Page 1

Getting Bigger: The growth of Marquardt Switches in Madison County. Page 3.

Nonprofit Corner: Tug Hill Land Trust.

Page 8.







Vol. XIV • No. 3







May 23, 2014 • $2.00


Preferred Mutual is continuing its growth tradition after 118 years

Utica Boilermaker race popularity sets new record


NEW BERLIN — In a research report issued in December 2013, Conning Inc., an investment-management firm for the global insurance industry, identified “18 standout companies which led their peers in both growth and profitability.” The report analyzed the performance of 241 insurance companies’ personallines products over the past five-year and 10-year periods. Preferred Mutual Insurance Co., headquartered in New Berlin, was cited as one of


Top: A tidal wave of participants run in last year’s Boilermaker. Right: A leading participant crosses the finish line last year. BY NORMAN POLTENSON JOURNAL STAFF

UTICA — In the event you plan to stand at the intersection of Culver Avenue and Broad Street in Utica at 8 a.m. on Sunday, July 13, be sure that your life- and disability-insurance premiums are paid. At the stroke of 8 a.m., 14,000 runners start the country’s “most competitive” 15K race (according to Analytical Distance Runner magazine) — the 37th running of the Utica Boilermaker Road Race. It’s the highlight of a three-day weekend

that attracts more than 20,000 contestants and a total of 64,000 people, a number larger than the city’s official census. A strong indicator of the race’s popularity is the necessity to cap the number of registrants and how quickly the registration is completed. In 2013, registration for the flagship 15K event (9.3 miles) and 5K races closed in 4 days; this year, they closed in under 3 hours. “Simply incredible,” declares Tim Reed president of the Boilermaker Co., a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit corporation. “It’s quite a contrast to the first

the leaders, which grew collectively at a compounded rate of 6.2 percent compared to an industry average of just 2 percent. The concept of mutual insurance in America dates back to 1752 when Ben Franklin brought independent, fire-fighting companies together to form the first successful fire-insurance company in the colonies. The concept was designed to offer the public lower-cost insurance than could be obtained from a stock company, which needed to show a profit and satisfy third-party See TRADITION, page 4

Boilermaker launched in 1978 on the 50th anniversary of the Utica Radiator Co. (now ECR International). My brother, Earle, requested a budget from the company of $750 to create an event that would thank the community for its support over the previous half-century. The idea was to promote the community’s health and welfare. “The first race, which attracted just over 800 runners, has today expanded to a variety of contests. In addition

Christopher Taft, the president and CEO of Preferred Mutual Insurance Co.











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TMVBJ BRIEFS News of note for and about Mohawk Valley businesses

Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties unveils new logo UTICA — The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties, Inc. has adopted a new look. The new logo features a blue “F� adjacent to an olive green background, with the words “invest yourself� in red. Underneath that, it says “THE FOUNDATION�. “Great brands help us define a little of who we are and our place in the community’s collective imagination,� Community Foundation President and CEO Peggy O’Shea said in a news release. “Our new brand comes at a critical transition for The Foundation. From the purchase of a new building to pointed investing in our four priority areas, The Foundation has evolved.� As a social-impact investor focused on the priority needs in its community — economic development, education, health, arts, and culture — the foundation said it understands its continued success requires true partnerships and long-term commitments. “Our new look, feel and voice reflects this commitment to social impact and partnership,� the release stated. Since 1952, the Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties says it has invested millions of dollars into Oneida and Herkimer counties. It partners with various nonprofits in order to make “impactful� investments in core areas of need, including economic development, education, arts and culture, and health.

AmeriCU announces details of Salute to the Troops concert at Fort Drum FORT DRUM — AmeriCU Credit Union recently announced details about the upcoming Salute to the Troops tribute concert on June 25 at Fort Drum. The 6 p.m. concert is part of the U.S. Army Morale, Welfare & Recreation Division’s MountainFest at Fort Drum, AmeriCU said in a news release. The lineup at the Salute to the Troops concert will feature national recording artists Chris Cagle and Gloriana, along with Scars N’ Stripes, the People’s Choice winner at the 2013 Syracuse Area Music Awards. The credit union expects more than 25,000 people to attend the concert, which is free and open to the public with fireworks to follow. AmeriCU, based in Rome, describes itself as a “nonprofit financial cooperative� serving eight counties in Central and Northern New York. AmeriCU is the third largest credit union in the 16-county Central New York area, ranked by assets ($1.25 billion in 2013), according to CNYBJ Research.

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May 23, 2014

Nimey’s The New Generation formally opens its new Utica location BY JOURNAL STAFF

UTICA — Rich Nimey’s Sales & Service officially opened its new facility at 2104 Dwyer Ave. in Utica on May 16. The Greater Utica Chamber of Commerce was on hand for the grand-opening ceremony. The new facility is two blocks from the company’s previous location, where it had operated since 1964, according to a news release from the Greater Utica Chamber. The new complex, which is called “Nimey’s The New Generation,� includes Rich Nimey’s Sales & Service, Upstate Car

Rental, and Sprague’s Collision Center, the chamber said. The new complex includes an independent dealership with a body shop, repair facility, and a sales department for pre-owned cars, Matt Nimey, owner of Rich Nimey’s Sales & Service, said in the news release. “Over 50 years in business has given us the experience to know our customers’ needs and that is why we have decided to take the steps to design and build the most accommodating facility and staff in the area,� said Nimey. Nimey’s The New Generation also held


