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“Sometimes, Less Is Simply More!”

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ECNY Board of Directors: (l-r) Bryan Casas, James Duffy, John Farella, Greg Dicola, Bobby “Dee” DeFrancesco, Kenny Breglio, Robert Castellano, Jack Morgan and Grace Greco

Fine cigars, bright-red “Make Elevators Great Again” caps, cocktails and a daylong Italian feast. These were highlights of the Elevator Conference of New York’s (ECNY) 19th Annual Supplier Showcase on April 11 at Villa Barone Manor in Bronx, New York. As always, the real heart of the event could be found throughout the venue’s rooms, where 128 industry suppliers promoted their products through the popular cigars (Mongrain Vertical Transport Inc.), caps (Delaware Elevator), as well as flashlights, bottle openers, candy and T-shirts, to name a few. This year’s showcase attracted approximately 1,550 guests who enjoyed loading up their tote bags with the fun, promotional items. But the real value of being there — particularly, landing a coveted spot on the exhibitor list — was the interaction among industry professionals that led to deals, long-term partnerships and business sustainability.

Mongrain Vertical Transport, headquartered in Quebec, Canada, has exhibited at the showcase since its debut, says President Sylvain Mongrain, and the company wouldn’t miss it. Mongrain lists the reasons the event holds such appeal: great location, easy booth setup/breakdown, a user-friendly layout and helpful ECNY and Villa Barone staff. “Sometimes, less is simply more,” Mongrain says. “To me, it’s a place to meet friends and customers in the industry who are passing by. Even though it’s condensed into one day, we still have quality time with them.”

Bobby “Bobby Dee” DeFrancesco of Benfield Electric originally conceived the showcase to provide an opportunity for suppliers and other industry professionals to get a taste of the type of expo they sometimes couldn’t afford to attend. “For a lot of these guys, it was too expensive to go to the National Association of Elevator Contractors (NAEC) shows, so I made it a New York thing,” DeFrancesco says, continuing:

“At one time, a lot of people thought the showcase was strictly for New York City (NYC)-area suppliers and customers, but it’s really not anymore. Who knew it would grow to get this much interest? We’ve got exhibitors from not only the Northeast, but Canada, California, Texas and Arizona. People are coming from all over. On the waiting list are two companies from the U.K. and two from Italy.”

Attracting many of the industry’s top movers and shakers, the showcase brings entrepreneurs, marketing professionals, supervisors and mechanics together under one roof to see products they normally don’t get to see. And then there are the little things that make it so special, such as the Mongrain cigars, which Sylvain Mongrain says debuted about eight years ago, are hand-rolled by a gentleman in Tampa and have come to be expected. He elaborates:

“It’s always a nice treat, and, to me, it’s part of our trademark. I’ve learned to never show up at a golf outing empty handed. We have had the [man who makes the cigars] at the show hand-rolling them live. That was very nice, but this year, he could not come. We’re going to try to have him at the NAEC show in Atlantic City. At minimum, we’ll have the cigars.”

DeFrancesco observes ECNY coordinates closely with the NAEC to make sure their shows do not overlap. The upcoming Atlantic City show, he states, will likely draw a big crowd. “Those shows are always some of the biggest and bring in people from New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut — all big elevator places,” he says.

ECNY hires two tour buses a day during the NAEC expo to ferry interested parties to and from the event, a practice they plan to continue in September. “The buses leave at 7 in the morning and come back at night, at no charge,” DeFrancesco says. “We do that on our own, so our guys get a chance to see the national shows.”

The 2018 Supplier Showcase was organized by DeFrancesco and event co-chair Doug Gilman of Elite Elevator Cab, with help from many others, including ECNY Board President Kenny Breglio and Board Chair Grace Greco of Cab Tech Elevator Designs. Prior to the event, DeFrancesco graciously provided a conference room for the annual meeting of the Vertical Initiative for Elevator Escalator Women (pg.120).

DeFrancesco likes to point out that Villa Barone is not your typical convention center; it’s a catering hall more likely to be hosting weddings, bar mitzvahs and Sweet 16 parties. Also the venue for ECNY’s annual Dinner Dance, Villa Barone is managed by Anthony Orzo, whose smiling face is familiar to anyone who regularly attends the showcase. In addition to the delicious Italian entrees served throughout the day in the dining room and delicate pastries laid out in the corridors, Villa Barone expertly handles materials shipping, equipment setup and booth assembly for the show, leaving the space clean and tidy once the smoke clears the next day. “I’ve got to give him credit, because he deserves it,” DeFranceso says of Orzo. “Without him, we would have a hard time putting this together.”

The next ECNY Supplier Showcase is planned on April 10 at, of course, Villa Barone Manor.

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