Rich was raised on a dairy farm in Little Meadows, PA just 2 miles across the NY border, 8 miles from where he now lives in Apalachin, NY. He was the eldest of six children, three boys and three girls. In first grade he went to a one room schoolhouse in Little Meadows. In second grade traveled to Ross Corners in Vestal. In 3rd grade attended a new elementary school which opened in Choconut, PA as part of the Montrose Area School district. His father and uncle sold out their dairy cows in the mid 70s after oil prices skyrocketed from the Arab oil embargo impact. His father then went into construction. One dairy cow was kept which Rich hand milked most nights for family use. Rich raised chickens and pigs as his own project, and he and his brother Dave sold firewood, earnings which helped put him through college.
Rich had a strong aptitude in math and science from a young age. Rich had a chemistry set at around age 10. In 1979 he led the Montrose High School team to a PA state championship in a “Chem Bowl” competition. In high school he built a solar greenhouse and installed a solar hot water heating panel on the family's garage roof. Interest in solar energy led him off to college at Penn State Fayette campus (Connellsville, PA, not far from Pittsburgh) for an Associates in Engineering degree in Solar Heating and Cooling Technology, class of ’83. He then went on to the Watson School at SUNY Binghamton where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology in 1985. He also served in the Marine Corps reserves whilst in college, from 1981-1985. Motor Vehicle Operator MOS. Honorable discharge at E-5 rank in 1985.
Leaving college, he entered into the Solar field working for Sunstream construction. He immediately began to see many of the corruption generating results of big government policies. Tax rebates for solar panels are what enabled their sale, but along with this, many fly-by-night companies offering “snake oil” type products which didn’t work evolved, and some competitors who sold solar panels made grossly exaggerated claims about performance. He was also representing some commercial “conventional” HVAC products, and could see the difficulty of breaking into new markets due to “good ole’ boys” club among engineering firms, contractors, etc. Free market principles to where the best product and technology should always win, sure did not play out, most especially for taxpayer funded projects (“other people’s money”).
The solar energy rebates stopped sharply under Reagan policies. Rich didn’t have a lot of interest in government while in high school or college, but now could see that government policies would greatly impact livelihood. He had to shift gears, so for the last 25+ years he has worked in more conventional HVAC fields, mostly with contractors. He has frequently witnessed corruption and has fought through education outreach to try to move the New York public construction market towards open, honest, fair, competition.
Rich has been active in many volunteer organizations. He believes that the volunteer spirit does much to improve the world. Member of the Johnson City Jaycees, president for a year, in the late 80s. Active in ASHRAE, an HVAC engineering society, Twin Tiers chapter (around 140 members) president 1991-1992, many years as a committee chair of one committee or another. Served twelve years for two different funding allocation panels with Broome County United Way. Reviewed agencies such as the YWCA, American Civic Association, the Salvation Army, The American Red Cross. Those 12 years were rewarding and educational. Joined Endwell Rotary in 2015 and help out with community projects in that club. The VINES garden in Endwell was one project in particular Rich helped out with in 2018.
Rich has four children through two marriages and three grandchildren. His oldest daughter is 28, married, living in Camillus, NY. His 26 year old daughter graduated from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma in spring 2016, now lives in Gautier, MS and was married in June 2016. Younger kids are now 8 and 9, attending public school at Apalachin Elementary. His wife Julie is a massage therapist, with a room in their home where she serves clients.
His predominant hobbies have been mountain biking and hiking.