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NAEC in Hawaii

Last week some 200+ elevator types basked in the warmth of Waikiki for 4 days of education and comradery as NAEC sponsored its annual Mid-Year elevator convention.

So you gotta know that my sweet wife Teresa officially named this event the NAEC Spring Educational Conference back maybe 10 years ago – and is still trying to get all of us old-timers to refer to it as such – but that’s just not happening. Much to her consternation, we will always call it the Mid-Year. We enjoy teasing her.

Despite nearly gale force winds at times, the temps were typical Hawaiian ideal, and the great weather was really appreciated by those of us just emerging from a brutal winter. Along with the really well attended education sessions were the normal golf outing, as well as an NAEC sponsored catamaran cruise.

There were a million pics taken but I don’t have them. I’ll try to come back and post some after they have been shared.

Most of the attendees took advantage of being so far away by either arriving a bit early, or sticking around a couple of days after. Not so for us. After a final night’s dinner with our friends Greg and Maria Carlisle and their crew (Murphy Elevator), and Ken and Barb Garst (Great Lakes Elevator), Teresa and I both red-eyed it out of there on Weds.

Yes, the hours in the air were a sacrifice, but education at 85 degrees just seems to be absorbed better than education at 35 degrees. I took a poll – everyone agreed. Imagine that.

A week in California

I spent last week in California running like a crazy man on a lot of diverse missions.

It’s been a long time since there have been strong California independent contractors doing a good deal of traction elevator work. Do you remember Oliver & Williams? Reliable Elevator? Western Elevator? Tri County Elevator? I can’t tell you when these companies sold, but it’s been a while.

Now, there seems to be a resurgence of contractors filling the vacuum they created way back then. Emery Wilcox and the rest are growing Ascent Elevator, Chuck Morphew and other Reliable alumni are doing well with 5 Star Elevator, 24 hour Elevator and Guardian Elevator are both new to me.

This growing west coast strength causes me to think it might be time to get GALaxy a more widely known product. We have made only sporadic attempts to sell – and in fact sell very few GALaxy’s on the west coast. We need to continue our expansion and this market looks promising.

The Clock Tower at the Santa Barbara Courthouse

The Clock Tower at the Santa Barbara Courthouse


I also had a chance to go all the way up to Santa Barbara to survey a really interesting job with my old friend Michael Shaw – Republic Elevator. They are going to add a top floor to an elevator in the Santa Barbara County Courthouse. This is a classic California style building – all ceramic tile on the interior and a crazy mechanical contraption that actually still turns the clock tower clock hands. Michael wants to use a combination of Hollister Whitney and GAL Products and we came to the conclusion that it is in fact very doable. This will be a show job for us and Republic.

Teresa was in the San Diego area at the same time – attending an ASAE (American Society of Association Executives) Executive Symposium with the NAEC President, Brian Farley of Hudson Elevator, and Vice President, Bret Abels of O’Keefe Elevator. I was delighted to be able to join them for several evenings.

All of us got out one night and broke bread with Mike Corbo and Eric Zommers – both good friends and golfing buddies from Mitsubishi Elevator. A good time was had by all.

It was a good trip business wise, and it was good to get out of the frigid Northeast

Holiday Happenings

I had a couple of fun days last week.

Received an invitation from Jack Higgs of Quality Elevator in MD to come and join for his Christmas open house. Jack and I go back a long way together. This guy really does it in a first class fashion. Pounds and pounds of shrimp, hundreds of 6 different types of raw oysters, two sushi chefs, crab bisque, roast beef – and a cupcake tree for desert – not to mention live music and private labeled wine – whew.

Des DiSimone made a welcome appearance – retirement looks very good on him. And Jim Snyder, the current moving force behind Quality Elevator was everywhere making guests welcome. It was a special pleasure to catch up with Tom and Nancy LaPorte, Jack’s partners and great friends from our days back in Chicago.

Jack Higgs, Tom & Nancy LaPorte

Jack Higgs, Tom & Nancy LaPorte


I drove back to New York on Thurs in time to make it to the Elevator Conference of New York’s annual holiday gathering. I should have asked for specifics but I bet there were some 120 attendees. This is a really active Board of Directors. They do monthly meetings, lots of educational seminars, the annual Showcase, conduct contests for scholarships, an always several purely social events.

