Archive for the tag “GAL”

Return to the Land Down Under

I’m just back from a whirlwind tour of the East side of Australia. When I left NY it was still cold and very snowy – you can imagine the relief on landing in the Southern Hemisphere. Steve Husband (VP Canada for GAL) and I were down under attempting to stir up some more sales for the GAL Canada linear design door operator as well as the Hollister Whitney PMAC Machines.

We began calling on customers for two days in the Brisbane area. Our stay concluded with Iian Elliot and Wayne Brown from Australian Lift Components, our partners in Australia, hosting a dinner and presentation to a group of the local elevator consultants.

The next morning, we jumped aboard a Quantas flight down to the thriving area surrounding Melbourne. Here we did a repeat – a couple of days stopping in to see customers and then a night out with the consultants. There were a lot of construction cranes reaching for the sky in Melbourne and the elevator types confirmed that the market there is very robust.

I’ve been to Australia often enough that some of the consultants have become friends. John Whitfield and Ross De La Rue have both come to NY to visit and it’s always fun for me to catch up with them when I get to their back yard.

Next, we were off for Sydney. Steve and I spent part of one day there helping ALC straighten out their GAL parts inventory. The consultants night out was moved up to Monday so that I could attend before heading to the airport Tues for the long trip home.

It was a very promising trip. We still do not have the market share that we believe we should – but along with some good moves from ALC, we think we will grow more quickly in the future than we have in the past.

So here’s one for you: I left Sydney at noon on Tues – St Patricks Day. After flying for 13 + hours, I landed in LA at 8:00AM Tues – St Patricks Day. Flew from LA to JFK and landed at 5:30 on Tues St Patricks Day! When the clock struck Midnight on Tue Mar 17, my St Patricks Day had been 39 hours long! There ought to be a way to take advantage of days like that!

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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

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

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.

CECA Annual Gathering

Last week Paul Seifried and I shot up to Quebec City for the annual Canadian Elevator Contractors Association gathering. Among all the other activities, we worked a booth along with our Canadian crew Steve Husband, Gaetano Soldano, Randy Brear, and John Surdu. These guys always do a great job of planning, setting up, and working the trade show floor. We highlighted GALaxy controls, 1:1 gearless machines, fixtures, MOVFE operators and a new line of machine guarding – a little something for everyone.

CECA is always fun – it is small and warm – kind of reminds you of NAEC conventions 25 years ago. Between the regularly scheduled events, there are frequent stops in the lobby bar where good friends get a chance for their once-a-year catchup. Too many names to mention them all, but the whole Piquet clan (Riverside Elevator) were regulars, Darren Sullivan (AVT Beckett), Ken and Louise Anderson (retired from Capital Elevator) were on hand – and there was a rare appearance from Andre Bellanger – an icon in the Canadian industry.

CECA drew 36 registered contractors – pretty good count considering Quebec City. These attendees were joined by quite a few locals who attended the trade show on day passes. The CECA Annual General Meeting held a bit of excitement as their leadership worked through if / how to make the university elevator types welcome into CECA.

The city was beautiful, the weather great, the company best of all.

Fun in the sun with a gun

People who know me recognize this question: “Who has more fun than we do?” It comes jumping out of my mouth rather frequently – and it did again last Friday.

The event was named “Sporting Clays For Charity”. Nick Montesano, owner of DTM Elevator Consulting, deserves the kudo’s for coming up with this plan. It is absolute genius. He is also taking credit for the weather – sunny and 70 – for mid April that’s about as good as it gets around here.

So a whole bunch of elevator types (Contractors, Consultants, and Suppliers) get to spend a day together pursuing an activity that they all really enjoy, and at the same time raise money for a couple of very worthy charities – perfect! Who has more fun that we do?

Do you know Sporting Clays? It’s a little like golf – but with a shotgun. (you do ride around in a golf cart) There are 10 stations to shoot from and each attempts to duplicate some sort of hunting situation. Each participant shoots 100 rounds. (makes your shoulder sore huh, John). There are targets that come from overhead, under your feet, right to left, and left to right. There are even clays that bounce across the ground imitating a rabbit. If you like shotgunning, this is nirvana.

Michael Bonardi, Yours Truly, and John Sweeney. A day of sporting clays for charity

Michael Bonardi, Yours Truly, and John Sweeney. A day of sporting clays for charity


It is a very social game as well. Our squad consisted of a couple of really good friends – Michael Bonardi from D & D Elevator and John Sweeney from Jersey Elevator and me. We goofed on each other for the misses, congratulated each other on the good shots, and generally giggled our way through the 3 hour round. Who has more fun than we do?

