Meet Natalie Heltman, Account Coordinator

Business Unit and Job Title

T&B Account Coordinator

What is your personal philosophy?

Wake up early and constantly stretch yourself.

What did you do before coming to Melink?

Before Melink, I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Mexico. I worked as an Environmental Education Facilitator, and my main project was a sustainable schools initiative, installing solar panels, rain water capture systems, and creating a community waste reduction plan.

What is your favorite aspect of working at Melink?

My favorite aspect of working at Melink is the community, everyone has been extremely welcoming.

What do you like to do in your time off?

In my time off I like to go on hikes, photography (35mm), swimming, and playing water polo.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

I swam across and back in the Ohio River in about 12 minutes.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the work I was doing in Mexico. Not only was I able to enjoy tacos every day, I felt like my work was important and that I made a difference in my community.  

What are your hopes for our industry?

My hope for our industry is that more cities, states, and individuals will take the pledge to use 100% renewables by 2050 (or Before.)

Motto or personal mantra?

Be a fountain not a drain.

Do you collect anything?

As a kid I started collecting pins from the ski resorts my family visited.

Meet Sean Cokingtin, Sales Engineer

Business Unit and Job Title

Intelli-Hood Sales Engineer

What does your job entail?

Responsible for developing Melink’s Western market presence within New Construction specifications for Melink’s demand control kitchen ventilation (DCKV) system.

What did you do before coming to Melink?

Before Melink, I was a student at the University of Dayton. As a student, I served three co-op terms. Two terms were with Emerson Climate Technologies where I worked in the A/C Scroll Compressor division. My third term was with Eaton Corporation where I worked as a technical sales intern out of their Dallas, TX office.

What is your favorite aspect of working at Melink?

My favorite aspect of working at Melink are the customers we get to work with. The fact that we’re able to do business with biggest names in commercial restaurant and retail speaks volumes about our offerings. 

What do you like to do in your time off?

In my time off, I like to exercise and cook (not at the same time).

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

I’m 25% Chinese.

What are you most proud of?

Graduating college.

Motto or personal mantra?

“Just figure it out”

Do you collect anything?

PO’s

Meet Alyssa Woods, HR & Marketing Coordinator

Business Unit and Job Title

-Corporate

-HR/Marketing Coordinator

What does your job entail?

I split my time between the HR and Marketing Teams. On the HR side I schedule interviews, onboard our new hires, recruit at career fairs, and I am on the safety committee.  On the marketing side of things, I help make the newsletter, prepare for trade shows, and order promotional items. 

What did you do before coming to Melink?

I was an undergraduate student at THE Ohio State University.  During my time at OSU, I did several HR internships, worked at OSU’s sensory lab, and was a member of the volunteer organization Alpha Phi Omega.

What is your favorite aspect of working at Melink?

My Favorite aspect of Melink is the culture. Everyone who works at Melink is very friendly, and all ideas are valued and asked for no matter what role you are in.

What do you like to do in your time off?

In my free time I like to go camping and hiking with my family. I also enjoy playing tennis, running, and going to Kings Island when it is open.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

When I was 9 I posed for a Pampers Box, and the packaging is still used today.

What are your hopes for our industry?

I hope we reach and surpass all the goals we have set as a company.

Motto or personal mantra?

“It is our choices, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

                                                                                                                                                -Albus Dumbledore

Melink HQ2 – Our Zero Energy Vision & Strategic Plan

Melink’s second headquarters in Milford, Ohio will be one of the greenest buildings in the world.  Not only will it double the office and manufacturing space of our current 30,000 square-feet facility, it will serve as a model on how to design and construct affordable zero-energy buildings (ZEB) of the future.  Why is this so important?

Commercial buildings and homes consume over 60% of the energy in the U.S., and therefore, represent a majority of our country’s carbon footprint.  Though the building industry is on a path to achieve zero-energy on all new construction by the year 2030, it will be very difficult to convert the millions of existing buildings to zero-energy before 2050.

