Archive for the category “Personal”

Goose Hunting

Doug Witham, Michael Bonardi, John Mundt with 6 time world champ Josh Neuwiller and Remington (the Lab)

So what do you suppose happens when you get an elevator contractor, a consultant, and a supplier in a hotel room discussing elevators – (BTW we invited Jack Daniels to be the moderator). Yes – we solved almost all of the elevator industries problems in just two nights!

Actually, what happen was I went goose hunting with two good friends – Michael Bonardi of D & D Elevator and John Mundt Jr of Sterling Elevator Consulting. So goose hunting is over at kind of mid-day and what are you going to do? In our cases, you are going to talk elevators – and boy did we talk elevators. Read more…


We survived Sandy

We at GAL have received many many calls from concerned friends about how we fared during hurricane Sandy.  The upshot is that – especially compared to a many others, we are doing fine.

On Monday last week, the subways, trains, and busses were already shut down in anticipation of Sandy hitting later in the day. Of the 300 or so people who work here in the Bronx, some 90 made it to work. Early in the day, they began to announce bridge speed restrictions – and a very large percentage of us need to cross one bridge or another in order to get home. At 10:30, fearing that they would soon close the bridges, we closed and sent everyone home – and announced at that time that we would also be closed on Tues.

It is testimony to the loyalty and dedication of the GAL people that we re-opened on Weds. We were nowhere near full staff, but were able to operate. Thurs, as power was restored to more homes and the busses and subways began some limited service, we were beginning to get back into the swing of things and by Friday, were pretty much firing on all eight again.

There will probably be a small blip in deliveries schedules, but in anticipation of some need for quick turn-around, we are planning to pre-build products like hydro controls which are likely to have gone under water in lower Manhattan. Hopefully we will be able to help customers who need them quickly.

Everyone is being very inventive about finding and conserving gasoline – and sharing information about where and when you might find some available – but aside from this, I think GAL has been pretty much able to put Sandy behind it. A big thank you to everyone who expressed their concern. And now we are told we can expect a NorEaster to roll in here on Weds – cross your fingers and say a prayer for those who are still struggling with heat and shelter.

Elevator Friends 2

Some of The Usual Suspects – L to R – Doug Witham, Phil Reid, Dick Vinciquerra, Larry Fulgenzi, Mike Klehr

I’ve written before about elevator friends and how special I think our industry is because of the friendships made. Well, here I go again.
Last weekend a group of the usual suspects joined Phil & Joyce Reid of Premier Elevator at their vacation home on Lake Keowee (SC). Yikes – it’s my usual question – “Who has more fun than we do?” I don’t have the vocabulary to describe the bonds that grow between elevator friends – but I know that it is unique. The group consisted of Phil & Joyce, Larry & Lou Fulgenzi (EDS), Mike & Shelly Klehr (MEI), Dick & Carol Vinciquerra (AFD), and Teresa and myself. Read more…

IAEC Boat Cruise

Last Thurs night, the NY chapter of the International Association of Elevator Consultants hosted their annual cruise around Manhattan for the benefit of the Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation.

Dustin Witham, Lauren Witham, Doug Witham, Ed DeFilippis of KONE

What a beautiful night – the weather was perfect, the water was flat, the food was excellent, the music lively, and the liquid refreshments flowed freely. It was especially fun for me this year because my wife Teresa, son Dustin, (Mid West Elevator in St Louis) and daughter-in-law Lauren, (carrying my next granddaughter) were able to come and join. Read more…

Do The Right Thing

Do The Right Thing

In any industry, there is a group of good guys who live by the ‘do the right thing’ motto. I just ran across one from outside the elevator world who did just that, I and just want to give him some credit – and if by some chance he benefits, well –  he deserves it.

The guy is Dave Bender and he is Captain of the Jenny Lee – a  44 foot fishing boat out of Brielle NJ.

Here’s the story. A group of elevator types have gone tuna fishing on the Jenny Lee for several years now. It is a very nice trip – we run some 90 to 130 miles offshore from New Jersey. It’s a two day deal with one night spent at sea. Over the years we have had a ball, and absolutely loaded our freezers with fresh sashimi.

