CECA 2018

The Calgary skyline as seen from Prince’s Island Park; photo by Brad O’Guynn

Without a hitch” is the perfect way to describe the 44th Annual Canadian Elevator Contractors Association (CECA) Convention in Calgary, Alberta, on May 29-June 1 at Hyatt Regency Calgary, as the event was pulled off flawlessly by organizers and host Canwest Elevator & Lifts. Soaring atriums and impressive sculptures and paintings depicting Alberta’s pioneering history — complete with horses, cowboys and ranchers — decorate the interior of the Hyatt, nestled in the heart of downtown within sight of some of Calgary’s tallest structures: the 190.8-m-tall Calgary Tower, an observation tower celebrating its 50th anniversary this year; the 57-story The Bow; and the nearly topped-out 60-story Telus Sky tower.

In addition to its striking interior and ideal setting, the Hyatt provided plenty of ballrooms, meeting rooms and exhibition space for the many CECA events, from serious to celebratory, that took place. Calgary-based Canwest put on a memorable event, from the kickoff breakfast and gala dinner dance, which featured, respectively, performers depicting Calgary’s rough-and-tumble rancher days, and a dazzling fiberoptic dance and juggling act that brought to mind burlesque, to the offsite Rodeo Ranch Party that capped off the week.

For the first time, the expo featured the CECA Passport, a passport-like booklet listing all 50 exhibitors. The brainchild of the CECA Board of Directors, the Passport encouraged networking by requiring attendees to ask a company representative a question about their company to receive a stamp. Those who received the most stamps – 30 for day one, 50 for day two – were eligible for that day’s prize drawing that included such items as gift certificates to local restaurants and high-tech gadgets. All involved with CECA deemed the Passport a great success.

Monday, May 28

Many of the approximately 350 attendees arrived from all over Canada and the U.S. to be ready for the full slate of activities ahead.

Tuesday, May 29

CECA’s Board of Directors gathered for an all-day meeting, while your author and Elevator World, Inc. Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brad O’Guynn visited Canwest (see story, p. 112). Manned by Dave Davies, recently retired from Canwest, the ever-popular hospitality suite opened at 9 p.m. and stayed open until 1 a.m. for latecomers and partiers. Registration launched at 3:30 in the afternoon, resuming for most of the day on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Wednesday, May 30

The golf tournament began bright and early at the Lynx Ridge Golf Club and lasted until 3:30. Exhibitor move in and setup started at 11 and lasted until 6. In addition to the expo, attendees could take part in an afternoon educational session: Jeff Eaton of Lift Business Advisors with “Things to Consider to Get the Most From Your Business.”

The President’s Reception commenced at 6 at the Glenbow Museum, directly across the street from the Hyatt. Guests mingled among exhibits that included documents about the history of Western Canada and participated in a scavenger hunt where attendees divided into teams to find the answers to questions about local landmarks, people and history in museum displays.

Thursday, May 31

Welcoming attendees to the Kickoff Breakfast, Canwest owner Justin Mendes thanked Delta Elevator for its sponsorship. As guests enjoyed ranch-style eggs with sausage, and chocolate pancakes, they were startled by the sound of “gunshots,” then entertained by actors who depicted the gun-toting members of the “Forlorn Sad-Ass Cattle Co.” The roughnecks brought CECA President Pedro Oughourlian onstage to “arrest” and nearly “hang” him for allegedly stealing a horse. Other audience members were pulled onstage to depict his attorney and other players.

As exhibitors finished moving in and setting up, CECA’s annual general meeting (AGM) got underway in the Bannerman/Walker Ballroom, with Oughourlian calling the meeting to order and thanking CECA Executive Director Catharine Bothwell for doing such a great job showing the members the benefits of CECA membership. Oughourlian shared that CECA is “doing quite well as an organization,” with the Treasurer’s Report showing that membership and revenues are trending up.

In the afternoon, Jeff Collins of Renown Electric Motors and Repair offered the educational session, “Continuous Automatic Rope Tension – Extend Sheave and Rope Life, Reduce Noise and Vibration.”

