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NAEC Convenes in Tampa

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The National Association of Elevator Contractors (NAEC) annual convention and exposition offered education, networking opportunities and knowledge sharing for its members in September.

photos by Angela C. Baldwin, Robert S. Caporale and John DiMaio

Most attendees of the 64th Annual National Association of Elevator Contractors (NAEC) Convention and 2013 Exposition came to Tampa, Florida, hoping to experience summer’s last gasp, but got soaked instead, as record rainfall hit the Florida city for most of the week of September 22-26. The weather, an unavoidable topic of conversation, did not dampen the spirits of attendees and the approximately 180 exhibitors looking to make the most of their time with other industry professionals, however. Receptions, parties, educational sessions, meetings and the two-day exposition highlighted the week spent split between the Tampa Convention Center and neighboring Tampa Marriott Waterside.

Monday, September 23

Members of NAEC began arriving over the weekend, in time for a board of director’s meeting Sunday, September 22, and golf the next morning. Monday began for many at the 18-hole, par-71 TPC Tampa Bay golf course. The rain held out, and eager golfers were able to get a game in despite threatening clouds. Back at the Tampa Marriott Waterside, registration officially opened, and exhibitors were allowed into the convention center to begin their booth setups.

That evening, the Vertical Initiative for Elevator Escalator Women annual meeting took place (see sidebar) prior to the President’s Welcome Reception. At the reception, NAEC president Mark Boelhouwer of Oracle Elevator Co. addressed guests early in the night, saying he had a very good year as president and looked forward to the week ahead. He encouraged everyone to enjoy the evening – its music, good food and conversation – and said he would enjoy his last week as president before handing the reins over to Jersey Elevator President John Sweeney on Thursday. Guests stayed late, talked at length and, in general, followed Boelhouwer’s instructions to have a good time.

Tuesday, September 24

Tuesday’s events got off to an early start with the Fun Run ‘13, which took runners along the banks of Tampa Bay. For most attendees, the day started just a bit later, with a continental breakfast, followed by the 8:30 a.m. General Business Session for NAEC members.

The session opened with the adoption of the 2012 meeting minutes, followed by the approval of the Standing Rules of the NAEC Convention. Several changes to the NAEC bylaws were presented to members for their vote prior to the convention, and it was reported that all revisions were approved. The bylaws would be changed to reflect the vote. Two passing votes of note allow for broader NAEC supplier membership among non-vertical- transportation-related businesses and the associate membership under the elevator/escalator maintenance personnel/departments.

It was reported that the NAEC 2013 Nominating Committee reviewed all new board member recommendations and accepted the nominees for the five available positions. Nominated for the three contractor positions were Bret Abels, senior vice president of O’Keefe Elevator Co. Inc.; Erik Bleyle, founder and chief operating officer of Bleyle Elevator Inc.; and Gary Thomas, president/owner of Albany Elevator Service. Nominated for the two supplier positions were Steve Husband, vice president of Canadian Operations, GAL Canada Elevator Products, and Paul Pedretti, president and partner of EDI/ECI. Each nominee made a short speech, introducing himself and expressing his interest in the position.

Then, Rob Wurth of Wurtec presented the NexGen Committee report beginning with the origin and purpose of the relatively new committee. He described the group as “made up of young professionals who serve NAEC and its members by bridging the gap between new and old, providing education, leadership development and peer networking with the goal of facilitating the transition between generations.” According to Wurth, the committee recently held an intense two-day strategic session in Mexico to plan “new and innovative ways to get people, especially younger people, engaged in NAEC.”

Additional committee reports followed, including the treasurer’s report by Alison Whittaker, who reported NAEC is in the black and managing its finances in a very prudent manner. In conclusion, Boelhouwer said, “There are never too many members of the NAEC.” He thanked suppliers, especially exhibiting suppliers, who help make the event special.