Unfortunately, because of global climate change, we may not be able to wait that long.  We need cost-effective solutions now.  The 17 hottest years on record have occurred over the last 18 years and the trend is getting worse over time.  Climate disasters from floods to fires are becoming more frequent and severe as a result.  In fact, more and more scientists are saying this could become an existential threat.

Yes, solar and wind power have gone mainstream over the last 10 years and that is good news.  And many utilities, businesses, schools, and government entities are starting to jump on the bandwagon.  But renewable energy still only makes up about 20% of our country’s energy mix.  Coal, natural gas, oil, and nuclear make up the rest.  We need to go from 20% to 80% renewables within the next 10-20 years.

One way to speed adoption is not wait for fickle governments and regulated utilities to solve this problem.  It’s time for the business sector to lead and create the clean energy economy of the 21st Century.  This means small, medium, and large companies like ours need to start making the necessary investments now.  Together, we can and must wean ourselves from dirty fossil fuels.

To be clear, this is not just about protecting the environment.  It’s about saving our planet and life as we know it.  It’s about investing in our security, health, and economy.  Who doesn’t want to be safe from more natural disasters in the future?  Who doesn’t want to be secure from flooding coastlines and mass human migration?  And who doesn’t want more jobs and long-term economic growth?

Therefore, this epic problem should also be viewed as a tremendous opportunity for humankind to finally work together on something that is bigger than any one person, political party, or country.  We can either smartly invest trillions of dollars now … or stupidly pay hundreds of trillions and likely lose millions of lives later.  We all know what our children and grandchildren would say.    

What does this have to do with our HQ2?  Everything.  Our new buidling will not be just another green project to say we ‘walk the talk’ at Melink.  Our building will be about showing architects, engineers, and contractors how to design and construct affordable zero-energy buildings of the future.  In other words, it will be about helping revolutionize the building industry for the 21st Century.

How will we accomplish this?

We are going to show that one can invest a small premium of 15-20% over and above a conventional, code-compliant building, and make it zero-energy.  The message being: If Melink can do it, so can everyone else across the country.  I believe developers, architects, and engineers from across the land will want to see and hear how we did this.  I believe our customers will want to see and hear how we did this.  The return on investment will be too good for them not to.

How is this different than HQ1? 

We invested a slightly larger premium of 25% over and above a conventional, code-compliant building.  We also made these investments to an existing building – slowly over time as we could afford them.  This project will show we can do it for an even lower premium if we smartly design the building and take advantage of the most recent innovations.

Features will include several of the best ones we incorporated here in our HQ1.  For example, we will have an even more highly-insulated envelope; we will have the next generation of window and door systems; and we will have a larger solar canopy over the parking lot.

While we can’t share too many details at this time because of the proprietary nature of our innovations, we promise we will push the envelope in ways that will make HQ2 one of the most innovative green buildings on the planet. More details will be provided in the near future.

And we will have many other features that won’t necessarily pertain to energy, but will make the building more comfortable and inspiring.  For example, we will have more open work spaces, more windows and skylights, and a green wall or water feature.  And we will have a museum center to educate visitors on the history of HVAC because to see the future you have to know the past.  Last, we will have a spirit wear shop to reward customers with gifts to memorialize their visit. 

Timewise, the building will be completed by the end of this year and we plan to hold a grand opening in June 2020 where we can publicize our initial findings from our building.

How are we going to pay for HQ2? 

I am taking advantage of what is called a PACE loan to invest in the energy efficiency and renewable energy features of our new building.  In essence the capital is provided upfront and paid back over 25-30 years through an assessment on the property taxes.  This is a great financing tool that we also want to share with the world.

In conclusion, if we’re not part of the solution, who and what are we?  As experts in the building industry, if we don’t help raise the bar, who will and when?  We’re certainly not going to rest on past laurels and let the world pass us by.  We’re going to lead and make a difference.  

Meet Alex Falck, Project Engineer

Business Unit and Job Title

T&B / PositiV – Project Engineer

What does your job entail?

T&B – I am responsible for being the link between our field technicians and our office personnel. With my engineering background, I can decipher the technical needs of customers so that our technicians understand what is required on site. Similarly, I relay our technician’s performance on site to our customers in a manner they can easier understand.

