NAEC Convention & Exhibition


New products, exhibitors at 66th annual National Association of Elevator Contractors (NAEC) event held in busy Boston.

photos by Lee Freeland and John Dimaio

The National Association of Elevator Contractors (NAEC) met in the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center and the nearby Westin hotel for its annual convention and exhibition on September 28-October 1. More than 2,500 attendees and 199 exhibitors made for a busy show with an array of industry experts and products. There was even the following special announcement from the Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation (EESF) on the first evening following the President’s Welcome Reception hosted by outgoing NAEC President Brian Farley.

EESF Party

EESF unveiled its new mascots, “Safe T Boy” and “Safe T Girl,” for its revamped Safe-T Rider program (p. 60) on the evening of September 28. In addition to standup displays of the superhero and superheroine, Foundation representatives Tom Sybert and Nikole Gore-Layton presented the new promotional video featuring the characters, while attendees enjoyed the “Dessert Reception” it hosted with the help of many industry sponsors. These sponsors and a 50/50 raffle also aided the successful night’s donation amount of US$17,820.

Keynote Address

Dr. Alan Beaulieu, president and a principal of ITR Economics, provided an economic analysis overview targeted at teaching how to capitalize on emerging trends. NAEC billed him as “one of the country’s most informed economists, and that seemed an apt description of the engaging speaker, who is also coauthor of the recent Prosperity in the Age of Decline, which was also the name of his presentation. He remarked on a slower rate of economic growth in the U.S. but feels it is still strong, especially through 2030.

Beaulieu described himself as an “apolitical economist” and the U.S. as “the country that doesn’t recognize its potential.” He commented on Mexico’s economic rise, where it is now as cheap as China for American companies to manufacture goods. “China is in a lot of trouble. . . facing a financial crisis of its own creation,” he shared. Fortunately for the U.S., it has only small exposure to China’s risk.

The economist feels that the record-high employment numbers in the U.S. and its busy office-building construction market are good signs for 2016, though workforce health over the next 15 years will be a major issue for business. Efforts will be to train and keep millennials as baby boomers continue to exit the work pool. Beaulieu urged business owners to take advantage of the situation now, because when the U.S. public debt and ballooning healthcare costs catch up with its economy in 2030, there will be a deep depression.

General Business Session

Farley welcomed attendees and presided over the General Business Session, then introduced Pete Meeks of the Contractors Nominating Committee and Michael J. Ryan of the Suppliers Nominating Committee. These called on nominees for the board of directors: Henry Handel, Gina Valdez, Craig Zomchek and Eric L’Esperance. All the nominations were approved.

NAEC’s Amanda Smith then gave an insightful presentation on the association’s Vertical Transportation Management Program. She explained it equals education approximating one semester of college specific to the industry for the cost of US$1,500. The six-month course can be taken on the job and at one’s own pace, with fast-tracked options available. Smith was aided by Rick and Kas Kennedy, who fielded questions on the program they helped produce. “It’s a big deal, it’s remarkable and a great thing for our industry,” Farley remarked.

David Smarte then introduced Safety Committee Chair Rob Merlo, who could not make it but had sent a video address. The two commented on NAEC’s “Go Home Safely” initiative, which was promoted at the show with “stations of safety,” booths at which attendees were able to watch a safety demonstration and get their cards punched for a chance to win one of several safety-related prizes. Merlo also recognized TEI Group’s Vice President of Environmental Health and Safety Ray Downs for his extensive work related to safety, such as in his recent articles (ELEVATOR WORLD, January and March 2015).

Gore-Layton presented on EESF’s strategic planning, the foremost topic of which is to make a big push to publicize the new Safe-T Rider program and get it into elementary schools. She then listed the following additional priorities for the Foundation:

  1. Streamline the EESF board to nine by the end of the year: this includes removing the Bylaws Committee and personnel, with their duties being placed in the care of the Executive Board.
  2. Focus on more external public news articles in its website and email communication, while lessening importance on industry updates.
  3. Update the Safe-T Rider program
  4. Raise funds for the completion of Phase II of its children’s program and, next, attend to its other programs
  5. Complete the children’s program; create a facility employee’s study program called “Ambassadors for Riding Safely” for transit locations, malls, arenas, airports, etc.; and update the seniors and university programs
  6. Redesign the website to focus less on the industry and more on education with a goal toward it becoming the leading source for vertical-transportation safety education
  7. Improve social media action, including reskinning its Facebook and Twitter accounts with an editorial calendar and having a five-person-strong workgroup to manage content

The university program “Rise Up, Safe Rider” is to be revamped in 2016 with a planning guide and posters for distribution. It is to be targeted at such large organizations as the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and American Association of State Colleges and Universities. The seniors program “A Safe Ride” is also slated for a 2016 update with such additions as a planning guide and the in-person program “Seniors for Seniors” high-school community service program. Relatedly, it is being targeted at large associations such as AARP, Inc.

