North America

Stellar Appoints Mike Santarone as CEO; Brian Kappele as President

Stellar, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based firm that designs, engineers and installs ammonia systems, has named Mike Santarone as its new CEO while Brian Kappele has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer (COO) and president. 

Santarone was previously the company’s third president. Brian Kappele, previously the company’s executive VP, has also been promoted and named new COO and president.

Mike Santarone joined Stellar as a field engineer in 1986. In 2000, he was made division vice president of the Food and Beverage group. He became executive vice president in 2005 and then Stellar’s third president in 2012.

“Mike has boldly led Stellar into a new era of growth and innovation,” said Ron Foster Jr, Chairman of Stellar’s board of directors. “His efforts and experiences over his long career at Stellar have positioned him to be an effective chief executive.”

Brian Kappele began his career at the company as an intern in its Food and Beverage division in 1997. After graduating from the University of Florida’s Rinker School of Building Construction in 1998, he joined the company full time as an assistant project manager. Kappele was promoted to division vice president in 2011 and became executive vice president in 2017.

“Brian successfully managed Stellar’s Food and Beverage, Distribution, and Thermal divisions before taking responsibility for the Refrigeration Contracting and Refrigeration Services groups,” said Foster. “In support of our goals and objectives for 2025, he will now have responsibility for the Commercial group as well, placing him in charge of all of Stellar’s operations divisions.”

Stellar is an integrated engineering company that provides design, construction, installation and services to food processing plants, refrigerated warehouses, distribution centers and commercial buildings in many regions, including the U.S., Europe, Middle East, and Latin America. The company has around 750 employees.

In 2017, Stellar entered the low-charge ammonia market when it launched the NH360 packaged refrigeration system. The NH360 uses less than a 1lb/TR (129g/kW) ammonia charge.