Even before September 11, you did not have to convince this editor that Americans pull for each other. It’s a given, especially with contractors.

In last week’s issue, for instance, we brought you the story of how various contractors in and around the Falmouth, MI, area jumped in to help the wife of Terry Dieterman complete a family remodeling project (“Friends Pitch in to Help Family Complete Home,” page 12). Dieterman, who died in a farming accident in late April of this year, left behind his wife, Sandi, and their three young children. Dieterman’s friend, Steve Ebels, owner of nearby Golden Rule Heating & Cooling, wanted to help out, so he enlisted the help of his many cyber friends.

Before one could say, “I’ll be glad to help,” cash donations came flowing in, along with equipment donations and labor — all to help pay off the Dietermans’ remodeling mortgage and help install a heating system. Last month, Ebels, his son Andrew, friend Mark Jenema, and fellow contractor Dave Mason, owner of Climatech LLC in Marlette, MI, were on hand to install a boiler, water heater, operating control, and power vent assembly — much to the surprise of Sandi Dieterman.


Then there’s the Dennis Fuller scholarship.

Earlier this month, Rodrigo Magallanes, an hvacr student at Practical School in Anaheim, CA, became the first recipient of a $2,000 scholarship named after Dennis Fuller, a long-time employee of contractor Air-Tro, Inc., in Monrovia, CA. In February of this year, Fuller, a 47-year-old field supervisor, died along with his father from carbon monoxide poisoning.

If anything good can come out of something so tragic, Excellence Alliance Inc. (EAI) and Air-Tro made it happen. Air-Tro president Bob Helbing started a collection in the name of the Fuller family. In a matter of days, the money was collected. Because Air-Tro is a member of EAI, Helbing thought it was best to donate the collection to the Excellence Alliance Foundation (EAF), a nonprofit organization created to attract, educate, and develop all levels of the contracting industry’s workforce.

Upon hearing about the donation to EAF, Jeff Wilmink, president of EAI, decided to match the gift and began working to establish an ongoing scholarship in Fuller’s name. Helbing said he chose the Practical School because his company hired six or seven of its graduates; “Dennis worked closely with their new graduates.”

Kudos go to all involved in making this scholarship happen in such a short time.


As with most scholarships, the Dennis Fuller recipient has to show a financial need, meet satisfactory progress criteria (grades and attendance), be motivated, and have future goals.

Patti Gallagher, director of Financial Aid at Practical School, noted that Magallanes “possesses all the qualities we look for in a graduate. He is motivated and eager to learn. He came highly recommended by his instructor and his grades and attendance exceeded our requirements. He also had extreme financial need.”

The 21-year-old was all smiles when he was presented the check. “The scholarship has relieved some of the financial burden I was facing, so now I can concentrate on my studies,” said Magallanes, whose older brother recommended that he also join the trade. “My brother graduated from Practical School with honors and learned the basic requirements, and now has achieved his goal to provide for his family and his future.

“I want to follow in his footsteps. We hope to some day start our own hvacr business.”


As reported inThe Newslast week, Norma Khan, manager of member services for the Plumb-ing-Heating-Cooling Contractors — National Association (PHCC), was on board American Airlines Flight 77, which was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon on September 11.

She left behind a 13-year-old son, Imran. At its annual conference, PHCC decided to establish a scholarship fund for Imran Khan.

We have no doubt of our industry’s continuing generosity.

  • To contribute to the Dieterman family, send a tax-deductible check to Prosper Church, 1975 E. Prosper Road, Falmouth, MI 49632.
  • To make a donation to EAF, call 859-334-6600.
  • To contribute to the Imran Khan Fund, send checks to the PHCC Educational Foundation, 180 S. Washington St., Falls Church, VA 22046. Please make checks out to the PHCC Educational Foundation Scholar-ship Fund, with a notation that the donation is for the Imran Khan Fund.
  • Skaer is editor-in-chief. He can be reached at 248-244-6446, 248-362-0317 (fax); skaerm@bnp.com (e-mail).

    Publication date: 09/24/2001