At Crouse Health, Every Moment Matters

By: Sarah Hall
Kimberly Crouse headshot
Seth Kronenberg MD headshot

Crouse Health: Mission, Vision Values – Not Just Words on Paper

Throughout its more than 130-year history, Crouse Health has remained true to the basic fundamentals that have been the foundation of its success: Quality care delivered by compassionate people in an environment that fosters healing, innovation and wellness.


To provide the best in patient care and to promote community health.


To be a leading healthcare provider in Central New York by…

Service excellence: Anticipating and exceeding expectations of all we serve: our patients and their families, providers, employees, students, volunteers and other partners;

Dynamic work environment: Fostering an environment where all are valued and respected, and passion and opportunities for professional growth are encouraged;

Building on centers of clinical and organizational excellence: Doing the right thing by focusing on evidence-based patient- and family-centered care, a commitment to safety, the importance of learning and our mission, vision and values;

Innovation and collaboration: Building/fostering partnerships to enhance care, meet community need and anticipate the demands of a dynamic healthcare environment;

Financial and resource stewardship: Keeping Crouse strong through the responsible use of financial and human resources.


In early 2004, a team of committed, engaged and passionate employees from all levels of the organization came together in focus group sessions to identify values and behaviors that would form the foundation for the hospital’s culture. The Crouse values are not just words on paper – they provide the framework for how Crouse as a team provides care and services to its community. They are tools to help the organization to work as a team and help guide, problem solve and challenge each other constructively with one focus always at the forefront: mission.

Community – working together
Respect – honor, dignity and trust
Open and honest communication
Undivided commitment to quality
Service to our patients, physicians and employees
Excellence through innovation and creativity

“Whether it’s OB or robotics or neurosciences or cardiology, the strength of Crouse comes from the strength of the physicians.” Seth Kronenberg, MD, Chief Medical Officer/Chief Operating Officer

Studies have shown a direct connection between a hospital’s organizational culture and overall patient satisfaction with their healthcare provider. Nowhere is this more evident than at Crouse Health, where senior leadership maintains a sharp focus on culture and its impact on the patient experience. “We firmly believe that the culture at Crouse Health sets us apart in the marketplace and drives our mission of providing the best in patient care and promoting community health,” says Crouse President and Chief Executive Officer Kimberly Boynton.

A key foundational element of that culture is collaboration, says Seth Kronenberg, MD, Crouse’s Chief Operating Officer and Chief Medical Officer.  “When everybody has a voice – and it’s a collaborative discussion – we see that the institution is moving forward.”  Boynton echoes the sentiment, adding that she, Kronenberg and the rest of the senior leadership team, operate as a unit.

“We work as a team,” she said. “When staff see that they’ll reach out to their peers and their directors and their managers and start to talk to them differently. Instead of making a decision that is linear, they’ll start to look across the organization and say, ‘Okay, this is going to affect multiple people. We should bring them in from the beginning.’”

Boynton, a Syracuse native, has been at Crouse for 20 years, having started in an entry-level position, working her way up in the Finance Department and taking over as CEO in January of 2014. Kronenberg is an internal medicine specialist from Fayetteville who has been in his leadership role for five years. Both say they never make important decisions about the hospital without the other. 

“People know that if you’re talking to one of us, you’re talking to the other,” Kronenberg said. “It’s not important who gets the credit. We all make mistakes. When we make a mistake, it’s not about who to blame. It’s ‘How do we learn from the mistake and go forward?”     

A culture of caring

Boynton and Kronenberg both say said they strive to foster a culture where all employees understand the role they play in providing a quality patient experience. “All healthcare institutions are striving for the same thing — high quality care,” Boynton said. “At Crouse, the most important thing is our culture, and making sure that every person who works here understands the value they bring to the patient care experience — whether that’s the bedside nurse or the valet attendant — and that they know the importance of their role.”

Boynton said Crouse encourages an environment in which every employee, regardless of their role or where they work in the organization, should feel comfortable working side by side. “Our culture sets the tone for how patient care is going to be provided,” she said. “So a nurse feels comfortable approaching a doctor and saying, ‘Here’s what I’m seeing, here is what is going on.’ That collaboration is going to lead to better quality. And that is what sets Crouse apart.”

Kronenberg said that while the culture is modeled at the top, it’s not merely a directive that comes from the administration.  “The culture is driven by engaged employees and engaged physicians,” he said. “We don’t set the culture at the administrative level. The culture is a function of how engaged employees are.”

