Expect the unexpected from Yonkers. New York’s fourth-largest city with a history dating to the 1600s, Yonkers enjoyed a robust role in industry in the 1800s and 1900s. It was here the world’s first completely synthetic plastic, Bakelite, was invented, where much of the work that led to the invention of FM radio was performed and where, in 1853, Elisha Graves Otis invented the first elevator safety brake and opened Otis Elevator Co. — the first elevator factory in the world — on the banks of the Hudson River. Brick smokestacks with the faded Otis logo still loom over Yonkers, but the facility is hardly a ruin. It is now used by Kawasaki for subway-car manufacturing.
Yonkers citizens take pride in their community, filling your author in on fascinating facts such as the hidden gem that is Untermeyer Gardens — created by wealthy Yonkers lawyer and horticulture enthusiast Samuel Untermeyer in 1916 and now run by a conservancy — or Yonkers’ pivotal role in school desegregation, a saga that resulted in the book Show Me a Hero and an acclaimed HBO television series based on that book.
“I’m getting all wound up on Yonkers,” said Charles “Chuck” Lesnick, deputy council/assistant commissioner for Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Office of Rent Administration and former Yonkers city councilman. Lesnick was among approximately 50 guests at the grand opening of D&D Elevator’s Elevator Learning Center (ELC) on the sunny, warm morning of October 3, 2018. D&D Elevator President Bobby Schaeffer cut the ribbon for the unique, 2,500-sq.-ft. facility — located behind an unassuming door in an unassuming corporate business park — that provides elevator-specific training to adults employed with both union and nonunion companies and, in the future, some of the tens of thousands of high-school students in the Yonkers Public Schools system (per its website).
Evolution of a Program
Schaeffer shared that the National Association of Elevator Contractors (NAEC), with the support and encouragement of himself and Elevator World, Inc. Editor and Publisher Ricia Sturgeon-Hendrick, started the Certified Elevator Technician (CETT®) program in 2001. In 2006, NAEC began the process of achieving accreditation from the American National Standards Institute and the International Organization for Standardization, which happened in 2011. “That was a big feather in our cap and really legitimatized the program,” Schaeffer says.
CET is now approved in most states that require licensing. Around the same time of the grand opening, Schaeffer learned it had been approved by the Canadian province of British Columbia. “That’s over 100 new candidates going into the program a year,” he says. “We’re very excited about that.” At the time this story was being written, there were more than 750 CET students in the program, with more than 1,400 becoming active CETs since its inception.