A new leadership and a new driving style.
On Thursday, January 13, Guillermo López, the brand new president of the Chamber of Conservative Employers of Elevators and their Related (C.E.C.A.F.), attended the entity’s headquarters for the first time, since the pandemic had started. The purpose, which honors us, was to be reported by Revista del Ascensor. On the occasion, he was accompanied by Chamber’s alternative president Oscar Domínguez, a young and active elevator maintenance professional, a member of the new Board of Directors who comes to bring a hopeful will for change to make management transparent and fix unresolved issues. We wish them good luck!
In the meeting, in which many topics of interest were adressed, they couldn’t avoid the factor that has really changed the way of life and work throughout the world in these times: The COVID-19 pandemic. Here is a summary of the most important things that were said in the exclusive interview:
Revista del Ascensor: – Guillermo, since your inauguration, how many activities did you begin to develop?
Guillermo López: – In December, after the Assembly, where there was appointed the new Commission, the first DC meeting was held to organize and assign the different tasks of each member, which are: Take care of associated members, IRAM, Suppliers, Communication, and Training. In the future, new commissions may be created if this is determined by the needs of the moment and increased activity. Another aspect is that it was decided to hold meetings throughout the year and the intention is to have as much participation as possible from the associated members. The meetings, while the pandemic situation stays the same, will continue to be by zoom.
R del A.: – Is the pandemic going to affect the agenda brought by the new commission?
G.L.: – It already does and will surely keep doing it. We are going to have to adapt to current times. Of course, it can be a little more difficult, it is not the same to have a face-to-face talk like the one we have now than one by zoom, but we adapt and continue working. At no time, neither this commission nor the previous one stopped working or getting together.
R del A.: – Then, no topic will stop being discussed nor will any initiative be canceled.
G.L.: – It will take us longer, possibly, but we will not stop carrying out what we planned.
R del A.: -Did you have any contact with the G.C.B.A. (City Government) to address issues that concern the sector and that had not received a clarifying response from the government?
G.L.: – An important issue led us to meet with authorities of the C.A.A. Together, both chambers, sent a note to the G.C.B.A. to discuss fines and other issues; now we did have an answer: a talk with Eng. Alonso and Arch. Dragani, who promised to study the issue to find a solution. The important thing is that a channel of the dialogue was opened. Our idea is to start sending notes to the government with a file number, all in an orderly manner, and that same way they answer each of our requests we have in our portfolio. Today Chamber associates are very worried because of the “coordinated” that Government does not seem willing to call off.
R del A.: – What are coordinated?
G.L.: – Coordinated is the name of the inspections carried out by the City Government in the elevator system. The elevators are selected by lottery or because a complaint on it was made. They come, check the equipment and its security devices. If any security element does not work at the time, the equipment gets closed. The problem is that a lot of people have to be present at the inspection: a government inspector, two of our operators at least, the company’s technical representative and the building manager who could be present too, and all of them in so a small space! And with the pandemic still present; is not a good idea, very dangerous for our staffs. Most of the companies are working with half the staff, the other half is in reserve or works reduced hours to avoid a general contagion which could be a catastrophe. Because if there is a generalized contagion, the company should stop working. That is one of the reasons why we want and have to talk with the government to get the coordinated suspended for a while or at least modified in their system.
R del A.: – And will the government agree with this request?
G.L.: – We are going to send the note and see what answer is. Until now they continue with the same policy of coordinated by complaint or by lottery.
R del A.: – What are the maximum and minimum objectives did this Commission set itself for its period of leadership?
G.L.: – Our highest aspiration is to bring relevance to the Union. We have to train, undoubtedly, and improve in the technical aspect, but we are also entrepreneurs and we must work on this issue to improve our training. The majority have very good technicians at the head of their companies, but we lack the business side. We come from working in companies like Otis, in my case, and then we made ourselves. We are clear about the technical aspect and we know how to work applying the patterns we were taught in these top-level companies, but the leg that we lack is business training: Knowing how to negotiate, knowing how to charge, having the management of our own technicians. We are learning it as we go along, but that way it costs more and we make mistakes. With training, we believe these errors can be overcome and we can also greatly improve the way we deal not only with our clients but with the entire union.
R del A.: – Guillermo, how do you think C.E.C.A.F. could increase its importance and influence as an entity to stand up in front of government and manufacturers’ decisions thinking about the future of the elevator market?
G.L.: – On one hand we are increasing the number of associates thanks to the important work of colleagues who may not belong to the Chamber Commission but are helping it by bringing companies together to become partners. That is the first step, to increase the number of associates, we have it very clear. Then, as I said before, go on with our professional improvement through courses, talks and very important looking around to see current world around us is like and how it changes all the time.
On the other hand, more and more state agencies are beginning to include in their bidding documents the price reference indices prepared by C.E.C.A.F. I’ll give you an example: Casa Rosada rejected a company in a tender for having proposed a “give away” that was not following the indicative values suggested by CECAF.