That level of engagement starts with the hiring process. When prospective employees apply for a position at Crouse, the hospital’s website clearly conveys the mission, vision and values of the organization (see sidebar). And in addition to more traditional procedures, Crouse also does peer interviewing. “It’s not just about your supervisor, it’s about how you relate to the other individuals in your department,” Boynton said.

Once an employee is hired, they have plenty of opportunities to interface with administration. There’s a two-day orientation for all new employees. Every few weeks, employees get a CEO update via email.  There are also quarterly ‘formal update’ meetings, as well as quarterly “Coffee with Kimberly,” informal sessions where employees can meet with Boynton to discuss any Crouse-related topic or issue they may have, including potential improvements in patient care. There is no pre-set agenda for this forum. And after 90 days, new employees are welcomed to a new employee breakfast with Boynton where they can suggest improvements to the orientation process.

All these efforts ensure that Crouse functions seamlessly as an institution. “Everybody feels free to collaborate with each other, with no barriers,” Kronenberg said. “That’s where you get the best quality outcomes. That environment, where everybody functions as a team, is what separates us from other institutions.”

Crouse also prides itself on being a “physician-friendly” organization. “When we’re making decisions about anything — from care plans to budgets to service lines, there’s always a physician piece incorporated into it,” Boynton said.

Kronenberg said the administration is always transparent with the medical staff. “We’re open and honest with all the decisions,” he said. “Every decision made is based on what is best for patient care. So when you have that as the foundation physicians are engaged from the start.”  

The best in patient care

Since patient care is at the heart of everything Crouse does, Kronenberg said the hospital has been working with its 3,300-member staff on improving the patient experience. “We’ve done a lot of work speaking with our employees about what the patient experience is,” he said. “It doesn’t mean that everybody is satisfied all the time. It means that we are there to serve the patient. And if there are issues, to correct them as best as we can.” In the last year, all Crouse employees have undergone specific training to learn about Crouse’s strategic initiative to improve the patient experience. The effort is paying off — patient satisfaction and engagement scores are improving, particularly in nursing.

“It raises the bar for all of us,” Kronenberg said.  The efforts tie into Crouse’s internal motto of “Every moment matters,” Kronenberg said. “It’s every role, every person, every experience,” he said. “We can take the best care of the patient and can have a great outcome, and if the valet attendant is not attentive, or they have a negative experience with environmental services, we haven’t done our job.”

That motto, says Kronenberg, means every Crouse employee needs to step up and provide help to patients and their families, whenever they see a need. “Again, it doesn’t matter what your role is here,” Boynton said. “When management is doing and working and seeing and talking to patients and families in the same manner that we want our employees to, they know it’s the right thing to do.”

And employees have risen to the occasion. “Some of the best stories we hear are about experiences that patients have had involving what previously would be considered ancillary support — environmental services, engineering or the barista,” Kronenberg said. “One of the things we do to recognize them is go to their department unannounced — almost like a mini ‘flash mob.’ We’ll read the letter, post it, blast it out on social media. It’s a great way to recognize staff who probably don’t get as much recognition as they deserve.”

It’s not just little things that Crouse is doing to improve patient care; the hospital is undertaking major initiatives to make the experience better, as well.  “One of the things we’ve been working on is a ‘quiet initiative’,” Boynton said.  Noise on the units presents an opportunity for improvement and Crouse is working on different things to make the patient and family experience better when it comes to maintaining a quiet environment. This includes dimming the lights, providing patients who are watching TV with earbuds and working on the overall quietness of the floor to foster a more calming and healing environment.

Kronenberg reiterates that the patient experience is a major strategic focus for Crouse. “We have developed a five-year strategic plan and have been educating all employees on the patient experience and why it’s important. As part of this, we have put in place action items on specific areas — clean and quiet, nursing communication, physician communication, and all of these have specific action plans that involve staff at all levels, from nurses, physicians and other clinicians, to engineering, food services, volunteer services and housekeeping.” All these efforts — and the fact that everyone within Crouse Health is working together to ensure their success — contribute to a better experience for the patient during their stay, which, Kronenberg noted, is important to the patient’s overall health. “There’s a lot of literature that patient outcomes and patient experiences are linked,” he said. “So the better the patient experience is, the better the patient outcome.”

