, Lifestyle show will return Thursday, Feb. 28, through Sunday, March 3, to the SRC Events Center on the Onondaga Community College campus. Brought to the region by the Central New York State Nursery and Landscape Association, and produced by Baringer & Associates, LLC, the event will feature a variety of displays, exhibits, entertainment, demos and speakers. The centerpiece of CNY In Bloom will be large landscaped and retail display gardens along with plant sales and garden product sales and exhibits. The Children’s Garden will offer in-

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5 - 8 p.m.Thursday, Feb. 28 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. Friday, March 1 9 a.m. - 8 p.m. Saturday, March 2 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3 teractive gardens activities with face painting, puppets, crafts, storytelling and magic shows. Surrounding these features will be avenues of exhibitors offering products and services within the living, leisure and lifestyle categories. Artisans will be creating visual works of art, while demonstrations will offer hands on tutorials. Pops of color and the smell of spring will be represented in mini gardens positioned around the exhibit halls. Show activities will include; First Friday Celebration with music by the popular local band Z-Bones and demos by the Skaneateles Artisans, Senior

Seneca Federal


P:(315) 468-3062 F:(315) 468-3522 4921 W. Genesse Street Camillus, NY 13031

CNY in Bloom hours

Day with a reduced ticket price, Family Day with activities and entertainment and free admission for children under 12, an Irish Garden Party featuring the music of Quigsy and The Bird, and a Garden Party Fashion Show. Keynote speakers will present on native plants, growing vegetables and plants, and wellness topics. The demo stage will be active with a variety of hands on tips related to gardening, cooking, wellness and leisure. Parking is free throughout all show days. An onsite Garden Café with linen draped tables for dining is convenient on the main show floor.

From page 5

occurred July of 2011 and we are approaching our second Federal examination under the OCC mindset.” “The extensive regulatory changes brought about by the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 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,” said 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 their 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 committed 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.”


Feb. 13, 2013


Hill’s Heating and Air Conditioning Inc.: Winner of Angie’s List ‘Super Service Award’ Better customer service sets Hill’s apart

Hill’s Heating and Air Conditioning was recently voted a “Super Service Award” winner on Angie’s List. For the Central New York region, Hill’s received an A excellent rating, the highest rating you can get. “This is an unsolicited rating that comes from customer comments,” said owner Terry Hill. “It measures the total effort of the company from the person who answers the phone to the person who explains and sells the product, to the product itself, including warranties — the whole customer experience. Our vendors have to perform — to get our products delivered on time to make deadlines. We must perform – across the board. It is a true team effort.” 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, 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 DataDriven Business,” by Gene Marks, that appeared on in 2010. In the article Marks writes, “Terry Hill, owner of Hill’s Heating and Air Conditioning in Baldwinsville, 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.” Hill’s is also different from most competitors in other ways.

“We’re bigger than most and better equipped,” Hill said. “We’ve served Central New York for over 39 years and our customers know us. We have customers who know their service tech. Some even baked cookies for their tech at Christmas time. We are customer oriented and we have customers in a service region that stretches from Cortland to Pulaski and Utica to Geneva.” Hill’s Heating and Air Conditioning is fully insured and all work is guaranteed. They feature six fullystocked service trucks throughout Central New York. In fact, if you have purchased your system from Hills and require an emergency service call chances are 99 percent 24-hour service that they have the repair part on the service truck. Hills features Fully-stocked service trucks mean quicker repairs. service contracts with maintenance In addition to the office on River Road in Baldwinsville, and full service contracts on all brands of heating and air there is a Hill’s store in Auburn. Both locations have fireplace conditioning equipment. showrooms full of Kozy Heat and Napoleon brand fireplaces And parts… Hill’s has made a strong commitment to inven- and hearth inserts. Their Baldwinsville store also includes tory and parts, with more than 11,000 full sheet metal shop to allow custom square feet of warehouse stocked with fabrication of heating, ventilation or Hill’s Heating and Air equipment, parts and accessories. AC systems. Thousands of parts in excess of $600,000 They represent Rheem and Trane Conditioning Inc. in value, all on had to better serve its air conditioning and heating products. Baldwinsville: 7852 West River Road customers. They also offer Amana, Napoleon, 638-2945 Owners Terry and Elli Hill’s comThermo Pride and Kozy Heating brand Auburn: 2121 West Genesee Street mitment to customer service is shared products. Hill’s approved products 253-6869 by Shirley Hammond, who manages the come with at least a five-year parts and 25 employees at Hill’s, some who have labor warranty. worked there for more than 30 years. Whatever your heating or air conHammond said this is important ditioning needs may be, Hill’s can help. because customers see the service end of their work. Hill’s offers Visit the store nearest you or learn more online at hillsheatinextended warranty programs on their products, and financing is Discover the Hill’s difference. available to all customers.


