Archive for the tag “Mark Yako”

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!

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

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

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!

MAEC Christmas Event

Mark and and I showing off our 50 / 50 tickets

Some 100 elevator types attended the Mid Atlantic Elevator Association’s vendor expo and Christmas party on Tues. A very nice event that is gaining in popularity every year. 25 Vendors set up table top displays early on Tues and the doors opened at 11:00. Everybody enjoyed a good buffet lunch at noon. Attendees mingled with the exhibitors thru the afternoon and it was a great opportunity to talk elevators with a lot of the DC area contractors.

Read more…

MAEC Event

The Mid Atlantic Elevator Chapter of NAEC held its annual golf outing last week in Upper Marlboro MD. Attendance was great and the day turned out to be spectacular despite the forecast for rain earlier in the week. 70 Golfers teed it up and enjoyed the camaraderie of the day.

MAEC is hybrid association. When the original group had a difficult time maintaining the momentum, the leadership in the association voted to become the first ever regional chapter of NAEC. Now, when it comes to organizing MAEC events, Shawn Cowden of NAEC headquarters does a lot of the heavy lifting. Shawn was on-site here to see to the details of organizing and dealing with the golf course.

Read more…

Post Navigation