Industry support, new board distinguish Foundation’s annual business meeting.
Welcoming a new board and realizing an increase in company contributions were highlights of the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation (EESF) on February 20 at the Four Points Sheraton Airport in Tampa. Finances, fundraising goals and long-term personnel plans were discussed, with Past Chairperson Tom Sybert and Program Director Laurie Dueitt providing an update on the Safe-T-Riders campaign.
“All in attendance came away with a feeling of cautious optimism,” Mark Mullins, chairperson, said. “We are pleased the industry continues to support us, and look forward to seeing what the rest of 2018 and the future will bring. I am very humbled and honored to have the opportunity to serve.”
In addition to Mullins, national coordinator for the Elevator Industry Work Preservation Fund, the new board consists of Vice Chairman Ken Garst, president of Great Lakes Elevator Service, Inc.; Secretary T.Bruce MacKinnon, executive vice president of Elevator World, Inc.; Treasurer Bret Abels, senior vice president of O’Keefe Elevator Co., Inc.; and NEII® Executive Director Karen Penafiel. With the exception of Penafiel, who will represent NEII on the board through 2023, the posts are effective through 2020.
MacKinnon observed Sybert’s extended time as president has been instrumental in the smooth transformation of the Safe-T-Riders program from paper to digital. MacKinnon also expressed optimism about Abels’ ability to bring new ideas and energy to the board. Abels is well known and respected in the industry, having served as NAEC president.
Also in attendance were KONE Passenger Safety Director Matt Pike; William Snyder, owner of consultancy VTE Solution; EESF Canada Chairman Gord Pattison; Pat Tobin with MEI – Total Elevator Solutions; Teresa Witham, executive director, National Association of Elevator Consultants (NAEC); Doug Witham, vice president, Sales and Marketing, GAL Manufacturing Corp.; and Formula Systems Vice President of North American Operations Cornelius Walls. Glenn Duncan of Parts Specialists, Inc., Sheila Swett of the International Association of Elevator Consultants and Matthew Dennett of RBN & Associates were unable to attend.
Most attendees flew in to Tampa International Airport on February 19, coming from the Midwest, East Coast and Gulf Coast, and as far away as Canada. Those who arrived that day gathered in the hotel courtyard for drinks and conversation prior to the next day’s AGM. Following breakfast, the AGM began at 9 a.m. in a hotel conference room. Sybert thanked the meeting’s sponsors, including NEII (Diamond); Alberta Elevating Devices & Amusement Rides Safety Association and GAL/Hollister-Whitney (Gold); C.J. Anderson & Co., MEI-Total Elevator Solutions and O’Keefe Elevator Co. (Silver) and Great Lakes Elevator Service and NAEC (Bronze). He also thanked everyone in attendance, and introductions were made around the room.
The first topic on the agenda was finances, with Sybert explaining that EESF’s changeover to a new accounting firm — the same one NAEC uses — went smoothly and has simplified the bookkeeping process. Specifics of EESF’s 2018 budget were shared: for 2018, the Foundation is budgeting income of US$474,268 and expenses of US$407,025. Attendees then discussed upcoming fundraisers, including the 44th Annual Pop/Joe Golf Outing in Port Washington, New York, and the Chicago Elevator Association’s ever-popular Cruise on Land in Chicago, coming up on June 11 and June 27, respectively. Garst said he expects a bigger crowd at the “cruise” this year.
As for personnel matters, a new subcommittee that will determine future leadership, job descriptions and headquarters structure was created. Chaired by Walls, it consists of Teresa Witham, Garst and Abels. This committee is set to report to the EESF Executive Committee within 90 days of the AGM. “We had a tough year with losing the executive director, and we’ve decided at the moment not to hire a new executive director,” MacKinnon said. “However, we are confident in the committee’s ability to figure out how we should proceed.”
Dueitt and Sybert shared an update on the Safe-T-Riders program for children, observing that EESF worked for three months in summer 2017 with an outside nonprofit agency to market the program, which is looking at a digital marketing campaign this year. During this time, the Safe-T-Riders website received 87,115 views, but concern was expressed about whether the views resulted in action. Doug Witham suggested Foundation supporters add a link to the Safe-T-Riders video in their email signatures.
Discussions followed about how to enhance the impact of the Foundation’s other programs, including Rise Up Safe Rider for young adults and A Safe Ride for senior citizens. Attendees also talked about which cities responded most positively to the annual National Elevator Escalator Safety Awareness Week and a new program, Ambassadors for Safety, which will consist of a training guide for anyone working around elevators, escalators and moving walks. Attendees then said their goodbyes, with many gathering for a farewell dinner at the nearby Players Sports Pub.
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