While positive points included the scholarship fund, which is strong and growing, and CECA’s highest-ever convention revenue, topics of concern were covered at the AGM, as well. Most notable was lobbying efforts related to the Reliable Elevator Act. Though recently enacted in Ontario (ELEVATOR WORLD, June 2018), those in the industry fear it will spread to other provinces and have harmful unintended consequences, including confusion over who is responsible for equipment mishaps, lawsuits, repairs and maintenance becoming cost prohibitive, and Ontario’s Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) becoming “judge and jury” in cases involving elevators. Central Region Chair Phil Staite said:

“We’ll see where this goes. As it’s written, it adds an awful lot of power to TSSA in determining who is responsible when an elevator is shut down. It’s going to create an administrative nightmare for both TSSA and the companies affected.”

CECA will be involved “every step of the way,” Staite said, in trying to get the bill repealed and be part of any regulations.

Doug Guderian, CEO of Elevator One and CECA treasurer/vice president, said there has been no progress with the maintenance control program library since all his attention has been focused on the impending law. 

Safety was the topic of a recent Eastern Region meeting, during which Eastern Region Chair Rob Cane emphasized the importance of conducting safety meetings and audits. “Fingers only get pointed after an incident, so make sure, as an owner, manager, supervisor and worker, you know and are aware of potential accusations, should you not have this information in place,” Cane stated. “Document every safety meeting, report any incidents and the outcomes of any audits or investigations,” he continued. “Be informed.”

Staite reported on various committees, including the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT), which oversees education in the province. There is still unnecessary duplication between the duties of OCOT and the TSSA, but they are working on resolving this. Progress is being made in education in Ontario, Staite reported, with the exemption exam revised to three levels, versus the previous 27. Durham College’s two-year elevator diploma program is running well, and Mohawk College has applied to the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development to provide an elevator program as well.

Working under the Ministry of Labour, the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA) covers other safety topics such as machine-room guarding, permanent hoistway lighting and fall protection for those working at heights. Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board estimated it will spend CAN$595,000 to enhance fall-protection training in the coming year. Ontario will also see new codes to require seismic requirements for public buildings and buildings designated as emergency shelters.

Other exciting news included the CECA Residential Elevator Committee working hard on a new project to create CECA standards and education requirements in the industry. As well as a working group, CECA is working with NEII® and National Association of Elevator Contractors (NAEC) to create a draft set of updated elevator performance standards that expand the current NEII document to include guides for elevators in buildings such as senior-living facilities. The endorsement of the three associations will give the standard more clout in the industry, North America wide.

Provincial overviews in the West were provided by Western Region Chair Paul Bentley. It was shared that, in Alberta, elevators are only one of two trades that has codes that lack automatic-adoption language, but efforts are being made to change that. Rob Busch noted that in B.C., meanwhile, mechanic certification renewal is an ongoing challenge as many of the training requirements were not clear and 75% of technicians did not have the training hours required. A working group has been formed to address the issues.

Rob Cane announced that the 45th Annual CECA Convention will be in Ottawa-Gatineau from June 3-6, 2019, at “the beautiful Hilton Lac-Leamy” located in Gatineau across the river from the Canadian capital. Hosted by Regional Elevator and Elevator Cab Renovations, the event’s exhibit days will be on Wednesday and Thursday.

NAEC Executive Director Teresa Witham then provided an update on United 2020, the collaborative event of CECA, NAEC, the International Association of Elevator Consultants and, this year, Elevator U, held every several years. In 2020, it is planned in Houston. Witham said Houston was chosen because it has the capacity to host such a large event, which exemplifies the cooperative spirit among the organizations. “In terms of [guest] rooms, meeting rooms and expo hall space, the needs are pretty intense, but it is a really good opportunity for all of us,” Witham said.

Julie Gilby of CKG Elevator in Bedford, Novia Scotia, then took the lectern to explain what happened with the 2019 CECA expo planned in Halifax. Due to construction delays, she said, the hotel that was to host the event might not be complete in time, and organizers didn’t want to risk it. “There are simply not enough hotels in Halifax that can hold that big of a group,” Gilby said, adding CKG is working with Halifax meeting and convention planners to host CECA in 2021. “It’s back to the drawing board, but we do intend to host it, and there will be seafood!” she said.

