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40th Annual CECA Convention in Quebec City

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Record expo booth turnout highlights a busy week in Canada.

The Hilton Quebec and Quebec Convention Centre in Quebec City played host to the 40th iteration of the Canadian Elevator Contractors Association (CECA) convention on May 12-15. As usual, aspects of the event included a two-day exhibition, annual meetings, education and gala dinner dance. Also not out of the ordinary was the large amount of positive feedback received, with exhibitors being especially pleased with the record 66-booth turnout in the expo hall.

GT Tour, Fundraiser

The first day of the event held a special treat following the closed-doors Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation of Canada (EESFC) meeting. That evening, nearby company Global Tardif (GT) chartered buses to the hotel to take attendees to its manufacturing plant for a tour and party, which doubled as a fundraiser for the EESFC. Those fortunate enough to have RSVPed for the tour were treated to exotic cobalt-blue drinks and a wide assortment of local food, while touring the many displays GT had set up in its vast facility near the banks of the St. Lawrence River.

Golf, Presidents Reception

Following a golf tournament and closed-door CECA Board of Directors meeting, the bulk of attendees gathered to take a short bus ride to the top floor of The Observatoire, which allowed visitors to overlook the entire city and beyond through its giant windows.

After speaking with CECA President Barry Piquet and other industry compatriots, attendees were ushered into a large room filled with tables arrayed with wine glasses and used corks. They were then divided into teams to compete in the “Torin Drive Wine Challenge,” which quizzed everyone on wine and its attributes.

Kickoff Breakfast, AGM

The busy third day of the convention began with a cacophony of percussion by four professional drummers making music by exclusively using elevator parts. They then got the audience directly involved by passing out plastic tubes and directing an industry “orchestra.” Convention host Karl LePage then introduced the CECA officers and many special guests present.

The CECA Annual General Meeting (AGM) then took place in one of the many rooms of the spacious Quebec Convention Centre. Piquet opened the proceedings, and Eastern Region Director Pedro Oughourlian read the minutes from last year’s AGM in Niagara Falls, Canada. After their approval, Treasurer Doug Guderian gave his report, noting record profit from 2013, which included favorable exchange rates. Many new members in 2013 also aided the achievement of high revenue, and convention forecasts have aided cost efficiency. A 2% increase in membership fees (based on the Consumer Price Index) also boosted the numbers, Guderian explained. He also noted the success of the new CECA website, which included such helpful features as online registration.

Membership Chair Michael J. Ryan then gave his report, stating there are 101 supplier, 46 contractor, 11 subscription, 10 dual and 6 honorary memberships. The total of 174 is continuing the steady increase over the past several years, the most recent number being last year’s 166. Significantly, there are 39 more current members than in 2012. Their breakdown by region is 45% Central, 32% U.S., 12% Western and 11% Eastern.

Ryan also stated the University of Toronto and Queen’s University are among the many potential members and are awaiting approval of an “institutional membership” so they can join. The motion was presented and, after much discussion, passed. He also noted a more-frequently updated website among the new membership benefits. In other good news, longtime CECA member and attendee Jim Piquet was made an honorary member.

Oughourlian presented the Eastern Region Report, which included a call to action to get The Commission on Health and Safety at Work in Quebec and the province’s government to not declare elevator shafts as confined spaces. If this were to happen, he said, costs for service calls, maintenance and modernization would all increase. He also gave an update on the construction unions, which were currently in renegotiations to prevent a strike situation like last year’s.

Oughourlian continued by stating the Eastern Region is also working on getting the new EESFC brochure into the Quebec school system and promoting school visits. He concluded by announcing this year was the last of his term on the CECA Board of Directors. He has served for eight years. The board will search for a replacement for Oughourlian, as no volunteer came forth.

Central Region Chair Brian Elliott was next, presenting his thorough report that concerned many dealings with and regulations from the Technical Standards & Safety Authority (TSSA), which has jurisdiction in Ontario. Statistics from the authority (a new development) show more scrutiny from its inspectors, with an elevator shutdown rate of 3.8% and a 65% follow-up requirement. For escalators, the shutdown rate is 56%, and those passing the first inspection has decreased, while those requiring follow up increased. Incidents reported went up 90-100% per quarter, with those related to external factors on the increase. However, occurrences due to noncompliance and those without established cause were both down.

