NAEC Educational Conference 2018


Four days packed with education and news draws elevator people from across North America.

The National Association of Elevator Contractors (NAEC) Educational Conference took place in sunny Carlsbad, California, on April 15-18. The Sheraton Carlsbad Resort and Spa welcomed 235 attendees for four days of learning, discussion, networking and, of course, golfing and other fun activities. The first day featured contractor, supplier and associate member sessions.

Opening Breakfast

NAEC President Craig Zomchek began a well-attended opening breakfast by thanking NAEC staff for their hard work in organizing the conference. He specifically noted NAEC Meeting and Event Planner Alesa McArthur, who has a busy job planning NAEC’s conferences, conventions and show details. Internally, she handles human-resources compliance and insurance matters. He continued by honoring others instrumental to NAEC and the success of its events:

“Our volunteers and their support systems, which allow them time to serve NAEC, are critical to this organization. Also, we have a strong and experienced staff. I’d like to thank our board, their spouses, our staff and all committee chairs and committee members. Without you, we would be nothing. If I were to ask everyone in one of these groups I just mentioned to stand, most of the room would be on their feet, so I won’t. Those of you who attend this conference are a large percentage of NAEC’s support system.”

Zomchek then said NAEC has developed an ad hoc task force regarding nonproprietary equipment with the goal of developing and implementing a plan that promotes its availability as a viable option. He thanked Mark Yako of GAL Manufacturing Corp. for leading the Membership Development Committee, which has helped NAEC to grow to 730 members, a 3% year-over-year gain. He also announced the following newly elected NAEC officers (effective at the end of the NAEC Fall Exposition and Convention, taking place on September 24-27 in Atlantic City, New Jersey):

  • Gary Schuette, president
  • Don Gelestino, vice president
  • Louis “L.J.” Blaiotta, Jr., treasurer
  • John Dodds, secretary

Zomchek then explained the high recent growth of NAEC’s Certified Elevator Technician (CET®) program, with an enrollment increase of 31% since July 2017, and its Certified Accessibility and Private-Resident Lift Technician (CAT®) program, which has seen 50% growth in that timeframe. He also noted the strong popularity of its Vertical Transportation Management Program, which can now boast 16 graduates and 71 current students. This amounts to a 25% year-over-year increase in enrollees.

Next, two-time global bestselling author, Dr. Todd Dewett, took the stage. Using his personal and professional experiences, Dewett gave insight into how to overcome challenges as a business leader. He stressed authenticity, urging the audience to “Get over yourself,” not be afraid to talk about failures and what you learned, and to be real so you can connect with your team.


A series of informative and education presentations, roundtables and other events were held throughout the conference. David Smarte of Delaware Elevator Inc. spoke on OSHA silica regulations and safety training. He began with explanations and videos of crystalline silica and how to prevent potentially deadly overexposure to it. He said every company needs a silica program (for which NAEC offers a template on its website) to counteract this dangerous microscopic dust that emanates from drilling, cutting, etc. He also noted that NYC is seeing more accidents. The cause was indeterminate, but he speculated it could be related to its booming construction market.

Greg McCormack and Chris Palfrey of exhibiting service T3 Expo gave an interesting presentation on its tech-savvy approach to expo setup and logistics, including Amazon-style booth-layout shopping and homing-beacon tracking to pinpoint materials. As the logistics provider for the 2019 NAEC expo, T3 can offer new designs and visual ideas.

A wide-ranging Open Mic session moderated by Schuette of Midwest Elevator Co. discussed the Elevator Reliability Act (which has now been enacted as “Access to Consumer Credit Reports and Elevator Availability Act” [ELEVATOR WORLD, June 2018]). The Ontario law was given context by Canadian Vlad Zachata of Richmond Elevator. There were concerns that a similar law could be pushed in the U.S. Licensing in the various jurisdictions of the U.S., labor costs/trends and healthcare setups were also deliberated.

Other presenters included Michael J. Ryan from The Peelle Co., who spoke on “Freight Elevators and Their Application.” Daniel Baltzegar of GAL Manufacturing Corp. informed attendees on elevators and natural disasters. Ron Crader of Advanced Carbon explained how to improve the application and life of carbon brushes in motors and generators. Eric Protzman of Hunt Big Sales laid out the shifts in mindset and mechanics companies should take for “10X Sales Growth.” Karen Hopkins of The Hopkins Group outlined the “7 Mistakes Managers Make” and moderated a roundtable on how to protect your company in the face of harassment claims. EHLS Elevators & Lifts’ Patrick Edwards compared the ASME A18 standards with the Americans With Disabilities Act Access Board Guidelines and ANSI A117.1 standards for vertical and inclined platform lifts. Finally, Scott Bier explained “Family Business Succession.”

Other roundtables were:

  • “ERP’s for Elevator Contractors” moderated by Anita Seymour of Expert Service Solutions, which explained how enterprise resource planning (ERP) has evolved
  • “Actions to Consider When Thinking About an Eventual Sale of Your Business” by Jeff Eaton, Mark Walters and Rudy Boyance of Lift Business Advisors, Inc.
  • An NAEC Safety Committee roundtable
  • “Zero Clearance Entrances” by Blaiotta of Columbia Elevator Products Co., Inc. (EW, March 2018)
  • “Residential Elevator Hoistway Safety” by Henry Handel of Handel & Son Elevator/Lift Co.
  • “Control Valves” by Abe Salehpour of EECO


A second reception on April 17 brought everyone together again for another excellent chance to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. Those your author spoke with said they thoroughly enjoyed the event and praised NAEC staff for bringing it together so smoothly. In addition to the upcoming Fall Exposition and Convention, we looked forward to the next Educational Conference, scheduled for April 14-17, 2019, at the Naples Grand Beach Resort in Naples, Florida.

Elevator World Senior Associate Editor

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