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September 28, 2020

Get to Know: Bill Rochelle, Born to Serve

Bill’s command photo from his deployment in Iraq in 2005.

Bill Rochelle was Born to Serve

Focus factory manager and retired colonel gives back

Bill Rochelle is focus factory manager in Trane Technologies’ Trenton, New Jersey, facility, and he was born to serve. After graduating college, he served five years of active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army before spending 25 more years with the New Jersey Army National Guard.

Even when he retired in 2006 a colonel – after spending a full year deployed in Iraq, commanding 2,500 soldiers and leading logistical support for his 25,000-member division – he still wasn’t done serving.

So when approached to serve on the National Guard State Family Readiness Council, he couldn’t say no. The nonprofit helps families in New Jersey struggling with hardships caused by the deployment of their national guardsmen.

“The Council has done so much to help my soldiers and their families – the time was right for me to give back,” Bill said. “People in the military are prone to serve – it’s what we do. This organization fills a really important need, and all it costs me is my time, so it was hard to say no.

“I know what my family went through when I was deployed, so I want to do everything I can to help families and relieve the tremendous stress on soldiers so they can do their jobs safely – their lives depend on it.”

Bill asks Trane Technologies to help

Now Bill serves as vice chair of the Council and leads its grants committee. That means every single request coming in to the council – from urgent plumbing repair needs to business grants or help paying rent – goes to Bill first.

“When I receive a request for help with HVAC equipment, it jumps out at me right away,” Bill said. “The trouble is, a new HVAC system typically costs a homeowner more than the Council’s $5,000 maximum grant.

“Trane has generously donated equipment to three New Jersey National Guard families who were in desperate need. Grants from the Council paid for the installation.”

Recently, Bill helped facilitate a donation for a family with a broken-down HVAC system and a 10-month-old baby at home – during an oppressive heatwave.

“I’m grateful Trane wants to help National Guard families in New Jersey on a case-by-case basis, and pleased with how quickly the company responds to these requests,” Bill said. “Not all of the equipment donated comes from our Trenton plant, so some coordination and teamwork are necessary to quickly get components from other parts of the country.

“I’m blessed to be able to help others in this way, both through my volunteerism and by working for a company that is committed to citizenship in the communities we serve.”

Get to Know Bill, in his own words:

Grew up in: Neptune, New Jersey  

Lives in: Brick, New Jersey, about 15 minutes away from where I grew up

Tell us about your family: I grew up in a family of seven, with three  brothers, one sister and of course my parents. Our life centered on sports, and all the boys played football and baseball. My father was a full-time National Guard soldier and a U.S. Army veteran of World War II. We were always very close.

The family I created with my wife, Joyce, includes my daughter, Colleen, and my son, Tom. Colleen and her husband and two kids live with us, and it’s the highlight of my day to come home to my two grandkids.

Favorite hobby: I’m a huge Yankees fan, and my main hobby is collecting Yankees baseball memorabilia. I have about 600 autographed baseballs, plus pictures, bats, gloves jerseys and more. My wife is also a big fan and we go to spring training every year and a lot of baseball games at Yankee stadium. I’m very lucky!

Favorite pets: We’ve always had dogs in our family. Right now we have two dogs, a golden doodle named Yogi and a golden retriever named Bell.

First job: When I was in high school, my first job was bus boy at Danny’s Steakhouse in Red Bank, New Jersey. That restaurant is still there today.

Best advice: A long time ago I read a quote that said, “You’ll always regret the things you didn’t do more than the things you did.” I found it to be true and it always stuck with me. I’ve to pass that advice down to my children.

Would like to invent: A way to go back in time.

If you could high five anyone, living or dead, who would it be? My Dad; he passed away 35 years ago. I’d give almost anything to be able to talk to him now.

Bill and his wife, Joyce, at a Yankees baseball game in 2019.

Bill and his wife, Joyce, at a Yankees baseball game in 2019.

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