At the closing of the AGM, Oughourlian asked everyone to give a hearty round of applause to the outgoing directors and welcomed the new ones. Outgoing are Cane, Paul Bentley, Brian Elliott and Michael J. Ryan. Incoming are Jeff Collins (Supplier Director),   Paul Pettener (Central Region Chair/Secretary), Sanchez (Western Region Director/Membership Chair) and Moore (Eastern Region Chair).

Exhibits opened at noon, with the Imperial Ballroom abuzz with energy and enthusiasm. Most attendees were eager to ask their questions and get their passports stamped. It was a win/win, as they not only earned a chance to win prizes, but also learned more about the many facets of the Canadian vertical-transportation industry and the companies that operate within it. Exhibitors lured visitors to their booths with giveaways that included handmade fishing lures (Titan Machine Co.), foam cowboy hats with the company logo (The Peelle Co.) and the opportunity to win a display-sized, carved First Nations totem pole (Hidral) in a drawing. The day full of exhibits continued through 4:30, and the closed-door Bridgebuilders Meeting was held in the afternoon.

After a busy day, it was time to unwind. A cocktail reception featuring a musician playing a koto, the traditional Japanese stringed instrument, outside the large, Imperial Ballroom preceded what this year was dubbed the Gala Dinner Dino Dance. This moniker was an homage to there being so many fossils in some parts of Alberta that there’s a rule against pocketing them.[1] Dining tables were decked out with centerpieces echoing the primordial world of dinosaurs with bowls of “rocks” (candy-coated chocolate) and dinosaur gummies.

Vivid video of erupting volcanos like the ones that helped doom the dinosaurs formed a fitting backdrop on a large screen above the stage, where Mendes welcomed guests and Oughourlian honored and recognized members, including honorary Member in Memoriam Ernie Plimley, who passed away in 2017. Plimley’s daughter, Pamela, took the stage to offer a touching tribute to her dad, who she said loved Scotch, cigars and a good joke, and often described Bothwell, in all fondness, as “a good broad.” Above all, he was “passionate about elevators and about CECA,” she said, to a standing ovation.

As guests dined on a meal centered around Alberta’s famous beef, they were dazzled by dancers whose act included juggling and spinning fiberoptics until the CECA logo appeared in bright red and white. R&B and jazz/funk fusion band Mocking Shadows closed out the night, receiving rave reviews.

Friday, June 1

The Suppliers Breakfast kicked off the day, with outgoing Supplier Director Ryan welcoming new supplier members, including EW, remarking on the strong turnout and thanking CECA for letting him serve as supplier director. Bothwell noted that supplier membership doubled under the leadership of Ryan and Supplier Chair Hugh Hunter. He gave an overview of this year’s show, noting that there were 65 booths and 56 companies participating.

Ryan again remarked on the success of the Passport program from a marketing perspective, reiterating it will continue. “I was encouraged to see some of the multinationals here,” he said. “This year, we got lots of emails and calls in advance of the show suggesting ways to market it. If you have ideas of how to engage smaller elevator contractors and encourage them to participate, please share them.”

The day, which closed out with the Rodeo Ranch Party offsite, also featured an educational session: Steve Husband and Randy Brear of GAL Canada Elevator Corp. on recent company changes and the eHydro controller.

CECA 2019 is planned at the Hilton Lac-Leamy in Ottawa-Gatineau on June 3-6.

[1] TravelAlberta.com
[2] Dylan Robertson. “Census Shows Calgary Still Canada’s Fastest-Growing City, Suburbs Lead the Way,” Calgary Herald, February 8, 2017.
[3] Bill Kaufmann. “Baby Boom Cradles Calgary’s Place as Canada’s Youngest City,” Calgary Herald, May 3, 2017.
[4] Jennifer Nalewicki. “This Canadian Lake Hides an Underwater Ghost Town,” Smithsonian.com, October 5, 2017.
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