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From Alabama to New York and More

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Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.
— John F. Kennedy

Here we go with change again. This month marks the first in which I will be the editor. When my father retired 22 years ago, we both felt ELEVATOR WORLD needed a technical editor who had worked in the industry. With the retirement of Robert S. Caporale, my board has urged me to bring the editor position back into the family, and after 50 years in the industry, I find I do, indeed, “have something to say.” So, look for me here each month. When you agree or disagree with me, tell me about it at ricia@elevatorworld.com.

Perhaps it should be noted that I am the first editor of EW who did not start life in New York City (NYC), the elevator capital of the U.S. I was born in Mobile, Alabama, a city that, until the 1950s, had only a few elevators, most of which were installed by my father or grandfather. Now, we boast the tallest building in Alabama — the RSA Battle House Tower. One of our Project Spotlight articles this month is on the old Waterman Building — now occupied by Wells Fargo — which recently underwent modernization of the elevators installed by my father some 70 years ago. At the time, it was Mobile’s only “skyscraper.” My parents often took me to visit the enormous globe in the lobby of the building, which now resides at Mobile’s University of South Alabama in a refurbished condition. They never suspected I would travel all over the world for the industry.

This issue goes to the National Association of Elevator Contractors (NAEC) Convention and Exposition in San Antonio, where nearly all the elevator people in the U.S. and many internationals gather once a year. There is an NAEC supplement listing booths and suppliers, along with some tourism tips on San Antonio. We think it is very appropriate that our interview this month is with NAEC President John Sweeney, another person who followed in his father’s footsteps. Like many of us in the industry, he was introduced to it as a child and embraced it eagerly. His comments on maintenance contracts acting as insurance policies are right on target.

A major article this month is that by Nicholas J. Montesano on 4 World Trade Center (WTC) in NYC. It speaks to the passion by Schindler for this unique opportunity and the partnership it formed with Silverstein Properties; Jaros, Baum & Bolles; and architect Fumihiko Maki. As this is being written, Editor Emeritus Robert S. Caporale is visiting 1 WTC, the crowning glory of the WTC complex. At 1,776 feet, it is nearly completed and may soon be joined by other “super high” buildings being considered in NYC, including the proposed residential Nordstrom Tower just 1 ft. shy of 1 WTC.

While we often talk of the boom in building in the NYC area, this month, our articles are spread out far and wide over the country. Southward, we have the newly reopened Washington Monument, the Otis elevator (vintage 1959) of which moves 800,000 tourists a year and has been repaired after the very unusual earthquake in that area. KONE and ThyssenKrupp Elevator are both going “clear and sheer” with units made almost totally of glass. In “A Clear Vision,” KONE put a MonoSpace® elevator in a century-old building in San Francisco’s financial district. Every part of the elevator is glass — some clear and some opaque. Across the country in Texas, ThyssenKrupp Elevator cantilevers a Velino escalator in a clear box high above the Dallas downtown. It serves a dual purpose in the Perot Museum of Nature and Science — transportation and a natural light source.

The Focus Topic this month is “Drives and Motors.” The response was a terrific article by Jeff Collins of Renown Electric Motors & Repair Inc. on “The Hidden Details of Modernization,” which is being used as Continuing Education. It is hard for me to go even one issue without mentioning the desperate need for education in our industry. I traveled this month and visited with two hardworking groups that focus heavily on this issue, the NAEC Education Committee and National Elevator Industry, Inc. Safety Committee. Both have dedicated members and are pushing education and safety information to the industry.

Events fill out the rest of the book, with Elevator U’s meeting in Nebraska and the World Elevator Escalator Expo in China. Both had solid attendance. It is clear that the industry is growing, and education, through exhibits, seminars and association-backed programs, is adding to the growth.

Last but not least, I urge you to go online and join the conversations at EW’s LinkedIn Group. Three subjects have gotten a lot of feedback recently. The first was started by Patrick Carrajat about the failure of the New York Safety Bill passage; the others are two discussions started by Curtis Shelton — the first on the elevator industry’s problems and the second on customer service. Speak up, and let us hear your thoughts.  

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