Above and Beyond
Northeast Acoustical Ceilings Inc. creates unique overhead elements
Ceilings are often the least noticed part of a room, unless they have been installed by Northeast Acoustical Ceilings Inc. (Northeast Acoustical). These specialists create ceilings that get attention while providing another important element—sound control.
“We are your average ceiling guys who found a niche in specialty projects with unique products. We love new challenges but stick to old-fashioned work ethics to get the job done on time and on budget,” says Scott Dinges, Vice President of Northeast Acoustical. “We also help with noise reduction and sound transmission, which have become real necessities in the workplace.”
The family-owned business serves all of New England from its office in Cranston, Rhode Island. Scott and Rodney Guglielmetti, who is known as Reg, are brothers-in-law and have been business partners since 1992, when Reg joined E & S Acoustical Ceilings. In 2013, they created Northeast Acoustical and in 2015 they officially closed E & S. Now Reg is President of Northeast Acoustical and manages all of the field operations, and Scott handles all business aspects of the company.
Both men are experienced carpenters who honed their skills working for a ceiling company in Rhode Island. Scott started in 1986 and Reg in 1987. That early training and their strong, old-school work ethic have earned them an excellent reputation that keeps the work coming.
“We do one thing, and we do it well. We stand out and enjoy repeat business from loyal general contractors who know their project will be done right and on time,” Scott says. “We’re not always the lowest priced, but we keep getting work because of our ability to get the job done right. We pay attention to detail and train our teams that way. They love what they do and can install any type of ceiling.”
Northeast Acoustical’s work can be seen in commercial businesses, retail stores, auto dealers, offices, warehouses, industrial locations with laboratories or clean rooms, technical schools, colleges, medical facilities, police stations, public safety complexes and in residences for home theaters and basements. The company deals primarily with general contractors but also works directly with some owners.
Capturing the Moment
The company’s work has evolved to meet market demands and changing consumer patterns. “When we started in the early ’90s, retail was big and ceilings were important. Now retail is big-box stores with a lot of open space and no ceilings. So we transitioned toward office space, medical offices and car dealerships that have special prototypes and building specs,” Scott says. “Many of the dealerships are no longer small mom and pops, but companies with large budgets that use interesting, specific and proprietary designs.”
Projects can be large or small, but each one has either a unique element or meets a growing need in the market. “We thrive on new opportunities to use our 33 years of experience on specialty work. Many of our team members have been with us for more than 25 years, so we bring a tremendous amount of skill and knowledge to each job. Having this high level of experience is why we can go for new and complex projects. Right now there are endless opportunities with new products and designs, and for the first time we are seeing a not-so-conservative approach in Rhode Island,” Scott says.
One ceiling concept known as clouds has gained popularity for both appearance and occupant comfort. These dropped ceiling components can be made in almost any shape and used in a variety of unique designs. They also offer great sound quality because both the top and the bottom of the ceiling contribute to sound reduction. Northeast Acoustical has used this concept in several projects, particularly in schools.
In the summer of 2017, it applied its talent to the massive renovation of Potter-Burns Elementary School in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The project included updating the 100-year-old school building’s classrooms, bathrooms, offices, library, cafeteria, gymnasium, windows, entryways and doors. It also added a media center, an elevator, energy-efficient windows, and new roofing, mechanical, plumbing, HVAC and electrical. Northeast Acoustical’s work was a combination of regular ceilings in the hallways and specialty work, such as new curved canopies at the entrances, cloud ceilings in the library and cafeteria, as well as the ceiling in the multipurpose room designed to meet acoustical and atmospheric needs.
Offering Valuable Input
Northeast Acoustical typically lends its expertise to the design and product selection. “We bid per plans and specs or basis of design and submit our plan for what we’ll use. After that’s all settled, we install. But what works on paper can be difficult to achieve in the field,” Scott says. “Experience and knowledge of different systems help the project meet certain sound levels and aesthetics to make it work for the bottom line. That’s what we do, make it work.”
The company’s expertise played a key role in fulfilling the design of the new science building at Portsmouth Abbey School, a Catholic Benedictine boarding and day school for grades 9-12 in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. “We aided in the design of the custom wood ceiling tile on this project. In the submittal process, the owner realized the design of the ceiling would limit access for cleaning and maintenance. So we worked with the architect on a different design, and Rulon International made a special product just for this job. We took on the challenge and made it happen.” Rulon is a manufacturer of suspended wood ceiling and acoustical wall systems based in St. Augustine, Florida.
Another unique wood combination ceiling was installed at the Mystic Seaport Museum, the largest maritime museum in the United States, in Mystic, Connecticut. “The work at Mystic was for sound because the room was round and made of all wood. Between the wood, we attached acoustical panels to the roof deck with an air pocket between and painted the panels to blend in with the wood. The product we used can be painted and is a cementitious wood fiber product. It looks like shredded wheat but is made with wood fiber and cement,” Scott says.
Northeast Acoustical took on interesting challenges for the American Center for Bioregulatory Medicine and Dentistry, a holistic health care center in Providence, Rhode Island. “This was a really cool job. Each room has its own look, and there are four different ceilings in the building. Focal points on the walls were also creative, like walls that have a design made of different colored live moss,” Scott says. “All of the products they selected were unique, which created unusual and very expensive ceilings. One was a whisper wave ceiling and another was a metal ceiling with a perforated design and lights above it. It was a challenge to work with these new products, but that’s what we love to do—work with new and unusual elements. All the products we used were from Arktura in Los Angeles.”
As with many construction companies, the current labor shortage is a concern that Scott and Reg are working on. “We have a core of experienced people who are the backbone of our company. The average age of our installers is 50 years or older, so we’re reaching out to vocational schools to get young people interested in our trade. We’re also heavily involved in the carpentry apprentice program offered by the Rhode Island chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. When we do hire someone, they learn from our seasoned journeymen who all have the old-fashioned work ethic we cherish. They never make excuses about why something couldn’t be done. They just find a way to do it,” Scott says.
Scott and Reg also reach out to the youth of their community through sponsorships of sports teams. “We’ve contributed as much as we can to local baseball, softball, soccer, hockey and football leagues. We’ve also made a special effort to support kids in the traveling hockey teams who couldn’t afford to play without some additional funding. Hockey is a soft spot for me. Growing up, travel and tournaments were not an option for financial reasons, so we want to help our young people be able to play,” Scott says.
Customers of Northeast Acoustical are always happy with their finished product and the teams at the company always look forward to the next opportunity to create interesting elements that also make sound levels more comfortable.