Archive for the tag “Doug Witham”

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.


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 Educational Seminar

I am writing on the last day of the NAEC Midyear Educational Conference in Sanibel Fla. It has been a great week of education and camaraderie. My sweetheart Teresa, along with Faye, and Shawn, the NAEC staff on-site, pulled this event off in flawless fashion and the Sanibel Harbor Resort proved to be an outstanding venue.

After several solid days of education, a fishing foray, a couple of very fun nights and few chances to tee up that little white ball, I hate to see it come to an end. Brian Musholt, Mark Yako and I have been here representing GAL and Hollister Whitney, and we were joined for two days by Walt Glaser, Paul Seifried, and James Varon who shared the customer contact responsibilities and enjoyed a much needed break from the cold weather up north. Steve Husband, from GAL Canada, is on the NAEC Board of Directors and so his attendance is mandatory. On top of this crew, Tony Glick from GAL did an educational session on the installation and adjustment of the MOVFR and MOVFE door operators.

I chaired a committee for NAEC to develop a specification data base. With tremendous help from Amanda Smith at NAEC, we wrapped up our task, and I had the pleasure of introducing it during the supplier general session here. It was really well received and I think it will become a key member service from the association. If you need an explanation, just call Amanda at NAEC.

The weather came and went thru the week with some days being warm and sunny while others were cool and overcast. On Sunday I went backwater fishing (we caught maybe 35 fish) with my Ohio friends, Dick Vinciquerra of AFD, and Mike Paschke and Bob Kazar of Canton Elevator. Got a bit too much sun without realizing it. So Monday, as luck would have it, it was pretty much cool and cloudy, and I stayed in the educational sessions without missing any of the sunshine.

The official golf tournament is this afternoon and the day looks great for it. I have a reunion foursome set up, Dickie V, Perry Burch from Nashville, and Jack Higgs from Quality Elevator in the DC area. The four of us have teed it up frequently over the last 30 years. John Curzon, Ensota from the UK, has a bum shoulder and can’t play so he is renting a pontoon boat and taking a bunch of ladies for an excursion – can you sing ‘a three hour cruise?’ I’m trying to get someone to label the boat The SS Minnow.

Anyhow, great interaction, friendship, education and recreation in Sanibel Florida with a record number of attendees, in a great setting – way fun. If you don’t have the NAEC Midyear Educational Seminar on your radar, you are missing a grand industry event. You need to be part of it.

Consultants In Quincy

Blog – Consultants in Quincy

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday this week Hollister Whitney and GAL hosted our annual Consultants Visit To Quincy – We have been doing for the last 10 years and it is, with the possible exception of an NAEC convention, the best thing we do to raise industry awareness of all things new at our companies.

Holloster Whitney and GAL host our consultant friends

Holloster Whitney and GAL host our consultant friends

It starts with our guests flying into StLouis on Monday morning. Consultants (30 this year) gather from all over North America at an airport hotel where we have a light lunch and then, after everyone has arrived, we take a coach for the 2 ½ hour trip up to Quincy Il, which is the home of Hollister Whitney. On Monday evening, we host a welcome meet-and-greet dinner on a riverboat on the Mississippi. The weather was perfect and just as warm as the reception that the Hollister staff put on. It is a great ice breaker.

Tues AM we get an early start with product presentations and explanations. It is intense education for 4 hours. Topics this year included PM / AC gearless Machines, MRL equipment, Spectralite Fixtures, Geared Rope grippers, a new door lock monitor and Roper Gripper control, a redesigned brake monitor for geared machines, and GALaxy Controls including an explanation of the soon to be released GALaxy 4.

We break for a nice lunch at Spring Lake Country Club before we head over to the Hollister Whitney factory. Throughout the afternoon, we break into small groups and tour through the factory (200,000 ft sq) and the two test towers. All of the products we make, along with some that are in testing, are there and working for the consultants see and experience. We are terribly proud of the facility and the people at Hollister Whitney – everything you see and everyone you meet is simply top notch. Quincy is not a easy city to get to and it is great fun to be able to show off our stuff for visitors.

Frank Musholt, GM at Hollister throws an absolutely amazing wrap up party at his home on Tues nite. There are tents set up to accommodate dinner tables where we enjoy a catered steak dinner with all of the trimmings. Franks home is high on the bluffs above the Mississippi – a beautiful setting where, during cocktail hour(s) we can shoot clay pigeons and drive golf balls – fun fun fun. The dinner finishes as the sun goes down – and then the coup de gras is an incredible display of fireworks – whew, nobody can do it the way Hollister Whitney does it.

Weds AM, it’s on the bus and back to St Louis. Everyone knows they have had the very best in education, camaraderie, and yes, fun.