Sat with my friend Ed DeFlippis (KONE NY) for dinner. He and I had a really good time traveling together during his term as NAEC President and it’s always good to catch up.

Worth mentioning is the fact that while I am attending these events in temperate climes, my teammate Mark Yako was hitting the hot holiday events in the frigid zone – Chicago, Minneapolis, Boston. He said it wasn’t so bad – but he was happy that there wasn’t an elevator association in Alaska!

Euro Lift 2015

Spent last week in Kielce Poland working a booth at EuroLift 2015. This trip is always fun – the business? – a challenge to say the least.

We (Teresa joined me this year which made the trip especially nice) traveled overnight Saturday thru Amsterdam to Warsaw where we took a day and a half to adjust to the European time. We had a chance in Warsaw to have dinner again with Tom Sullivan a long time, good friend, of my son Dustin. This year his wife Sarah also came out. They are a neat couple – Americans who have been living in Warsaw for some 5 years now. They now have their first bambino and are beginning to look forward to transferring back to the good ole U S of A.

Warsaw is a beautiful city. The weather was October perfect on Monday – sunny with maybe a high of 70. An ideal day for touring an interesting city. There is a mix of new high-rise, modern architecture, which is within blocks of the re-built old city with traditional streets and squares. There are many excellent restaurants, the people are terribly friendly, and there is virtually no language barrier – everyone there speaks English fluently. Don’t miss Warsaw if you ever get the chance.

On Tues AM, Peter Ackerman, owner of Lifts & More, and Hollister Whitney’s representative in Poland, picked us up for the 2 hour drive to Kielce. He and I spent the day setting up the booth. We needed to overcome some self-inflicted difficulties, but with Doug Dietrich of Hollister providing long distance technical support, pulled it together and had two running Rope Gripper demonstrators before the sun went down. Ahh – the glamour of business travel.

Peter Ackerman and me in the Lifts And More booth

Peter Ackerman and me in the Lifts And More booth

An aside – On Tues, thanks to my son Dustin (Midwest Elevator in St Louis) and his sweet wife Lauren, Teresa and I became Grandparents again – Joleen Elizabeth – all happy and healthy.

Weds, Thurs, and Friday were show days – 10 till 5. The show is very well organized, and the facility is as good as any anywhere in the world – but this is really a regional show and it doesn’t demand 3 days – 2 would be great. There were 115 exhibitors (slightly down from last time) working booths that ranged from very modest to really elaborate. Don’t know the final attendance numbers, but it seemed to us that it might also have been less than 2 years ago.

Brian Farley (Hudson Elevator), President of NAEC, was in Prague visiting his Daughter who is in school there, flew over and joined Teresa for meetings with Polish Lift Association. They reported that their talks were very interesting – both associations trying to figure out if there are things that they could do better. Teresa felt like they fielded many more questions than they had a chance to ask – so be it – new contacts made – our elevator world continues to shrink.

When working the booth, language can become a stumbling block. I was very happy to have Peter there to back me up. The Rope Gripper is technical enough that it’s hard to get features and benefits translated. Even though A17 code and EN81 code are essentially the same, the terminology is very different and subject to interpretation even when being discussed in the same language. Makes working the booth fun and challenging.

Rope Gripper banner in Polish

Rope Gripper banner in Polish

In Poland, the contractors use bi-directional safeties and a solenoid pin through the governor wheel to address the Ascending Car Overspeed and Unintentional Motion issues. Rope Gripper is a much more elegant solution but their market doesn’t demand it. They have no rules to prevent slipping traction. We have taken our at-bats here, Peter Ackerman is a conscientious and competent representative. I doubt if I will return to EuroLift.

Good on GAL

So here’s a touching story – It was passed around yesterday by Amy Mc Callion – Sales Dept. Manager at GAL. You can’t help but smile.

GAL’s customer, Alternate Sales in Orlando Florida, asked us if we could produce buttons that were ½” taller than normal. They wanted them for a college in Winter Park.

