Stellar Promotes Mike Santarone to CEO, Brian Kappele Named President/Chief Operating Officer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (September 24, 2019) — Stellar, a fully integrated firm focused on design, engineering, construction and mechanical services worldwide, has promoted two of its senior leaders.

Mike Santarone has been named the firm’s new CEO. Santarone first joined Stellar as a field engineer in 1986, overseeing the Epping Forest mansion renovation and residential development project. He was made division vice president of the Food & Beverage group in 2000, was promoted to executive vice president in 2005 and became 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. “Mike was responsible for the creation and execution of our strategic vision for 2020 as well as our new strategic plan for 2025, as we continue to set the bar as an industry-leading company. His efforts and experiences over his long career at Stellar have positioned him to be an effective chief executive.”

Santarone received his bachelor’s degree from the Rinker School of Building Construction at the University of Florida, then earned his MBA from Jacksonville University while working at Stellar.

Brian Kappele has been named president/COO of Stellar. Kappele began his career at the company as an intern in its Food & Beverage division in the summer of 1997. After graduating from UF’s Rinker School of Building Construction in 1998, he accepted a full-time position as an on-site assistant project manager, taking on various roles and responsibilities throughout the first 10 years of his career. Kappele was promoted to division vice president in 2011 and became executive vice president in 2017. 

“Brian successfully managed Stellar’s Food & 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.”

Foster will continue in his role as chairman, providing executive oversight to the leadership team. The announcements come as Stellar concludes a successful fiscal year 2019.

About Stellar 
Stellar is a fully integrated design, engineering, construction and mechanical services firm that provides the industry’s most comprehensive range of self-performed services, including planning, design, pre-construction, construction, refrigeration, mechanical and utility, building envelope, and total operations and maintenance services. More than 750 Stellar employees worldwide create award-winning food processing plants, refrigerated warehouses, distribution centers, commercial buildings and military facilities. In addition to its Jacksonville, Florida, headquarters, Stellar operates nearly 50 support locations and offices throughout the United States, China and in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The company also serves Central and South America, Europe and India. For more information, visit