From Bob’s Desk: Some things are just worth repeating

By Bob Bacon

Have you ever been in a position where the person you are listening to is telling you the same, advice story or presentation AGAIN? You have heard it so many times you could repeat it yourself! When it happens to me it makes me crazy. I have been writing this column for quite a while and I have really tried to avoid repeating myself and boring you. But, sometimes things bear repeating. Like, “Safety to the Next Level!”

This is worth repeating:

Did you know that Elm really appreciates you? You are a member of a fantastic team of apprentices, technicians, electricians, engineers and administrative staff. You are hardworking, responsible and dedicated to our customers. The technical quality of your work is excellent and your willingness to learn new skills is unending. As for the service you provide to our customers and your coworkers, it is incredible. You always seem to get it done and get it done right. Thank you for working here at Elm.

I hope you feel like you are appreciated, too. Did you know we offer educational benefits that will help with the cost of taking college courses and that we have helped your coworkers who have wanted to change jobs or move up in the organization? If you need help with a personal or family problem, often we can help. Talk to your supervisor or Keith, Mike or myself. Sometimes we can adjust your work schedule or some other aspect of your work. You are important to us and over the years we have been able to help in many situations. If we can help with something let us know!

I wrote this in the newsletter in 2013, but it is certainly worth repeating. Your company — Elm — really appreciates you! You do it right, safely. Thank you for all you do. I appreciate it.

If we can help please let Deana at (413) 485-4101, or any of us, know.

I put out the goal of getting individual feedback to you by mid-September, but the execution of getting that done is harder than I anticipated. We really want it to be a positive experience and the tools in our Birddog system need some massaging to get that to work. Brian Donnelly has been a big help getting this worked out for me, and he and I decided to get it out to our newer co-workers first and get the kinks sorted through there. I will be sending out an email to the first group right after Labor Day.

Finally, I wasn’t able to attend the Elm Family Picnic at Sonny’s Place, but I heard it was great!

RELATED: Check out photos from the annual family picnic here

Here is Deana’s recap:

This year’s employee picnic was another great success! We moved the location to Sonny’s Place in Somers to be more convenient for our growing number of Connecticut-based employees and to offer more activities for Elm families. We were happy to see many of our Middletown crew and several Westfield families make the short trip to the new venue. There was perfect weather for the 135 attendees, as employees brought little ones, grown children, spouses, even grandchildren. Sonny’s gave us a beautiful private (air-conditioned) pavilion with a delicious barbecue buffet and families had a chance to catch up and make new friends before heading out into the park for hours of fun activities. Erica Menard-Johnston, a newer Elm employee, commented that the picnic gave her a chance to meet and talk with people she hadn’t met before and she was really struck by the positive company vibe at the event.

The day offered “a little something for everyone at every age,” Steve Plasse, who attended with his children, remarked. There was a competitive round of mini golf for the Dionnes; the Samsons and Bernashes tried zip-lining, and the Dawsons were rumored to have conquered the climbing wall. Things got heated on the go-kart track as the driving skills of Carter Puza were put to the test and the Palazzis ventured out to find something called Monkey Motion. As the day wound down, the Alicea family met back in the pavilion to visit with the Chartiers and Parents, and Falcon Drive personnel were rumored to be running QA tests on the end result of the Sip of Sunshine palletizer Elm designed in 2022.

Elm Futures program wraps up for summer; three new Elm U graduates

By Paul Asselin

This Summer we ran four (4) Elm Futures 4-Day Camps with a total of 19 students attending. One of the classes was a partnership with Gateway Regional in Huntington where interested students were able to choose electrical as a possible career path and attend our Futures Program. 

All of the students that attended showed improvement over the four days and there were some exceptional students both from the vocational school and the high school. Depending on workforce needs some students may be offered a Co-Op position with Elm this Fall. We also had one student that graduated from vocational school this year and was offered an opportunity to work at Elm. 

This program was as successful as could be expected to look for talented future Elm Employees but also give individuals who did not go to vocational school a chance to work with hand tools and feel the satisfaction of completing a project that they built with their own hands.

Hats off to the graduates!