Otis President Delivers Keynote

Following the General Business Session, the keynote address was delivered by Randy Wilcox, president, North and South America Area, Otis Elevator Co. Wilcox talked to the packed room about the 160-year history of Otis, including the story of its founder, entrepreneur Elisha Graves Otis; the company’s challenges; and its ultimate successes. He also discussed the global elevator market — where it is now and where it is headed, which seems to be China and similar developing markets with emerging cities. He predicts China will have a greater role in code development in the future and expressed his belief in the leveling power of a performance-based code. He also
remarked on the increasing health of the U.S. and Canadian markets, while European markets continue to struggle. A short Q-and-A session followed Wilcox’s talk, and upon its conclusion, he expressed his interest in meeting and talking with NAEC members about their ideas. He asked all in attendance to remember that “Otis’ history is your history, as well.”   

Most members attended the Contractor Member Session, Professional Member Session or the Supplier Member Session before breaking for lunch. At the Contractor Member Session, presided over by Boelhouwer, talk quickly turned to the challenge of finding qualified personnel, now that at least 50% of those in attendance were hiring again, something Boelhouwer called “encouraging.” Educating personnel through the Certified Elevator Technician (CET®), training centers and community-
college programs was discussed. Also, Boelhouwer said NAEC and National Elevator Industry, Inc. are working on securing a more formal relationship, which could lead to more opportunities to share information and work together.

Roundtable Discussions

After lunch, many attendees visited various Roundtable Discussion stations, which included:

“FLSA and DOL — They’ve Got Your Number” by Karen Hopkins, Hopkins Group

“Technology — Embrace It or Get Left Behind” by Daniel Todd, Only Websites

“Ways to Better Protect Your Business Through Insurance and Help Save on Your Premium Costs: Liability, Automobile and Workers Compensation Insurance” by Jackie Mortman, JM Associates/Burnham + Co., a Division of HUB International

“ASME A.18 Safety Code and DIY Installations” by Craig Jones, Country Home Elevator & Stair Lift

“All about Credit Card Merchant Account Fees – Do You Know What You Are Paying in Fees?” by Patrick Edwards, Integrity Access Elevator & Lifts

“Workplace Safety and Strategies to Better Manage Safety and Liability Insurance Costs” by Raymond Downs, NAEC Safety Committee

“The How To’s on Setting Up CET/CAT Programs” by David Smarte, Chair, and Chuck Sharp, Vice Chair, NAEC Educational and Technical Advisory Committee

Roundtable Discussions

After lunch, many attendees visited various Roundtable Discussion stations, which included:

  • “FLSA and DOL – They’ve Got Your Number” by Karen Hopkins, Hopkins Group
  • “Technology – Embrace It or Get Left Behind” by Daniel Todd, Only Websites
  • “Ways to Better Protect Your Business Through Insurance and Help Save on Your Premium Costs: Liability, Automobile and Workers Compensation Insurance” by Jackie Mortman, JM Associates/Burnham + Co., a Division of HUB International
  • “ASME A.18 Safety Code and DIY Installations” by Craig Jones, Country Home Elevator & Stair Lift
  • “All about Credit Card Merchant Account Fees – Do You Know What You Are Paying in Fees?” by Patrick Edwards, Integrity Access Elevator & Lifts
  • “Workplace Safety and Strategies to Better Manage Safety and Liability Insurance Costs” by Raymond Downs, NAEC Safety Committee
  • “The How To’s on Setting Up CET/CAT Programs” by David Smarte, Chair, and Chuck Sharp, Vice Chair, NAEC Educational and Technical Advisory Committee
  • “ASME Interpretations – How to Find What You Are Looking For” by Lee Rigby, Vertical Assistance Associates
  • “10 Misconceptions – Test and Clarify Your Code Skills” by Randy Glover, Smartrise

EESF Hosts “Sensational” Party

Day two of the convention ended with a feast for the senses at the Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation’s (EESF) well-attended, festive cocktail party. Guests could taste specialty cocktails, smell fresh Cuban cigars as they were being rolled on site, see themselves in costume and silly poses taken in the photo booth on hand, hear live jazz being performed, touch exotic birds and, the evening’s pièce de résistance, a 4-ft. alligator named Brutus. Sponsors for the evening included Elevator Conference of New York; GAL/Hollister Whitney; C.E. Electronics; Elevator World Inc.; The Peelle Co.; Formula Systems North America; Innovation Industries Inc.; MEI-Total Elevator Solutions; Adams Elevator Equipment Co.; Draka Elevator; EHC Global; Electrodyn Systems, Ltd.; Courion; Maxton Manufacturing; Vertical Assessment Associates; VTE Solutions, LLC; and Canton Elevator. “This was the largest event EESF has ever held, and it was a memorable one. The Foundation thanks the NAEC board and NAEC Executive Director Teresa Witham for the opportunity to support the EESF and its mission,” said Barbara Allen, EESF executive director.

