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41st Annual CECA Convention in Vancouver

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Evening view of the skyline (photo provided by Tourism Vancouver)

Spirit of cooperation, networking distinguish well-attended event in one of Canada’s most scenic locales.

Surrounded by mountains and tens of thousands of islands, Vancouver, British Columbia (B.C.), proved an idyllic setting that helped set the tone for the 41st Annual Canadian Elevator Contractors Association (CECA) convention at the Hyatt Regency in the heart of downtown on June 2-5. Organizers made the most of the area’s abundant natural beauty, officially opening CECA with a golf tournament at Furry Creek Golf & Country Club and closing with a dinner cruise out of Vancouver Harbor graced by perfectly clear skies and gentle breezes. Describing the convention as a success thanks to host Eltec Elevator, Inc., CECA Executive Director Catharine Bothwell observed:

“All the convention events, beginning with golf at B.C.’s most scenic golf course to an awe-inspiring sunset cruise, were magnificently well put together. Keeping with local culture and history, highlights also included a presentation by a Native American dance troupe, music by B.C.’s famous dance band, Dr. Strangelove, delectable B.C. wine and cuisine and a visit from Elvis (who played a historic concert at Vancouver’s Empire Stadium in 1957).

“Excellent education sessions sparked lively discussion, and networking opportunities were enjoyed by all. Special thanks to our strong supplier supporters, who came out in full force to exhibit and sponsor this convention.”

The event drew nearly 400 attendees, and the showroom floor had 51 companies and 57 booths, which is in line with the past couple of CECA conventions. It should be another profitable convention for CECA, Bothwell said.

CECA’s board of directors hit the ground running on Tuesday, June 2, with an all-day meeting. Guests registered in the lobby throughout the day, with warm greetings among friends old and new and, in the evening, a hospitality suite sponsored by MAD Elevator Fixtures on the fourth floor with snacks and a full, open bar — something that continued until 1 a.m. most nights of the convention.

Undaunted by what, for some, was a late night, Wednesday, June 3, began with participants meeting downstairs at 6:30 a.m. to board shuttles that would carry them up the coastline to Furry Creek. The course, which reportedly “eats golf balls,” remained filled with golfers until well into the afternoon. Meanwhile, guests continued to register and get settled in at the Hyatt, while exhibitors moved in under the helpful eye of Maike Marnet of Eltec.

As the sun set over the skyscrapers and Vancouver Harbor, guests gathered on the 34th floor for the President’s Reception. CECA President Barry Piquet welcomed everyone as they enjoyed a feast fit for a king that included native B.C. wine, succulent salmon, locally made gourmet cheeses and an array of Japanese and Chinese dishes. The food was amazing and reflected the city’s melting pot culture. Besides the wine and food, not to mention breathtaking views through floor-to-ceiling windows, the reception included a special thank you to Ernie Plimley and Irene Zachata for their years of dedicated service, and your author accepted a first-edition Electric Elevators, published in 1927, from Plimley and his daughter, Pamela, for Elevator World, Inc. President Ricia Sturgeon-Hendrick to place in the ELEVATOR WORLD library. Attendees then assembled into groups for a trivia game about Vancouver history, geography and culture and, for the announcement of the winning teams, a white-jumpsuit-clad “Elvis” burst into the room in a cloud of dry ice and serenaded the crowd.

Guests returned to the 34th floor the next morning for the kickoff breakfast, featuring Vancouver Island Squamish Nation people’s spoken legends and dances that, by the end, had attendees getting in touch with their inner tribesman by howling like wolves as costumed dancers wound their way around the dining tables.

CECA’s Annual General Meeting followed. Among highlights were a presentation showing healthy increases in membership and revenue. Michael J. Ryan of The Peelle Co., who gave the report, noted membership is approaching 200, and that 17 members were added since last year and only three were lost, two due to situations beyond their control. “It is a nice path,” Ryan observed, attributing the growth to the efforts of CECA leadership. He stated:

“When we find out someone is interested, we find them and talk to them. Any supplier, for example, that is on the fence, we encourage to come to a show and see what they think. We do a pretty good job of marketing CECA.”

Ryan highlighted CECA membership benefits, including networking/advertising/promotional opportunities, product discounts, access to exclusive information, lobbying efforts and help refining Maintenance Control Programs (MCPs). Directors of the East, Central and Western regions then gave their reports.

Eastern Region Director Rob Cane of Regional Elevator said the region needs CECA’s support in working with regulatory agency Régie du Bâtiment du Québec to pin down a definition of and requirements for confined spaces. “A letter will be formulated to be presented to the CECA board for approval,” he said, adding the province still refers to the 2007 code and has not mandated a regulated MCP.

