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Elevator U Conference 2015

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A busy week in Ohio produces the highest attendance in five years.

Each June, you can count on two things: the first day of summer and, equally, if not more exciting, the annual Elevator U (EU) Conference. Always enjoyable and highly beneficial, this year’s 18th Annual EU Conference took place on June 22-25 in Columbus, Ohio, on the campus of The Ohio State University (OSU). The location was perfect, as attendees were able to tour OSU’s massive multi-million dollar renovation project of one of its residential areas, which includes several new elevator installations. Your author would like to thank OSU and its Assistant Director Kathleen Harper for being such gracious hosts.

The first day started with a golf outing at OSU’s golf club and was followed by the EU Board of Directors meeting that evening. During the meeting, attendees learned there would be 157 EU attendees – the highest in five years. One key to this success is EU’s presence at multiple industry events, both local and national. It was also mentioned that EU plans to increase outreach for its educational opportunities throughout the year between conferences.

Martin Culp, EU chairman, opened the conference the next morning with a warm welcome to everyone. Following Culp was an “O-H-I-O” chant led by OSU Associate Vice President for Student Life, Molly Ranz Calhoun. Calhoun also expressed her appreciation that OSU could be this year’s host. Current EU President Terri Flint followed Calhoun by thanking everyone for attending and introduced the other board members. Two of those, Glenn Duncan and Brad Haldeman, briefly gave an overview of the minor changes made to Article VI of the bylaws. These changes were voted on and passed.

With the welcome and official business taken care of, it was time for the educational sessions to begin. The first such presentation of the morning was given by J.A. Marchack of ATIS Elevator Inspections and focused on improving maintenance through inspections. He emphasized investing in a good consultant, as it can save your university a great deal of money and time in the long run. Marchack recommended that one year before any maintenance contract you have expires, pull it out and review it with a competent consultant. This can help you evaluate common problems with the elevators and, more importantly, tell you if your current maintenance company is doing a good job.

Rick Duff of G.D. Barri & Associates was the next presenter. He spoke on staff augmentation and how that can apply to the elevator labor craft on college/university campuses. According to Duff, staff augmentation can be a less-expensive option, since facilities would only be paying for labor – no equipment maintenance fees and overhead.

After lunch, we were told to “prepare to be entertained and educated” as the traditional “Vendor-Mercials” began. Vendor-Mercials give those exhibiting at the conference an opportunity to promote their company through 5-min. live presentations. SnapCab’s Steve Johnson was first and quickly engaged the audience for a game of Over/Under, in which we not only learned some interesting facts about OSU, but also about SnapCab’s various products and services.

Ed Mathis of Mathis Electronics is always a crowd favorite at the Vendor-Mercials. This year, he brought a little bit of Hawaii to the Buckeye State by strumming “Ukulele Lady” as Smartrise Engineering’s Leslie Lewis provided hula dancing, and Eddie Morris from the University of Virginia provided backup vocals. Mathis then went on to describe the latest product innovation available from his company. Next, Gorman Co., Inc.’s Vice President of Sales Michael Johnson walked on stage in a white coat as he took on the role of a “Doctor of Oil and Hydraulics.” He explained the importance of Gorman’s seals for hydraulic and geared elevators.

Steven Correa of SmartRise Engineering, Inc. and his guitar then took the stage as his colleague Leslie Lewis changed the lyrics of a classic rock song to teach the audience about the benefits of the company’s easy-to-install elevator controllers. John Rearick of Code Data Plate finished out the Vendor-Mercials with help from a few friends to inform the audience of the full line of plates available from his company.

Following a tour (see sidebar), the evening came to a close with Casino Night, the conference’s much-anticipated social event. Hollister-Whitney Elevator Corp. sponsored the bar, and Cincinnati Circus provided game tables, jugglers and fire performers to entertain those in attendance. A 50/50 raffle also took place to raise money for the Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation (EESF). A total of US$910 was raised for the Foundation, part of which was given back by the evening’s winner, Ed “Jaz” Jaskowak.

The next two days were busy with multiple educational and technical presentations. Bob Shepherd of Otis spoke on the importance of practicing safety every day on the job – something that cannot be overemphasized. He went on to stress that everyone should have a copy of the Elevator Industry Field Employees’ Safety Handbook and to keep it with you at all times. Following Shepherd was a presentation on improving performance on hydraulic elevators presented by Steve Romnes of VMI/MEI. Elevator World, Inc.’s presentation finished out the morning sessions by looking at the positive future of the state of the elevator industry and giving a brief overview of the new products available through Elevator World’s online bookstore, elevatorbooks.com.

During lunch, the expo was opened for the first time, allowing attendees to browse the booths for a few hours before the next session. Afterward, a webinar was presented by Davis A. Turner, chair of the CSA B44.1/ASME A17.5 Committee on Elevator and Escalator Electrical Equipment, discussing the key changes in the A17.4-2015 Guide for Emergency Personnel. Next was Elevator Equipment Corp.’s Daryl Frith’s discussion on hydraulic telescoping jack applications and service, which focused on ways to improve the performance of hydraulic elevators.