Congratulations to recent Elm University graduates John Whalen, Seth Tebo and Samantha LaPlante!


In this month’s employee spotlight, we chat with Samantha LaPlante, who has been working at Elm in some capacity since she was just 15 years old!

Q: How long have you been working at Elm? 

A: In 2016, I started working here when I was 15 turning 16. I’ve been working for Elm for eight years! Four years were part time while at school and during the summer, then four years after graduation.

Q: How did you get your start here? 

A: I went to Westfield Technical Academy High School for construction. I was going to go for electrical, but my dad actually works here, Chris LaPlante. So I thought I would learn about two trades since I planned on applying for Elm. When I got the job, I started out in the warehouse cleaning and organizing parts for about a year. Then for two years I worked in the panel shop, where I wired up panels and learned how to read blueprints to wire things correctly. At the end of my junior year of high school, I moved to the pre-fab shop where I currently work now with my dad. 

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your role?

A: My role working here at pre-fab is to build things for the workers out in the field so they don’t have to do it out there with the weather conditions. It also makes it a much faster process for us to get jobs done. I’ve done jobs where I had to do things from rolling wire on spools, to welding, to building shelves and tables for the shop and trailers.

Q: What are some things you enjoy most about working here? 

A: Some things I enjoy most are the family-friendly people and atmosphere. Even though we are at work, the people we work with I feel makes the day better with all the weird and crazy personalities we have! 

Q: What has been your most rewarding experience here?

A: The most rewarding experience I’ve had has been working with my dad. Even though we get on each other’s nerves at times, we still have fun! I also just finished my 4-year classes at Elm University thanks to Paul and Matt! I am getting ready to take the test! Wish me luck!

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not working? 

A: When I’m not here I go to my second job working in childcare at the YMCA in summer and after-school programs. Kids have always been a part of my life. My mom ran an at-home daycare since I was about 8. She now works with me at the YMCA, but in preschool. When I have free time I love to travel. I recently went to Alaska for 14 days — seven days on land seven days at sea. I have been on about seven or eight cruises since I was 5.

I love spending time with my family and friends, as well as animals. I just got a puppy. His name is Dexter (Dex). He’s a white golden retriever and is very clumsy. Dex shares the house with two cats — Misty who’s very sassy — and Timmy who’s a little on the handicapped side and walks in circles. He was born with his head facing his butt and wasn’t supposed to live for even a week after he was born but, 15 years later he’s still kicking! Then there’s my hamster, Toast. She loves running on her wheel when I’m trying to sleep. My boyfriend also has two huskies named Toby and Larry. They are the most rambunctious boys ever and they love to talk.  

Q: Do you have a particular hobby or talent that co-workers may not know about?

A: The hobbies or talents I have that people might not know are that I’m very creative. I love to draw and do crafts. I’ve been drawing since I was 3. People still ask me how I draw and color the way I do and I have no clue how to do it. Another hobby I have is saving animals. I find who I feel needs help. I’ve helped birds, squirrels, and bugs… Even though they creep me out.

Engineering’s collaborative robots the focus of three projects in August

By Mike Holmberg

Engineering is wrapping up three robotic projects this month.

Here’s a closer look at each of them…

1. Bonide – Using Elm’s “PALIT” Collaborative Palletizer – Bonide manufacturers of a rodent repellent product for Home Depot called MoleMax, we are providing a conveyor to organize 10 lb. bags of Repellent into groups of four and then pick and palletize four bags at a time onto a pallet. Total quantity on the pallet is 150 Bags at a rate of 15 bags per minute.

2. Bona – a manufacturer of floor cleaning products, Bona will also utilize Elms’s PALIT Collaborative Palletizer to palletize a variety of cases from 17” up to 28” in length and up to 12 lbs. per case. This new system will eliminate the need to manually palletize the product and allows the operators to focus on other areas of the operations.

