Island Airco upgrades Good Shepherd Humane Society’s HVAC system

Thursday, December 6, 2018
Island Airco employees Rodney Walden, left, and Colby Lakey have been working to upgrade Good Shepherd Humane Society’s HVAC system over the past three weeks. The project is part of an ongoing partnership between GSHS and Island Airco.
Photo by Samantha Jones/Lovely County Citizen

Thanks to Island Airco, Good Shepherd Humane Society is completing a major infrastructure project this week.

Bobby Deaton and Travis Clark, who work with Island Airco, said they’ve been working to completely upgrade the HVAC system at the shelter, which houses up to 80 animals at a time. Deaton said he’s been familiar with the shelter’s deteriorating HVAC system for a while, saying it was time to step up and help.

“We had worked on a couple attempts to get their comfort level back where it needed to be,” Deaton said. “It became apparent they were having some budget problems. The situation was worsening rapidly at the shelter. It wasn’t acceptable conditions for the pets or the staff.”

That’s when Clark suggested cutting Good Shepherd a deal on the project, Deaton said.

“That put the ball in motion. We reached out to our suppliers,” Deaton said. “There were a lot of phone calls and several emails. A lot of people came through for us, and we were able to do exactly what was needed.”

Deaton said he spoke with suppliers and distributors to purchase everything needed for the project at cost, completely cutting the profit for everyone involved. The idea behind the project was to help Good Shepherd, Deaton said, even if that meant only breaking even.

“It’s been a three-week project, and we’re really close to finishing up,” Deaton said. “It’s an intense project, because we’re upgrading all the duct work and replacing some of it.”

Jay Fusaro, Good Shepherd’s board president, said the shelter is thankful for Island Airco’s help. Luckily, Fusaro said, Good Shepherd has money left over from a shelter improvement grant to help pay for part of the project. Fusaro said he’s been working with Deaton and Clark for nearly a year to put the project into motion.

“This is going to be a game-changer for the animals and the staff,” Fusaro said. “It’s going to completely change the work environment for the staff there. This is something we’re not going to have to worry about for many, many years.”

The conditions inside the shelter had been worsening for a while, Deaton said. He said it was especially tough in the winter and summer when extreme weather hits.

“You’ve got to have indoor conditions that are acceptable for a work environment for your staff and, obviously, the pets,” Deaton said. “The more dogs and cats and people you get in that building, the more important it becomes.”

The old HVAC system was more than 20 years old, Deaton said, and it had become difficult to maintain it.

“You need reliability. We could get the systems working, but their repair budget was getting out of hand,” Deaton said. “A technician could leave there with a working system, and we wouldn’t know if it was working the next week or not.

He said Island Airco will continue to help the shelter after the project is finished, returning to fix anything that goes wrong. Fusaro said Good Shepherd is grateful for that.

“We know if there is ever an issue, they’re going to stand behind what they do and come back and fix what’s wrong,” Fusaro said.

Deaton said the new HVAC system means everyone is more comfortable, saying it’s also an indication of good leadership at the shelter.

“Donors are probably more comfortable donating to a situation where they feel like the people in charge are doing the right things,” Deaton said. “We’ve put three high-quality systems in. Everyone is going to be comfortable now, and they’re going to be comfortable in the future.”

The project is near and dear to his heart, Deaton said.

“Anybody that knows me know I’m a dog lover. I like cats. We have cats,” he said. “But I’m a dog lover, and I’m a Holiday Island Rotarian.”

There’s not a big difference between what Good Shepherd does, Deaton said, and what Holiday Island Rotary Club does.

“It’s all the same. We’re trying to help,” Deaton said. “That’s what they do every day, taking care of the pets and their staff members. What really opened my heart up to it is I thought there were a lot of really, really good people who were trying to do good things.”

Clark agreed.

“The more [Fusaro] and I visited, the more interested I became,” Clark said. “[Fusaro] is so passionate about the situation. I could feel that.”

Even better, Deaton said, his employees were on board with the project from the very beginning. He said he’s proud of the team that has working at the shelter, including Rodney Walden, Josh Weems, Colby Lakey and Ryan Williams.

“When we introduced this job to them, we let them know it was designed to break even,” Deaton said. “There was zero chance of making profit. Their tendencies could’ve been to hurry up and take shortcuts to get it done, but they have not done that.”

He continued, “That’s what I’m most proud of — they’re taking their time and doing the same job as if we were trying to make maximum profit on it. They’re doing the best quality work they can do. They’re treating this job like any other job we do.”

You can’t visit the shelter without seeing passionate people, Deaton said.

“Every person out there has the same passion [Fusaro] does. They’re doing what they want to be doing,” Deaton said. “It’s a thankless job. They’re doing it because their heart is there, and they know it’s the right thing. That’s what made it an easy decision for us to help out.”

Fusaro said this partnership is a great example of the kind of relationships Good Shepherd hopes to build in the community. He said the shelter is always seeking business partnerships, offering visible signage and social media promotion to businesses that help out. The next big project at the shelter, Fusaro said, is to renovate the indoor kennels. That’ll cost a lot of money, he said, and Good Shepherd could use some help.

“We’re hoping businesses see what Island Airco can do, and that they get something from it,” Fusaro said. “Maybe other companies would like to do the same when we do the indoor kennels.”

Good Shepherd Humane Society is the only no-kill shelter in Carroll County. For more information on the shelter, visit https://goodshepherd-hs.org/.

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