Wednesday, September 25

The two-day exposition opened promptly at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, and crowds remained steady for most of the day.  Educational sessions were delivered throughout both days of the expo and included: 

  • “Addressing the Most Common Questions Related to Retrofit Code” by Jim Marinelli, Electrodyn Systems, Ltd.
  • “Watts Up with Cab Lighting” by Brandon Mandy and Terry Mandy, Man-D-Tec
  • “Coated Traction Ropes” by Martin Rhiner, Brugg Wire Rope
  • “Comparing Layout, Setup and Adjustments of GALaxy III to GALaxy IV” by Rick Cahoon, GAL Manufacturing Corp.
  • “Electrical Safety” by Mark Borski, Magnetek
  • “Load and Temperature Compensation Method for Green Hydraulic Lifts by Means of Inverters” by Dr. Ferhat Celik, Blain Hydraulics
  • “Principles of ITI Inground Telescopic Cylinder” by Simon Proulx-Croteau and Brent Streett, ITI Hydraulic USA
  • “Improving Hydraulic Elevator Performance with a Leveling System Upgrade” by Steve Romnes, Vertitron Midwest, Inc.
  • “Elevators in Existing Buildings: Sustainable Applications” by Monica Miller, ThyssenKrupp Elevator
  • “ASME A17 Committee Website Overview, New Provisions of A17.1-2013” by Geraldine Burdeshaw, ASME, Project Engineering Advisor, Standards and Certification
  • “Contract Negotiations Go Boom!” by Liên Randle, Mitsubishi Electric US Inc.
  • “The Evolution of Elevator Control Systems” by Ron Ishimoto, Elevator Controls Corp.
  • “The World is Flat. . . ETP vs. ETT Traveling Cables” by Steve Smith, Turtle & Hughes
  • “Employee Improvement Program Impacts Products, Customer Service and Profits” by Mike Klehr, Minnesota Elevator Inc.

Wednesday evening concluded with a cocktail reception followed by the traditional Dinner Dance, a classy affair that held many in its thrall until midnight.

Thursday, September 26

The final day of the convention began with the Awards Breakfast. Boelhouwer took a few moments to comment on the successful meetings and expo so far. He thanked past NAEC presidents, and the crowd responded in kind, standing and applauding those who have served the NAEC and its members.

Then, the 2013 Lifetime Honorary NAEC Member award, an award not given every year, was presented. This award is given when someone is deemed worthy of the honor by the NAEC board of directors and committees. This year’s recipient, Columbia Elevator Products’ founder and chairman, Louis Blaiotta, Sr. was introduced by his daughter, Margaret Gilhooley, who gave an emotional speech about her father’s decades in the industry, passion for safety and philanthropic work. Blaiotta said he found the surprise honor “overcoming and overwhelming.” He continued, saying, “My friends, I say to you, let’s always stay friends. We take pride in safety; it is the most important thing. It is on behalf of safety that I accept this award.” 

Exhibitor Awards followed with each recognized company coming forward to receive its ribbon. This year’s winners included:

  • Best Single Booth: Parts Specialists
  • Best Multiple Booth: Mongrain Vertical Transport Inc.
  • Best Island Booth: GAL Manufacturing Corp.
  • The Spirit Award: Schumacher Elevator Co.
  • Contractor’s Choice Award: PTL Equipment

The William C. Sturgeon Distinguished Service Award, considered the most prestigious award in the industry, was presented to Michael J. Ryan of The Peelle Co., who expressed his appreciation for the recognition and stressed the importance and rewards of volunteering. Boelhouwer then presented the President’s Award to Jean-Pierre St. Louis, who he called “a smart, good friend I admire.” Outgoing directors were thanked for their service, and new members of the board and new officers were inducted. Boelhouwer was then presented an award for his year of service, before Sweeney assumed his role as NAEC president.

