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Joseph Groh Foundation Presents Greg’s Story

Greg’s story is actually two stories. The first is about a hard-working member of the construction trades who was injured on the job, and very much needed outside help overcoming his circumstances. The second is about some incredible people in the HVAC industry who care not only about their business, but about the community which they serve. We’ll start with the first.

Greg LaVille
Greg LaVille

Greg LaVille is a construction worker and member of the concrete Union from Binghamton, New York. During his career, he handled casting forms, rebar, and heavy machinery, while building highway blacktops and bridges. As part of that activity, he set up rigging and scaffolding, loaded cranes and performed demolition work.

In 2014, he fell backwards off a work truck and incurred severe injuries.

Those included a severe concussion, torn meniscus, and a broken sacrum. These injuries affected his cognitive and preconception functions, and led to chronic back, knee, nerve, and muscle and joint pain. Greg receives Social Security disability, but Workmen’s Comp. was discontinued. That left him in a very difficult situation, as he is still caring for his two teenaged girls. During the winter of 2019, he was forced to use multiple electric and kerosene heaters to heat his 100-year-old home because his extremely old boiler had died. That was not only expensive, but also dangerous. His daughters helped him find our foundation online.

Arctic Bear's Jason Ball with daughter enjoying the great outdoors.
Arctic Bear’s Jason Ball with daughter enjoying the great outdoors.

Now for the second story. The Service Roundtable is a construction industry organization founded by a collaboration of leading business owners to share information and help other business owners improve their sales, marketing, operations, and profitability. The Joseph Groh Foundation is their official charity, and senior vice president David Heimer reached out to their members for assistance. Fortunately for Greg, a member organization by the name of Arctic Bear Heating and Air Conditioning is in nearby Endwell, New York. Their owner, Jason Ball, is familiar with our foundation, and has donated at a number of Roundtable functions in the past. Jason told David that they had been having a great year, and that they needed to find some way to give back. He found it in a big way!

Home of Greg LaVille
Greg’s home

After meeting with Greg to evaluate the scope of work, Jason decided the best course of action all things considered was to replace the nearly 100-year-old steam boiler. He had to size all of the radiators first and check out the piping. A couple of the radiators had to be replaced, and the chimney needed to be relined. Jason said that of all the scenarios he could have walked into, this was probably the worst from an equipment standpoint.

photo of old boiler, nearly 100 years old
Old boiler was nearly 100 years old

On the upside however, staying with steam was a good heat option for an old and inefficient home, and maintenance and future repairs are simple. A final factor was the ease of getting equipment given pandemic shortages, with steam boilers being quite common in that part of the country. Jason also found some other areas of the home in dire need of attention. The windows of the home were original and allowed in a lot of cold air in the winter. The water heater needed to be replaced, and the basement floor needed to be leveled. That is when the HVAC and construction industry went to work for Greg.

photo of new boiler
New boiler

Arctic Bear purchased and donated the boiler, water heater, some radiators and ancillary equipment, and their installation crews installed the equipment at no charge. Eric Groh, a board member who works for Johnson Controls, found a boiler manufacturer who agreed to sell the boiler at cost to Jason. Meanwhile, Jason put the foundation in touch with three different contractors who could finish the remaining items needed. The foundation worked with them to reline the chimney, install a 12-foot header in the basement with 3 smart jacks to level the floor, replace four windows in the basement, and 16 windows on the first and second floor. The day after the new steamer was fired up, Binghamton had its first significant snowfall of the year. When everything was finished, Greg said, “It has been a pleasure working with Jason and the other contractors, I am very grateful for this opportunity. The attention to detail and consideration on this project is incredible, and highly appreciated. Thank you for everything.”

David Heimer perhaps summed up everything best when he said, “A project like this just restores your faith in humanity!”