The final session was a cracker-barrel discussion on in-house maintenance versus contract maintenance on university and college campuses. This was certainly a hot topic, as there are several pros and cons to each system, and is what makes Elevator U and the annual conference such a valuable event. Those in attendance were able to see how other universities handle their maintenance and generate new ideas, such as possibly using a combination of the two systems. The session was moderated by Tom Sybert of C.J. Anderson & Co. and led by a roundtable that included Dave Flint of the University of Michigan (UM); Martin Culp with the University of Maryland; Steve Pydynowski, assistant superintendent of Building Maintenance at Illinois State University; and Eddie Morris, elevator senior supervisor at the University of Virginia.

The evening concluded with the expo hall opening once again as attendees ate dinner and tirelessly bid on the many incredible silent auction items, which would also raise money for the EESF. The combined total from both fundraising events was US$5,836.

Also during the evening were two special presentations. The first was for the newest honorary EU membership, which was awarded to Dave Flint. This award is for those who go above and beyond with their contributions to helping EU grow and succeed. It is not a yearly award and is given out by the board of directors as they recognize individuals who have made a difference. Flint has been involved with EU since 2000, when he came to work at UM. He has always seen value in the association and feels its information sharing is a huge benefit to all. Although he is currently retired from UM, he still serves on its board as code advocate.

The second was the John W. Blatt Memorial – President’s Choice Award. This year’s recipient was Brad O’Guynn, who, through his skills in marketing, has shown tremendous dedication to EU by continuing to spread the word and never missing an opportunity to make the organization more successful year after year. O’Guynn has served on the EU Board of Directors for six years and holds the position of secretary and Membership Committee chair. In addition to his role for EU, he is also vice president of Sales and Marketing for Elevator World, where he has worked since 2004.

The final morning opened with reports from the EU Membership Meeting, during which EU board members were sworn in for the next year. Board Members elected were:

  • Martin Culp, chairman (University of Maryland)
  • Terri Flint, president (University of Michigan)
  • Neil “Eddie” Morris, vice president (University of Virginia)
  • Brad O’Guynn, secretary (Elevator World)
  • Steve Pydynowski, treasurer (Illinois State University)
  • Tom Sybert, director (C.J. Anderson & Co.)
  • Don Ross, director (D.H. Ross Elevator Inspections, Inc.)
  • Brad Haldeman, director (The Pennsylvania State University)
  • Glenn Duncan, founding director (Parts Specialists, Inc.)

The day continued with more presentations. The first was from Randy Frump with National Elevator Consultants, who spoke on OEM maintenance and installation contracts. Following Frump was G&R’s John Omorean and Darren Maveus speaking on cab modernizations with a focus on new shells versus new interiors only.

After lunch were the final two presentations – Chip UpDyke, chief of the elevator section for the State of Ohio, spoke on inspections and AHJs, and Draka’s Kevin Robinson gave a presentation on the importance of wire-rope maintenance.

Overall, the conference was highly educational and well received. The networking opportunities keep everyone coming back each year. It was clear everyone was already looking forward to EU 2016, which will be held in Quincy, Illinois, and hosted by Illinois State University and Hollister-Whitney Elevator Corp. For more information on EU and the upcoming conference, visit elevatoru.org.

Vendors

Elevator U thanks the following for purchasing a spot for the Vendor-Mercials:

  • SnapCab
  • MAD Elevator Fixtures
  • Mathis Electronics
  • Gorman Co.
  • Smartrise Engineering
  • Code Data Plate
  • Wurtec, Inc.

Raney House Tour

The Ohio State University (OSU) is currently in the middle of rebuilding and restructuring one of its residential areas for on campus students. Molly Ranz Calhoun, associate vice president for Student Life, and Daren Lehman, director of Facility Services for Student Life, gave a very informative overview of the project’s details. The goal is to expand on campus residential capacity to ensure availability for all first and second year students, since evidence suggests a correlation between students living on campus and a higher retention and graduation rate and increased campus engagement. EU attendees (wearing personal protective equipment, of course) were fortunate enough to take a tour of the jobsite.

Amanda Waples, program manager with Student Life Facility Planning and Design, led the group to Raney House, one of the under-construction residential facilities. The building, standing seven stories, will house 456 students and includes a large laundry area, kitchen and several places for students to socialize. The elevators in Raney House are just two of 25 under construction across the North Residential District. The units in each house also function as the service elevators.

Much consideration was given to the quality of life each student would experience while living on campus, with safety being a top priority. While roads and walkways are primarily used by pedestrians, they are made of thick, reinforced concrete, designed to withstand the weight of service and emergency vehicles.

Fujitec is installing all 25 elevators for the North Residential Transformation project. They will also provide the warranty and service through 2018. Schindler handles the remaining 500-plus elevators on OSU’s campus outside of the North Residential District. OSU spends up to US$1.6-million each year maintaining its elevators.

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