Gerry Wagner and his new friend, Sergiy Sheremetyev,

Two Men, a Mini Split and a Guitar

November 13, 2018

Guest Editorial by Gerry Wagner

I travel approximately 32 weeks a year and although the process of airline travel is rarely enjoyable, I do enjoy meeting new people and learning about them, their businesses and experiences.

I met a gentleman named Sergiy Sheremetyev at a GREE mini split training event I was conducting in Kissimmee, FL this past week.

Sergiy answered a question that I threw out to the audience, a question designed to see if they were listening. He answered it correctly and I was so pleased I asked him if I could give him a hug, (I’m a hugger).

Gerry Wagner and his new friend, Sergiy Sheremetyev,
Gerry Wagner and his new friend, Sergiy Sheremetyev,

Sergiy said no. His exact reply was, “we do not hug where I am from.” I asked him where he was from and he replied, “the Ukraine.”

We all enjoyed the moment of levity and the class went on.

At the end of the class Sergiy and I had a private conversation and I told him that I am a guitar collector and I once purchased a guitar from a fellow in the Ukraine. I told him how I found this very unusual, steel bodied guitar online and the seller wanted what I thought was crazy money for it. I made an offer substantially less than the asking price and the seller accepted my offer immediately with no negotiation, I was thrilled!

I sent the seller the money via PayPal and then told my wife about my most recent guitar find and purchase. I was deflated when she said, “you don’t actually think you are ever going to get that guitar do you?”

I was stunned… I also felt like an idiot. She was right, I sent the money with no guarantee that I would ever receive the guitar. My enthusiasm of finding the instrument blinded me to the possibility that I was being played, (no pun intended).

Well, a couple months passed, and I had assumed I would never receive the guitar when suddenly a delivery was made to my home of a sack made of some sort of fabric… no kidding. Not a box but rather a sack. My name and address were written directly on the sack along with a return address located in the Ukraine… Yes! It was the guitar! It made it all the way from the Ukraine to New York in nothing but a sack!

Ukraine guitars
Ukraine guitars

I told Sergiy that when I returned to New York, I would send him pictures of the guitar and the sack in which it came.

Our conversation continued and went in other directions. Sergiy told me how he was in the military in the Ukraine working in “communications.” He told me that he initially immigrated to Poland to escape the corruption in his homeland. In Poland, Sergiy became an electrician, he was able to use the skills he learned in the military, but he still didn’t feel like Poland was his final destination.

In 2005, Sergiy immigrated a second time; this time to the United States. He enrolled in a local HVAC trade school and excelled… his instructors literally telling him, “go out and make some money, there is nothing more we can teach you.” And that is exactly what Sergiy did!

I asked Sergiy if he felt the United States was his home and he quickly replied, “yes!” He expressed his desire for freedom…true freedom and how he was able to build a business and a new life for himself here in the U.S.
OK… back to the guitar. As promised, I sent Sergiy pictures of the guitar. I also sent him a picture of the sack in which the guitar was shipped to me.

One of the legends of this guitar, and I admit it may be an “urban legend”, is that the logo of the W on the face of the guitar’s body is that of the same company that made the atomic bombs for the old USSR. If you look closely, the W is actually embedded in the steel body.

Sergiy replied to the pictures with some very interesting information about the guitar. He said that the guitar was definitely made by a company that did “double” production as he called it… they primarily worked producing items for the military, but they were also allowed to produce consumer goods for the general population. He said growing up in the Ukraine; there were very few items in stores because most of the country’s factories were producing for the military.

Sergiy noted that the odd-looking symbol on the guitar’s headstock is actually a “quality sign.” It represents the highest possible quality rating and that is was very rare for a product to ever earn that high rating.

He also said the guitar was made in Zhitomyr City in the Ukraine and the man who sold it to me is from Odessa City which is on the Black Sea.

Sergiy ended his note to me with, “The world is too small. This piece of art, somebody probably made by hand many years ago, never thought it would find a home in the USA. Amazing! Thank you so much for sharing this memory with me.”

This is why I love what I do for a living.

The world is small… and also a singular, wonderful place where two men with the most different backgrounds and experiences can meet, become friends and learn from each other.

And in the end, I got my hug from Sergiy!

About The Author

Gerry Wagner is the Vice President of HVAC Technical Training for Tradewinds Climate Systems. He has 38 years in the HVACR industry working in manufacturing, contracting and now training. You can contact Gerry by email: and also please visit our website: