Rudy Holesek has a bird's-eye view of Long Island from his leadership positions at two key business groups, and as president of four heating and cooling companies. He serves as a director of HIA-LI, formerly known as the Hauppauge Industrial Association, and as chairman of the Long Island chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.
Holesek, 64, began his career in heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, commonly known as HVAC, maintenance some 40 years ago, when he went knocking on doors to win his first contracts. Now he designs, builds, services and maintains HVAC and building-automation systems in more than 10 million square feet of commercial, industrial and institutional buildings.
How has superstorm Sandy impacted your businesses?
Four of my employees lost their homes. I lost two trucks. Trying to get gas [for 70 service vehicles] was a nightmare. People panic a little bit if they feel their heat go out . . . they want to get it resolved or looked at right away. Most of the time it's power-related; you know, interruptions to buildings, it'll shut itself off and needs to be reset.
What kinds of projects are you seeing?
One sector that's growing by leaps and bounds here on Long Island is pharmaceutical. . . . The FDA made the packaging rules much more stringent for over-the-counter drugs, [and] the large pharmaceuticals [have to] retool all of their sites for this new requirement.
Any new developments at the HIA?
Energy, access, transportation and housing are big issues. The HIA spearheaded an initiative [with Apollo] to help make the Hauppauge Industrial Park more energy-efficient. They have a goal of 15 percent. Apollo is helping them understand Energy Star ratings. Anything below 75 is a poor-performing building. And the HIA worked for years to expand the sewer system; now that's under way.
What should people know about HVAC?
HVAC could be 50 cents on every dollar of operating costs in energy for business, so it's kind of an easy opportunity to save money. LIPA and National Grid offer some very nice incentives for their customers to replace this equipment. It's just a matter of applying the technologies correctly.
What should people be careful of?
If they've improved their roof, their glass and their lighting, they oftentimes do not need to replace their air-conditioning with the same-size unit. They can reduce the size.
What's a new trend in your industry?
Control systems. To replace $50,000 [worth of] air-conditioning equipment and leave the same $40 thermostat on the wall is kind of crazy. Thermostats now are so smart they can measure the outdoor temperature and know what time to start heating a building.