It was a bit of a strange request but not so difficult. A little extra engineering and then a special production run of buttons and it was done. It turns out that Alternate Sales wanted two sets of these special buttons. One was for training and the other was for the actual fixtures.

The COP

The COP


The Solution

The Solution


Here are the pictures that explain the situation. The buttons were for a handicapped man who cannot use his hands. His dog has been trained to respond to verbal commands to push the “up”, “down”, and floor buttons.

Man’s best friend indeed!

One More Time

So after playing in the Mid Atlantic Elevator Chapter outing in MD, Dick Vinciquerra and I jumped into my trusty Ford Explorer and took off for Casa Witham in Montvale NJ. We arrived home at 11:00 PM which seemed like a proper cause for celebration – so we did.

The next morning, was the annual Sons Of Italy golf outing. We’ve always called it the Bonardi outing because the primary organizer has been Eddie Bonardi – a great friend back to the days when he owned Archer Elevator. This one is a little different. Yes, it’s a golf outing but it’s not entirely elevator related (although it mostly is because of Eddie’s influence). It raises funds for scholarships that are awarded by the Rockland (County) Lodge of the Sons Of Italy. (You quickly discover that everyone around you has a last name that ends in a vowel!)

So for the last maybe 5 years, we have maintained the same foursome – Walter Glaser of GAL, Vinnie Moscato of Liberty Elevator, Dick Vinciquerra of AFD, and me. This year, due to the shuffling that always accompanies a golf outing, we were joined by Michael Bonardi of D & D Elevator (Eddies son) and played a 5 person scramble. It was a very social game and was great to spend time again with Michael.

Me, Walt, Michael, Vinnie, Dick

Me, Walt, Michael, Vinnie, Dick


After golf, everyone retires to the SOI Lodge for an hour or so of cocktails and hors douvers ( I know that misspelled) and then the lodge members / volunteers serve the 120 or so guest s a sit down, family style feast. It’s a very nice event. Greg DeCola of Omega Industries – a regional elevator consultant – is an active member of the SOI and the elevator industry, so he also plays a role in the festivities.

I had a chance to catch up with Gabe Capozzi. Gabe worked here at GAL for a while, did a stint at Schindler Headquarters in Morristown, and is now with Otis. He became familiar with the GAL product, and how well it installs and works – and has been sending us jobs ever since.

Well, I think that’s it for golf outings this year. You would think a guy might get good at it – Nooo – but they are great industry events and chances for comradery. There’s always next year

Mid Atlantic Elevator Chapter Golf Outing

The night before the annual MAEC golf outing, we had a great night out with John Warring III and his crew from Warfield and Sanford Elevator. It’s altogether too rare that we get a chance to break bread – and always a crazy fun nite. And do you know Jerry’s Seafood restaurant? There are a couple of them in the DC area – whew – they do a “Crab Bomb” entrée. I’ll just tell you that it is aptly named.

Does it seem like there’s been a lot of golf outings lately – ya, I agree. The Mid Atlantic Elevator Chapter held their outing on Weds October first. And a good day it was too. Great weather, very nice course,(Lake Presidential Club in Upper Marlboro MD), and I had the excellent company of my good friends Bob Kazar and Mike Paschke from Canton Elevator and Dick Vinciquerra from AFD.

The round itself was a death march. It took over 6 hours to play an 18 hole scramble. At an outing everyone plays as slow as the slowest group – not too much you can do about that – except the ranger on the course was brain dead –couldn’t figure out why / where the holdup was. Nice guy, just not so bright.

The MAEC is a hybrid. It is actually a chapter of NAEC – as opposed to most regional associations who stand on their own. NAEC provides all kinds of support and organization for the group. Kudos go to Shawn Cowden who was the staff member assigned and on site for the outing. I know he enjoys this sort of work (it shows) and the event wouldn’t come off without his efforts.

The emcee chores at the banquet are ably handled by Jeff Kneuer of Innovation Industries, and Mark Yako of GAL. These guys know how to run a raffle. Fun and funny and fast. It’s always good to rub shoulders with the DC elevator group.