the rates are higher they are going to have less buyers,” he said. “For those two reasons, right now is the best time to buy and the best time to sell. Not as much competition right now and there are more buyers out there looking. I’ve been in real estate for 34 years, and this is the first time I’ve seen it. It’s almost like the perfect storm for both buyers and sellers.” Dan Bargabos, a fourth generation contractor and the founder and president of

Heritage Homes, views the changing Central New York real estate market from a builder’s perspective. “What is most significant is the number of resales that are available. It’s gone down considerably from a year ago,” Bargabos said. “To me, that’s a good indicator that the market’s improving. We’ve definitely seen a pickup in our sales and the quality of our sales, and I think a big reason is that we haven’t been overbuilding. Our inventory of

new homes in CNY has been well kept and checked.” Though living rooms have normally been regarded as areas of family gatherings and fun times, the modern buyer has little demand for them. “The number 1 difference is that we are pretty much seeing an end to living rooms,” said Bargabos. “We are building very few homes with living rooms. We are allocating the space and putting it into larger kitchens, eating areas, and family rooms. Even [in

the case of] a 4,000-squarefoot house, we are building without a living room. It’s just a room that isn’t used.” Bargabos emphasizes that although he is a builder, he builds around what his clients need. Though some people push for building centralized around the city of Syracuse, Bargabos listens to what people want. “If you try to force the market in a certain direction, it is a loser for everybody,” he said. “If you do a really

good job trying to reflect it and let it evolve, then that can be a really good thing for everybody. “Smart growth to me is building in a way that attracts more people to our area, our lifestyle, our neighborhoods, our schools.” So apparently word on the street is that Central New York buyers and sellers are in the perfect positions this winter, with low rates and low amounts of competition.

SAVE HUNDREDS OF $$$ WITH A FURNACE FROM HILLS!! Hill’s is a 2012 Angie’s List Super Service Award Winner!

Call now for details and a free in-home estimate!

since 1972




7852 W. River Rd.

2121 W. Genesee St.



H I L L S H E AT I N G A N D A I R . C O M


than 50 years. “You can get a 15-year mortgage at 2.78 percent and you can a 30-year mortgage at about 3.25 percent,” he said. “A lot of people think, and I would concur, that in the spring, the rates will go up. Will they go up drastically? No. But they’ll probably inch up because they can’t go any lower. For every 1 percent that the rate goes up, the buyer looses about $10,000 to $15,000 of buying power, so they are much better off to buy now and take advantage of that.” When realtors have a six-month supply of homes or more, they are considered to have an oversupply. When they have a five-month supply, they are considered even. However, business is booming for Re and his colleagues, and their inventory is approaching a shortage with only a four months supply of homes left. “It’s not common. We are experiencing our spring market early. We had a huge supply of homes, and people were buying them, and we are actually experiencing not quite a shortage, but close.” Re says that this is true for the whole Central New York real estate market, and the changing tide should definitely propel sellers to take the leap. “If the sellers wait until spring, they’re going to have more competition because there are going to be more homes on the market, and if

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Feb. 13, 2013




Home and Garden Excellence 2013  

Home and Garden Excellence 2013

Home and Garden Excellence 2013  

Home and Garden Excellence 2013