October 2012 | Barry University’s Dominican, Benincasa and Kolasa Residence Halls The Pleasure of Partnership


By Robert W. “Chip” Lafferty, P.E., Hill York CEO

My pen can’t keep up with my brain, which is exploding! It’s an absolute log-jam of everything good. Pride bursts through first, followed by the word “partner”…I crave more of this type of project.

Hill York makes lives more comfortable…I want to be a champion at that. It’s hard, because comfort is a feeling – it’s subjective. Required, but rarely appreciated. Other air conditioning companies fix air conditioners. Hill Yorkers build trusting relationships. It’s apples vs. oranges.

I got the call from Brett Atkinson, Vice President/Project Executive at Moss Construction in April 2011. He asked me to team up with his company to win a design build competition for a residence hall project at Barry University. He informed me that B.U. has had some previous challenges with their A/C in a past dormitory project. Brett so trusted Hill York that he wanted us on his team and he asked me to present to Barry University as part of Moss’ proposal.

At that moment, I knew something was much different in our relationship. Hill York was a partner, not just a subcontractor. I was immediately: (1) “In”. (2) 100% personally engaged. (3) Nervous… no way would I let this team down.

My job now was to produce a design at an outstanding value and win the trust of Barry University. This task would be daunting to some, but Hill York has the best HVAC design, project management and installation talent in Florida. We have a support team upon which a customer can depend, no matter what the challenge.

Well, Moss/Hill York won the project. We designed it, installed it, started it up, and it worked flawlessly. I was engaged through the whole process at the owner/architect/ contractor level, not as just a sub. Big difference… I was treated as an equal (partner) and I worked furiously to keep/earn my position at that level. It’s different there… it’s better. The project was completed and operated beautifully. I’m still proud of our team’s effort. This project had a significant impact on me personally. By the way, Barry University named the building Dominican.

Somewhere along the path, Hill York eared the trust of B.U. B.U. introduced team Moss/Hill York to Benincasa and Kolasa, two dormitories for which they wanted to upgrade the HVAC systems. The catch was, upgrade the systems in the next 120 days, to be completed by August 10, 2012, the day students return to school. The task: 30 days to design; 30 days to permit; 60 days to install, start up and commission… a 100% new HVAC system in 220 dorm rooms, without fail. Impossible? Not with great partners you trust.

We took them from inefficient PTACs (packaged terminal through the wall units) to a fully functioning water-cooled chilled water plant with chilled water unit ventilators in each room, and a new 100% outside air system in just 60 days… really! Actually, we received the Certificate of Occupancy on the date of the writing of this article, August 2, 2012, so it’s actually 50 days!

How did this happen and what made it so pleasurable and rewarding? First, we were part of a great team:
Owner: Barry University, Dr. Michael Griffin
Architect: Canon Design, Roland Lemke, Peter Mendola
Contractor: Moss & Associates, Brett Atkinson, Sherry Werner
HVAC/Mechanical Engineering: Hill York, Chip Lafferty
Electrical: C. Davis Electric, Ed Davis
And many others.

Second, I have a great team of honest, ethical, local, trusted, talented Hill Yorkers:
Lead Designer: John Cancel
Project Manager: Weston Gunnarson
Superintendent: Todd Aquilo
Start-up Technician: Steve Potvin

One of the critical decisions was to work with Daikin McQuay, who in lightning speed designed and built in Phoenix, Arizona a 300-ton chilled water plant, pre-piped and pre-wired, that Hill York installed in two minutes and nine seconds. Really! See the video by clicking here: https://www.hillyork.com/hill-york-happenings/video/

The self-contained, modular plant was delivered the exact day to which Daikin McQuay originally committed. The outsourcing of this plant allowed us to focus on the renovation of the Benincasa and Kolasa residence halls. This was one of the many keys to our success. To accomplish this feat, it was great working with the Daikin McQuay team:
Barry Naegele: MCP Solutions
Sam McCrane: Mission Critical Solutions
David Diaz: Senior Sales Engineer

From PTACs to Central Plant is a winner in so many ways. The lifecycle cost savings is $380,000. The energy cost reduction is $29,000 per year. The noise level in the dorm room is greatly reduced, and the humidity levels are vastly improved. The new Central Plant is expandable for future growth of the university and we are already working on an opportunity there.

Benincasa, Kolasa, and Dominican are now part of my life. Hill York accomplished so much in such a short time, accountable as only a partner can be. We worked through the ups and downs. We built trust and friendships, deepened our relationships and delivered a stellar product. Hill York is regarded as a partner, and as CEO and owner, I’m proud. Darn proud!

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