54Freedom CEO Jim Griffin, right, stands alongside Cazenovia resident caretaker Eddie Phethean in front of 54Freedom’s national headquarters, located at 5 Ledyard Ave. in Cazenovia.
Photo by Pierce Smith.
Cazenovia As the Cazenovia-based national financial planning firm 54Freedom continues to increase its workforce and improve its headquarters at 5 Ledyard Ave., everyone involved shares a common bond: their zipcode.
The business is currently in the midst of a $4 million renovation project to restore the 8,500-square-foot historic building, and CEO Jim Griffin has hired area artists and local contractors to finish the job. He said no changes will be made to the house’s front exterior, and construction is expected to end within six months.
“I have offices around the county, and I’ve found the talent pool in Cazenovia is just as good as anywhere,” Griffin said. “I like challenges. I thought this is such a community asset, that it deserved to be put to use — both for its architectural beauty but also as a true commercial asset.”
The list of Cazenovia residents currently involved with the business reads like the local telephone book.
Tim Hughes, of Cazenovia Cutblock, has been busy building custom furniture for 54Freedom, including three tables crafted out of recently fallen trees from Cazenovia. Griffin proudly displays tables made out of Maple, Black Walnut and Cherry, telling that the wood had been harvested within the last two months.
Marlene Burrell, of Flowers on Main Street, supplies the company with bouquets of fresh flowers each week. Jennifer Schutzendorf, of The Gallery of CNY, works closely with Griffin, adorning the walls of 54Freedom’s many walls with a rotating selection of fine art. Each room boasts a different collection; local artists, established maestros and up-and-coming amateurs are all featured throughout the house.
Local contractor Chris Findlay has been renovating the basement level in order to accommodate 54Freedom’s planned call center, complete with 30 telemarketers. Jeff Hunt from Chittenango Lumber, as well as Ken Stratton and Jim France of Salt Point Services, have been consulting with Griffin, who plans to construct a large outdoor deck and handicap ramp around the side of the building.