EESF Annual General Meeting

Rob Merlo speaks to Charles L. Gideon Elementary School students about safety

It’s All About Safety

This story covers the Foundation’s new board of directors, key topics and more.

The Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation (EESF) held its general meeting on February 25-27 in Atlanta. The first day included executive meetings, while the next day consisted of visiting Charles L. Gideon’s Elementary School to demonstrate EESF’s Safe-T Rider© program. Following the visit to the school, the meeting reconvened at the Hilton Garden Inn Millennium Center in Atlanta, where New Board Member Orientation took place. A variety of topics were covered, including:                                                                       

  • The definition of a nonprofit organization
  • EESF’s mission, history and program results
  • Board member expectations
  • Staff and committees
  • Fundraising and major donors

Robert Merlo, EESF’s 2012 chairman, opened the annual general meeting by welcoming and thanking attendees and sponsors, which included AEDAESA (Gold), C.E. Electronics and GAL Canada (Silver), and Allstate – The Merlo Agency, Brugg Lifting, C.J. Anderson & Co., Draka Elevator, MEI – Total Elevator Solutions, The Elevator Radio Show, The Peelle Co., and Vertitron Midwest, Inc. (Bronze). Merlo also recognized William C. Sturgeon, founder of Elevator World, Inc., by observing a moment of silence (ELEVATOR WORLD, December 2012). He then called the meeting to order and introduced attendees.

General housekeeping topics were addressed, and EESF’s Laurie Dueitt provided an update on the Foundation’s current educational programs. EESF’s 2012/2013 goal is to educate 500,000 students throughout the U.S. and Canada from more than 300 school districts. At the time of the time of printing 318,898 students have been educated in the 2012/2013 school year.

“EESF is needed, and fundraising is vital to the Foundation….” — Gary Presley, International Union of Elevator Contractors Local 124

Following Dueitt’s discussion, EESF Director Barbara Allen gave an update on the 2012 National Elevator Escalator Safety Awareness Week (Safety Week), which was held on November 11-17, 2012 (EW, March 2013). The 2013 event will take place on November 10-16. Safety Week provides a focal point for the industry on local and national levels, and encourages individuals and companies to spread the word about the safe use of the industry’s equipment. EESF asks each state governor to proclaim safety week. In 2012, 19 governors and 72 mayors signed proclamations.

Steve Husband of the EESF of Canada (EESFC) provided an update of the program in Canada and noted that EESFC members met the day before the annual meeting to discuss their own issues. Those present in person included Alison Whittaker, Gord Pattison and Allen. Edith Kirkpatrick, Mike Alcott (a new board addition) and Tom Rennick joined over the phone. The French version of Safe-T Rider was discussed, and thanks were given to Steve Mullen of The Peelle Co. for translating it.

EESFC’s annual goal is to educate 45,000 students, and it was suggested EESFC consider presenting a program in the local schools in connection with the Canadian Elevator Contractors Association (CECA) convention. EESFC will meet again on June 4 at the CECA meeting in Niagara Falls, Canada. The board then reviewed its budget and discussed its major fundraiser, the Toronto Cruise, which is set to take place on July 18. Husband announced that for 2013 Bill Rogan, owner of Skyline Elevator and past president of CECA, will again serve as EESFC’s campaign chair.

Informative reports from the executive, personnel and finance committees followed. The Foundation’s budget deficit was discussed, as well as the importance of EESF volunteers. Prior to breaking for lunch, Charles Stepp inducted EESF’s newest board members, who include Gary Presley, John Spinella, Chris Dodds, Tom Sybert, Bill Fassnacht, Whittaker, Robert Feldman, Martha Hulgan and your author. Stepp also inducted the officers for the next two years: Chairman John Koshak of Elevator Safety Solutions, LLC; Vice Chairman Tom Sybert of C.J. Anderson & Co.; Treasurer Gary Saxon of Schindler; and Secretary Ricia S. Hendrick of Elevator World.

The afternoon continued with discussions on the following strategic topics:

  • Enhancing and Expanding the Program
  • Hendrick led a discussion of the recently surveyed focus group consisting of nearly 100 teachers who have used the Safe-T Rider program in their classrooms (EW, April 2013).


Sybert discussed the marketing committee’s work to increase awareness of EESF’s programs. Sybert is developing an e-mail newsletter that will be published quarterly in the near future. He also talked about two public service announcements that have been developed, one of which is already complete. It pertains to elevator safety in college and university settings. The second will be available for download soon.

“I have watched the children react to the Safe-T Rider program, and I am confident the knowledge they gain from it will stay with them throughout their lives. As a parent, it is gratifying to be involved with a program that has such an impact. It is really an honor to be associated with this fine organization with such a critical mission.” — Steve Bruner, KONE, Risk Management


Dodds talked about the Foundation’s fundraising efforts, which include a Microsoft® Office PowerPoint presentation that can be used as a campaign in work environments. The presentation explains how to set up payroll contributions for employees. Dodds also explained that database management is needed to identify suppliers and contractors to contact for fundraising. There was some discussion on grant programs. Your author has volunteered to search for and submit grant proposals to raise funds for EESF.

Conclusion The meeting concluded with Merlo handing the gavel to Koshak, and all attendees expressing their optimism for another productive year. As usual, food, drinks and conversations followed well into the night.

About EESF

EESF has educated the public on the safe use of elevators, escalators and moving walks for more than 20 years and has a number of programs for different audiences, including second-grade children, college students and the elderly. The most effective and widely used program is Safe-T Rider©, which educates second-grade students at their schools. The program’s mascot, appropriately named Safe-T Rider, is a hip, cool cat who raps and dances to communicate the safety message. The students seem to love the routine and the mascot. Like many of today’s costumed characters, Safe-T Rider is successful in conveying needed messages to young audiences.

Related Tags

Elevator World | May 2013 Cover