We were set to go last weekend. Bob & Mike from Canton Elevator, Rick from Kencore, and Dustin from Mid West Elevator. On Weds, Captain Dave called me to say that the fishing stinks – no fish to be caught – and recommending that we postpone / delay / cancel the trip. Well, he didn’t have to do that – and I don’t think everyone would. He could have taken us out – taken our money – taken advantage of us –  knowing  that the probability of success was really low – but he didn’t. Dave Bender recommended we not go.

Upshot – Dave Bender is the kind of guy you like to do business with. If you should ever be in the NY area and think about sport fishing, get ahold of Capt Dave – and tell him you heard about him from the elevator guys.

Elevator Friends

I’m not that every industry is like elevators, but I know this: many many times, people in this industry who start out as competitors, customers, consultants etc, wind up being friends.

Dinner is served – McDuffie Style

This past weekend is a case in point. Teresa and I, along with Dick and Carol Vinciquerra (AFD Industries), and Frank and Joanne Gianni (a retired Elevator Vagabond of considerable repute and experience), were hosted on what has become an annual retreat to ‘Sanctuary McDuffie’. The  Lord and Lady of this haven are Steve and Chris McDuffie of Pine State Elevator. Their ‘camp’ (a quaint term used in the extreme Northeast to describe any sort of hideaway) sits on the rugged coast line of an island – specifically Long Island – some 5 miles off shore from Portland Maine.
Read more…

Steve Beenfeldt

Attended a great event / celebration honoring Steve Beenfeldt on Monday night at Petco Park in San Diego. I had a couple of reasons to be on the west coast and managed to combine them and join in the fun.

Steve has been an inspiration / role model for a lot of people in our industry – especially people on the west coast. He is really smart, the consummate gentleman, great business acumen and not a bad golf stick in his day. He suffered a stroke a couple of years back and was completely taken out of action – but a group of his friends decided that this was no reason not to celebrate his 69th birthday – which we did in style. Some 20 people – happily ensconced in a luxury box while the Padres lost yet another ball game – sat around and told stories and laughed about the times we had all shared with Steve.

He was working for Cubic Corp and was reassigned to the US Elevator division – a bean counter (comptroller) at the time. He went on to do a lot of different jobs for different elevator companies during his career and was still at Amtech when Otis acquired that business. The guy touched a lot of lives in the middle.

Read more…

Phil Reid

Phil Reid is a really good friend and a golfing buddy. He is one of the guys who owns Premier Elevator in Atlanta, and also a recent past president of NAEC. While he was President we (Teresa, Phil, and Phil’s wife Joyce) got to travel together a ton – had a ball in a lot of places on this earth.

Read more…

Full Disclosure

Last posting I gave a Readers Digest Condensed version of my background. In the spirit of full disclosure, there is another issue that any reader of this blog should know.

So you know NAEC – The National Association of Elevator Contractors – then you would also know Teresa Shirley, the Executive Director of NAEC? Well her correct legal name is Teresa Witham and she is my wife. We have been crazy happily married for 4 years. Because we both love our jobs, we continue to maintain a house in the Atlanta area and one in the New York area.

Probably wouldn’t work for everyone, but it works well for us.

Here We Go

 So I have decided to begin this blog. It will be interesting to see where it goes. I am hoping to share some of my thoughts, opinions, and experiences with others – mostly those in the elevator industry. I am also hoping that I can stimulate some discussion on products, codes, business practice, as well as the history and future of our industry.

For those who do not know me, I am Vice President of Sales and Marketing for GAL Manufacturing, Hollister Whitney, ECI Canada, and GAL Canada. I started playing elevators in 1976 after leaving Ohio State University. I was hired into the industry by Dick Gregory – at that time he and his brother-in-law, Milt Sybert (now CJ Anderson) owned Gregory Elevator, a contracting business in Chicago. I was their Purchasing Agent and Chief Bottle Washer.

Read more…

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