Nimey’s The New Generation officially opened its new facility at 2104 Dwyer Ave. in Utica on May 16. another grand opening for the public the next day, May 17. It included facility tours, food and refreshments, music, and giveaways. q

BOILERMAKER: 65.5 percent of the participants are between the ages of 20 and 44 Continued from page 1

to the 15K run, the event promoters added the 5K run, a wheelchair race, a 3-mile walk, a kids’ run, youth Olympics, and the invitational mile. The long weekend also includes a national-anthem contest and a twoday expo at Mohawk Valley Community College designed to promote health and wellness to consumers. The expo features exhibitors, live entertainment, interactive sports and fitness activities, race merchandise, and more. Capping the weekend is the post-race party, a massive community celebration which attracts more than 40,000 at the finish line.� The original $750 budget is now more than $1 million. This pays for items such as the 20 official water-and-ice stops, 33,000 bottles of water, 250,000 cups, 30 cases of oranges, 330 “portajohns,� and 38 bands and DJs, just to identify some of the expenses. It also pays for the $57,000 in prize money, the two full-time and five part-time staffers, and security. To house the staff, the National Distance Running Hall of Fame, the retail store, and all the materials used for the annual event, the Boilermaker signed a purchase offer in December 2013 to buy a 20,000-squarefoot building at 805 Court St., a stone’s throw from the finish line. Reed hopes to move in before this year’s race.


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“Last year, we spent $1,038,531 to put on the Boilermaker,â€? says Reed, “but the event has a regional economic impact of more than $8 million (2012 figures). We figure that each runner spends $59 per person and those staying overnight spend $246 per person. Hotels are sold out, even charging the rack rate (list price). The restaurants are full ... The event attracts ‌ [attendance] from 40 countries and from 51 states and territories, including 45 from California, 102 from Florida, 121 from the Carolinas, one from Alaska, and two from Hawaii (2012 figures). Last year, we had more than 300 [runners] from Canada, eight from Ethiopia, nine from Kenya, two from Russia, and single runners from Belarus, Morocco, Eritrea, Great Britain, and Poland.â€? The registration demographics reflect that 65.5 percent of the participants are between the ages of 20 and 44, nearly 40 percent have a college education, and more than 30 percent have taken graduate courses or received a graduate degree. Female runners represent 51 percent of the participants, and male runners make up 49 percent. Attracting elite runners has helped take the Boilermaker to the next level. “The Boilermaker really took off in 1983 when Bill Rodgers not only participated but won the race,â€? notes Reed.

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“He elevated the race by bringing both national exposure and credibility to the event. Since then, we have attracted elite runners from all over the world. But what makes this event so special are the volunteers, the spectators, and the community coming together. “Every year, we ask volunteers to help us with things like our water stations, parking, medical assistance, recycling efforts, and even massage therapists to provide massages for thousands of runners at the post-event party. The response is overwhelming with 5,000 volunteers stepping up to the plate. The 15K race also has tens of thousands of spectators lining the route. It’s wall-to-wall cheering, followed by a party with a live concert, refreshments, food, and an awards ceremony that brings the runners, family, and friends together to enjoy the spirit of the community.� In addition to the more than $8 million regional impact, the Boilermaker is also a major fundraiser for area charities. “Last year, the race donated over $35,000 to support various charities,� asserts Reed. “We also sent $10,000 to the One Fund that supported the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. Finally, the Boilermaker charity ‘bib-program’ raised over $105,000 last year for 10 area charities. This year we have designated 11 charities to participate in the program.�

Reed’s background

Reed is a 1973 graduate of New Hartford High School. He spent the next three years in the U.S. Army infantry, completing airborne and ranger schools, then matriculated at Hamilton College. Upon graduating in 1980, Reed joined Procter & Gamble’s food division, before returning to Utica in 1983 to work in the family business. He became the president of ECR International in 1996 and retired in 2007 to assume the presidency of the Boilermaker Co. Reed, who ran the Boilermaker 27 times before becoming its president, lives with his wife Cindy in New Hartford. The couple has three children. q Contact Poltenson at

The Mohawk Valley Business Journal • 3

May 23, 2014

The growth of Marquardt Switches in Madison County BY NORMAN POLTENSON JOURNAL STAFF

CAZENOVIA — My ’56, stick-shift Chevy had only a few switches and controls: the ignition, radio, cigar lighter, heater fan, windshield wipers, lights, and radio. In my current vehicle, the door handle senses my presence; a push-button activates and deactivates the engine; my dashboard controls resemble a NASA flight panel; switches adjust my sitting position, warm my derriere, direct my navigation system, change my gears, and operate the windows and sun roof; and my steering wheel abounds with controls to adjust the sound system and monitor the cruise control. While switch and sensor assemblies are ubiquitous in today’s cars and trucks, most people don’t realize that many are designed and produced by Marquardt Switches, Inc. in the Madison County town of Nelson, just outside the Cazenovia town line. The company, which was incorporated in 1981, serves as the North American headquarters of Marquardt GmbH, the parent firm founded in 1925. World headquarters are located in Rietheim–Weilheim, Germany. The company, which believes in manufacturing where the customers are located, has a total of 12 plants in nine countries on four different continents. Marquardt’s international operation manufactures primarily for the automotive, household, and power-tool industries. The parent company, which is

Kirk Wardell, director of operations at Marquardt Switches, stands in the 100,000-square-foot plant located near Cazenovia.