“In the end, ideally, we want patients to trust us by saying ‘Take me to Crouse,’” Boynton added.


A family of physicians — and more

Crouse is affiliated with some of the most talented and highly regarded physicians in Central New York, which, as Boynton points out, are “of the utmost importance to the success of the organization.”

“Whether it’s OB or robotics or neurosciences or cardiology, the strength of Crouse comes from the strength of the physicians,” Kronenberg said. “We’re here to provide the environment where physicians who choose to practice here can excel.”

Crouse’s providers are on the front lines of providing patient care, as well as helping to set the tone for the culture of the institution. “They drive that culture by how they treat each other and how they treat the nursing staff and how they interact with other support areas,” Kronenberg said. “The physicians who work here really believe in that teamwork.”

Kronenberg said the staff refers to Crouse as having “a family environment.” Boynton said the Crouse community is very supportive of one another. “One of our cardiologists tells a wonderful story about a situation that took place in the catheterization lab. It was a very difficult day for the staff,” she said. “And everyone saw that and knew it. And an environmental services worker approached one of our cardiologists at the end of the day, put her hand on his back and said, ‘Doc, how are you doing?’ It’s that sort of support that takes place here every day.”

Embracing inclusion

Doing the right thing is important to Boynton, and it’s an important part of Crouse’s mission, vision and values. That’s why, when Boynton took over as CEO and several employees approached her with concerns about the institution’s lack of diversity, she jumped into action. “When you looked across the management team, it wasn’t diverse. When you looked across the organization, you could see pockets of diversity, but it wasn’t throughout,” she said. “And we wanted to make a difference there.”

Over the next few years, the hospital launched new initiatives to increase diversity among its staff and to better equip workers to address the needs of a diverse population. Chief among those was the establishment of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. This group of more than 20 employees has created an annual training that all employees must complete, as well as one that new employees undergo during orientation. The committee also organizes celebrations surrounding events, holidays and historical observations like Black History Month or, more recently, National Coming Out Day, inviting speakers from within the organization as well as the surrounding community to share their experiences with the staff. They’ve also helped to inform Crouse’s marketing and recruitment strategies so that the hospital is attracting more diverse candidates.

Kronenberg said the D&I effort has been successful because it’s become such an integral part of the culture at Crouse. “It’s reflected in human resources when they’re hiring. It’s in new employee orientation. It’s in recruitment and retention. The initiative also represents personal opportunity for every member of the staff, starting with the CEO.  “I didn’t grow up in a diverse environment. I grew up in an Irish Catholic family and thought everybody in the world was Irish Catholic until I got to college,” Boynton said. “I had my own learning and growth to do.”

While at first some employees may have viewed the initiative as an additional burden, Boynton said she made it clear she was taking this seriously and expected them to, as well. “We made it clear from the beginning that this wasn’t just a training session, where you could simply check a box,” she said. “It’s not a separate thing that has a beginning and an end. It just becomes part of the organization, part of the culture.”

Both Boynton and Kronenberg said they’re proud to be part of an institution that genuinely encourages and supports such a culture while providing excellent care to thousands of Central New Yorkers every year.

“I’m very proud of the work that we do here,” Boynton said. “We see Crouse as an asset of the community and we’re just entrusted with it for a short period of time to make sure that it’s here for many, many years in the future. We have a rich history, and our job is to carry that history into the next generation.”

Craig Zinserling: CRAL Contracting, Inc.; Treat people better than you treat yourself

By: Martha E. Conway

The breadth and culture of CRAL Contracting, Inc., has been in a state of continual metamorphosis since its inception 16 years ago. Starting as a one-man operation with help from friends and family, Craig Zinserling, 52, has built up the business to employ nearly 30 full-time staff and multiple support entities. The service coverage area has expanded, with field offices as needed, starting with just Upstate New York and expanding to service the entire state.

Services also expanded as demand rose starting with asbestos abatement and now encompassing mold remediation, lead stabilization and many other environmental-related services. He said multiple crews totaling 25 to 50 employees head out to the field daily, supplemented with contract environmental laborers for the larger projects.

Zinserling was born, raised and educated in Liverpool, graduating from Liverpool High School.

“I was drawn to business, as my dad had his own business for many years,” Zinserling said, adding that he studied and played percussion in high school and college, and continues to play in his church.

