Archive for the tag “NAEC Convention”

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.


NAEC Site VIsit in Grand Rapids

I had a great experience on Wed, Thurs, and Fri last week. I went to an NAEC site visit with Teresa and a group of other volunteers – in Grand Rapids Michigan – really. I can hear you asking, “what’s an NAEC site visit all about?” and “why Grand Rapids?”.

Here’s the way this stuff works: NAEC has a specification for its convention. Costs, meeting space, show floor size, load bearing capacity, ceiling height, room cost, booking policies, contract stipulations – and on and on and on. They utilize a site selection company to narrow down any potential convention sites, and then also to negotiate the necessary contracts once a site has been selected. Connie Bergeron of Site Selection Solutions is a pro at this stuff and has worked very effectively for NAEC for years.

So this year, Connie comes up with Grand Rapids Michigan as fitting the bill – a qualified option for an NAEC convention – and believe it or not, there aren’t that many. Grand Rapids seems like a weird place for an elevator convention, so Faye from the NAEC office goes and checks it out. Faye reports that, as strange as it sounds, Grand Rapids really looks good.

Teresa, knowing that a city like Grand Rapids is bound to be met with some degree of skepticism, gathers a cross section of NAEC membership to come with her to do some close quarters inspection. The thought process is that if this group buys in, everybody will – and NAEC will have a group of members out there already sold on the idea that this is a really good place to hold the convention. The exact same process resulted in our going to Cincinnati a couple of years ago – and by acclamation, it was one of the best convention venues NAEC has ever visited.

So off we go – with the city of Grand Rapids Convention and Visitors Bureau – called Experience Grand Rapids – picking up a substantial portion of the expense. It’s John Fichera of TEI from New York, Ken Garst of Great Lakes Elevator from Chicago, Erik Bleyle of Bleyle Elevator from San Francisco, Mike Klehr of MEI from Minnesota, Mike Paschke of Canton Elevator from Ohio, and our token Kanuk – Steve Husband of GAL Canada – and me.  How would you like to try to ride herd on that crew?

The attention that was paid to our every question was total. Although I think we rubbed shoulders with just about everyone who works in the hospitality industry east of the Mississippi, our primary care takers were Bob Snyders from Experience Grand Rapids, Heather Bacle who is Sales Manager for the Amway Hotel Collection, and Kathy Bart and Kristy Doak who are both attached to the convention Center. This quartet is an amazing combination of competency and warmth – and Kristy was shrugging off the fact that her first born is due next week.

Mike, Mike, John, Bob, Heather,Ken, Teresa and me. Missing are Erik and Steve

Mike, Mike, John, Bob, Heather,Ken, Teresa and me. Missing are Erik and Steve

Teresa put us through the paces. Over the three days, we heard about, drove by, walked through, looked at, talked over, tried out, questioned, ate, drank, and absorbed everything that Grand Rapids Michigan had to offer. And you know what? Pretty neat place. We all agreed that if NAEC can come to terms with Grand Rapids, it would be a really good venue. NAEC contractors and suppliers from every corner of the country are going to enjoy this city.

The convention Center is modern, well organized, close to all of the right hotel space, and within walking distance from a plethora of independent bars and restaurants. If Grand Rapids happens, the HQ hotel would be The Amway Grand. Very nice place, affordable by almost any standard, great lobby, bar, restaurants, and exercise room. And another thing that you couldn’t miss – the people of Grand Rapids are friendly…..and,,,, they want our business. In some cities, our show is considered a very small piece of business. In Grand Rapids, we are exactly the size they are looking for. We would fill a good deal of the two major hotels and have the entire convention center to ourselves.

Grand Rapids is the second largest city in Michigan with close to 1 million in the greater metropolitan area. Depending of the time of year, there are 10 airlines that fly into GR and these fly nonstop from as many as 19 different cities.

For dinner on the final night our merry band was joined by a couple of the heavy hitters in Grand Rapids promotion sphere as well as a group of local elevator types. Cal Rogler – Chief Inspector for the State of Michigan, Dave Flint from U of Mich, Bob Schumacher from Mich State University, and four of the McNally clan from McNally Elevator all joined in the merriment. We had a great meal amongst great company.

I suspect there will be an NAEC Convention held in Grand Rapids at some point – maybe 2019 – Go – you’re gonna like it.


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