owned by two unrelated families named Marquardt, employs nearly 7,000 people and posted revenue at 2013 year-end of $991 million. “The Cazenovia operation designs, manufactures, assembles, and tests electromechanical switches and control systems, of which 98 percent are used in the automotive industry,” says Jochen Becker, the president of Marquardt Switches and the

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vice president of Marquardt Group in North America. (In addition to Cazenovia, plants in Rochester Hills, Mich. and Irapuato, Mexico report to Becker.) “It even designs and builds some of its own sophisticated assembly equipment to produce the components … [Cazenovia] … runs 24/7 with 470 employees in a 100,000-square-foot facility … producing more than 10 million switches and sensors annually for [automo-

tive] customers, which include Mercedes, Fiat/Chrysler, Toyota, GM, and BMW, and for truck customers like Freightliner.” Marquardt Switches owns the building and the 18 acres on which the plant is sited. “We’re a highly [vertically] integrated company,” notes Kirk Wardell, director of operations in Cazenovia, as he escorts this reporter on a tour of the plant. “In addition to multiple assembly lines, we do our own injection-molding, make our own circuit boards, and staff an in-house tool room and maintenance shop. Marquardt also extensively tests its products on-site to be sure the quality meets the customer’s specifications. Cazenovia is a lean-manufacturing facility that doesn’t stock a large inventory, so … [vertical integration] is important not only to guarantee the quality of our products but also to control the production time in order to respond to changing customer needs.” Becker adds: “We’re unique in what we do and how we do it. A lot of companies are turning to outsourcing as the time-to-market gets shorter. We, on the other hand, continue to expand our production capabilities.” Marquardt competes with a number of other manufacturers for the switch, sensor, and control business. “There are a lot of competitors in this industry,” Becker points out. “For example, in Auburn, TRW [Automotive] has a manufacturing plant. (A publicly traded company with 2013 sales of See MARQUARDT, page 6


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TRADITION: Preferred Mutual says it invested $1.5 million over the past two years updating facilities investors as well as the policyholders. In 1896, Frank E. Holmes, who grew up on a farm outside New Berlin, decided to model his own insurance company on Ben Franklin’s original concept. The business was incorporated as the Preferred Mutual Fire Insurance Company of Chenango County and employed three people. The founder of Preferred Mutual introduced two new ideas to Franklin’s model: He insisted on receiving advanced premium payments, and he sold the policies through agents. The first year in business generated assets of $4,559.89, premium income of $11,871.14, and a surplus of $4,539.89. In 1899, the offices of Preferred Mutual burned to the ground along with 11 other buildings. Holmes, ironically, carried no fire insurance on his business property. The company quickly regained its footing and began a long record of growth and profitability. Today, Preferred Mutual Insurance Co., which changed its name in 1957, employs 270 people — with 240 of those residing in Central New York. The company owns its 84,000-squarefoot headquarters, another 18,000-square-foot office in Norwich, and leases space for its office in Latham, near Albany.

Preferred Mutual’s key numbers

According to the 2013 Preferred Mutual annual report, the insurance carrier operates in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, serving 235,000 individual and business customers through 457 independent insurance agents. As of Dec. 31, 2013, company assets totaled $484.84 million, premium income (direct-written) equaled $279 million, and the surplus topped $185 million. The annual payroll is $17.5 million. Revenue totals $295 million, which includes the premiums,

another $11 million from investment income, and $5 million from other sources. “Most people think of us as selling propertyand-casualty insurance such as homeowners, auto, business-owners, and commercial packages,” says Christopher Paul Taft, president and CEO of Preferred Mutual, “which is true. But what the industry really sells is a promise that we will be there for you [in the event of a claim]. It’s all about trust and living up to promises. Our role is to separate ourselves from the competition who all promise the same thing. Our challenge is to convince our business partners (agents) and customers of three things: our stability, our service, and the fact that the products are current and relevant.” To ensure its position in the marketplace, Preferred Mutual decided in the 1990s to withdraw from six of the 10 states in which it sold insurance. “The board [of directors] made a strategic decision to be number one in the marketplaces served,” asserts Taft. “We couldn’t be number one in 10 states, so we stopped selling insurance in Ohio, Connecticut, Florida, the Carolinas, and Rhode Island. When we consolidated [our sales area], premiums shrank by $27 million. At the time, no agent sold more than $1 million in premiums; today, we have more than 70 agents [each] selling in excess of $1 million annually. This was a critical move to position us for continued growth, as evidenced by an overall 7 percent increase in premium dollars last year over 2012. [Of the growth in 2013,] … the commercial lines increased 18 percent, which is helping to move us from a 75/25 ratio of personal to commercial lines toward a 60/40 ratio.”

Preferred Mutual’s people

When asked why Preferred Mutual is consistently successful in growing the company’s

premiums and profitability, the president points to the employees and to the board of directors. “We focus on talent,” asserts Taft, “especially in the last decade. Our employees are our primary resource, and it’s management’s role to develop each one to … [his or her] maximum. Preferred Mutual has a very knowledgeable staff which is encouraged to grow personally and to help their … [fellow] employees grow. On average, the staff earns 50 new, job-related certifications yearly in areas such as underwriting, claims, project-management, and risk management, an effort supported by tuition reimbursement and direct company payment. In addition, we sponsor educational monetary awards and funds for continuing education for employees pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree.” To create the optimum work environment for the staff, Preferred Mutual says it invested $1.5 million over the past two years updating facilities. “We invested this money not only to make the workplace more pleasant, but also to help form an environment that promotes an entrepreneurial spirit,” declares Taft. “We believe strongly in empowering the employees to collaborate with agency partners to help the customers identify the right solutions to meet their needs. You can’t become the most highly regarded insurance company without an exceptional [corporate] culture that fosters a team relationship to deliver superior insurance products and customer service that is unsurpassed … The key words to our continual growth are ‘innovative,’ ‘ethical,’ ‘responsive,’ ‘passionate,’ and ‘collaborative.’ ” In describing the Preferred Mutual culture, Taft notes the importance of transparency in operations. “If you truly want your employees to be empowered, it’s not enough just to say