Beginning in high school, he worked summers for Cordelle Development in Manlius, a home building outfit that builds homes in eastern Onondaga County. He learned the business from the ground up – from digging trenches to closing new home building property deals. He stuck with it through college, gaining six years of business experience.

“You know, they start these homes with a hole,” Zinserling said. “Into that hole, they dumped 16 yards of No. 1 stone. I spent a lot of time in a 90-degree hole shoveling and spreading out stone.”



Zinserling worked for Cordelle after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in business/economics from Wheaton College in Illinois, moving from there to MARCOR Environmental, where he learned the business operations end of environmental projects.

But those experiences were not what formed his leadership style.

“My mom and dad always taught me to treat people better than I treat myself,” Zinserling said. “That’s where my leadership style comes from.”

With his motivation for independence, he envisioned starting his own business and began planning to do that.

“I really had an itch to go into business for myself,” Zinserling said.

“The first thing I had to do was to calm my wife down,” he said, laughing. “But I’m not kidding, really. We had three kids, a mortgage, two cars in the garage and no paycheck. With a couple of years of planning, setting up a budget and developing a market plan already in the works, he used unconventional means to start by not borrowing from a bank and came through okay at the end of the day.”

Zinserling said there were a couple of years early on where things were touch-and-go, and he spent his fair share of nights in the office working and sometimes sleeping there as the daily commute between Rochester and Syracuse can get treacherous at times.

“I started with abatement,” he said, “and I was responsible for finding the jobs, selling myself to clients and then actually doing the work. My first job was an asbestos abatement project at Crucible Specialty Metals in Solvay.

“Asbestos abatement was a logical place to start the business. The emerging awareness of the dangers of mold exposure and opportunities that existed with controlling exposure is what really started the business concept.”

“Everyone knows someone who is afflicted with asthma or allergies; many relating to healthy indoor air quality and mold exposure.”

Understanding that the mold remediation field was going to be expansive, he made it his mission to learn everything he could about the subject, right down to the spores, attending all the professional conferences he could and working to obtain the pertinent credentials.

“That meant a good volume of work, and I knew I could get jobs,” Zinserling said. “With that, lead abatement, pigeon/bat droppings remediation and other services followed; it was a solid base.”

Zinserling said he was lucky to not get broadsided by any self-employment-related surprises.

“I was seasoned enough that I knew what to expect at the onset of the business; some people pay you when you work, and some don’t.”

Zinserling redefines success on a minute-by-minute basis, with no firm definition, and no established milestone. It’s not about achieving perfection, but more about a drive to always be improving.

“I’ve never really thought about there being a single measure of success,” he said. “I always think there’s more I could be doing. I will never get ‘there.’ Continual improvement is at the heart of how I view life and business.”

“To me, I see success in the expressions on the faces of the people whose lives we’ve touched, from compassionate employees, grateful customers, loyal colleagues and friends and family,” Zinserling said. “I do get excited that my mom and dad come to our company Christmas party each year, and my mom gets to brag about me. This is where you see the effects of this leadership style; as those around you prosper.”

Zinserling said he advises those who want to own or lead a business or organization one day to take their time planning to do it right.

“Line up your resources and find good people you can rely upon,” he said, “and treat people better than you treat yourself.”

One of the tenets of that philosophy is giving to help those in need. Zinserling said that one of his proudest affiliations is that of his involvement with David’s Refuge, a non-profit focused on support and caring for those tasked with being 24/7 caregivers.

“My wife suggested we volunteer on Valentine’s Day one year for an event aimed at giving special needs kids a fun time carnival so that their parents could have a few hours to themselves,” he said. “I was struck by the reality that marriage is hard and raising kids is hard, and these couples have the additional challenge of raising children who require 24-hour, round-the-clock care.”

“The impact a small respite has on their lives made a tremendous impact on ours. We set up games and activities in the gymnasium, the kids had a blast and the parents appreciation was incredible. We fell in love with the organization and its mission. David’s Refuge is so wonderful, I am so grateful for the privilege of participating and proud of helping it grow.”

Zinserling said the needs of the organization far outweigh its resources.

“They need resources such as volunteers and funding,” he said. “In fostering this mission, we’re now partnering with the Syracuse Builders Exchange. I’ve talked to [Syracuse Builders Exchange Executive Director] Earl Hall, and we’re looking at available opportunities to adopt this mission and help this group, including adding a link to the SYRABEX website. Leadership by example is a trusted and true endeavor. These leadership philosophies aren’t just ideas, they are action words. Treat people better than you treat yourself.”