Elliott explained the TSSA is now issuing Elevating Device Mechanic Licenses (EDMs) with class-E endorsements, which licenses mechanics to work on accessibility lifting devices and limited-use/limited-application elevators. There is also a proposed “EDM-H” license for those seeking to be licensed as permanent helpers. However, this requires a change at the TSSA legislative level and is not considered a high priority by the authority. Other concerns from the TSSA include car-apron requirements with a compliance deadline of March 31, 2016; retroactive leveling requirements for single-speed units with a deadline in 2019 or 2020; and the deadline having recently passed for required car-top railings (CTRs).

Elliott explained that the year-old CECA maintenance control plan (MCP) template (ELEVATOR WORLD, May and August 2013) is being widely used in Ontario to meet TSSA requirements and may “roll across Canada,” as other provinces are watching its impact. He also revealed that Durham College, the fastest-growing college in Ontario, is looking for instructors (preferably EDM-A mechanics) in both full- and part-time roles for its expanded elevator-mechanic courses that will be running five days a week.

In giving his report, Western Region Chair Heiner Marnet also talked certification. As of July 1, anyone working on regulated equipment in British Columbia (BC) must have a certificate of qualification. Workers had apparently been gearing up for this, because by the time of the CECA Convention, 699 Class A applications had been received in the province. The industry is pushing the BC Safety Authority to also make CTRs mandatory for existing elevators. It has also planned to shut down installations with single-bottom cylinders that have not been made compliant with the code in October 2015. Its next safety code adopted is to be the 2013 edition, which is under review and would mandate MCP implementation.

BC, Marnet said, has no current union work contract and, with a strong construction outlook and steady modernization activity, expects to see “a lot of work coming up,” with only approximately 10 mechanics on the union bench. He reported construction and modernization activity in Alberta as “very strong,” with several large projects (one to rise 71 stories) under consideration/construction. Finally, Marnet announced that another Western Region director was needed, and Paul Bentley was nominated and voted in to fill the role left vacant by Ryan Wilson’s departure.

Supplier Chair Tom Rennick then gave his report, indicating the board had been considering a “Spring Fling” prior to the next United (set for September 19-22, 2016, in Montreal) based on the success and support of the Niagara Falls Spring Golf Classic prior to the 2012 United in Atlantic City and the continued interest with these preconvention gatherings at Quebec City in fall 2013 and proposed events for Vancouver. This would provide suppliers and contractors with a venue to get together during their traditional meeting season. It was opened for discussion at the AGM with input from the floor. Doug and Teresa Witham asked CECA to be mindful not to detract from United. Vlad Zachata said that if anything were done, he would prefer it be at a tropical destination. Bert Tolhoek cautioned that if it were comparable to the National Association of Elevator Contractors’ (NAEC) Spring Educational Conference, it may get a correspondingly low ratio of attendance (11%, according to Teresa Witham), making its worth questionable for CECA. The board indicated it would consider the comments further before deciding on the matter.

Maike Marnet then explained plans for a golf/fishing tournament for October 2-3 in Vancouver, in addition to the next CECA Convention for June 2-6, also in Vancouver. She will host both of these and has been making extensive preparations. NAEC Executive Director Teresa Witham then spoke on previously successful United conventions and the upcoming one in 2016, which will lack the support of NAESA International, because the association does not think Montreal offers an attraction for its members. Ryan then spoke on the 2017 CECA Convention, to be held in Collingwood and hosted by The Peelle Co., for which he works. He was appointed membership chair and voted in for another four years as supplier director. 

Expo and Dinner Dance

Though the CECA Gala Dinner Dance is always memorable, it proved true of this year’s edition more than most. An excellent musical and performance group, the Painchaud Family, entertained everyone until late in the night and was universally praised. The event also saw awards given for membership anniversaries and other accomplishments (see photos). It was also announced that a total of CAD500 (US$457) had been raised at the Global Tardif event, with another donation of CAD4,000 (US$3,657) received from CECA for the EESFC. The Foundation also raffled an iPad Mini donated by Formula Systems NA to raise further funds.

Suppliers’ Breakfast, Education, Closing Events

Rennick opened the Suppliers’ Breakfast, which had high attendance. He recognized new members and the positive fact that 57 companies had exhibited, with 10 more booths occupied than at the 2013 expo. Each host of the upcoming conventions was then invited to promote them, and a discussion was held about improving future events. Ryan led an educational session, “e-Marketing” (also planned to appear in a future EW) later in the morning, which gave helpful tips on modern branding and the utilization of technology. After lunch, a “Bridge Builders Meeting” was held, where the leaders of CECA met with Teresa Witham, EESFC Chairman Steve Husband and EESF Executive Director Barbara Allen to coordinate future events. That night, a historic-themed interactive dinner at the Voutes du Cavour restaurant in Old Quebec sent attendees off with a smile.

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