the words,” he says. “How can they make decisions unless they understand the impact on the company’s bottom line? If you want to hire the best [people] and encourage them to take responsibility, they can’t be accountable without understanding the company P&L (profit-and-loss statement). That’s why we created ‘The Connection,’ which updates every employee monthly on our performance. The staff also gathers quarterly to hear from senior management on our progress. That’s how we hold ourselves accountable. At yearend, our policy is to distribute 6 percent of the bottom line to reward the employees for their contribution. After all, they should share in the financial success.” Taft next shifts his praise to the board of directors. “We have a brilliant group of leaders on the board who help to give us a competitive advantage,” opines the president. “Their role is vision and governance: They have to be two steps ahead and looking around the corner [to see what’s coming], identifying strategic investments [at least] three years out. Everybody on our board has run a company, and each takes a personal interest in his or her role at Preferred Mutual. The board has a keen level of awareness [of how the company runs], and the members meet quarterly to measure how well we are executing.”


Preferred Mutual’s efforts to differentiate itself on its service and be current rest in large part on the firm’s investment in technology. “Technology drives revenue,” asserts Taft. “We started using computers decades ago, largely for electronic storage. Then we discovered efficiencies in data sharing, and by See preferred mutual, page 6

The Mohawk Valley Business Journal • 5

May 23, 2014

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE: NEW HIRES AND PROMOTIONS elor’s degree in psychology from SUNY did additional residency training in emerBANKING Fredonia and was ordained as permanent gency medicine at UCLA Medical Center in NBT Bank Mohawk Valley recently promoted Christopher Siriano to branch manager of the bank’s Rome Westgate Office. He has 15 years retailbanking experience. Siriano joined NBT Siriano Bank in 2005 as a teller in the bank’s New Hartford office and during his career at NBT Bank, he has been promoted numerous times to such positions as teller supervisor, customer-service representative, and most recently assistant branch manager of NBT Bank’s Rome–Westgate Office. Before joining NBT Bank, Siriano was a teller at Adirondack Bank in Utica and at HSBC Bank in New Hartford.

FINANCIAL SERVICES M. Griffith Investment Services announced that Zachary Maxwell has joined the firm. He is a financial consultant with the Ludwig Team at M. Griffith. Maxwell joined the firm after graduating from Queens College. He utilizes his financial education background to bring a new age investment perspective to the Ludwig Team and their clients.

HEALTH CARE Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare’s (FSLH) Adirondack Community Physicians (ACP) announced that Shannon Pelletier has joined the ACP Barneveld Medical Office as a family nurse practitioner. Her previous position with FSLH was as a family nurse practitioner in the Pelletier emergency department and in the ACP Waterville medical office. Prior to joining ACP, Pelletier held positions as a registered nurse in various departments of local hospitals and at the Child Advocacy Center in Utica. She earned her associate degree in nursing, her bachelor’s degree in nursing, and her family nurse practitioner master’s degree at SUNYIT Utica/Rome in Marcy. Pelletier also completed five clinical residencies with area physicians. The Mohawk Valley Health System announced that Deacon Paul H. Lehmann has been named director of Mission for St. Elizabeth Medical Center, where he manages and coordinates Lehmann the mission activities of the Mohawk Valley Health System. He previously served as hospital chaplain for Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare. Lehmann has also held the positions of director of student activities at the Strebel Student Center for Utica College, and director of campus life for SUNY Morrisville. He received his bach-

deacon through the Diocese of Syracuse. After an extensive national search, the board of trustees of Bassett Medical Center has appointed Vance M. Brown, M.D. as president and CEO of the Bassett Healthcare Network and Bassett Brown Medical Center, effective July 1. He will succeed Dr. William F. Streck who will be retiring after 30 years of leadership at Bassett. Brown comes to Bassett from MaineHealth in Portland, Maine, where he has been chief medical officer since 2008. As CMO at MaineHealth, he has been responsible for all medical issues at the corporate health system level. Brown was also senior medical officer for MMC Physician Hospital Organization with 1,100 physicians. Prior to returning to his native state of Maine, he served as the chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. Brown received his undergraduate degree in biological sciences from Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. and then obtained his medical degree from Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn. He completed his postgraduate residency training in family medicine at the University of North Carolina Hospitals where he was appointed chief resident his final year. Brown also completed a residency in internal medicine at Yale-New Haven Medical Center in New Haven, Conn. and

Los Angeles. He is board-certified in both family medicine and internal medicine. Nicole Smith, RN has been hired as the new director of patient services at Presbyterian Residential Community. She previously worked at Presbyterian Homes & Services from 1995-2001 as a certified nursing assistant, and was most recently an infection preventionist at Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare. Smith graduated from St. Elizabeth School of Smith Nursing with an associate degree in nursing.