Zinserling’s plan for the next five to 10 years is to continue slow and steady growth, hopefully doubling the current volume in five years. He said one of his intentions when starting the business was to develop something he could pass on to his children, now aged 23, 21 and 19.

“They have other interests, and that’s fine,” Zinserling said. “My dad wanted me to do better than he did, and I want my children to do better than me.”

He said CRAL Contracting is a small family-run business, and everyone there cares very much about each other. He said that dynamic is fostered through orientation into the business and reinforced by the actions and modeled by the behavior of everyone there.

“No one is more important than anyone else,” Zinserling said. “From the guys out in the field to me, we are all equal – we just have different roles.”

For more information on CRAL Contracting, Inc., visit For more information about David’s Refuge, visit

Pierre Morrisseau: OneGroup; Let’s help each other out

By: Sarah Hall

You might think you know Pierre Morrisseau’s family’s roots.

You’d be wrong.

“I’m not French,” he said. “Our name is actually Scottish. When [my ancestors] went to France they put the ‘eau’ at the end of it. My father was very eccentric and just decided to give us all French first names for the fun of it.”

The story is rather on-brand for Morrisseau, the CEO of OneGroup. The company is, by the most basic definition, an insurance firm. But it’s also an advisory group, a public policy maker, a small business incubator, a community partner, a leadership academy, and so much more.


“The premise of [OneGroup is] ‘insurance is a lot more than insurance,’” Morrisseau said. “The company is built around getting people to think broader and bigger and engage in it on another level.”

Morrisseau spent several years in the insurance industry before launching an entrepreneurial endeavor with two colleagues, focusing on what he calls “performance-based risk management.”

“How do we take safety, which is a don’t-do-this thing, to actually a performance-based culture?” he said. “So if you think about football, you can’t not tackle. So what’s better? Let’s teach them how to tackle effectively and efficiently so they’re not hurting themselves.”

It was that idea of performance-based risk management that followed Morrisseau as he climbed the ladder at OneGroup. In his day-to-day business, he spoke with many companies whose executives were struggling on so many fronts from technology, finding qualified workers, environmental, ergonomics, indoor air quality and more. In order to address those needs — to mitigate the risks faced by these companies — he came to believe it was necessary to assemble a team with diverse knowledge. Now, OneGroup and its affiliates are able to provide everything from financial planning, to business planning, to retirement planning, to estate planning and many of the services needed for each along the way.

In helping other businesses to grow to their full potential, OneGroup has soared, as well. When Morrisseau joined the firm 16 years ago, it had just 35 employees and $3.5 million in revenue. Now, revenue is up to $32 million, with more than 200 employees in 19 locations, and current growth projections suggest it will double in size over the next five to eight years.

‘More than insurance’

So what is “risk management?”

“It’s kind of one of those overused terms, right?” Morrisseau said. “In reality, insurance is just what’s called risk financing. So if something bad happens, there will be cash flow to get me through that.”

Among OneGroup’s offerings is personal insurance. Especially if one owns a business, it is critical that their personal insurance protection is properly planned to insulate their business from personal risks. In personal insurance, OneGroup’s experts are available to speak to clients to understand their goals and determine proper coverage.

“The number one problem in personal insurance is people don’t know whether they’re getting the right coverage or not,” Morrisseau said.

But OneGroup’s true bailiwick is helping businesses: human resources, workers’ compensation, employee benefits, business insurance and cyber liability insurance. Just as they do with personal insurance clients, OneGroup’s experts work to help their business clients figure out what coverage they need and how it will best benefit them.

“Keeping your business going is risk management,” Morrisseau said. “So part of it is having game plans to deal with [catastrophe]. We help people with everything from sales risks, receivable risks, fiduciary risks. All these things you never think about in everyday life, and yet, if something happens and then maybe only one in a thousand chances it can happen. But if it does, you’re done.”

Unfortunately, not all risks are insurable. The vast majority — 80 percent — are not. But that’s where the planning comes in. Often, he said, such planning helps businesses to grow.

