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'EXTREME MAKEOVER -- HOME EDITION' Man contacts reality show, builds new home for family



Published: Sat, April 23, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



A Cortland man asked how he could get involved.

WARREN -- If you're watching "Extreme Makeover -- Home Edition" on ABC tonight, you might get a glimpse of Bob Kundel Jr. of Cortland, who donated equipment from his company, Kundel Industries on Forest Street, and his time, to help build a new house for a needy family in Florida.

Kundel, his wife, Melissa, and one of the company's technicians, Ken Riley, spent eight days in Hastings, near the Jacksonville/St. Augustine area, helping with the demolition of the old 1930s Army barrack house of Willie and Alecia Harvey and their four children. It was replaced with a new 4,300-square-foot home.

Kundel Industries manufactures trench safety equipment as well as light to medium crane systems. Its 12-by-12 Snaptrac crane system was installed in a garage workshop designed for Willie Harvey, who was out of a job after having been diagnosed with epilepsy. Employers were concerned that his seizures would impair his ability to work as a mechanic and heavy equipment operator. The workshop will enable the father to have his own business.

Kundel said he contacted the production company for the show, asking how he could get involved and donate his products. Before long, the Kundels and Riley were in Florida joining 600 other volunteers on the project that would be completed in only one week.

"It's like a big family, everybody working together 24 hours a day. It was incredible to be involved," he said.

Kundel joked that there were almost as many volunteers as there were residents of Hastings, which numbered 602.

Everyone works together

Everything was done in a very organized, systematic way, he said. For instance, trucks were lined up to take away the rubble as soon as the house was demolished. Then the framework went up, with 60 electricians and plumbers ready to go in and finish their part in the construction.

In addition, tents were set up at the construction site with food and refreshments so work would not stop.

When it was time to install the Snaptrac crane in Harvey's workshop, Kundel said he was given all the assistance he needed, with everyone pitching in whenever and wherever help was needed.

Harvey was pleased with the workshop, Kundel said. "He was overwhelmed and gave me a big hug."

Kundel added, "I felt really blessed to participate in this project. We really wanted to bless someone who couldn't afford this type of equipment.

"I met the family and had a personal tour of the rest of the home after it was finished."

Kundel said his 8-year-old son, Job, a second-grader, was excited that his parents were involved in the project and he wanted to go to Florida too.

Kundel estimates that with all the costs including time, the transportation of the equipment, and the crane itself, Kundel Industries donated about $10,000 to $12,000.

"It was a great experience, and we'd do it all over again," he said.

Kundel Industries was established in 1988 and employs 50 people.

X"Extreme Makeover -- Home Edition" airs at 8 p.m.




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