PositiV – With PositiV being the upcoming innovation at Melink, I am responsible for assisting in the development and launch of the product. I use business knowledge to make decisions on production costs and selling points. I use engineering skills to develop and ensure long term functionality of the product. Additionally, I perform day to day actions that engrain the PositiV unit into the Melink culture.  Through PositiV, my focus is on healthy buildings and how that impacts energy savings and occupant health and wellness.

What is your personal philosophy?

My philosophy stems from my passion in sustainability and sustainable living. I truly enjoy making ethical and sustainable decisions. I also encourage myself to breach my comfort zone and delve into things I normally wouldn’t.

What did you do before coming to Melink?

Before coming to Melink I was a full-time student in the Environmental Engineering program at the University of Cincinnati. At UC, students are encouraged to join a co-op program which allows them to alternate between full-time school work and an internship each semester. In my senior year at UC, I was offered a co-op position at Melink to assist the T&B sales team. That co-op led to a full-time position in T&B and PositiV.

Do you have any special certifications?

Boom & Scissor lift certified

What is your favorite aspect of working at Melink?

The culture and dedication to sustainability is second to none. Everyone pitches in to sustainable living in and outside of the workplace. This was what drew me towards Melink and it continues to impress me each day!

What is your favorite part of your job?

T&B – The connections that stem from day-to-day work. There are good interactions and bad interactions in the service industry, however it is the positive interactions that truly make it worthwhile.

PositiV – I’m a process minded engineer at heart. Being able to take a product and improve on it is a great feeling. In doing so, work at Melink never feels like a chore. On the contrary, every day I come into work feels like I’m contributing to my goal of encouraging sustainability.

What do you like to do in your time off?

I participate in local recreational basketball leagues, I’m an avid fisherman, I grow plants like fruits, vegetables and flowers, and I’m a video game enthusiast.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

I live stream video games often.

What are you most proud of?

Without a doubt, I’m most proud of my academic accomplishments. Graduating in engineering from the University of Cincinnati was one of the most arduous tasks of my life; it taught me that I can accomplish anything I put my mind and effort to. 

What are your hopes for our industry?

I hope that the sustainable mindset becomes infectious. I want people across the world to understand that sustainability is attainable on personal, city-wide, national and global scales.

Motto or personal mantra?

Never give partial effort to two things; give whole effort to one thing.

Do you collect anything?

I have a vinyl record collection that started about 6 years ago. My favorite addition came recently: a ~25 disc set of Victrola records (78 RPM) that require being played on my grandmothers renovated Victrola.

PACE Helps Fund Melink HQ2

Word is spreading that we have started construction on one of the greenest buildings in the U.S.  Melink HQ2 will not only expand our corporate campus for future growth, it will also serve as a model for how to design and construct Zero-Energy Buildings.

What is lesser known is how this project is being financed.  Yes, traditional equity and debt will pay for 80% of this $5 million project.  There is no getting around the fact that concrete, steel, and glass costs money and plenty of it.

But the other 20% of this project will be financed by PACE – which stands for Property Accessed Clean Energy.  This is a smart way to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements that might otherwise get axed from consideration because of budget constraints.

Basically, PACE financing is a long-term loan that gets paid over the long term by the energy savings of the above stated improvements.  However, rather than calling it debt, it is recognized as a property tax assessment based on the increased value of the improvements.

In this example, Melink will be able to make $1 million worth of energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements and pay for them gradually over the next 30 years through an assessment on our property taxes.  In other words, the energy savings will cash-flow the incremental value.

This is important for the building industry to understand, including developers, architects, and construction firms.  The reason is, investing up to 20% on energy improvements can make the difference between a zero-energy building and an energy hog that cripples your business.

There is no personal guarantee required and no additional debt on your balance sheet.  You get a fixed rate with fixed payments that can be passed onto your tenants through a triple-net lease.

Moreover, it allows you as the building owner and/or tenant to market your sustainability mindset and accomplishments.  And with growing pressure from customers and employees to be part of the solution, there is no excuse for not doing the right thing.