“I had a client [with whom] we would go down this exercise and said, ‘You can’t “what if” everything,” he said. “So let’s just start with the big ones, right? What’s a big worry? What if your building burns down? How are you going to go out and take six months?’ I said, ‘So, can we diversify where everything is so that at least, you have half of your stuff somewhere else?’ They go, ‘You know, we’re just thinking about expanding into other states.’ So they then did and now, they have three or four locations. So risk management is moves away from being this thing you have to do, to something that actually can help you grow your business.”

OneGroup also works with a number of start-ups, Morrisseau said, where they begin by asking “better questions.”

“How would [your business] work?” he said. “What would happen if…? How could we mitigate that if it does happen? How could we have a plan B or plan C? Believe it or not, they are applied to all big, small, or large. The thing is no one takes the time to ask. No one takes the time to slow down a minute and give that benefit, especially if you’re a small business.”

‘All we need is the question to be asked’

Morrisseau said OneGroup’s team of advisors are there to ask those questions, and to answer any clients may have.

“What we can really bring to the table is our willingness to take the time and really understand who you are and what you’re trying to achieve,” he said.

What makes the firm unique is that it’s a kind of one-stop shop for business owners and executives where all advisors and services can coordinate together to determine what’s best for the business, allowing them to consider a broad range of options and saving on overhead costs. OneGroup has over 200 experts with backgrounds in law, human resources, business, engineering, occupational therapy, geology, marketing, accounting, sales, wealth management, health, human resources and, of course, insurance, among other fields.

“It’s fascinating to really understand how many different types of professions work here,” Morrisseau said. “We’re seeing so many different things from different angles that we can take the experience of one and bring it over to another. So all we needed is the question to be asked.”

As evidenced by their enthusiasm for entrepreneurship, OneGroup doesn’t shy away from the unknown.

“We don’t necessarily know the answer, but we really know how to figure stuff out,” Morrisseau said. “We don’t really run away from anything.”

Indeed, OneGroup is delving into uncharted territory. The firm is working with Nuair, one of six companies around Central New York working on drone technology. OneGroup has provided financial backing as well as a space for the tech start-up to work on its initiative.

Drone technology introduces a host of new questions for OneGroup’s advisors.

“The reality is we have to look at what’s unknown, and the unknown risk that we face right now is very, very high,” Morrisseau said. “All of us work up really weird questions that we don’t know how to answer yet. We’re actually on the forefront of trying to help people define public policy.”

A holistic approach

OneGroup is also trying to redefine employment. No more does each staff member take on a specific task, then pass on the file, assembly-line style. Instead, each client’s case is handled cooperatively.

“If you think about the industrial age, we love the concept of, ‘I’ll just do my piece and pass it on,’” Morrisseau said.  “But the reality is we really need to think more holistically about things.”

Morrisseau said this way of thinking marks a major shift in the business paradigm, but it’s one that clearly benefits OneGroup’s clients, as well as its employees.

“We tend to think of it like, ‘Hey, it’s working. Why will we break it?’” he said. “We really believe in breaking it all the time. As a matter of fact, every year we break stuff… it creates a very higher purpose type of culture.”

Also contributing to that sense of higher purpose is OneGroup’s dedication to promoting leadership and personal development among its staff. The firm has launched initiatives like a Day of Giving to replace holiday parties and retreats, where employees pick a nonprofit to work with, as well as OneGroup Day of Learning, where the agency will rent out the OnCenter and run a day-and-a-half-long conference and allow employees to pick whatever learning and personal development tracks they choose and run it like any other career conference.

Morrisseau said he sees OneGroup as being in the idea sharing business, and it’s important that leadership be cultivated internally.

“Ideas come from everywhere,” he said. “We don’t care what your role is. Everyone is really important to us. Everyone should be learning. Everyone should be contributing.”

And leadership internally, he said, contributes to leadership in the community.

“I think the world requires more community,” he said. “How can we help each other out? Because at the end of the day, is that not what insurance is? Helping each other out?”

Earl Hall: Syracuse Builders Exchange; A leader is only as good as his team

By: Martha E. Conway

The Syracuse Builders Exchange was founded on April 30, 1872, and was known as the Builders Board of Trade.  In 1900, the organization changed its name to the Syracuse Builders Exchange.  The Syracuse Builders Exchange is the largest Builders Exchange in New York State, serving 950 diverse member firms, and is affiliated with the Building Industry Employers of New York State, which was founded in 1895.  As the oldest Builders Exchange in the United States, the Syracuse Builders Exchange has evolved over the past 136 years to become the regional industry leader in gathering and disseminating of important construction information to construction industry employers.

