NAEC’s New President, Mark Boelhouwer, Talks with EW
C. Mark Boelhouwer (MB), vice-president of Oracle Elevator Co., an elevator-service company with 250-plus employees in 17 U.S. states, recently had the chance to talk with ELEVATOR WORLD (EW) following his recent election as president of the National Association of Elevator Contractors (NAEC).
EW: Would you share a bit of your background?
MB: I reside in Connecticut and work out of Oracle’s headquarters in Torrington, Connecticut. I have a BA from Trinity College in Hartford, and a JD/MBA from the University of Connecticut in Storrs, both in Connecticut. I started in 1987 with United Technologies Corp. (the parent company of Otis) and joined Otis in 1990 as an attorney and was quickly afforded the opportunity to work for Otis in France in the field of mergers and acquisitions. I worked on multiple projects throughout Europe and the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Upon my return to the U.S., I worked with a team purchasing elevator-service companies in North America. In 1994, I switched from being an attorney to the business side [of the company], and in 1999, I was appointed head of Otis’ North American Elevator Services (NAES) business. I left Otis in 2004. In my time at NAES, I was involved in the purchase of more than 100 independent elevator-service companies. In 2005, I joined my former boss at Otis, Bill Miller, when he started Oracle.
EW: What helped you realize this industry was the right fit for you?
MB: Otis was such a vibrant and truly international company that it was an easy choice to pursue a career in the elevator world.
EW: Did you have any mentors along the way?
MB: I have been fortunate to have many mentors in my career, including my current partner, Miller. One piece of advice I received from J.P. Van Rooy (then president of Otis) was to not be afraid to make mistakes, but [try to] avoid any big ones. I think this was very helpful: as my colleagues in the elevator industry all know, many decisions are made in the course of the day, and focusing on getting 100% of them right would mean that decisions are not being made at all.
EW: What are the greatest challenges you face in your current position, and how do you work to overcome them?
MB: A continuing emphasis on safety and training are always present at Oracle. [The company] makes safety as important as anything else we do. We actively participate in NAEC’s Certified Elevator Technician (CET®) program. We would also like to expand from being a regional service company to being a nationwide company.
EW: What advice do you have for someone considering a career in the elevator industry today, and what do you forecast for it?
MB: Get involved with NAEC and other industry groups. They are a tremendous resource. My crystal ball is no better than anyone else’s, but I see a long and slow recovery, with 2013 being marginally better than 2012, with the opportunity for 2014 to return to more normal growth rates. To help survive this recession, stick to what you do best and keep an eye on cash flow.
EW: What has NAEC meant to you, and what do you plan to accomplish as this year’s president?
MB: My experience with NAEC has proven extremely rewarding, and I intend to stay actively involved beyond the term of my presidency. At age 51, I have no intention of retiring anytime in the near [future].
EW: To which other professional organizations do you belong?
MB: I am a trustee of the University of Connecticut School of Law, as well as the Board of Fellows at Trinity College (Hartford).
EW: Which industry events do you regularly attend?
MB: I attend both NAEC’s Spring Educational Conference and the annual convention. This year, these are scheduled for April 13-16 at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel in Dana Point, California, and September 22-26 at the Tampa Marriott Waterside and Embassy Suites in Tampa, Florida, respectively.