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MARQUARDT: Competes with a number of other manufacturers for the switch, sensor, and control business Continued from page 3

$17.4 billion.) ‌ There is Kostal, another family-owned business headquartered in Germany, Omron, and Defond (a company which produces 450 million switches per year). One of the keys that separates us from the competition is Marquardt’s ‌ [obsession] for quality. The company’s basic principle that has become part of the daily routine of our employees is that quality is when the customer returns, not the product.â€? The other key to Marquardt’s competitive advantage is innovation. “This plant [Cazenovia] has 150 [degreed] engineers,â€? stresses Becker; “that’s about one-third of the staff. We insist on finding the right people who are not only smart but who also ‌ [thrive] in an environment that is fast-paced, high-pressure, and oriented to customer service. The [Cazenovia] plant is represented by ‌ [a host] of engineering disciplines: mechanical, electrical, process, manufacturing, software, hardware, and even chemical. To assemble this skill level, we have incorporated 33 different nationalities into a multicultural operation.â€? “[Another] ‌ indicator of the company’s commitment to innovation is its annual in-

vestment of 10 percent of revenues in R&D,â€? adds Wardell. “In Cazenovia alone, we have 35 to 40 engineers focused only on research and development. Then there is the continuing investment in training product assemblers through multiple apprentice programs and tuition reimbursement for continuing education. Marquardt is competitive for the long-term because we support and continuously raise our innovation standards.â€? Becker and Wardell also note the importance of the leadership team at Marquardt Switches which, in addition to the president and director of operations, includes Kevin Thompson, logistics director; Wes Daggett, quality director; John Jelfo, finance and controlling director; Dean Moore, human-resources manager; and Bruce Santos, director of R&D and sales. Marquardt’s employment has grown by more than 200 percent just in the last decade. “When I joined the company nine years ago,â€? says Wardell, “there were approximately 150 people. Now we have 470. To accommodate our [historic] growth, we have expanded the production facilities ‌ The [Cazenovia] facility is currently operating at capacity. Any expansion here would affect all parts of our business (circuit boards, injection molding, assem-


Kirk Wardell, left, director of operations, and Jochen Becker, president, at Marquardt Switches headquarters. bly, inventory) so we are considering any changes carefully.� Whether or not Marquardt expands the Cazenovia–area facility, the company has had a substantial economic impact on the area. “Our payroll is more than $20 million [annually],� emphasizes Becker. “We spend several million dollars more [each year] on materials and supplies, and our capital investment in machinery is huge. The company also pays substantial school and

property taxes. In addition, we receive three to 10 visitors every week in Cazenovia, and they spend money here on hotels, food, and ‌ [other amenities].� During his 16 years employed at Marquardt, Becker has held several positions including engineering, managing engineering teams, and program management. He assumed his position at Marquardt Switches in 2007 to launch a recently won automotive contract. Since his arrival in the Cazenovia area, North American annual sales have grown from $40 million to $200 million. Becker holds an MBA in electromechanical engineering from the University of Applied Science in Furtwangen (Germany) and a bachelor’s degree in business management. Prior to joining Marquardt, Wardell worked in New York, California, and North Carolina with new company startups, merged newly acquired businesses, and developed and implemented performance-based organizational structures. His 25 years of industry experience includes medical electronics, electronic-wiring devices, banking, power tools, and automotive. Wardell holds a bachelor’s degree in electronic-engineering technology from Arizona State University. q Contact Poltenson at

PREFERRED MUTUAL: Firm is projecting to add

another $20 million in premium income this year Continued from page 4

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8887&3/0/%08/4$0. ŹŹ Rt. 5 & 31, Vernon New York, 13476

the 1990s, the company really began to understand the value of the data it had. In 2000, we started making better business decisions by creating analytic models, and we made it easier for our agents and customers to do business with us through our customer portals. We continue to strive to make our systems user-friendly by [simultaneously] expanding the amount of information available while reducing any friction [in the technology platform]. In addition, technology makes it easier for us to attract outstanding employees who prefer to work remotely.� Preferred Mutual has 33 employees in its IT department. According to Taft, being an industry leader also involves giving back to the communities in which Preferred Mutual operates. In 2013, the company launched a program to encourage its employees to support local charities by matching their individual contributions up to $300. Preferred Mutual continues to sponsor community events and organizations including the YMCA, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, performances at the Chenango Council of Arts, Chenango Memorial Hospital Foundation, Bassett Hospital, and the Chenango United Way, to name a few. The sponsorships are underwritten by the Preferred Mutual Foundation, a 501(c)(3) corporation with assets of $1 million, which acts as the corporate-giving arm. The foundation also grants four college scholarships annually, without any preference for the families of company employees. Giving back means more than donating money. “Our employees donate thousands of hours as volunteers to help our communities,� Taft says with pride. “When the Mohawk Valley was devastated by floods, nearly 30 [company] employees volunteered to help in the affected communities. Closer to

home, Preferred Mutual employees cleaned a stretch of Route 8 in New Berlin. In addition to volunteering, the employees also raise their own funds to donate for disaster relief, not just at home but as far away as the Tuscaloosa Disaster Relief Fund. These are just some examples of the broader commitment we cultivate here at the company.� Taft, 49, is not only active in guiding Preferred Mutual as a growth and profit leader, but he also finds time to help guide the industry association — the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC). NAMIC is the country’s largest property/casualty insurance trade association with 1,400 insurance companies writing more than $196 billion in premiums annually. He currently serves on the board of directors and as the group’s secretary/treasurer. Taft left Coopers & Lybrand to join Preferred Mutual in January 1995 as the vice president of financial services, advancing to the position of CFO the following year. In 2006, he was promoted to president and COO before assuming his current role as president and CEO in 2009. A 1987 graduate of Clarkson University, Taft is a certified insurance counselor and a licensed CPA. Raised in Utica, he married his high-school sweetheart, Maria. The couple reside in Clinton and have three children. Preferred Mutual is projecting to add another $20 million in premium income this year, continuing the tradition Frank Holmes started of progressive growth and conservative financial management. The only difference between 1896 and today, aside from the size of the current organization, is that Preferred Mutual now carries fire insurance on its own property. q Contact Poltenson at