3. Flowmatic – is a manufacturer of a variety of industrial valves. This project is to deliver a collaborative robotic machine tending cell. The Cell consists of a collaborative robot with an end of arm tooling and a vision system to detect part orientation. The robot will pick parts from a mobile drawer system that will collectively hold up to 600 parts and present the part to the vision system so that it can adjust the part orientation to then load the part into a CNC machine that will drill and tab the parts to the finished specifications. Once complete, the robot will return the part to the drawer. This will allow Flowmatic to run their CNC machine unattended for several hours.

Incredible day for annual family picnic; work anniversaries and more

We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day for last Saturday’s family picnic at Sonny’s Place in Somers, CT!

Along with delicious Southern BBQ, guests received an activity card good for four hours of go-carts, mini golf, virtual reality, arcade, gyroscope, screaming eagle, climbing walls and more. Here are some photos from a great gathering:

Elm Electrical, you did it again!

You were able to fill 10 laundry baskets with comforters, mattress pads, sheets, blankets, towels, washcloths, shower caddies, toiletries, fans and desk lamps for the housing insecure students at Westfield State University.  

“These baskets will be placed in the students’ dorm rooms before they move in and will help make their transition to full-time college students go a little more smoothly. This is such an amazing gift. And it’s more than just ‘stuff’ to the students. It means there are people out there who care about them and want them to succeed,” says Marjorie Rodriguez the Assistant Director for Student Access and Support at Westfield State University. 

Thank you again to everyone who contributed to this important and worthy cause! #elmpeoplearegoodpeople

Bob Bacon awarded Bill Hayden and Jeromy Roldan each with a Tag Heuer watch to commemorate their 20 years of service to Elm this month:

Congratulations to the following employees celebrated a work anniversary in August!

HNE Subscriber Alert Reminder

Please be advised that Health MD Urgent Care located at 1238 Riverdale Street in W. Springfield is NOT part of the HNE network. Services provided there are not covered under our insurance & you will be responsible for large, out-of-network fees. Don’t use this location. A complete list of Urgent Care options can be found HERE.

Where your health matters

Health New England is partnering with WebMD Health Services to offer live webinars to educate, engage & empower your health journey.

  • 9/14: Meal Planning Made Easy
  • 10/12: Fitness for All Ages & Abilities
  • 11/7: Time Mgmt & Organization
  • 12/14: Social Connectedness

Click here to learn more about each webinar & to register.

Safety Department visits number of job sites during OSHA’s Safe + Sound Week

The Safety Department and Management would like to thank everyone for their participation in the 2023 OSHA Safe+ sound week! The Safety Department was on the road visiting different job sites, as well as Elm University, holding stand-downs to promote Mental Health Awareness in the workplace. We know this is a difficult subject to discus, let alone in a public setting surrounded by your co-workers.  If you or any family members are suffering from any form of Mental Distress, Elm has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) with multiple resources that can help you and your family members. Reach out to HR or scan the QR code below for access to the EAP.

Thanks again to everyone who participated in one of the stand-downs taking Safety to the Next Level!

Here is the QR code for access to the EAP:

Elm invests in equipment to make your job safer, easier and more efficient

By Tim Rzeszutek

Continuing to do the basics is driving growth and requiring us to keep investing. Working safely, doing business with integrity, providing timely high-quality service and continuing to evolve are the company values that have been and continue to keep fueling our success! Below is a list of items we have added with a short summary of why we have added these. As always, if there are items you feel we need we want to hear about them.

Have you ever popped open a manhole cover? It’s a safety nightmare when you stand back and look at it. Bad lifting posture, too much weight for one person to lift, but yet it might be more dangerous to do with multiple people, pinch points for your fingers, and then usually a fall hazard with the hole. With a complex medium voltage underground feeder pull coming up that would require removal of and placement of manhole covers daily for multiple weeks, the last thing we wanted was for someone to get hurt doing the minute task of opening and closing these covers. To reduce these risks, we added (2) more magnetic manhole cover removal tools as shown in the link below. Small dollars with a huge return. It removes pinch points, takes you away from a potential fall hazard and saves on your back. If you have a project with manhole covers and you’re not using these, you need to start.

