Naec 2020 Spring Educational Conference

NAEC President Don Gelestino gives the State of the Association address.

Strange, unprecedented virtual event is ultimately enlightening.

by Kaija Wilkinson

Figuratively millions of miles away from its intended location of Charleston, South Carolina, an abbreviated version of the National Association of Elevator Contractors (NAEC) 2020 Spring Educational Conference, dubbed 2020 Spring Conference REDESIGNED, took place via Zoom on April 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. EST. It was a new experience for some of the approximately 70 attendees, including your author, who busily made the bed, fixed her hair and contemplated putting on false eyelashes. It was all for naught, as, other than the presenters, attendees participated via computer chat and could not be seen. Sponsored by Vantage Elevator Solutions, the conference began with a welcome from NAEC Executive Director Alesa McArthur, followed by President Don Gelestino’s State of the Association address. He said:

“We’ve been talking about covid-19 25 HR a day, but the one thing that is most important is behavioral change.”
— Don Gelestino, Naec President

“This is definitely not the environment and style that I thought this was going to go down with, but I want to say thank you and God bless you and your families and staff. Due to COVID-19, this is our first-ever virtual spring conference. On Sunday, we had our first board meeting via Zoom, and it went very well. . . . Our volunteers and their support systems are critical to this organization. It’s been helpful that we have a strong support team back at our home offices. They have been doing a killer job.”

Gelestino went on to thank NAEC board members, their spouses, committee chairs and members. Many of the committees, he said, had planned to meet at Wild Dunes Resort where the event had been scheduled, but they have been successfully meeting virtually. “I’ve been on a lot of those meetings, and my Zoom skills are not perfect, but I’m getting there,” Gelestino said. “Everyone is just plugging away.”

NAEC’s 2020 United Convention and Exposition, to be held in conjunction with the Canadian Elevator Contractors Association, International Association of Elevator Consultants, and Elevator U, is still planned in Houston in mid-September. Since that is in the not-too-distant future, NAEC is formulating alternate plans for a virtual expo, which Gelestino said would implement “some really amazing technology.”

“With employees using a variety of devices, our main message is you should look for exactly the same types of protections for people’s personal devices as you would if they were using equipment provided by the company.
— Carol Tullo, Senior Consultant, The Trust Bridge

After naming the 2021 NAEC officers, Gelestino said nominations for the next class of board members are being reviewed and that the nominating committee had planned to meet in a few weeks to select candidates. “We have some hard decisions to make,” he said. The nominating committee for the William C. Sturgeon Distinguished Service Award is also starting to consider nominees. “I hope you take a look at the criteria and consider someone suitable for this nomination,” he said. “It’s definitely the highest award in our industry, and I cannot wait to see who it’s going to be.”
NAEC’s Certified Elevator Technician (CET®) and Vertical Transportation Management Program (VTMP) continue to see enrollment increases, Gelestino said, observing that now is an ideal time to embark on such training. “As an owner of an independent elevator company, I highly recommend rolling VTMP out now,” he said. “We can get you the books, and this is the perfect time to reeducate yourselves.”

Sponsored by Columbia Elevator Products Co., Inc. and SCS Elevator Products, virtual member forums have been ongoing throughout the crisis, and Gelestino encouraged continued participation.

Working with representatives of the International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC), Delaware Elevator and NYC-based independent companies, NAEC compiled a COVID-19 safety checklist aimed primarily at elevator field technicians. “We wanted there to not be any confusion, where one group says one thing, and another says another,” Gelestino said. “We laid out what we feel is important for our industry, whether it’s a merit shop, an IUEC shop, a safety consultant, etc.,” he said.

“We’ve been talking about COVID-19 25 hr a day, but the one thing that is most important is behavioral change.” He urged everyone to read the two-page document of recommended best practices on naec.org. “Strange is the new normal,” he said. “They may have to design a Gucci facemask soon.”

Makeup artist and senior consultant for online community association chat kiki l’italien provided tips such as what to wear, how to project the proper body language and make good eye contact.

The first round of presentations was from representatives of U.K.-based The Trust Bridge, which Chief Commercial Officer Penny Heyes explained trains people in areas including phone security and data protection. Heyes said:

“Given the strange situation we all find ourselves in at the moment with so many people suddenly working from home, organizations have had very little time to prepare for any of the consequences that may arise from an increased risk of cyberattacks and data breaches. All the data that organizations have is perhaps not where it should be and is probably not protected to the extent it is normally. So, we’ve brought together a number of specialists in [cybersecurity] to offer advice and practical help to mitigate the threat. We’re also going to look at how we can maintain a professional image when working from home.”

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