The Mohawk Valley Business Journal • 7

May 23, 2014


THE LIST Research by Nicole Collins (315) 579-3911 Twitter: @cnybjresearch

Look for the Chambers of Commerce list in the next Mohawk Valley Business Journal, due out on August 1.

Ranked by Total No. of Guest Rooms (Including Suites) Rank

For the purpose of this list, Mohawk Valley includes Herkimer, Madison, and Oneida counties.

Need a copy of a list? Electronic versions of all our lists, with additional fields of information and survey contacts, are available for purchase at our website,

Want to be on the list? If your company would like to be considered for next year’s list, or another list, please email

General Manager or Top Management

Year Estab.

(800) 771-7711

709 — 143

22 — 30,000

wireless Internet, cable TV, business center, inroom safes, coffee maker

Ray Halbritter, CEO



Radisson Hotel Utica 200 Genesee St. Utica, NY 13502 (315) 797-8010/

(800) 333-3333

162 — 3

10 — 4,600

business center, complimentary wireless Internet

Dwayne Spitzer, General Manager



Vernon Downs Casino and Hotel 4229 Stuhlman Road Vernon, NY 13476 (315) 829-3400/

(877) 888-3766

155 — 155

6 — 10,000

business center, wireless Internet, board room Thomas Osiecki, President & and meeting facilities, weekday continental GM, Tioga Downs & Vernon breakfast Downs



Hotel Utica 102 Lafayette St. Utica, NY 13502 (315) 724-7829/

(877) 906-1912

112 — 14

7 — 3,843

free wireless high-speed Internet access in all rooms, business center, free hot breakfast served daily

Charles N. Gaetano, Owner


Red Roof Inn Utica 20 Weaver St. Utica, NY 13502 (315) 724-7128/

(800) RED ROOF

112 — 0

— -

renovated with all new rooms, free wireless Internet

Bethany Petriski, General Manager


Quality Inn of Rome 200 S. James St. Rome, NY 13440 (315) 336-4300/

(800) 424-5423

104 — 4

1 — 144

(800) 2 RAMADA

104 — 4


What constitutes the Mohawk Valley?

Guest Amenities

Turning Stone Resort Casino 5218 Patrick Road Verona, NY 13478 (315) 361-7711/


Information was provided by representatives of listed organizations and their websites. Other groups may have been eligible but did not respond to our requests for information. Organizations had to complete the survey by the deadline to be included on the list. While The Business Journal strives to print accurate information, it is not possible to independently verify all data submitted. We reserve the right to edit entries or delete categories for space considerations.

Meeting Rooms Total Rooms — Toll-Free — Max. Exhibit Area Reservation No. Suites (sq. ft.)




Name Address Phone Website

Ramada New Hartford 141 New Hartford St. New Hartford, NY 13413 (315) 735-3392/

business center, free wired and wireless high- Mansukh V. Paghdal, General speed Internet access, free weekday newspaper Manager


7 — 2,800

complimentary breakfast buffet, coffee makers, irons, hairdryers, meeting facilities, wireless Internet

Sandip Patel, General Manager



Holiday Inn Utica 1777 Burrstone Road New Hartford, NY 13413 (315) 797-2131/


100 — 4

6 — 2,496

high-speed Internet, 32-inch flat panel TVs, free morning newspaper, coffee maker, business center, self-laundry facilities, same day dry cleaning, full-service restaurant, guest lounge

Mark Mosconi, General Manager Christine Lopez, Director of Sales



LaQuinta Inn & Suites Verona 5394 Willow Place Verona, NY 13478 (315) 231-5080

(315) 231-5080

97 — 9

1 — 1,900

pool, hot tub, bar, lounge, free Wi-Fi, free shuttle to Turning Stone casino, business center, complimentary hot buffet breakfast every morning, free parking

Nikki-Marie Varre, General Manager



Fairfield Inn & Suites 5280 Willow Place Verona, NY 13478 (315) 363-8888/

(866) 580-6237

93 — 20

1 — 600

business center, complimentary deluxe continental breakfast, free Wi-Fi service throughout the hotel

Lori Hicks, Director of Sales



Hampton Inn Utica 172-180 N. Genesee St. Utica, NY 13502 (315) 733-1200/


83 — 0

1 — 675

business center, complimentary breakfast, high-speed Internet, manager's reception, complimentary DVD rentals

Domenica DiNigro, General Manager



Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham 5118 Route 365 Verona, NY 13478 (315) 363-1850/

(800) 771-7171

81 — 19

— -

continental breakfast, business center, highspeed wireless Internet access, guest laundry, flat screen TVs

Pauline Hayes, General Manager



Water's Edge Inn 3188 State Route 28 Old Forge, NY 13420 (315) 369-2484/


77 — 16

2 — 960

indoor heated pool, dry sauna, Wi-Fi, arcade, guest laundry, complimentary continental breakfast

