Members and friends of the New York Oil Heating Association gave a warm sendoff to longtime CEO John Maniscalco during a recent celebration of his illustrious career.
Maniscalco left NYOHA on August 28 after a 24-year tenure that was highlighted by the Association’s successful campaign to make New York City’s heating oil the cleanest in the country. While associations in other jurisdictions were struggling to secure timely fuel requirements, NYOHA worked with New York City officials to enact the mandates that ushered in “Clean 2,” a blend of ultra low sulfur heating oil with 2 percent biodiesel.
The mandate ensured NYOHA’s role as a partner and ally to New York City officials as they worked to clean the city’s skies and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. It also helped the biodiesel industry gain a solid foothold that has become a vital staging point for expanded biodiesel distribution in the Northeast.
(Above: John Maniscalco is honored by his successor at NYOHA, Rocco Lacertosa.)
The heating oil industry, led by the National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA), is aggressively promoting the use of biodiesel-blended heating oil, and New York City’s success with the new fuel, both operationally and politically, is a positive precedent that reflects well on NYOHA and Maniscalco.
In addition to his accomplishments at NYOHA, Maniscalco has been the chief financier for NORA, the American Energy Coalition (AEC), the National Association for Oilheat Research & Education (NAORE) and other organizations.
On a recent Friday evening, NYOHA and the industry gathered at the Garden City Hotel in Garden City, N.Y., to celebrate Maniscalco’s career. Rocco Lacertosa, the new NYOHA CEO, was first to commend his predecessor. “John has written the book on how to lead an association,” he said, and thanked Maniscalco for his dedication and hard work.
Next at the podium were Daniel Vessio, a director of both NYOHA and AEC, and AEC Executive Director Thomas Tubman. Tubman praised Maniscalco’s unselfish work as AEC’s Treasurer: gathering contributions, depositing checks, paying the bills and writing financial updates. “He worked tirelessly without compensation and always with a smile on his face,” the AEC executive said. He called Maniscalco “a true gentleman who was always eager and willing to help anyone with anything.” AEC presented luggage to Maniscalco and his wife of 43 years, Patricia Ann, for use on the journeys they plan to take as retirees.
(Above: Daniel Vessio (left) and Thomas Tubman present John Maniscalco with a plaque from the American Energy Coalition.)
New England Fuel Institute also paid tribute to the NYOHA executive. Michael Trunzo, NEFI’s Director of Public Policy & Industry Relations, called Maniscalco a leader, mentor, advocate, partner, friend and family man. “Once he is in your corner, he’s in there for life,” Trunzo said. “Leaders like John don’t just appear every day.”
Kevin Rooney, CEO of the Oil Heat Institute of Long Island, said that when he first encountered Maniscalco, he thought they had little in common: Rooney was a government relations specialist, while Maniscalco was a heating oil industry veteran, having served as an executive at several companies. Over time, however, Rooney learned that they shared a lot, particularly their fierce determination to serve, protect and promote their associations’ member companies.
Rooney said Maniscalco’s work reminds him of a quote that President Reagan had on a plaque in his office: “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.” “With John, it is always about his members and his association,” Rooney said, calling the NYOHA executive a “consummate professional.”
NORA President John Huber said the word “sincerity” describes Maniscalco. The NYOHA executive has sincerely tried to do what is best for all the associations he has served and for the industry, Huber told the crowd. As Treasurer of NORA, Maniscalco worked to make sure that everything that the Alliance did would benefit the industry. “The most important thing is he has always been my friend and counselor – someone I could talk with and always get good advice,” Huber said. “We will really miss you.”
(Above: New York City Council Member Costa Constantinides presents John Maniscalco with a Proclamation in his honor from New York City.)
Donald B. Allen Jr., owner of Virginia-based E.T. Lawson and a former NORA Chairman, said of Maniscalco, “I am honored to be here with this wonderful, wonderful person.” He recalled how the late Robert Greenes, President of NAORE, tasked Maniscalco with raising the funds necessary to help NAORE organize the NORA checkoff program and get it approved by Congress. He recalled how Maniscalco “went back to the same well” and got many companies to donate repeatedly to NAORE. That success led to Maniscalco being made Treasurer of NORA, where he has overseen the finances since the Alliance’s founding in 2001. The leaders who made NORA a reality, Greenes and former NEFI CEO Jack Sullivan, have left the scene, Allen noted, and “John has become our Bob, our Jack. I don’t know how we will replace you. Thank you for what you have done. It’s been a pleasure.”
The audience next heard from New York City Council Member Costa Constantinides, who has followed in the footsteps of his former boss, Council Member James Gennaro, as the leading voice of Bioheat® fuel within the New York City government. Constantinides recalled that when he was on Gennaro’s staff and beginning work on the first city Bioheat mandate, Gennaro told him, “We have the science on our side, and we have John Maniscalco.” He said that then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg told them that Bioheat would not work in New York City, but they pressed onward with Maniscalco leading the charge. The Bioheat bill “would not have happened without John,” the Council Member added. Passing the first bill was like taking 30,000 cars off the City’s streets and was a real benefit to the people of New York, Constantinides added. He said, “John is a fierce advocate,” and noted that the Council is now considering a bill to raise the mandated blend level from B2 to B5. He also delivered a Proclamation from the City Council honoring Maniscalco’s contributions.
The final speaker of the evening was the guest of honor himself. “I am taken aback by this outpouring of love,” Maniscalco said. He referenced The Dash Poem by Linda Ellis, which talks about the dash between two dates, and he thanked many of the people who helped make his “dash” (between 1991 and 2015) a success. Many people have helped him along the way, and he expressed his gratitude to his family; to many leaders and members of NYOHA; to the association executives and leaders he has worked with; and to countless others in the industry.
To read an in-depth interview with Maniscalco, please visit oilandenergyonline.com.