Next, Farley spoke on NAEC’s successful visit to Brazil (EW, September 2015). He introduced Treasurer Corey Hussey, who gave his report. “Finances are in excellent shape, watched closely and used judiciously,” Hussey summarized.

Contractor Member Session

Farley called the Contractor Member Session to order, which filled out a room of moderate size. The first order of new business was Meeks’ suggestion for a hotline of sorts fielded by NAEC member experts on proprietary equipment. Such knowledge can be invaluable, particularly in making specialized repairs, he said. There was significant interest in the idea, with many raised hands in a vote of support.

Farley brought up the topic of machine-room-less (MRL) elevators. He explained that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has removed them from its approved products list, and the State of California is often unwilling to install them. End-user problems concerning the ability to access these units’ components is a frequent issue, several attendees said. It was suggested NAEC and its members speak to architects, since they are the ones so often specifying MRL units for space savings. Hussey said that in this light, some applications are useful, though there were several vocal naysayers to this, particularly Meeks.

Relatedly, Rick Kennedy suggested to tell architects that proprietary hoistways will lock owners into working with one supplier for the lifetime of their buildings. An official NAEC letter on the issue, possibly in conjunction with dialogue with the American Institute of Architects, is under consideration. Finally, concern about the increased costs from healthcare and salary overtime rules changes were voiced.

Supplier Member Session

Smarte welcomed members to the Supplier Member Session and announced that Gina Valdez would be a new member of its board. The Exhibitor Advisory Committee reported that exhibition registration was a strong 2,580 with 199 exhibitors. David Kendrick noted an increase in floor area from last year.

The big topic of this meeting was creating an NAEC maintenance control program, for which a task force was assigned to provide and produce for members, using the established and well-received Canadian Elevator Contractors Association version as a template. Doug Witham asked vendors to provide their procedures and equipment specifications so contractors using the plan will have proper instructions.

The NAEC Specifications Database was also discussed due to it seeing little use. After Smarte asked what could be done to improve it, there were several suggestions:

  • Advertise it (At least one magazine advertisement for it has already been placed.)
  • Survey contractors to solicit suggestions
  • Use Google Analytics to get more usage data
  • Begin with a free service, then charge once user base has grown
  • One free database entry could be included in the booth fee for exhibitors

Witham explained that some members may not know that dimension drawings for MRL elevators are on the database. He also said that both proprietary and nonproprietary equipment is covered.

Expo and Evening Events

A busy show floor gave good reason for the many positive comments heard by your author. Some exhibitors, such as Bayco Products, Inc., with its Nightstick®, were there for the first time and steadily thronged by interested parties. Large equipment setups could be spied from every angle, provided the crowd was thin enough to observe. After an open night on the first day, the second expo evening began with cocktails, then moved to locally themed “Lobster Fest.” On the final night, there was a Dregs Party, where those left enjoyed dancing, drinks, food and games.

The EESF received additional funds during the expo. The first donation was in the form of a US$2,500 check from longtime, consistent sponsors Elevator U. Additionally, Formula Systems raffled a PlayStation 4 and flat-screen TV with great enthusiasm, netting US$1,300. Finally, the Elevator Riders Riding Club raised US$840 for the Foundation during its fun 50/50 Poker Run, the US$420 proceeds of which go toward industry safety education via the Foundation’s revamped outreach program. The winner of the contest was Walter McNally of Brooklyn, New York, with a full house.

Awards Breakfast

The morning of October 1 was special for many, with the annual Awards Breakfast opened by Farley, who began by honoring past presidents and offering a moment of silence for members lost in the past year. He then called Mark Boelhouwer to the podium to present the annual booth awards:

  • Best single: McIntosh Industries
  • Best multiple: Rimex Metals USA Inc.
  • Best island: MEI Total Elevator Solutions
  • Spirit of NAEC: Columbia Elevator Products Co., Inc.
  • Contractors’ Choice: Parts Specialists, Inc.

Farley then returned to present the President’s Award to his father, Mike, a hardworking provider who showed him how to get back up after getting knocked down in life. He then noted that Paul Pedretti had changed industries, and the remainder of his term (one year) was to be served by Smarte, who would otherwise have rotated off the board of directors. He announced the next president of NAEC as Bret Abels, effective immediately.

Vincent Moscato was asked to take the podium next to introduce this year’s recipient of the William C. Sturgeon Distinguished Service Award: Jackie A. Mortman, vice president of JM Associates/Burnham + Co., a division of HUB International. Launched in 1981, the award is NAEC’s most prestigious honor. Serving NAEC for more than 20 years, Mortman was instrumental in building the National Elevator Insurance Program. She served on the NAEC board for three years and has been a member of the Elevator Conference of New York since its inception in 1993, having been its president for two years and vice president for nine.