The mission of the Builders Exchange is to further the best intentions of the building and construction industry in Central and Upstate New York; to uphold wholesome relationships among all constituents of the building and construction industry and the public which they serve; to foster and encourage just and equitable principles for the conduct of business within the building and construction industry; and to acquire and disseminate information and materials which are useful and beneficial to the building and construction industry.

For more information, visit, email Lisa at or call 315.437.9936.


“Make plans, engage your teammates and create the vision where you want the organization to be. Identify the skill sets of your team that will allow you and them to lead best. Take your experienced and talented people … promote buy-in, and lean on them for collaboration and advice … Most importantly, don’t be afraid of failing.”


Syracuse Builders Exchange Executive Director Earl R. Hall, 53, has a hard time taking sole credit for his nearly three-decades-long career; he said he surrounds himself with good people and encourages them to play to their strengths.

Hall was born and raised in Central New York. He has ties to Syracuse and Brewerton and graduated from Liverpool High School. He attended Syracuse University’s School of Business Management and enjoyed being a part of its National Championship lacrosse teams in his junior and senior years.

Hall was president of the Liverpool Youth Lacrosse League until the younger of his two daughters aged out of the program. His eldest, Cassidy, a senior at Wagner College in New York City, was recently named co-captain of the Wagner women’s lacrosse team this year. Kendra, a junior at Liverpool, has committed to playing lacrosse for Wagner, as well.

Hall said his lacrosse experience didn’t give him a lot of insight into performing under pressure or learning how to lead; he said he felt there were far better people on his team than he.

“I learned from the strengths and weaknesses of my teammates,” Hall said. “There are people better than you, and everyone brings different strengths and skill sets to the team. These are the same things that make an organization successful.”

Hall said he didn’t fully realize this on his own.

“Coach Roy Simmons, Jr. was the architect of that environment, and I learned from him,” Hall said.

His team now is made up of the officers, board of directors and staff at the Syracuse Builders Exchange, as well as professionals such as its accountants and attorneys. Hall said playing the strengths and experience of his team drives the success of the association.

“That’s the playing experience I bring to the business world,” Hall said.

Hall said as a young boy, he loved athletics and was on the path to a career in sports business. He said he did an internship at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. He joked he learned the internship was more important than the paycheck.

During this time, Hall’s father was the executive director of the Syracuse Builders Exchange, and Officers were talking about a succession plan down the road. Hall said he was brought in at a very low-level position in spring 1992.

“It was supposed to be a very short-term sort of thing before I went off to conquer the world of athletics,” Hall said. Fast-forward 27 years, and I’m still here, just in a different capacity.”

He said his father, the officers and board of directors gave him the opportunity to prove himself; he said he learned there were amazing people and opportunities in construction.

“They provided the skills and experience for me to eventually succeed my father,” Hall said.

He said he was trusted and given confidence to work to his potential and earn respect for his own abilities and not be seen as riding his father’s coattails.

“I was concerned with how that could be viewed by the general public and by the members we serve,” Hall said.

He said the officers, board and his father allowed him to transition into the position over time, groomed by those leaders and mentors, eliminating any transition hiccups or surprises. Hall said he was a part of the launch of the virtual plan room and said he was allowed the opportunity to mold and manage the association to his vision and wasn’t micro-managed, something that might be expected by a younger employee.

“They gave me their confidence and trust, judging me on my own merits,” Hall said. “I had the support of a team working in the best interest of the organization.”


Hall said the definition of success can be widely debated, even within the association. He said as a not-for-profit organization, the Syracuse Builders Exchange should be judged on the range of services delivered to members, growing and retaining membership during challenging times, delivering as much value as possible for every member dollar, developing team members toward their own strengths and encouraging them to lead in their own areas.

“Who are we serving?” Hall asked. “Are we growing as an organization? Are we growing our membership? Are we growing our services?”

Hall said he believes the Syracuse Builders Exchange is the largest in the state.

“We have morphed our traditional marketing and sales efforts into those more modeled after for-profit firms,” Hall said. “We’ve undertaken an internet marketing campaign, social media marketing campaign, as well as traditional marketing and sales strategies to attract as many potential members as possible.”

He said the Syracuse Builders Exchange covers an 18-county area and remains in that footprint to avoid crossing into regions covered by other associations.

