Archive for the tag “Hollister Whitney”

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

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.

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

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.

Nebraska Ho!

Ah, the glamor of business travel. Last week Monday, I left the office at 8:30 AM headed to LaGuardia and out to Lincoln NE for the annual Elevator U gathering. I finally got to my hotel room at 11:20 that night. The airline gods really had it in for me. Mechanical problems, delayed flights, missed connections, cancelled flights. I experienced probably every possible snafu – and all in one day. To get to Lincoln, you need to go to either Detroit or Minneapolis – then to Omaha – then it’s an hours drive. Whew.

That’s the bad news, the good news is the time we had at Elevator U. Mark Yako was along, as was Brian Musholt from Hollister Whitney. Our companies are specialists in non-proprietary products, and most the University types demand non-proprietary products. This group is great for us which makes our time in the booth fun – we have a lot of member support.

There were some 110 plus attendees who benefitted from all of the education and enjoyed the social events. David Smarte (Delaware Elevator) gave the attendees a complete review of the NAEC’s CET program, and its benefits for the university elevator types. Shawn and Kathy were there in an NAEC booth and said they found several prospective new members – this is the way things are supposed to work – each group feeding off of, and into, the other.

Nebraska Capital Dome - A recent historical mod by O'Keefe Elevator

Nebraska Capital Dome – A recent historical mod by O’Keefe Elevator


We had some great interaction with O’Keefe Elevator – they are the powerhouse contractor is this part of the country. First of all, we stayed in a Marriott in which O’Keefe Elevator had modernized the equipment and all the cars were all running on GALaxy controls – a feather in the cap of the good guys. As part of the education, a group from O’Keefe gave us a tour of their historic modernization at the state capital building, and then Mark and I went over to Omaha and had a great evening with the whole crew (less Brett Ables who was tied up). O’Keefe is an impressive company in every aspect.

Terri Flint (U of Michigan – President) and Martin Culp (U of Maryland – Chairman) are to be congratulated. Elevator U is a contributing and growing association representing a vital portion of our industry. Nice work

Catching Up

Whew, life is flying by – and I’ve been lagging in updating this blog. I have been lucky enough to attend several fun industry events recently.

On June 4th, I met Mark Yako in Chicago where we tag-teamed a full blown customer product presentation. Mark has this stuff down to an art and he is well known and respected in the Chicago area. Fun stuff. We went separate ways with different elevator groups for a while in the afternoon which gave me a chance to catch up with (share an adult beverage) my good friend Mark Kosiara from Urban Elevator.

The evening of June 4th was the annual Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation Boat Ride fund raiser. Some 160 Elevator types enjoyed a cruise on Lake Michigan on the Spirit Of Chicago. Barbara Allen, Executive Director of the Foundation, was on board to say thanks. I guess I don’t know the entire committee who puts this together but I know that Ed Chmielewski (Anderson Elevator) and Cornelius Walls (Formula Systems) put a lot of effort into it. I couldn’t make it, but Corn had a group of friendlies out to Wriggly for the Cubs game the night before. Having two elevator related events in a row, makes this trip really attractive to out-of-towners.

The next week – June 8, 9, and 10, Hollister Whitney and GAL hosted our annual Consultants gathering in Quincy Il. This is always a great opportunity for us to show off our stuff and this year was no exception.

In a classroom setting, Rick Cahoon and Doug Deitrich delivered formal presentations on PMAC Gearless machines, and the other MRL components coming out of Hollister. Steve Husband covered the MOVFE door equipment coming from Canada. Doug did a return engagement to explain the G model Rope grippers followed by Mark Duckworth’s presentation of GAL’s newly released GALaxy IV control. Frank Marchese batted clean-up covering our new FM and FMG products.

In the afternoon, the whole group spread out and got a close look at the Hollister Whitney factory and test tower. It is really fun to show visitors through these facilities. Hollister’s factory is clean and modern. Every year there are new and more sophisticated machines on the floor. And the people at Hollister are second to none. They are engaged, competent, and friendly – always willing to explain our processes to any interested visitor.