The Judiciary was the first to start using our indices as valid and official. They realized that what they hired cheap ended up being very expensive because when the bidding ended the prices were destroyed because by inflation and they were so low that it was impossible to maintain the equipment; On the other hand, the prices indicated by C.E.C.A.F., which are realistic, allow them to know that for a year and a half, on average, they will be able to afford the costs despite the difficult economic situation of the country.
For private maintenance companies, it is also very useful to follow our indexes because they make contracts for a very low price, and then they realized they can’t afford the prices of elevator maintenance. But the reality is that very low subscription values are being charged. The owner who pays a low price must know that with this figure it is impossible to maintain a good service and comply with the regulatory requirements. We already do enough magic to comply minimally with everything. Preventive maintenance, let’s face it, doesn’t exist today. And in the end, after three or four years, they end up having to install a new elevator due to lack of maintenance of the one they had. It is like taking out very cheap insurance that does not cover a claim when it occurs. Our idea is that the administrators have to be confident that associated companies meet all the requirements. We also want to improve our relationship with the Chamber of Administrators to get them informed and advised. “Do not hire maintenance companies that do not comply with the regulations”.
Another increasing issue is that of buildings without permanent or resident janitors. We demand someone take responsibility in the building to open the door for us and be able – as had happened – to rescue people who have been locked in elevators. The new Resolution No. 412 gives you a specific schedule that is until 2:30 p.m. but after the manager leaves, who opens the door for you? We can’t comply with the regulation properly.Colleagues need to know this: Every person in the building pays more in the monthly subscription for cable TV service than they pay for the maintenance of the elevator.
R del A.: – How many associates are there currently? What requirements must a company meet to be able to join C.E.C.A.F.?
G.L.: – About ninety. Very simple, have the registration, got the CUIT, and be presented by two associates. Experience is demonstrated by the indicated by the registration.
R del A.: – Presiding over an entity from a distance is easy or isn’t it?
G.L.: – We have gathered only by zoom and I believe this year it will continue to be that way. Some of the furniture in this office had been purchased in March of last year and today is the first time I see them. Organizing the first massive assembly, so that all associates understood how it worked, the steps to follow, to register them, was a thorough work, in which collaborated the Board of Directors and our Secretary, María Berenguer who did her work from home. We hope that in the next Assembly there will not only be so many associates but that also other lists will be presented. I dream that at the end of this management there will be more participation and more lists enabled and ready to work.
R del A.: – ¿C.E.C.A.F. are you interacting with other entities in the sector?
G.L.: – Yes, of course. We have representatives in F.A.C.A.R.A., in the Safety Committee, in IRAM where they are working on standards for maintenance and will start working in this year 2021 with the standard for the adequacy of elevators, which is very important. Let’s keep in mind that we are maintaining equipment that is mostly between 20 and 50 years old, and there exist older ones in operation, for which it doesn’t exist spare parts in the market, that are difficult to regulate, and for which we do a great effort so that they continue working under the current safety regulations, which is the most important thing. Let’s compare the elevator with a taxi because of the intensive use they have: How many Di Tella or Falcon taxis are there operating, even though they were excellent cars? None. We continue to maintain equipment that should not be in operation since a long time ago.
R del A.: – How could C.E.C.A.F. influence to try to ensure that security products meet the requirements, especially locks?
G.L.: – People who are working in the Security Committee on this issue are doing it, but everything is going very slowly. And this is so because we can make suggestions, but the manufacturer is the one who has to give the answers and implement the changes. That’s the part that needs to be accelerated. For this reason, C.E.C.A.F. sent a note to the Security Committee suggesting to speak with the U.T.N. Gral. Pacheco Regional College, which can give us the support and provide the necessary engineering to design a new lock so that manufacturers can later see how this new model can be implemented. It is also important that a new lock has a defined useful life, not like current ones that, which don’t have a life cycle and if they are 40 years old and did not break, continue to work, although that does not ensure that at any time they can break and cause an accident.
R del A.: – What is the contribution of C.E.C.A.F. to anti-COVID-19 protocols?
GL: – A protocol was developed, it was done by the Security specialist Gabriel Giulietti, at our request, which was distributed in the companies and specifies how to work, how the operators have to enter into the building, what security measures should be taken to face the pandemic.
R del A.: – Is this protocol for any conservative company?
G.L.: – It is only for those associates of C.E.C.A.F. And it has been spread out of C.E.C.A.F.
R del A.: – But a company that is not a member of C.E.C.A.F. you have no way of knowing that this protocol exists. How do they find out?
G.L.: -.For those who are not members we use social networks and through Revista del Ascensor magazine and its digital platforms too.
The new board of directors of C.E.C.A.F. wants to install a new style of leadership: There is a president who leads, but who is willing to dialogue with his colleagues and share decision-making more horizontally. In the words of those who perform the leadership, this management will not bow its head either in front of the government or any other institution. It will make its voice be heard loud and clear with a defined message, without hesitations. The idea is to level only upwards.
Reportage: Horacio Kamiñetzky