MESA Golf Outing

So after Monday night at the Braves game, I caught an early flight back to LaGuardia – put in a couple of hours in the office and turned around and drove up to Boston on Tues PM.

What a lucky thing. The MESA (Mass Elevator Safety Asso) golf outing was scheduled for earlier this summer, but the weather forecast was so bad that it was postponed – until this Weds. On the original date, it rained sideway all day. Wednesday it was absolutely gorgeous – sunny, high of maybe 72.

Annnnddd – the rescheduled event drew more than had planned to attend on the original date. Rolie Locke, Service Sales Manager for ThyssenKrupp in Boston is the guy who deserves the credit. He had the confidence call off one, go into scramble mode – and pull off another. Too good.

Mark Yako and I ham-and-egged it around the golf course. Along with Neil Hussey of Stanley Elevator and Branden Bryan from Alliance Elevator we finished out of the money at 6 under par. I did win a ‘closest to the pin’ on one of the par threes – explained to all that this confirms the ‘blind squirrel’ theory.

The MESA outing is a fund raiser for scholarships in the name of Garr Finney. I don’t know the specifics but Rolie let it be known that Garr would be proud.

Mark and I kept up the teamwork the next AM and called on Delta Beckwith Elevator – a great long-time customer. Yako is terribly impressive when he gets on a roll. He has the GAL and Hollister Whitney stuff down pat. It’s fun to be his straight man.

As good as the trip to Boston was, I absolutely hate the drive up and down that I-95 corridor. Whew, there is a car 15 feet in front and 15 feet in back – everyone doing 65 MPH – 100% 0f the time. Pot holes and construction. Was happy to get back to the Garden State. (everyone sees the humor here ya?) I’ll have another Jack Daniels

NAEC Night at the Park

On Monday night, NAEC did an experiment and invited a bunch of Atlanta area elevator types to join them in a luxury box at Turner Field. The least exciting part was the one to nothing loss of the Braves to the Pirates. There was no defense needed on the field because there was no offence. So we pretty much ignored the field.

But the rest was a ball. There were 34 attendees all together. NAEC contractor, supplier, and consultant members got a chance to rub shoulders on a beautiful Atlanta evening. Most of the NAEC staff was also able to be there. The environment, food, drink, and company were all outstanding. A very fun night. I wish I had taken some pictures.

GALaxy controls have a great presence in the Atlanta area. Either Lerch Bates or Premier Elevator deserves the credit for firmly anchoring GALaxy as the control of choice in these parts. I got a chance to thank Tim Murphy of LBA, and Phil Reid, Hugh Bertchin, and Robert Barber of Premier Elevator all in the same evening.

Based on the popularity of this event, NAEC is looking for opportunities to host similar member get togethers in other cities / venues. If you think that something like this might go over well in your area, you ought to give Teresa a buzz and plant the seed with her.

A great time was had by all.

Catching Up

So once again it has been way too long since I got around to keeping up this blog. I am going to make another commitment to keeping it current and if I find I can’t do it, I am going to call it off altogether.

Since last I typed, I have been to many elevator industry events, had a million personal and professional wins and losses, traveled thousands of miles, and made lots of new friends.

Looking at my calendar – There was the Anderson Elevator golf and drink fest. I don’t know of another company who does this stuff. The Gibbs clan, supported by some Krygowsky and Chmielewski types, invite a group of customers, consultants, employees and suppliers for a full day of complete insanity over in Michigan City Indiana. Anderson Elevator does it right.

In the same week, Chicago Elevator Association held their annual golf outing to support the Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation. Glen Duncan – Parts Specialists – was, per usual, the master of ceremonies. I would try to name the whole committee but there is too high a risk of leaving a deserving someone out. I was told that attendance was down some, but that the financials were robust as ever. Going to Chicago is like old home week for me. Good fun with good friends – and oh ya, they also happen to be good customers.