For our project, Ohio PACE and CenterBank have been indispensable partners to making this financing possible for us.  In your state, it might be someone else.  Either way, if your clients don’t know about this financing tool, you need to educate them on it.

Leading by example is one of the most important things we can do.  And with PACE financing, we hope to show countless other building owners and professionals that zero energy buildings are not only proven and practical, but also profitable.  Today.

Meet Mary Stavale, Contract Administrator

Business Unit and Job Title

I am a Contract Administrator in the Accounting & Finance Department.

What does your job entail?

95% of my job is focused under Intelli-Hood® in which I bill all invoices, collect on any past due accounts, process lien releases, and review/negotiate any contract that comes in.

Currently, I’m also reviewing T&B’s contracts. Along with other accounting functions.

What is your personal philosophy?

I always say the classic, “peace, love and happiness” because I think that pretty much covers it all.

Peace, meaning that you should have good intentions towards others.

I understand the love part to mean, don’t be judgmental. Look at everyone with a good heart and take care of each other.

The happiness to me means you’re focusing on the positive, working towards what needs to be done in your personal or work life. If you’re focusing on the negative it’s just going to distract you and it will take you twice as long to accomplish your goal.

Just be a good person. ?

What did you do before coming to Melink?

I’ve been at Melink for about 2 months now, prior to that I have over 12 years’ experience being a Contract Administrator for 2 different companies.

What is your favorite aspect of working at Melink?

I could tell just from my interviews that this was a company unlike any other I’ve worked for. During the interview process the leaders expressed how Melink has an open door policy and values any feedback or suggestions. Two months in and I’ve witnessed this several times.

What do you like to do in your time off?

I love the summer, although I don’t get a chance to do it very often I love to kayak on the Little Miami or Brookville River. I have a black lab/boxer named Jet, he is my baby and loves to go kayaking too. I also enjoy taking him for walks, discovering new trails to go on and I play sand volleyball.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

I don’t separate my laundry according to color. It all goes in 1 load and I’ve been doing laundry like this for 18 years. Shhhh don’t tell my mom!

What are you most proud of?

In my early 20’s I started working in a bank call center which taught me a lot about how mortgages, loans, and lines of credit worked. When I was 22 I started thinking it might not be that crazy to buy my own home as I was already tired of renting, and at 23 I purchased the house which I’m still living in. I took my time and did a lot of research. It’s the best decision I ever made.

What are your hopes for our industry?

I hope that one day more builders/companies will see the value in going green.

Do you collect anything?

Dog fur… No matter how many times I vacuum it never goes away and I’m ok with that.

Headquarters 2.0

Another major step on our sustainability journey will be the design and construction of a second headquarters in 2018 and 2019. As Melink continues to grow, we will need more office and warehouse space than our first building can provide.

Fortunately, we have the land next to our current HQ1 in which to build HQ2. It will be of a similar size and layout – with the courtyard facing our current building. And like our first building, it will be super-green. Except our second building will take green to a whole new level!

In addition to it serving our future workplace needs, it will serve as a model Zero-Energy Building (ZEB) for architects, engineers, and contractors to learn ZEB best practices. The goal will be to show a cost-benefit analysis that will make other building owners want to emulate and mainstream ZEB.

A growing segment of the building industry is calling for all new buildings to be Zero-Energy Building by the year 2030. We want to show that this can be easily achieved, 10 years ahead of schedule, with a relatively simple design strategy.

Since the largest energy loads in most commercial buildings are lighting, HVAC, and hot water, we will focus on showing how these can be minimized – and offset by a slightly greater amount of solar PV electric generation. Nothing new, except HQ2 will do this better than HQ1.

But the main innovation will be around our super-hybrid geothermal HVAC system. Don’t worry, we’ll figure out a cool brand name for it. The point is, this new system will help advance the energy savings of geothermal without the high cost normally associated with it.

If you think we have received lots of regional and national attention with HQ1, wait until you see what happens with HQ2. Through countless tours and presentations, we will influence thousands of additional building professionals and continue building a green brand unlike any company.