Asansor 2013

IMG_0765Asansor 13

This is quite a show. There are some 400 suppliers with booths and they are talking about some 20 – 25000 attendees. Final numbers will take some time to tabulate. My guts tell me that it could grow to be bigger than Interlift. It is a lot easier to get here, it’s a less expensive destination, there is plenty of expansion room and the booth space costs less, the city is larger and more cosmopolitan. I think that Asansor has a lot going for it.

Our Turkish partners are experimenting with a lot of methods of getting attention to the Ropegripper. They run monthly ads in the industrial magazines, do trade shows like this, have an ongoing conversation with the government types in Turkey and on this trip they arranged for a television crew to do an interview – so along with some of the others, I am going to be on TV in Istanbul on a Sunday morning show that features small local businesses.

Still it’s frustrating. There are still a ton of geared traction machines installed in this area of the world and the code here (EN81) requires protection against unintentional movement of the elevator – but there are a couple of stumbling blocks that are keeping us from having a blockbuster product. First, the code is just not being enforced in most places. This is especially true here and in the Middle East. We also have a major challenge with cost / price. We looked at geared machines at the show that sell for the equivalent of $1500 US. When someone is paying $1500 for their machine a $1000 Ropegripp is a tough add-on.

Neither of these problems true across the board and neither is insurmountable. We will keep taking our at-bats and sooner or later, we’ll start hitting the home runs. The competing products we saw here are not equivalent quality.

Got a chance to catch up with a group of elevator friends this week. Rudolph and Tristan from Switzerland, John and Pat from the UK, Eduard from Spain, Norman and Monica from Germany.  There were very few Americans – T Bruce from Elevator World and Greg Maroukian from Precision Escalator, and the three of us –  but I’m betting this will change once word gets around about how large and successful this show is.

The upshot: Istanbul is a great destination, the Turkish people are incredible hosts, and Asansor is a good show. I look forward to being back here in two years.

Shoot to Honor and Support

Shoot to Honor and Support

Well, they did it again. Scott Akin from ECI / EDI and his crew organized a day of shooting sports as a fund raiser. Money raised goes to homeless veterans – what a good cause. 56 elevator types slogged our way through blizzard conditions to be there – road conditions were terrible but there were only two drop outs – amazing. Whew – lots of cars and trucks in the ditch.

The day at Ten Mile River Gun Club is a crazy good experience. There are two events and everyone does both – either in the morning session or the afternoon. My squad – Rob Cuzzi of VanDeusen Asso., Chris Dodds of Kencore Elevator, and Dustin Witham of Midwest Elevator – started the day with a pheasant tower shoot. There were 300 birds released and there are plenty of them still cackling about the amount of errant lead in the air. The shooters had some hearty laughs and we all came away with big smiles on wind burned faces.

The snow let up in the afternoon and we switched to shooting clays on the sporting clays course. If you are not familiar, sporting clays is a little like golf with a shotgun. Each shooting station (think golf hole) presents a different shooting situation. Clay come from and go in every imaginable direction. It’s a very social sport where we all got a chance to congratulate and rib one another on our hits and misses.


Throughout the day, we solved most of the world’s elevator problems. So I sit on the A17 Standards Committee, Rob Cuzzi has been a consultant for years, and Chris runs construction and mod for Kencore – and who had the code questions correct – you guessed it – Dustin. He went two for two when it came to the code. This was only mildly less embarrassing than him beating my score on the sporting clays course. Time to move over Dad.

John O’Sullivan of Centennial Elevator had the right card, and came away with the big prize at closing ceremonies. He won a very nice black powder rifle that had been donated by GAL. Rich L’Esperance Jr, also Centennial Elevator won the top gun award for the best score on the clays.

A great time was had by all, and all for the benefit of homeless veterans – doesn’t get much better than that.

NAEC Board of Directors


Ken Garst (Great Lakes Elevator), Doug Witham (GAL), Hugh Bertschin (Premier Elevator) enjoying some down time

I am very privileged once every year to be able to accompany Teresa to her Mid-Year Board of Directors Meeting. The members of the BOD have 3 meetings a year, one each during the Spring Conference and the Convention and this Mid-Year (half way through the fiscal year) Meeting. This is the only time a BOD and spouses are together separate from the general membership.  It is the NAEC’s way of saying ‘thank you’ for all of the volunteer time and effort that the board members expend during the year. Read more…

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…

Murphy Celebrates 80th Anniversary

The “Murphy Elevator Family”

What a night – and for good reason. Murphy Elevator of Louisville KY – the epitome of an Independent Elevator Contractor – hit its 80thanniversary – and they did it in grand style.

Greg and Maria Carlisle – the current generation in charge – brought together a great mixture of family and friends for a night of reflection and revelry. Family included both the Carlisle clan, literally family, and the Murphy Elevator family – the extended company family who are making Murphy Elevator what it is today. 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…

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