“It’s only when the tide goes out that you learn who has been swimming naked.”— Warren Buffett
People say, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger,” but I like Buffett’s quote better. Our industry has been paddling like crazy for the last two years, and we are clearly stronger with very few naked floaters out there.
In spite of the pandemic’s reoccurrences, last year (2021) was a very good year. The stock market gained 17%, unemployment was under 4% and the gross domestic product was the highest it’s been in three decades. The vertical-transportation (VT) industry found out we were essential in 2020, and we started paddling. Our associations in North America stepped up and worked with state and federal government entities to guide the way. We put our energies (and savings) into our businesses, bringing in new people, innovating products, adjusting to remote work when necessary, training technicians and managers and reworking schedules to preserve social distance. Some in our industry took early retirement over the last two years, and some companies have folded or sold. Others have joined forces with like companies to strengthen their positions and expand territories. Those still standing are stronger, and the next generation is ready and eager. We have talked many times about the value of so many family companies in our industry. It is one of the things that makes us stronger — the generation coming up behind us is made up of our children and grandchildren. We have a strong bullpen.
I’m very optimistic about this year. It seems appropriate that it is the year of the Tiger. It is a time for entrepreneurs, innovations and unique alliances.
We focus this month on California. My first trip as a child was to California. My mom and I traveled by train across the U.S. to meet my dad in San Francisco. We spent several days with the Henkers of Pacific Elevator, and I saw the first glass elevator at the Fairmont Hotel. I found out very early that Californians like to be first with new things. From that great Western state, we have:
- Vast Forward by Kaija Wilkinson. This Market Trends article notes that several large projects were delayed or changed in the past two years, but the outlook is very bright. California hosts the Summer Olympics in 2028, and the state has a great need for housing. Add to that many older buildings ripe for modernization. VT clients in California are environmentally aligned and socially conscious.
- A Star is Born by Lindsay Fletcher. Star Elevator is the largest locally owned independent elevator company in Northern California. They specialize in modernizations in historic buildings. For them, projects and modernizations continued at the same pace during the pandemic, but service slowed considerably.
- Building on Strong Roots. Wilkinson interviews Erik Moeller, director of operations at Mitsubishi Electric U.S., who describes the California customer as being early to accept new ideas like destination dispatch. Now, he says, they want a lot of flexibility in systems.
- California Elevator Safety Orders, 1915-1918 by Dr. Lee Gray. Early in the 20th century, two committees (one in L.A. and one in San Francisco) worked in tandem and developed tentative elevator safety orders that had to be revised four times due to public comment.
Ready to Serve in California and Beyond by Wilkinson. The Vantage Regional Service Center in Santa Fe Springs, California, serves the Western states. Run by Emery Wilcox, who scouted out the location, it joins other Vantage RSCs in Chicago, Miami, Toronto and Texas.
A Feature this month carries on the theme: California Soul by Fletcher. This is an interview with one of my favorite people, Leslie Malloy of WestCoast Innovative Pro Pads. She reviews how she started and the people who helped. Also, Malloy talks about new products and her daughter taking over from her.
As we leave California, there is much more in this issue: a terrific market trends piece by KONE on People Flow in Cities; a Project Spotlight, Traffic Stopping, about an all-glass residential elevator in Florida; and then we are off to France for a Monumental Modernization of an elevator serving a natural wonder. All of this and so much more. Enjoy!
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