ALLEGRO Manhole Cover Lid Lifter,660 lb.,Slvr (9401-25A) | Zoro

In one of my first tool articles, I talked about the frustration of getting a tool that doesn’t work or doesn’t work consistently. The last thing we want with a labor shortage is our skilled trades people doing tool repairs rather than building with them. That is what we found ourselves doing a little more than we cared to on our utility overhead line trucks. Fail fast and fail cheap was our mentality when getting into this type of work, but we have proven over the years now that we can successfully do this work and have a high demand by our customers for it. With new trucks running north of $150k we did not want to make these initial investments but have started to now over the past 2 years with the purchase of a new bucket truck and most recently last month with the purchase of a new digger truck. We owe it to our employees and customers to have a top-notch fleet and are hoping a continued strong economy will allow us to keep adding to it.

If you haven’t been to Cycle St in the past couple months it may look drastically different. We have expanded our prefab area, added a larger overhead door, installed a large outdoor concrete pad and installed a road. This expanded area will allow us to setup a larger engineering system for customer acceptance testing and allow us room to build our most recent endeavor of prefabricated skidded solutions. Currently, we are building two skids for Fuel Cell Energy with what we call their EBOP skid. EBOP stands for “electrical balance of plant.” This skid is similar to assembling an engine and transmission for bench testing prior to installing in a vehicle chassis. This will reduce FCE’s contractor’s on-site assembly time and will also allow the FCE team the ability to tune this assembly of electrical items in our shop with pre-commissioning activities, thus speeding up plat installs and startup. In order to build these, we have had to invest in some mag drills and heavy equipment skates to move these after assembly. Below are links to both.

M18 FUEL™ 1-1/2″ Magnetic Drill Kit (

Strongway Machinery Mover, 26,400-Lb. Capacity, 8 Rollers, Model# CRA-12 | Northern Tool

Finally, we added a few other basic tools based on your feedback and request. For driving ground rods, we added a Hilti TE-1000 and for rotation checking we have added a few more non-contact style meters.

ONE Development adds mini excavator to the fleet and more

2022 Kubota KX040 mini excavator featuring:

  • Dig depth 11’
  • Lifting capacity 3000lb
  • 40 hp Diesel
  • Enclosed cab with heat, a/c, and radio w/ Bluetooth
  • Hydraulic thumb
  • Hydraulic angle grader blade (4-way)
  • Pre-plumbed dual auxiliary hydraulic lines down the stick
  • Rubber tracks
  • operating weight of 9,885lbs
  • 1’ and 2’ wide digging buckets
  • 3’ wide grading bucket

This machine was purchased to expand One Developments excavation and site work capabilities and help support Elm’s car charging station and solar projects.

ONE D&C Project updates

Project Information

  • Project Name: NUPRO
  • Location – South Deerfield, MA
  • Project Type – Industrial
  • Plan Type – Design Build
  • Expected Completion – 4/15/24

Project Description

One Development worked with NUPRO to design a state of the art TPU Extrusion Facility. The project will consist of a 100,000 SF Butler Building. The facility will be composed of 12,000 SF of manufacturing space, 10,000 SF of maintenance facility, 10,000 sf of office space and 68,000 sf of warehouse. One Development is providing a Turn Key approach to this project. When the project is complete the client will be making product in their facility. The project also includes process piping for chilled water system for process cooling. The reject heat from the process will be used in conjunction with water source heat pumps to provide free heating in the winter months!

Project Information

  • Project Name: C and S Wholesalers MegaDoor Installation
  • Location – Keene, NH
  • Project Type – Airport
  • Plan Type – Design Build, provide PE Stamped Plans
  • Expected Completion – 10/2022

Project Description

One Development worked with C and S Wholesalers and Hill Engineers to retrofit an existing aircraft hanger to meet the requirements of a new corporate jet. In order to fit the new corporate jet, the existing hanger door needed to be replaced. One Development proposed installing a MEGADOOR by Assa Abloy to meet these new requirements. The project entails a wide variety of work which is detailed below:

  • Structural Reinforcement for Wind loading and snow loading.
  • Installation of large foundations to support the new doors and truss system.
  • Electrical Power and Control Wiring.
  • Siding and Trim work around the new truss structure.