Maniscalco is acclaimed as a friend, leader and a visionary
By John MacKenna
When John Maniscalco retires from the New York Oil Heating Association this summer, he will leave a lasting impression on the heating oil industry stretching way beyond the City’s five boroughs.
The humble executive may prefer to downplay his contributions, but his colleagues are effusive in their praise for his quiet effectiveness.
John Huber, President of the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA), told Oil & Energy, “John Maniscalco is a true friend of mine, and a true friend of the industry. To the industry, myself and to NORA, John has provided key insights and advice. He has been willing to look forward, and commit himself and his reputation to the future. His leadership and commitment to a long-term future for our industry ranks him as one of the great leaders our industry has seen in the past few decades.”
The NORA president said Maniscalco has been an important ally for the Alliance. “John has been a steadfast presence, consistently delivering the members of his delegation from the City of New York, and being key to getting the two New York Senators onboard. He has also served as Treasurer, ensuring that the funds necessary for the campaign were in place.”
The industry is more successful thanks to Maniscalco’s contributions, Huber said. “John has been a leader in developing education opportunities for new technicians to enter the industry. He has advocated and worked for a cleaner and greener fuel. In those efforts he has made allies of people who otherwise would have advocated the destruction of the industry.”
Huber also credited the NYC executive with encouraging colleagues to think “outside the box” and focus on the long-term future of the industry.
NEFI Director of Public Policy & Industry Relations Michael C. Trunzo also praised Maniscalco’s contributions to the industry. “John has been a leader in the home heating industry for decades,” he said. “From my first encounters with him when I was at the Empire State Petroleum Association to my recent tenure at NEFI, John has been a role model and mentor. His work to protect and move the home heating oil industry forward, through the National Oilheat Research Alliance and especially on the biodiesel blending of heating oil, will be a hallmark of his career. He has helped lay the groundwork for the future of the industry.”
Leading With Vision
Steven J. Levy, Chairman of the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) and an executive at Sprague Operating Resources LLC, described Maniscalco as “a brilliant individual who has led the oil heating industry with exceptional integrity, passion, professionalism, and most importantly, vision.
“New York City provides the cleanest, most renewable heating oil in the world, and that would not have happened without John’s leadership,” Levy added. “John deserves much of the credit for the successful transition from traditional products to ultra low sulfur, renewable BioHeat® fuel. John could always be counted on to further the message and organize a supporting consortium for clean heating fuel, whether traveling across the country or just a quick subway ride to the steps of City Hall. His ability to execute for the industry and the members of NYOHA has been unprecedented.
“John’s success can be attributed to his strengths of successfully working with industry suppliers, state and local elected officials, program funders, multiple media outlets, contractors, etc. to meet the goals and vision of the heating fuel industry,” Levy added.
Within the ranks NYOHA, where Maniscalco has served as executive since April 1991, the appreciation and affection is palpable. Allison Heaney, President of Skaggs-Walsh and a member of the NYOHA board, told Oil & Energy, “John Maniscalco is one of the best people I know. I have the deepest respect for him and wish him the absolute best in his retirement. We will miss him dearly. I am not sure that anyone else can do the kind of job for New York Oil Heat and the industry that he has done, but we’re going to try. He has been an absolute pillar of the industry and will be sorely missed.”
Another NYOHA board member, Daniel Vessio, of Nulite Heating, Plumbing & Fuel Oil, confessed that when Maniscalco called to say he was retiring, “I actually started crying. That man has been a friend. He treats everyone with such respect, no matter who you are. He is a genuinely great person, and that is what has helped NYOHA to have the success it has had and continues to have. He helped me tremendously starting with the Metropolitan Energy Commission and then continuing into the American Energy Coalition. John has been one big help all along the way and has been a mentor, a confidant and nothing but a great friend. He is always there to help anyone, and I have never seen John lose it or get angry.”
Vessio addressed Maniscalco’s legacy. “When you say heating oil, you have to say John Maniscalco, because he has evolved heating oil into what it is today. Not to say he did it single-handedly, but without him we might have a very different scenario from what we have today. He was the driving force behind bringing biodiesel and low-sulfur diesel into the mix, and if we didn’t have that guidance and vision, it scares me to think where we might be now. He has not only kept heating oil going, with his vision he has given it a direction so it will continue on for many years.”
An Oilman Himself
Maniscalco’s background as a former NYC oil company owner also sets him apart, according to Vessio. “He understands the oilman because he was one himself. He’s not just an executive or a businessman; he did the job, and all of us who do the job know what we go through to service the public, and it takes a special individual. John is still one of us at heart, and he has a passion for the industry bar none.”
NYOHA board member Martin Levi, of OSI Comfort Specialists, said of Maniscalco, “What an amazing guy! He has been and continues to be the lifeblood of this organization. He is knowledgeable and compassionate, and he is there for you, for everyone in this business.
“His background of being in the business himself provided him with the ability to understand the problems we have on a daily basis, and yet he turned around and made himself a political animal as well, and one with great tact.
“There is a Jewish word: a mensch. That is as good a description of him as any. He’s just a great, great man, and he will be sorely missed. It is a retirement well earned.”
Neil Bianco, Senior Vice President at Champion Energy Corp. and a NYOHA board member, said Maniscalco has great leadership qualities and is very tactful with his constituency. “As a level-headed guy who think outside the box in our industry, he is unique in many ways. My personal opinion is that he is probably one of the strongest executives for an association that I have known in my 35 years in the industry. He handled all the financial data for the Metropolitan Energy Commission, and now he does the same for the American Energy Coalition, and he crosses the T’s and dots the I’s.”
One longtime colleague in the industry executive ranks, Kevin Rooney of the Oil Heat Institute of Long Island, said, “Over the past 25 years that we have worked together on a host of industry-related issues, I have come to truly appreciate John’s dedication to the industry. In every sense of the word, he is the consummate professional and I can’t begin to tell you how much I am going to miss him!”
Rooney shared a story about his Metropolitan Area peer. “Part of the reason John and I worked so well together is that we both brought an entirely different skill set to the business of running our respective association. (His was industry-based, while mine was government-based.) So whatever we were doing, we played off each other’s strengths.
“When we were working the ultra-low sulfur legislation in Albany a few years back, and routinely running into intense opposition from API and the NYS Petroleum Council (representing the major oil companies), John and I spent weeks lobbying Members of the Legislature and constantly talking with each other about the legislation. He would talk to me about lubricity, pour points, additives and a host of technical stuff that was largely beyond me; in turn, I would talk to him until his eyes glazed over about building “legislative coalitions of convenience” and the need for “political triangulation” which was necessary because our natural allies in the Senate Republican Conference had sided with the majors and, thus, we were dependent on the Senate Democrats to get the legislation passed.
“So as we’re sitting in the Senate gallery while the bill was debated, he turned to me and said: “Now I finally understand what you meant when you said that, at times, politics makes for really strange bedfellows.” Over the course of our joint lobbying effort, he received an object lesson regarding the inseparability of politics and government, and I learned more than I ever wanted to know about the chemical composition of various petroleum products. It just goes to prove that even after decades of running oil heat associations, old dogs like us can still learn a few new tricks!”
At the American Energy Coalition, Executive Director Tom Tubman extended his congratulations to Maniscalco on a great career. “People may be surprised to learn how generous John has been with his time and his talent, and just how many Oilheat organizations John has volunteered his time to, the least of which is the American Energy Coalition (AEC). It has been my privilege to have worked with John and AEC for over four years, and his departure will leave a huge void to be filled here at AEC and the other organizations he held leadership positions in.”