The event was held at the Peconic River Sportsman’s Club in Manorville NY (I think this is about 15 miles due east of London England – a loooong way out on Long Island) The charities were The Visitation Academy – a special school for young ladies, and The Freeport Junior Club – a group dedicated to teaching young people about the safety and fun associated with shooting. Nick Montesano and I both have a passion for introducing people to the shooting sports.

Good friends, good fun, good weather, good food, good cause.

Who has more fun than we do?

ECNY Does It Again

The ECNY Supplier Showcase is a regional event like no other. I wish I had asked about the details but because I didn’t, here are my guesses (hopefully a reader will know the facts)

I’m guessing that last Weds marked the fifth year for this event – where the Elevator conference of New York allows vendors from all over the country to come and show their stuff to the contractors and consultants from the New York area. Even in its first year you could see the potential. Suppliers jumped at the opportunity to come to NY and have the opportunity to meet and talk with locals, many of whom may not be there for the national events. And even in the first year, the contractors came out in droves. The ECNY leadership knew they had an instant hit.

I’m guessing there were 50 booths. Suppliers came from New York of course, but also from, in no particular order, Ohio, Illinois, Arkansas, Minnesota, Delaware, Missouri, California, Texas, Georgia, Florida, Wisconsin, and I am sure from other places that I don’t remember. It’s crazy fun to walk thru these small isles and greet so many friends from around the country. Again a guess – there were some 10 new exhibitors this year. It is going to be difficult to stay in the current facility.

I’m guessing that there were some 300 contractors – maybe more. And the neat thing is that many of the NY area companies have their purchasing, engineering, and field supervision types there – people that you don’t get a chance to see and talk with at most of the national events. You might think that because GAL is in the Bronx that this is no biggie, but you’d be wrong. We have a great chance to get face to face with a lot of our best customers and show them what we’ve done lately. We consider it a terrific opportunity.

GAL introduced GALaxy 4 – the next generation of controls which has been recently released on a limited basis. We had a GAL Canada MOVFE linear operator running in the booth and we also demonstrated a new panel that can upgrade older controls so that they meet the NY DOB’s retroactive requirements for lock monitoring and protection against unintentional motion. Andrea Magaziner deserves special recognition for having organized this effort on behalf of all of us at GAL, HW, and GAL Canada.

The upshot? I’m guessing that this event will continue to grow in popularity. I’m guessing that more and more vendors will find the value in attendance. And I’m guessing that contractor ranks will also keep growing as everyone discovers the tremendous amount of learning that can get packed into a single day. That’s my guess

Return Down Under

I was away last week on my annual foray to the land down under. Steve Husband, who is VP and GM at GAL Canada came along this year. Rounding out our merry band was Iain Elliot, the new Sales and Customer Service Manager at ALC (Australian Lift Components – our partners in OZ) and my good friend Wayne Brown, ALC’s National Sales Manager.

Steve Husband was huge on this trip because we were pushing the MOVFE 2500 linear door operator which is built at GAL Canada. We got quite a good reception from the Australian contractors as well as the consultants. Linear style door operators have become the standard in this market so I think they were comfortable with this one. Most of the competing products come from either Asia or Europe and are not as robust as the MOVFE – and ALC are able to price them competitively. Having a superior product at a lower price makes sales trips fun.

Well, fun in a fashion. This trip can really be a test. It starts by living 14 to 15 hours ahead of yourself (I left NY on a Thurs about noon and arrived in Sydney on Sat morning) that time change can be a killer. We hit three cities, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney and a typical day most often had 4 customer calls followed by a party for a group of consultants at night. Then the next day, we would either do it again or get on an airplane and move on. Lots of late nights followed by early mornings – talking, driving, presenting, eating, presenting, drinking, and flying – whew, by the time we poured ourselves on an airplane for the 22 hour trip home, we were out of gas.

Over the years, quite a few of the people who started out as either customers or consultants have become friends. Several have made the time to come visit in New York and others make a point of breaking bread or raising a glass every time I get out their way. I missed one of my good friends this year. Paul Holden, who has been the owner of Electra Lifts ever since I have known him, sold his business to Otis. Yes, it happens down under just like here. Independents contractors grow and sell. It’s the cycle of life in the elevator industry. As much as continents, being a world apart, can make lives dissimilar, elevator people have so much in common that it offsets any difference. It’s a good thing.

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