Lest it should sound like it was all work, I’ll also tell you that we had cocktails and dinner on a riverboat on the Mississippi on Monday night. On Tues, Frank Musholt hosts a big bash at his house on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi. It is a spectacular under-the-tent event where everyone mingles, laughs, and shares elevator stories. During the evening, we shoot clay pigeons and hit golf balls, and then after dinner, the night ends in an unbelievable display of fireworks.

I have to mention Kathy Guifoyle (Hollister) – whew – She does all of the logistics and organization necessary to fly this group of 28 into St Louis, gather, move ‘em to Quincy, arrange the lodging, meals, and transportation back to St Louis and then flights home. Quite a feat. All of the consultants love Kathy before this event is over.

OK – I got caught up. No pics cause I have no time. Next week there is the Pop / Joe outing in NY and then a group NAEC Directors are going to come tour at GAL. I’ll do my best write up some feedback.

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.

IAEC in Denver

Mark Yako and I attended the IAEC Annual Forum last week in Denver. The International Association of Elevator Consultants grew out of what was once called NAVTP – National Association of Vertical Transportation Professionals (a mouthful that everyone was happy to see go by the wayside)

Vendors are invited to set up tabletop displays which the consultants avail themselves of during breaks and lunches. There is also an opening reception and silent auction for the benefit of the EESF that were held in amongst the exhibits. It is really good, casual, one-on-one time with consultant friends. Needless to say there is a lot of elevator yick yack.

The meat of the forum is two days of educational presentations by various experts on their topics. Mark, as is always his style, did a stellar presentation on the topic of Non-Proprietary MRL’s – I can hear yawns from all you non-elevator types, but he stirred up a very lively conversation and Q & A session. Although at Hollister Whitney, we don’t really build an MRL package, we build all of the key components to a very high standard. Mark made a very strong case for sticking with non-proprietary equipment.

As is always the case when some faction of the industry gathers, I got to catch up with a couple of old friends. Mark, Teresa, and I broke bread (OK and a couple of adult beverages) one night with John Donnelley and Leo Fenili – brought back some great memories of my Chicago days. Hanie Lancaster is a Denver Based consultant. We became friends in 1986 when he was part of the acquisition team working through the Westinghouse purchase of Adams Elevator. Hanie invited me on an elk hunt some 10 years ago – had a ball.

We also had a very pleasant dinner with Don Taylor and Landon Scott (along with his delightful wife Courtney) – key players at Centric Elevator. Centric has to be the largest independent contractor in Denver, and has several other offices in the West and Northwest – great customers – and Don and I go back a long way. Don and his wife Sue are a golfing couple, and Teresa and I had a chance to tee it up with them back when they still lived in Phoenix.

All in all, IAEC was very good from a business as well as a monkey business standpoint.

One side note – and I don’t know if there is any connection to the legalization of pot in the state of Colorado – but the locals that were hanging around the convention center area were a shaggy crew. Lots of downtrodden and unwashed, begging on the street. Not a pleasant atmosphere. The weekend prior, Denver celebrated 420 (and I’m so dated that I didn’t even know what that was till I got there). It is a huge pot party celebrated every year on April 20th. Maybe we witnessed the dregs of the 420 celebration. In fairness, I also have to say that the restaurant district showed itself very very well.

On other side note – Teresa and I traveled from Denver to Indianapolis for the NRA Annual National Convention. What a ball. Ken & Barb Garst (Great Lakes Elevator / Chicago) joined up with us a couple of days of fun and learning – and nights of eating and drinking. On Friday we listened to quite a lineup of pro – second amendment, conservative speakers. Cruz, Rubio, Santorum, Lavin, McConnell, and others. Then on Sat, I got to walk the show floor with my son Dustin (Mid West Elevator / St Louis), and spend the evening with him and his wife Lauren as well as my “Gerber Baby Beautiful” granddaughter Layla. I’m still smiling!

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.

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