Beth Tickner, General Manager



The Inn at the Beeches 7900 Turin Road, Route 26N Rome, NY 13440 (315) 336-1775/

(800) 765-7251

76 — 7

10 — 10,648

microwave, refrigerator, coffee maker, nightly turndown service, complimentary cocktail, breakfast room and cafe

Orlando Destito, Owner & Operator


Wingate by Wyndham 90 Dart Circle Rome, NY 13441 (315) 334-4244/

(800) 993-7232

76 — 9

2 — 1,000

free hot continental breakfast, business center, Jessica Coleman, General free high-speed Internet, free copy of USA Manager Today, in room microwave and refridgerator Valerie Cannistra, Assistant General Manager



Holiday Inn Express & Suites Utica 23 Wells Ave. Utica, NY 13502 (315) 724-2726/


75 — 15

1 — 336

hot breakfast served daily, indoor pool, fitness center, computer center, pillow menu



Herkimer Motel & Suites 100 Marginal Road Herkimer, NY 13350 (315) 866-0490/

(877) 656-6835

60 — 14

0 — 0

free wireless Internet, continental breakfast, Crist J. Brown, President/ 1962 guest laundry available, microwave, fridge, Owner iron, ironing boards, hairdryers, extended cable Paul Brown, General Manager & HBO


Knights Inn Little Falls 20 Albany St. Little Falls, NY 13365 (315) 823-4954/

(866) 631-4470

56 — 0

2 — 2,856

high-speed Internet, Wi-Fi, laundry service, irons, coffee makers, hairdryers

Mary K. LaBreche, General Manager



The Colgate Inn One Payne St. Hamilton, NY 13346 (315) 824-2300/


40 — 6

3 — 2,839

wireless Internet, hairdryers, irons, desk, complimentary coffee in lobby, dining room

Ben Eberhardt, General Manager



Big Moose Inn 1510 Big Moose Road Eagle Bay, NY 13331 (315) 357-2042/

(888) 9- BIG MOOSE

16 — 0

0 — 0

complimentary continental breakfast, free WiFi, complimentary use of canoes, kayaks and paddleboat (weather permitting), in-room Keurig coffee maker

Susan Marie Mayer, Owner



Lee M. Arthur, General Manager

8 • The Mohawk Valley Business Journal

May 23, 2014

1 Thompson Park Watertown, NY 13601 Phone: (315) 779-8240 KEY STAFF


ESF College Foundation VICE CHAIR

George Bibbins, Jr.

Black River Renewables TREASURER retired Social Security Administration SECRETARY retired Veterans Administration Nurse

Robert K. Keller, Jr. Cary Fassler

BOARD MEMBERS George Bibbins, Jr. Black River Renewables Natalie Bogdanowicz Transitional Living Services of NNY Cary Fassler retired nurse Richard Hill retired General Electric Carol Hutchinson substitute teacher Robert K. Keller retired Social Security Administration Christopher Kelly retired Jay-K Independent Lumber Corporation Dave Kohr retired, Syracuse University Alix Krueger farmer Robert McNamara artist and environmental interpreter Paul Miller retired Madison County administrator Robert R. Quinn ESF College Foundation Janet Thompson farmer Dave Zembiec Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency

MISSION Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust (THTLT) says it protects Tug Hill’s working farm and forest lands, its wild lands, and its natural and cultural heritage for the benefit of present and future generations.

PROGRAMS & SERVICES Land Protection: THTLT has worked with private landowners to protect and preserve many natural areas in the Tug Hill region. To date, more than 15,000 acres of Tug Hill’s forest, farm, recreation, and wild lands have been protected. Over the past five years, THTLT has been partnering with Fort Drum on the Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) Program. In general, the ACUB Program supports the Army’s mission to fight and win the nation’s wars. Winning wars requires a trained and ready force; trained and ready soldiers require land for maneuvers, live fire, testing, and other operations. ACUB establishes buffer areas around the Army installation to limit effects of encroachment and maximize land inside the installation that can be used to support Fort Drum’s mission.

EDUCATION THTLT has also pursued its mission to provide outdoor experiences and educational opportunities to residents and visitors of the region. It has a diverse schedule of field trips throughout the year, several special events, as well as a field guide specifically for Tug Hill, entitled Tug Hill: A Four Season Guide to the Natural Side, and the Tug Hill calendar.


Fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2013, from IRS 990 report

Revenue Sources

Contributions and Grants Program Service Revenue Investment Income Other Total Revenue


Salaries & Employee Benefits Other Total Expenses Surplus for the Year

$1,017,892 $288,130 $12,927 $11,274 $1,330,223 $168,187 $926,119 $1,094,306 $235,917


WATERTOWN — Although most known for its more than 200 inches of snowfall per year on average, the Tug Hill region encompasses 2,100 square miles of legislatively designated land and is recognized for the natural resources that help shape its economy. The Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust (THTLT) is a regional nonprofit that works to protect Tug Hills’ farm and forest land — from Lake Ontario to the Adirondacks — while increasing awareness and appreciation of the region’s natural resources. “We try to foster an appreciation of what the Tug Hill region is all about. We have such a great resource here, right in our backyards, and a lot of people don’t know about it,” says Linda Garrett, executive director of the Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust. To fulfill the education element of its mission, the nonprofit offers field trips for people to experience new places and recreational activities. It also provides educational programs for children to help them get excited about being outdoors. THTLT’s primary tool for protecting land is a conservation easement, which is a voluntary legal agreement between the landowner and the private land trust that restricts certain activities on a given parcel of land. Once filed, present and future owners of the property are bound by the restrictions of the easement. The land trust is then legally bound to monitor and enforce the terms of the easement. Because of the responsibility the land trust has to enforce easements, Robert Quinn, chair of THLT’s board of directors, says the board has final approval on which easement projects to pursue. An easement costs an average of $5,000. Landowners are asked to help cover the costs, but THTLT also seeks additional funding. In 2013, THTLT completed 14 projects covering 6,553 acres. Currently, the organization monitors 86 easements and owns one 144-acre property. The nonprofit reached a benchmark of 15,000 protected acres in February when it completed the 200-acre Weibel Farm easement in the town of Lee in Oneida County.