By the way, if any of you would like to work in this new super, high-tech, and beautiful workplace, you better get an electric car first. Because only EVs will be permitted to drive and park on its new green parking lot of the future.

The Melink Energy Revolution is just beginning…

Meet Steve Hamstra, Senior VP of Engineering

We would like to welcome Steve Hamstra to Melink as the Senior Vice President of Engineering for our Solar & Geothermal team. Steve comes with over 40 years of experience in the geo industry, many notable accomplishments, and holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan State University.

Starting in high school, Steve’s passion ignited when he began working with geothermal heat pumps while working for his father’s HVAC company. During his time with his dad, he helped install around 250 geo systems into homes around Western Michigan. After graduating college, Steve held a handful of positions all with a focus on energy and most with geothermal. The majority of Steve’s career was building an Architect and Engineering firm in Holland, Michigan into what it is today. This is where Steve worked on his first commercial project for geothermal in 1985, which is still running efficiently today! During a briefly leave of absence in the design world, Steve served as CEO/CTO of Greensleeves LLC, a geothermal design and control software company. Here, he received an ASHRAE Global First Place Award for the engineering design of the geothermal HVAC system at the University of Findlay. He was also successful in getting two geothermal-related technology aspects patented.

Throughout Steve’s career he has contributed to many trade publications and conferences, including those held by ASHRAE, IGSHPA, U.S. Department of Energy, among many others. In January, he is speaking at the AHR conference presented by ASHRAE. Steve also serves on the ASHRAE Technical Committee 6.8 Ground Source Heat Pumps where he is currently Vice Chair, and on IGSHPA’s Research Committee. When the ASHRAE guide for commercial geothermal system design was being developed, he supported the efforts on the technical committee. His work as gotten him named Energy Engineer of The Year in IL, IN, IO, MI, MN, OH, and WI, and AEE Fellow for lifetime achievement in the energy industry by the Association of Energy Engineers.

Now, with a shared passion and mission with the Melink Solar & Geo team, Steve wants to help Melink leverage their platform to commercialize geothermal and educate others on the benefits of being green. Among other things, he is most excited with assisting in the design of HQ2 and working on our Department of Energy Grant research efforts.

When Steve isn’t talking geothermal, he loves to give back and serve his community. He has been on the local City Council, Board of Education, Hospital Board and Board of Public Works.

We are thrilled to have Steve on board and know his passion and expertise will help us continue to pave the way for the geothermal market. Welcome to the Melink family Steve!

Meet Anna Rusconi, Sales Engineer Co-op

Business Unit and Job Title

I am a Sales Engineer Co-op for Test and Balance.

What does your job entail?

My job entails writing proposals for customers, providing technical support, and helping to manage new accounts.  I work to help the Test and Balance sales team in any way I can.  Because I am a co-op, my term started in the beginning of August and I will continuing working until mid-December.  After this, I will go back to school to finish getting my Mechanical Engineering degree.

What did you do before coming to Melink?

I am currently a University of Dayton student.  I completed 3 separate co-op rotations with Crane Pumps & Systems in Piqua, OH before starting my co-op at Melink.

What is your favorite aspect of working at Melink?

The best part of working at Melink is getting to know my co-workers.  I enjoy getting to work with a group of people that are hard-working, and they are always there for me whenever I have a question about anything.

What do you like to do in your time off?

During my time off, I enjoy spending time with my family.  I am one of three girls, and I am very close with my sisters and my parents.  I also enjoy traveling with friends and family.  I also enjoy participating in community service.  I actually just got accepted on a service trip where I will be spending ten days in Belize over Christmas.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

I am afraid of the Ocean.  It scares me not knowing what is swimming underneath me.  Even though I am afraid, I still force myself to go in every time.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my family.  My parents raised us into the people my sisters and I are today.  They were great role models when I was growing up in their words and actions.  They were constantly working hard to support our family, and I can see the result of their hard work in my family.

What are your hopes for our industry?

I hope that everyone is able to realize how important sustainability is to the environment, and they are then able to realize what value Melink can add to the world.