Mortman thanked the board and said she found what she loves in the elevator industry. She also thanked her employees for their many years of service and work in her 23-year-old company. “So many lifelong friends are made in the NAEC, and you take them with you,” she remarked, specifically mentioning Bobby DeFrancesco, Joel Frohlinger, Frank Musholt, Bill Magaziner, Kenneth Breglio and, most of all, husband Jean-Pierre St. Louis. Of him she said, “I want to thank the industry for introducing me to my husband. He is my greatest supporter.” She continued, “No other industry works every day to keep its users safe. It comes with a price, but we all know it’s worth it.”

Abels had a chance to introduce himself to those who may not already know him. He said he looks up to Farley and feels it is a privilege to be president of NEAC, with “some big shoes to fill.” He extolled the depth of family business in the elevator industry, saying that while he is not from an elevator family, he has worked for longtime family elevator business O’Keefe Elevator Co., Inc. of Omaha, Nebraska, for nearly 28 years. He urged any who are not members of NAEC to get involved and take advantage of its many services and benefits, including education and databases.


Education opportunities were nearly constant (and consistently well attended) during the week of the convention. First were roundtable discussions on September 29, held on a variety of topics (and moderated by):

  • “Lessons Learned: Sale of a Company” (Doug Callahan)
  • “Controlling Your Workman’s Comp Costs” (Dennis Powers of Lamb & Little)
  • “Social Media in the Workplace — Not-So-Sweet Tweets” (Karen Hopkins of Hopkins Group)
  • “Exploiting iPads & iPhones to Run a Smarter Business” (Steve Metzman of iBusiness Technologies)
  • “How a Technical Specification, Code Compliance and Contract Terms Can Ruin Your Bid Price and Profitability” (Craig Jones of Country Home Elevator & Stair Lift)
  • “Implementing a Maintenance Control Program” (Anita Seymour of Expert Service Solutions)
  • “Elevator Door Safety: Light Curtains” (Cornelius Walls of Formula Systems)
  • “Basic Safety Standards for the Elevator Industry” (Ray Downs of TEI Group)
  • Over the next two days, important educational sessions for continuing-education credit were held (and presented by):
  • “Improving Elevator Ride Quality” (Don Vollrath of Magnetek)
  • “Lubrication & Elevator Ropes: Myths, Half-Truths & Lies” (Martin Rhiner of Brugg Wire Rope, LLC)
  • “MRL Vs. Overhead Traction” (Emery Thran of Motion Control Engineering)
  • “Door Operators” (David Sutton and Margaret Gilhooley, both of Columbia Elevator Products)
  • “Elevator & Escalator Remote Monitoring Systems” (David Bryant of Kings III)
  • “MRL Market” (Travis Hall of Alliance Elevator Solutions)
  • “Suspension Rope Dynamics” (Kevin Heling of Wurtec)
  • “Energy & Other Savings via Elevator Control Systems” (Fernando Ortiz and Ron Ishimoto of Elevator Controls Corp.)
  • “The Fan Club” (Brandon Mandy of Man-D-Tec)
  • “Keeping Up with Google” (Alex Membrillo of Cardinal Web Solutions)
  • “Vertical Wheelchair Lifts & Limited Use/Limited Application Elevators” (Steven Roth and Paul Farsworth, both of Elevator Service Co., Inc.)
  • “Maximize Your Hydraulic Elevator Performance” (Steve Romnes of MEI Total Elevator Solutions)
  • “Space Guards for Residential Elevator Door Panel” (Doug Boydston and James Boydston of Handi-Lift, Inc., and Bill Munz of Enterprise Elevator production, Inc.)
  • “IoT (Internet of Things) & World Class Customer Service” (Sanjay Kamani of KP Property Advisors)

Bridgebuilders Meeting

by Ricia Sturgeon-Hendrick

The annual Bridgebuilders meeting held at NAEC had a decidedly international flavor this time with visitors from China, Italy and Argentina: Zhang Lexiang, representing the China Elevator Association; Massimo Bezzi from the European Federation of Elevator Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises in Italy; and Alejandro Deleon from Camara de Ascensores y Afines and Subir & Bajar. American associations were also well represented, with Ed Chmielewski chairing the meeting for NAEC; Teresa Witham and Bret Abels, also for NAEC; Geraldine Burdeshaw for the ASME A17 Code Committee; Nikole Gore-Layton and Tom Sybert for the Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation; Terri Flint for Elevator U; Sheila Swett for the International Association of Elevator Consultants (IAEC); Wes Jones for AEMA; your author and T.Bruce MacKinnon for Elevator World, Inc.; Dotty Stanlaske for NAESA International; and Kevin Brinkman for the National Elevator Industry, Inc. (NEII®).

While notes are never taken in this meeting, it is an opportunity for association leadership to freely discuss the issues affecting their memberships. It was clear that training in the workforce is an issue affecting most associations around the world. Also of interest was how developed countries deal with standardization and how a lack of standardization can hinder progress in other countries. Some general conversation centered on the post-recession recovery.

Related Tags

Elevator World Senior Associate Editor

Elevator World | December 2015 Cover