“We’re constantly working to attract new firms and following up with the human element throughout the year,” Hall said, listing off a host of social events, education and training opportunities for member firms and their employees. “When members get their annual dues notice, they have time to reflect on the numerous human interactions we’ve had during the year.”

In addition to providing access to comprehensive construction bidding documents, the association provides information on projects that are in the planning stages, safety training and other educational training – including state-mandated trainings on a variety of subjects, social outings and group purchasing power – the economy of scale for even the smallest member outfit – for things such as medical and dental insurances, cellular phones, fuel and workers compensation insurance.

Hall said he thinks the association is heading into a challenging time because of the projected construction boom the next five years. As a past president of the International Builders Exchange Executives, he said he was struck by the different markets around the country.

“History has shown in other regions of the country that members may not need their local association when they’re busy,” Hall said. “We’re in a good economic environment, and there are a lot of opportunities for contractors throughout the region. I think it’s going to be increasing the next five years out.”

Hall said his team will meet that challenge by stepping up human interactions with members and additional training opportunities while continuing to be leaders in project bidding documents and those in the planning stages, right down to the town, city and county levels.

“Delivering services when our members are extremely busy is the most pressing challenge we will face as we enter 2020,” Hall said. “The Syracuse Builders Exchange was the first such association in the country, founded in 1872. We have a rich history working with construction firms, industry professionals and project owners; we will continue delivering bidding documents to contractors and identifying projects in the planning stages going forward.

“We will continue making contractors’ business lives easier by offering more training opportunities and making sure members continue to be able to review bidding documents and other project information in the ePlanroom daily,” he said. “We are a one-stop shop for contractors who rely upon a wide variety of industry services.”

Hall said he hopes the personal communication with existing and new members provides them with a thorough orientation of all the association has to offer. Identifying what contractors will need in the future will lead to a broader vision five and 10 years down the road, and finding that blend of services and technology will be critical to enhance members’ experiences, he said.

“Our vision for the next five to 10 years is a little different,” Hall said, explaining that peer associations across the state will meet early next year to collaborate what potentially new services they may offer members. What technology will be important and how can it be delivered in a cost-effective manner?

He said some big considerations are adapting to increases in state mandates, as well as developing a more diversified workforce that can meet the requirements for minority- and woman-owned business enterprises, particularly in demand for public works projects.

“We are heavily engaged in developing outreach to cultivate a diverse workforce,” Hall said. “How do we attract the next generation of construction industry workers? There is a labor shortage predicted. And employers want engaged workers. Where do we find them and how do we entice them into the industry?”

Hall said he is proud of the volunteer work he does with the Syracuse City School District’s Career and Technical Education Advisory Board.

“I get to work with the city school district officials and educators, and identify students who do not want to go to college, but instead want a construction career pathway program,” Hall said. “I think I take the greatest pride in that capacity and have the most impact, albeit small, on development of a much-needed diverse workforce.”

Hall said he is proud of the other impacts, involved, as well.

“I think it may help in a small way to address the poverty issue impacting particular segments of our society,” Hall said. “While addressing labor needs, the most meaningful piece of that board is working with students in the Pathway Program who want a construction career, who want a way out of poverty, who want to work.

“If we can capture that diversity for the workforce, various segments of society will be engaged, and those engaged citizens are just what our community and the state want to see in our communities, not just in construction.”

Hall’s advice to those seeking to be – or finding themselves in – leadership roles is to think big.

“Look at the big picture of what the industry needs,” he said. “Make plans, engage your teammates and create the vision where you want the organization to be. Identify the skill sets of your team that will allow you and them to lead best. Take your experienced and talented people and allow them to lead in their own areas; promote buy-in, and lean on them for collaboration and advice. Be open to change if the change makes sense. Most importantly, don’t be afraid of failing.”

On leaving a legacy at the Syracuse Builders Exchange, Hall said he doesn’t really think of it that way.

“The Syracuse Builders Exchange is a very strong membership association for the construction industry,” he said. “I’m just the fiduciary of the association. The only thing I would hope for is to leave it even better than when I took over. It’s a great team effort, working in the interests of members and the organization in general. The association has adapted over the past 147 years and it will continue to do so with or without me.

“I think long after I’m gone, the Syracuse Builders Exchange will continue to adapt to changing times, hire good people and thrive due to the dedication of the Board of Directors and Officers. It will be in really good hands for decades to come.”