Brian Elliott of Delta Elevator Co. gave the Central Region report. Big topics for the region included Technical Standards & Safety Authority (TSSA) processes and fees and MCP compliance and enforcement. Elliott shared some interesting statistics showing inspection-compliance rates in Ontario are decreasing.

The Central Region is optimistic about TSSA’s new elevator licensing director, Roger Neate. Elliott said Neate has an online video in which he covers MCP compliance. While progress has been made on MCPs, challenges lie ahead in the form of a looming Canadian Standards Association rule that includes approximately 600 changes from 2013-2016. “Obviously, we’ll have a lot of educational seminars in preparation,” Elliott said.

Western Region Director Heiner Marnet of City Elevator shared uplifting statistics, including that there are approximately 4,300 elevators in operation in Manitoba, and that 150-200 new units are being installed there this year, and that 140 were installed last year. “It’s never been this busy in Manitoba,” he observed. Saskatchewan saw a 100% increase in new and modernization business over the past five years.

Business in Alberta and B.C. are also strong, Marnet said. He said there was an informal meeting held with the new B.C. Safety Authority Elevating Devices Safety director, which produced consternation from a member who took issue with the fact no minutes were provided and a better effort was not made to include him. Another member said CECA is more effective when it presents a united front, a theme that continued throughout the conference.

Delivered by Steve Boisvert of Motion Control Engineering, Inc., the Suppliers Report included new rules for suppliers regarding exhibits and suitcasing — an issue that was brought up repeatedly at the conference. Boisvert opined:

“Suitcasing is when a current or potential CECA supplier markets its business in the exhibit hall or from another company’s booth. This includes, but is not limited to, passing out brochures, information and illustrations of products and services. Suitcasing may also take the form of a commercial activity conducted from a hotel guestroom, club or any other place involving convention attendees.”

National Association of Elevator Contractors Executive (NAEC) Director Teresa Witham gave a report on future conventions, including United in Montreal in 2016, which is already seeing good response with 80 companies booked as of June; the 2017 CECA Convention hosted by Peelle in Collingwood, Canada (described by Ryan as an all-inclusive resort town that includes everything one needs within walking distance); and the 2018 CECA Convention in Calgary, which member Dave Davies described as picturesque, and known for its hospitality and beef.

A fascinating education session by Boisvert on destination dispatch (DD) was given after exhibits closed on the first day. He noted a perfect illustration of DD was provided by the Hyatt’s own elevator system, which in June was undergoing a major DD upgrade. The system consists of a large, attractive display panel where one keys in his or her destination and one of five elevators arrive. The display shows which elevator to board. Typically, your reporter was the only one aboard a unit, which quickly whisked her to her destination. The only problem she found was forgetting which elevator to board. Some guests, however, seemed confused and put off by the lack of buttons in the cabs.

Boisvert shared that Schindler is credited with pioneering the system in the mid 1990s, and that it quickly became very popular in places such as New York City, where tall-building booms are underway. “Destination dispatch allows the system to make better decisions, which results in a less stressful experience (than traditional systems) from the passenger perspective,” Boisvert stated.

After exhibits closed on the second day, Anita Seymour and Jeremiah Stewart spoke about how Expert Service Solutions, Inc.’s software can improve efficiency and recordkeeping for elevator contractors.

Following the education session, a cocktail reception preceded that night’s Gala Dinner Dance, which featured bottomless B.C. wine and multiple courses, including tuna sashimi, bacon-wrapped steak and a raspberry crisp. Organizers were thanked, guests were recognized, and, during the reception, EESF Director Nikole Gore-Layton revealed winners of the silent auction that had taken place throughout the day. EESFC raised a total of US$2,015 during the convention, she said. Following dinner, Dr. Strangelove got attendees moving with classic hits by bands from Abba to Oasis. Teresa and Doug Witham dared to be first on the dance floor, where they busted some impressive moves.

Ryan was up early the next morning to head up the Suppliers Breakfast. Attendees discussed suitcasing and gathered input about how attendance can be regulated to minimize suitcasing. Witham led a discussion about United. When an attendee asked why it could not be held more frequently, Witham responded that it would conflict with other events, such as Interlift.

An education session followed, with experts on elevator-related litigation giving presentations and fielding questions. They included Leanne Rapley of Rapley & Co., Barristers and Solicitors; Mark Jackson and Jay Scheetz of The Insurance Market Insurance Brokers Ltd.; and Chris Morrison of Risk Services and Adjusting Services Ltd. The final day of the exposition included a lunch featuring North American Chinese cuisine — complete with fortune cookies — and a dinner cruise that night. What local forecasters had been calling “June-uary” because of unseasonably cool, misty weather had morphed into perfect summer weather as guests enjoyed a beautiful sunset on the water.

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