Later that day, a well-attended Bridgebuilders meeting took place, as did educational sessions and the final day of the expo. That night’s Dregs Party, held at Jackson’s Bistro overlooking Tampa Bay, signaled the end to
another NAEC Convention.

According to Witham, feedback has been positive from attendees and exhibitors of this year’s show. She said:

“The waterside location of the headquarters  hotel and the convention center was great. We had rain all day one of the show days, which was wonderful, because the hall was packed. The evening events were well attended, and the atmosphere was upbeat. Tampa’s headcounts and exhibitor participation compare very favorably to all other non-Northeastern events. We are very appreciative of our members and the industry participants in that they support us continuously.”

    Next year’s event will be held September 8-11 in San Antonio.

vieew meets in tampa

The annual Vertical Initiative for Elevator Escalator Women (VIEEW) meeting was held on September 23 at 5 p.m. at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel. Jackie Mortman, president of JM Associates/Burnham + Co., a Division of HUB International, led the meeting in the absence of VIEEW president Martha Hulgan of MMH and Associates, LLC, who was unable to attend. Delaware Elevator hosted the event, and the company’s Human Resources Manager Ellie Webb presented all attendees with an engraved picture frame to commemorate the meeting. Each attendee introduced herself before Webb opened the evening’s discussion, which focused on the broad subject of “Social Media in the Workplace and Privacy.”

Approximately 30 women were in attendance for the meeting, and as introductions were made around the room, it was learned that a vast amount of experience was contained within the group. Marie McDonald, who recently retired from the industry after 58 years, claimed the most years of experience, but there were many other women with a great wealth of experience: Elevator World Inc. president and publisher Ricia Hendrick with 40 years; International Association of Elevator Consultants executive director Sheila Swett with 32 years; and Nancy Haines of Alabama Accessibility with 30 years, just to name a few. There were several first-time attendees, and all were welcomed by Mortman and the group as a whole.

After everyone was settled at their tables with wine, fruit and cheese, compliments of Delaware Elevator, Webb took to the podium to open up the formal discussion. The conversation ultimately encompassed everything from the tenets of good judgment and common sense when it comes to social media to the legalities of GPS tracking and the potential dangers of having a mobile office. A number of attendees weighed in on the discussion, many having first-hand experience with one facet of it or another. It was a lively and frank conversation with young members, having grown up with social media, able to present a different perspective than that experienced by older members. It allowed for enlightenment all around.

When the time neared for the President’s Welcome Reception, everyone agreed the discussion’s takeaway was every company should have a social media policy, and, every once in a while, a phone call can do wonders. “E-mails are a flat surface,” said Swett. “People can inject a lot of emotion in an email that may or may not be true.” KONE Spares’ Mary Lewis agreed, saying “Calling stops the back and forth.” A blending of old and new seemed to be a theme of the meeting.

Mortman reminded the group of its mission to help one another and be a network and forum for all women in the industry. She expressed her hope that the association would continue to help industry women make contacts and grow and learn. The VIEEW’s next meeting will take place at the ECNY Supplier Showcase in spring 2014.

convention highlights

  • The U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship has approved the National Association of Elevator Contractors (NAEC) National Guidelines for Apprenticeship Standards for its Certified Accessibility and Private Residence Lift Technician (CAT®) education program.
  • NAESA International received notification of American National Standards Institute accreditation of its QEI program on September 24.
  • NAEC bylaws changed to allow for broader associate and supplier membership.
  • NEII and NAEC remarked on plans to work more closely together in the future.
  • The third-annual Elevator Riders Riding Club Poker Run, a charity event to benefit the Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation, succeeded with 40 hands played. The winning hand was dealt to Nicholas J. Montesano of DTM Elevator Consulting Service Inc. The charity raised US$473 during the two-day expo.
  • The EESF “Sensational” party proved to be the Foundation’s largest event to date, with 317 tickets sold and more than US$24,000 raised.
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