NAEC Takes Bermuda by Storm
When friends learned I would be headed to Bermuda for the National Association of Elevator Contractors’ Spring Educational Conference, they immediately told me how lucky I was to be headed for a tropical destination. Blame it on the Beach Boys song “Kokomo,” but everybody associates Bermuda with the Bahamas and other islands in the West Indies. Don’t get me wrong, Bermuda is a great place to visit, but it’s not exactly a tropical paradise in the middle of March.
In fact, my wife was looking forward to joining me on the trip until she found out the normal highs for early spring were only 70°F. She’d been on one of my business trips before (the NAEC Spring Educational Conference in San Diego a couple of years ago) and knew I would be stuck taking photos and covering the educational sessions all day so she was looking forward to laying on the beach and around the pool… but not when the possible high was barely out of the 60s. She could head to the family’s bay house in Florida, an hour away from our home by car, and get better weather than that!
She was particularly glad she stayed home when I reported back that the temps never got above 65°F and Bermuda experienced a record low one day, not to mention the overcast skies, occasional rain and even hail! I knew when I emerged from the plane after one of the worst landings I’d ever experienced and was almost knocked over by the wind, that the weather was going to be interesting all week.
However, the NAEC staff did their usual exceptional job with the conference, and, other than a couple of poolside events being moved indoors, everything came off without a hitch. The educational sessions were quite informative and discussion were lively. Peelle’s Mike Ryan, who works as a volunteer with his hometown emergency medical service, had an overflowing crowd taking his Red Cross CPR course, which included yours truly. I’ve been wanting to learn that for some time. Now I’m certified (although many acquaintances of mine would have said I was already certifiable).
In addition, the golf tournament had the good fortune to be held on the best afternoon of the week in regards to the weather. And while I didn’t partake, I saw the golf courses on the island and they are spectacular!
Speaking of spectacular, the food was also superb, both at conference events and in the several eateries on the grounds of the Fairmont Southampton where we stayed. The first morning, we sat down to a welcoming breakfast that offered a large plate of fresh fruits and pastries. Everybody at my table thought that was a great start for the day, but wondered why more than an hour was allocated for the meal. Then the wait staff cleared the tables and brought us a huge plate of eggs, pancakes, potatoes and a steak! So much for my cholesterol count.
One of the nice things about this conference is the lack of speakers at meals, but we did have the opportunity to hear from both NAEC President Steve DeGrenier (Atlantic Elevator Service) and Conference Chair Art Steber (Elevator Maintenance & Repair, Inc.), who both offered brief remarks about the agenda. A highlight was hearing DeGrenier (who’s from Massachusetts) twice say “ya’ll,” before Steber (who’s from Alabama) had a chance to speak. Don’t think he didn’t hear about that off and on during the week.
In keeping with tradition, the male attendees were “encouraged” to wear Bermuda shorts with knee-high socks to the final evening’s reception and dinner dance. Sort of like wearing cowboy boots and 10-gallon hats at the recent NAEC Convention reception in Dallas. Unfortunately, the socks did not cover the many knobby knees on display.
On Wednesday afternoon, it seemed like everybody from the conference was in the Bermuda airport waiting for one of the few flights headed for the States. Ready to get home, but happy to have had learned something new and enjoyed the Bermuda experience!
That’s all for now. Look for an additional report on Bermuda itself in a few days.