“Just when you think you’ve seen it all…”

written by Andrew Ralphs

I find myself reflecting back over the last 36 years in the lift industry, and delight in my many varied and diverse experiences….

From the very beginning, as an apprentice on installation, I do admit that facing into wiring door locks on 12 lifts with 30 plus floors, may have not been as per the employment brochure nor was it mentioned in the interview discussions between me and the John’s Waygoods training officer. 

Never the less, nothing ever stays the same in this industry for very long.

By 3rd year, there was a need to commission an avalanche of units so we went off and did the best we could, no mobile phones to call for help and no google to research how components worked. All our needs were met with a simple pager, what a wonderful piece of technology.

The system was simple – and so was life then…

  • The office would page once if they needed me to call.
  • The supervisor would page twice if he was down stairs and wanted me to come down
  • Most importantly – my girlfriend would page three times if I was needed to pick up that essential litre of milk or bread on the way home. On special occasions even a roast chicken! (Not much has changed here)

As this technology improved to messages …

Then in the late 80’s mobile phones started, didn’t we think we were so amazing?

For only $2800 upfront cost and around $450 per month we could store 10 numeric numbers and toggle from normal signal strength to roaming.

Such functionality…, how could the future improve on this? A car kit with its own separate hand set and internal aerial was a “must have” for those long trips to regional work sites. (and calling home, just because you could).

Add this new essential hardware to a $3200 Toshiba Laptop, half sized mono colour screen with lotus123 and word perfect 5.0, 20 meg hard drive (no windows no mouse just a DOS operating system) and the new mobile office was born, if only we knew what was coming next.

In the late 90’s, after being very fortunate to experience firsthand the just modernised lifts in the New York World Trade centre and the way that generators where giving way to solid state, I felt that my range of experiences had started reached its highest point.

Additional excursions to Mexico and Asia (in this century) have taught me to always stay with an open mind and to accept all manner of ideas and concepts.

Lower Manhattan, World Trade Centres.

More recently I was challenged by yet another new experience…

A twin drive, 15 tonne lift installed around the 70’s now requiring a conversion to solid state. Google and the mobile phone weren’t going to help here, but an old text book about “slip ring “ motor control was an amazing read. 

This renewed once again my profound respect for those that achieved such miracles of their day with this engineering “one off” still operating nearly 50 years on, I was in admiration of our forefathers.

To be able to achieve incredible exacting and reliable control over huge loads with relays and contactors, was a great effort and I thought worth sharing.

Many thanks for allowing me to reminisce about my last 35 years.

“Nothing is permanent but change” (Heraclitus, 500BC)

“Change is inevitable in a progressive society. Change is constant”. (Disraeli 1867) 

A note from your host.

It’s so great hearing these short stories, which we can all relate too – well at least the Legends among us! For some, young executives, perhaps even our Innovators and Cheque Writers, these stories are straight from the history books.

The key message here for me, is that whilst business may seem different today at surface level, the reality is that it remains a lot like personal values. When you get right down to it, some things just haven’t don’t change.

Until our next encounter, happy leading!