Archive for the tag “Steve Husband”

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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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.

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.

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.

Weekend in Canuckville

Crazy Weekend in Toronto

Every once in a while, the stars all get into alignment – and life goes straight off the rails! So it was with last weekend.

It started when Linda Husband contacted a bunch of GAL types – including Teresa and me – and let us know she was going to throw a surprise birthday party for Steve on Sat 9/14. (Steve Husband is Vice President of Canadian Operations for GAL and a 25 year friend) She thought it would be nice to send us an invitation as a courtesy – never suspecting we would actually show up.

But show up we did. Teresa and I burned up some of our frequent traveler’s points and made plans to join several of the usual suspects from GAL. Herbie 3 and his wife  Becky, Paul Seifried and his wife Mellissa, and James Varon all decided that Steve’s  50th birthday was good reason to celebrate.

So we all wound up in Toronto on the Friday – And guess what we discovered? Friday was Herb 3’s birthday! Yahoo. So we gathered a group of the usual suspects from the Toronto area and proceeded to celebrate herbs birthday in proper GAL fashion. The group of us from GAL were joined by Andy Reistetter (Chief cook and bottle washer at the National Elevator and Escalator Asso of Canada) and his son Michael (Trident Elevator). Patrick Bothwell ( EHC Global) and his wife Katherine (Executive Director of Canadian Elevator Association) also joined in the merriment

So a play-by-play isn’t possible but the picture attached gives to a bit of an idea about how the night went. This is a wall-sized message board in the bar / restaurant where we were. Andy was in charge of getting a message posted to recognize Herb’s BD. He told the DJ to post this “ Happy B-day Herb III, New York City, GAL” . You can see for yourself how that translated into Canadian! We laughed till it hurt.IMG_1317

It’s hard to imagine, but on night two, the party atmosphere got upped a notch yet. Linda pulled off the perfect ambush. When Steve walked in, it was obvious that he was floored. Some maybe 70 family and friends were there to help him get over the heartbreak of turning 50. Whew, I think half of the Canadian elevator industry was on hand. I would try to name them all but am afraid I would leave someone out.  It is testament to Steve’s personality that so many industry types have become his friends. Music, food, and beverage flowed like from a volcano.  A great time was had by all.

Music, singing, and dancing – and of course Steve’s air guitar (he is the best), went on until the early hours. His family, neighbors and friends mixed seamlessly through the night and everyone agreed that Steve had launched into his second half century in grand style.

Herb 3, James, The Birthday Boy, Paul, and Me. HB Steve!

Herb 3, James, The Birthday Boy, Paul, and Me. HB Steve!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The people in our industry make great friends – anywhere, any time. If you are making your living in the elevator industry, you need to make it your business to get to know the others who are doing the same. Life is much more full and much more fun when you are lucky enough to work with your friends.

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.

 

Oh, Canada

As of October 1, 2012, GAL Canada and ECI Canada will be merging into one company – GAL Canada.

I spent most of last week up in Canukville – Canada – Got a chance to catch up with my good friend and GAL Canadian VP – Steve Husband. We called on customers and snuck in a round of golf with Mark Braden and Mike Alcott – neither are customers but they are both icons in the Canadian elevator industry. Also broke bread with Andy Reistetter and his boys – Andy is the chief Arbitrator / negotiator/ bottle washer at NEEA, and the boys are both mod mechanics at Trident Elevator – one of the best contracting businesses in North America – what a good elevator family. We had a fun night telling stories. Read more…

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