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Sixth-Annual ECNY Supplier Showcase

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Jean Pierre St. Louis, Dick Vinciquerra of AFD Industries and ECNY Vice President Bobby DeFrancesco

2015 event draws greatest number of exhibitors in event’s history.

An unseasonably chilly and dreary spring day in Bronx, New York, on April 8 contrasted sharply with the warm, sparkling atmosphere within Villa Barone Manor, host to the Sixth-Annual Elevator Conference of New York (ECNY) Supplier Showcase. From noon until 7 p.m., a fire crackled in the fireplace, manufacturers shared information about their products, business deals were born and strengthened, delicious Italian food was served and attendees experienced an energy-filled event that is gaining a reputation in the industry as one of the most enjoyable and productive trade shows of the year. Participation this year reached an all-time high with 120 booths, noted ECNY Vice President Robert “Bobby Dee” DeFrancesco, elaborating:

“In addition to that, about 500 people attended, and they are the people you want to see — supervisors of maintenance, modernization, repair and new construction projects. You see company founders and executives, and also the everyday guy in the field who is going to go back to his company and say, ‘Let’s buy this product, because it’s going to save us time or make a job safer.’

“I’d say this is the best [Supplier Showcase] we’ve ever had. A lot of exhibitors returned in the following days and weeks to follow up on business deals that were begun at the showcase. I can tell it’s a good show when people call to say ‘thank you’ and want to take you to lunch when they’re back in town to do some business. Exhibitors are already wanting to reserve spots for next year.”

Entry to the event is free for those who do not exhibit and affordable for those who do. That is part of its appeal. The show’s affordability has proven to be a win/win for exhibitors and ECNY alike. This year, for example, Vertical Initiative for Elevator Escalator Women members presented ECNY  Board of Directors President Kenny Breglio and board members with a check for US$1,015 to go into ECNY’s scholarship fund. “Donations to our scholarship fund have increased, because the event is so affordable,” DeFrancesco notes. “Each year, we give away tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships, and the amount is growing tremendously because membership is growing tremendously.”

Attendees also enjoy chatting with representatives of the many New York-based independent elevator companies. DeFrancesco says New York City is a vibrant market, one that outshines any he has witnessed during his decades in the industry. “New York has the greatest number of independent contractors in the country — probably a couple hundred,” he says, adding that it is a great time to do business in the city. He observed:

“The good news is there is room for everybody, because there is so much business right now. I’ve never seen it this way in my entire life. In particular, the apartment buildings going up in the city are amazing. A single residence can cost tens of millions of dollars. I’ve never seen anything so tall and so high-end being built.”

 This year’s showcase welcomed members from California, Texas and Washington State, as well as Canada, to Villa Barone, a 5,000-sq.-ft. venue with a winding, roomy, elegantly lit interior. The privately owned facility has always been home to the showcase, and DeFrancesco intends that it stay that way. “We get a great deal with [Villa Barone], and if we moved to one of the chains, it wouldn’t be as affordable,” he says.

Nearly every square foot of the venue was filled this year, with exhibitors spilling into the chandeliered dining room, which, DeFrancesco stated, is not just a place for eating or enjoying a cocktail, but also for sitting down and talking business. If ECNY organizers must, they will limit the number of exhibitors in coming years. “We could probably take about another 10 or 12 exhibitors,” he says.

The 2016 event is scheduled for April 6 — as always, at the Villa Barone.

Fourth-Annual Regional VIEEW Meeting

“If we don’t take ownership of our own safety, no one else is going to,” Martha Hulgan of MMH & Associates LLC said during the fourth-annual regional meeting of the Vertical Initiative for Elevator Escalator Women (VIEEW) at the 2015 ECNY Supplier Showcase. Hulgan’s statement brings attention to a new brochure, “Safety for Sales People and Managers When Surveying for Maintenance or Modernization,” produced by the VIEEW and Elevator World, Inc.

The trifold came about, in part, due to Hulgan’s own “near-miss” experiences in the field. One incident involved an elevator cab traveling at 500 fpm narrowly missing the heads of herself and a colleague as they looked into a shaft. “The whole point of this pamphlet is so salespeople, managers and others within your company, when working with a mechanic on a job, will know what safety tasks should be performed and what safety procedures should be followed before they even think about looking into a hoistway, car top or pit,” she told the group, adding that several safety officials at major OEMs contributed to the content.

All VIEEW members present agreed with Hulgan’s decision to further promote safety by selling the pamphlets (US$15 for a packet of 10, available at www.elevatorbooks.com) with a third of all sales donated to the Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation (EESF), a nonprofit that educates people, especially children, about elevator/escalator safety. “I happen to sit on the EESF board and know that safety education is something that is desperately needed,” Hulgan said.

Also over the past year, an effort led by Elevator World Publisher Ricia Sturgeon-Hendrick and Marie McDonald resulted in several pages of vertical-transportation industry terms being added to the National Association of Women in Construction Dictionary. “Up until then, they had no elevator terms whatsoever, so I think we can be proud to have been a part of that,” Hulgan said.

Hulgan thanked Bobby DeFrancesco, who was representing the ECNY board, for his and the board’s kindness, help and generosity toward the VIEEW over the years. She reiterated the group’s mission to help one another through communication and education.

Grace Greco of Columbia Elevator Products Co. Inc. and Mary Beeson of Unitec then gave a presentation on business development — how to sell additional products and services to existing customers and win new ones. The women shared that at the National Association of Elevator Contractors 66th Annual Convention and Exposition in Boston on September 28-October 1, the VIEEW plans to host a program on self-defense as part of its next meeting

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