Fort Drum area

For the past five years, THTLT has also collaborated with Fort Drum and Ducks Unlimited on the Army Compatible Use Buffer Program (ACUB). This program establishes buffer areas of farmland and natural lands around Fort Drum to limit the effects of encroachment. As a result, the army is able to maintain and enhance training, THTLT and Ducks Unlimited protect the open space and wildlife, and the landowners are paid not to develop their land. “It’s a win, win, win situation,” Garrett contends. To date, ACUB has worked with 20 landowners to protect more than 4,697 acres of land, primarily on the west and

south side of the Fort Drum military base. In 2011, THTLT became nationally accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance. Garrett says being accredited “gives us more credibility” and shows the community the nonprofit is managed well and is protecting the region’s resources. National standards require the land trust to maintain a pooled fund for stewardship and legal-defense responsibilities. Currently, THTLT’s monitoring and legal-defense fund exceeds $500,000. It is recommended that each easement have $1,500 for stewardship and $3,500 for defense. Research shows that a single court case in defense of an easement costs an average of $40,000. THTLT also insures its easements through Terrafirma, a charitable risk pool formed by the Land Trust Alliance to help land trusts defend its conserved lands from legal challenges. THTLT reported revenue of $1.33 million in its 2013 fiscal year, although a substantial portion of it involves noncash contributions dedicated to the easements and stewardship and defense funds. Garrett says the nonprofit generates about $300,000 in cash revenue that goes towards expenses and program services.

Tug Hill economy

Profiling local nonprofit organizations

Nearly two-thirds of the region is forestland, which contributes significantly to the economy through timber harvesting, wood and paper manufacturing, recreation, and maple-sugar production, according to the Tug Hill Commission. With its 700 active dairy farms and 350 non-dairy farms, the region’s agricultural industry is a key economic driver. Farms also support agriculture-related businesses, such as feed stores, dairy-product manufacturers, farm-equipment dealers, and veterinary clinics. To sell its annual calendar, THTLT teams up with local businesses. The calendar has helped “bring new business to the local shops,” says Garrett. Compiled from photos of the region submitted by locals, Garrett says the calendar is a “huge success” for the nonprofit’s fundraising efforts. In April, THTLT received three grants, totaling $44,000, from the Conservation Partnership Program, which awarded a total of $1.4 million to 50 nonprofit land trusts across New York state. The grants, funded through the Environmental Protection Fund and administered by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, will support projects to protect farmland, enhance public access and recreational opportunities, and conserve open space. Garrett says part of one grant will go toward hiring a contract environmental educator for an outreach program at the wildlife sanctuary, located on Middle Road on the Rutland/Champion town line. The rest of that grant’s funds will cover updating THTLT’s website to make it mobile


Executive Director Linda M. Garrett Executive Director’s compensation (from 2013 990 IRS form) $54,500 Land Protection Manager Richard Johnston Program & Outreach Coordinator Fawn Heins

Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust protects the region’s resources

rof r np ne No or C

Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust

Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust facts n Founded: 1991 n Full-Time Employees: 3 n Volunteers: 35 n Service Area: Tug Hill region and surrounding area (covering Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida, and Oswego counties)

friendly and for a consultant to help the staff craft relevant messaging for their outgoing communications, such as social media and newsletters. The two other grants are reimbursements for two recently completed projects. A 2012 study by the Trust for Public Land found that every $1 invested by New York state returns $7 in economic value in natural resource good and services, alone.

Leader of the pack

Hailing from the town of Cohoes, north of Albany, Garrett completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse. She found her way to the North Country, when she accepted a position at the Tug Hill Commission in Watertown after college. During her time at the Commission, she and Quinn, present board chair, helped the agency partner with local community members to create THTLT. Incorporated as an independent 501(c)(3) in 1991, the land trust did not have its own staff at first. The Tug Hill Commission’s staff operated the new nonprofit, with Garrett assigned to split her work between the Commission and the land trust. Garrett left the Commission in 1995 when she married a soldier and moved to Alaska. While she was gone, two employees at the Commission worked part time on the land trust. In Alaska, Garret worked for the Alaska Natural History Association and the Alaska Public Lands Information Center, and volunteered for the Interior Alaska Land Trust. Garrett returned to Northern New York when her husband was stationed once again at Fort Drum. She volunteered at THTLT until 2002, when she applied for the executive-director position, the first paid staff position for the organization. THTLT now has three full-time, paid staffers. Garrett says she hopes to bring on a fourth person sometime this year. THTLT operates from a 600-square-foot office above the Discovery Center at the New York State Zoo at Thompson Park in Watertown, but Garrett says “the 2,100 square miles of the Tug Hill region is my office space.” q Contact Collins at

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Digital Edition of the 5/23/14 Mohawk Valley Business Journal