Learn more about the people who provide the vision and run the Air Innovations operation on a daily basis. Our management team consists of mechanical engineers, MBAs and even a chemical engineer— all which provide different perspectives on challenges to lead and move the company forward. Click on each manager below to see a preview of their bio. If you would like to read the full biography on one of the managers, click the read more button to see an extended bio.

Michael Wetzel

Michael Wetzel, P.E.

President & CEO, Management Board of Directors

Michael Wetzel is President and CEO of Air Innovations, a firm specializing in the design and manufacture of environmental control system. Wetzel is a graduate of Clarkson University where he received a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering. He is a licensed Professional Engineer and is the holder of seven US patents.

Prior to Air Innovations, Wetzel was based in Strasbourg, France for four years working for a multinational company building cleanrooms in Europe and the Mideast. Previously he worked stateside as an engineering manager in the HVAC construction industry.

Since joining the company as president and CEO in 1996, and after he and his father Larry acquired controlling interest in Floratech Industries, Wetzel has grown Air Innovations from a company focused solely on floral coolers to one that addresses wide variety of refrigeration, air conditioning and filtration needs. During this time, revenue and employment have increased dramatically.

Mike Wetzel District Export Council

Wetzel serves on the board of directors for MACNY (Manufacturers Association of Central NY), is a member of the District Export Council, and is VP of the CNYIBA (Central NY International Business Alliance). He also serves on the Air Conditioning Heating Refrigeration International Leadership Council.

District Export Council members are appointed by the Secretary of Commerce and serve as resources for the local export community by providing guidance and advice for other companies new to or less experienced with the process.

He is also a past member of the board of directors for the Erie Canal and Skaneateles Ski Hill.

Wetzel participates in many outdoor sports and activities, including skiing, biking, hiking, sailing, SCUBA diving and HPDE (High Performance driving events on road courses).  He has been a certified level 200 Alpine ski coach and official for over 20 years.  Married for more than 20 years, with two sons that all enjoy the same passion for outdoor activities. He is also a self proclaimed oenophile, even before we were in the wine cooling business!

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Richard Bailey

Richard Bailey

Director of Marketing and Business Development, Management

Bailey joined Air Innovations in 2013 as Dir. of Marketing & Business Development. He is responsible for marketing communications, brand development, market research, and business development for all Air Innovations brands. Previously, Bailey held roles as VP of Marketing and Dir. of Marketing & International Representation at a high-tech component manufacturer and was a financial analyst at an industrial durable goods manufacturer. Bailey has lived and worked in Belgium and Ukraine, and he has personally conducted business in 15 countries. He holds an M.B.A. with an emphasis in Marketing and Supply Chain Management from Syracuse University and a B.S. in Business Management with a co-emphasis in International Finance & Finance with a Russian minor from Brigham Young University. Rich enjoys playing volleyball and studying human population statistics in his spare time.

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John Bires

John Bires

Director of Operations, Management

Bires joined Air Innovations in 2016 as the Director of Operations with over 25 years experience in implementing best manufacturing practices within eight industries. Previously he worked for 3M Company for 15 years where he received a number of engineering awards for his technical accomplishments including the design of an oxygen sensor that is used in open-heart surgery procedures. Bires is a Lean/Six Sigma Black Belt and is Certified in Planning and Inventory Management (CPIM) by ASCM (APICS). He holds a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Rochester.As Director of Operations he is responsible for all manufacturing functions, including production, scheduling, shipping, building facilities and maintenance, and safety compliance.

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John Patalita

John Patalita

Division Manager, Management

John Patalita Is Export Manager for Air Innovations and serves as Division Manager for Floratech. He comes to the job with over 25 years of marketing, new product development and management experience at Carrier Corporation and Lennox International. He worked in Europe for ten years, and speaks fluent English, French, Polish and Spanish. Patalita holds an M.B.A. from the University of Rochester’s Simon School and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Princeton University, He also completed graduate studies in France at the École Supérieure des Science Économique et Commerciales as a Rotary Foundation Graduate Fellow. He also has an encyclopedic knowledge of world history.

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Erin Putman

Erin Putman

Director of Finance and Purchasing, Management

Erin Putman has joined the Air Innovations team as Director of Finance and Purchasing. In addition to accounting and supply chain management, she will be responsible for Information Systems and Human Resources. Erin has 20 years experience in manufacturing, with a combination of experience in Purchasing, Finance and Treasury. Erin has a bachelor’s degree from University of Oswego in accounting.

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Roger Redmond

Roger Redmond

Director of Engineering, Management

Roger has over 25 years of engineering and project management experience in the HVAC industry in research and development. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from McNeese University in Lake Charles, LA. Previously, he worked for Carrier, McQuay International, and Dantherm Inc. He has associations with the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and with the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI).

In addition, he’s a classic car enthusiast, enjoys gardening roses and perennial flowers, and loves period architecture from the 1800s!

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Lawrence (Larry) Wetzel

Lawrence (Larry) Wetzel, P.E.

Chairman of the Board, Board of Directors

The first 18 years of Larry Wetzel’s career were spent in the construction industry. Starting as a junior engineer, he rose to become president of a division. In 1983, he founded Clean Room Technology, Inc. and rapidly built it into an international business with sales in excess of $20 million. The $650,000 of initial start-up capital was leveraged into a market value in excess of $8 million dollars when the company merged with the French company, Clestra, in 1989.
Wetzel spent the next several years as chairman of Clestra’s worldwide cleanroom operations with sales in excess of $40 million. In 1994, while serving as a consultant to Clestra, Wetzel co-founded Exponential Business Development Company to invest in and assist start-up entrepreneurial companies in Upstate New York. Exponential raised over $5 million in capital with Wetzel serving as a general partner until 2002 when the business was acquired by Newtek Capital, Inc.
Early in 1996, Wetzel and his son, Michael, acquired controlling interest in Floratech Industries, Inc. In 1998, Floratech introduced an innovative new air conditioning product, HEPAir, for the cleanroom and indoor air quality market. In 1999, Floratech, through its newly formed subsidiary, Cleanroom Systems, Inc., acquired the cleanroom air conditioning manufacturing division back from Clestra.
In 2001, the parent company changed its name to Air Innovations, Inc. to better reflect its mission. Sales, profits and employment have increased ten-fold in this time. Larry Wetzel continues to serve as chairman and Michael Wetzel serves as president and CEO.
In 2011, Wetzel was honored by the HVAC-R and manufacturing industries with two significant awards: Heating, Piping and Air Conditioning magazine’s “Engineer of the Year” and the Manufacturer’s Association of Central New York award for manufacturing excellence.
Wetzel holds degrees in mathematics and engineering from Penn State University and St. Vincent College and is a licensed Professional Engineer. He is a holder of eight U.S. patents. Currently, Wetzel is principal investigator on several HEPAiRx ventilating air purifier research studies and is actively involved in the product’s commercial launch.
Wetzel is a frequent lecturer, has published several professional articles, and sits on the boards of several companies in the region. He is active in many philanthropic and business organizations in the Central New York community. Wetzel is a founding board member of the New York Indoor Environmental Quality Center, Inc., which subsequently became the Syracuse Center of Excellence.

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