I spent the Thursday between these two events doing some promotion of, and troubleshooting on GALaxy Controls issues with various Urban Elevator types. I’m a peddler, so no one is going to allow me to climb on elevators unescorted. For this outing I was shepherded by Carl Burch – by acclamation, this is one of the genuine good guys in our industry. Carl plays both a tech support and sales role for GAL – and does both spectacularly. He is a pleasure to work with and does GAL and Hollister Whitney proud every day.

I left Chicago Saturday AM for our home in Georgia. My / our world went into a tailspin when Teresa’s dear mother passed away on Sunday. There is no way this sort of event can be related in this blog. Granny Annie was the matriarch of an extended family and a loving soul who had become friends with many of our elevator friends. The outpouring of warmth from the industry, and the number of elevator types who came to Granny’s wake to support Teresa, still brings tears to my eyes.

From this emotional nadir, a week later, Teresa and I went, along with Dick and Carol Vinciquerra (AFD Industries) up to visit our great friends the McDuffys (Pine State Elevator). Steve and Chris are the consummate hosts at their ‘camp’ on Long Island – offshore from Portland Maine. It’s always crazy fun to get together with them and this year was certainly no exception. I cannot imagine an atmosphere more full of laughter from sun up to sundown. Some of the things that happen in Maine just have to stay in Maine.

My “check liver light” had just quit flashing when the next week, a group of friends snuck into a quiet, quaint little B& B in Pennsylvania to surprise Rick Kennedy (Kencore Elevator) by announcing that he would be this year’s recipient of the William C Sturgeon Award. He was so caught off guard. Marv Schumacher (Schumacher Elevator and awards committee chair) made the formal introduction. He was followed at the mic by daughter Karen Dodds who gave us the personal side of this guy – whew – she is impressive in her own right. Cas (wife) and all of Ricks kids were there, along with his ‘adopted’ exchange students and quite a gathering of well-wishers. Mike Pashke and Bob Kazar (Canton Elevator), Dick Vinciquerra (AFD), Pete Meeks (Delaware Elevator), Phil Reid (Premier Elevator). I know I left some out. This was the first time I have ever seen Rick at a loss for words. A fun fun evening to honor a great man and good friend.

Teresa and I, along with a contingent from the Kennedy / WCS surprise group drove the next day up to casa Witham in New Jersey, changed clothes, and got a car service to take us down to (and more importantly back from) the annual cruise around NY sponsored by the NY chapter of the International Association of Elevator Consultants. It was a beautiful night on a great yacht – to cruise down the Hudson, out to the Statue of Liberty, around the tip of Manhattan, up the East River past the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge, and then turn around and do it all again in reverse – all in the company of some 300 elevator types – all of whom were enjoying spectacular food and drink. If you are part of the elevator industry in any fashion, put this excursion on your bucket list. Magical.

A week later – the Friday of Labor Day weekend, my mom had a heart attack. All is well now, she is recovering fine, but I needed to shoot out to San Diego to be with her for several days and help get her out of the hospital. Whew, at this stage I’m saying to myself “stop the world, I want to get off” – but no time to rest yet.

I got back from San Diego to LaGuardia at 7:00 PM Weds, shot home, repacked, and flew to San Antonio for the 65th annual NAEC convention and trade show at 7:20 AM on Thur. What a great gathering. Teresa and her staff pull this off with ever-increasing finesse every year. Some 2000 attendees, 200+ exhibits, banquets, parties, meetings, exhibits – an absolute whirlwind of elevator activity spread over the four or five days.

I get a chance to see, hug, toast, and break bread with many many very long time friends. I enjoy nothing more that being a representative of GAL and Hollister Whitney at the NAEC. We showcased lots of new and innovative products. This year there were 13 of us who pulled out all the stops to show off our equipment and to throw a proper GAL / HW party to say thanks to our customers.

GAL HW Award Winning Booth at NAEC

GAL HW Award Winning Booth at NAEC

So here’s the payoff – after I’ve been running full tilt boogie for 3 – 4 months without much of a breather, the crazy good crew from GAL, GAL Canada, and Hollister Whitney wins the award at the NAEC for the best island booth. Grins all around. Life is very good.

I promise, I will either blog more frequently so they are not novel length, or I will give it up. Stay tuned and soon you will know.

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