This week we chat with Steve Patterson, 53, of Seffner. Patterson worked as an elevator-escalator installer for the Otis and ThyssenKrupp elevator companies for 30 years. His handiwork can be seen throughout the Tampa Bay area.
Q: You were an elevator and escalator installer for three decades. What are some of the notable buildings you worked on?
A: I worked on pretty much every downtown (Tampa) attraction, except for the convention center. IUEC — the International Union of Elevator Constructors — Local 74 provides the majority of vertical transportation for the Tampa Bay area. So I worked on the stage lift for the [Straz] performing arts center and the elevators and escalators for the Florida Aquarium when those buildings were constructed.
Q: What was your favorite job and why?
A: I built a big freight elevator for the Tampa Bay History Center, so that job was a lot of fun and I made a lot of money. The jobs I'm most proud of are things like doing the elevators and escalators for the All Children's Hospital or the Ronald McDonald House in downtown St. Pete. Those buildings have helped a lot of people.
Q: The job sounds like it could potentially be hazardous to your health. Did you suffer any injuries or close calls in your years as an installer?
A: No, and that is amazing for an elevator man, especially for someone like me who worked on the construction side. I still find it hard to believe that my back is not completely ruined, but the worst I got were some cuts here and there.
Q: What is one thing about an elevator and escalator installer that most people would be surprised to learn?
A: Well, for one thing you can't be a dummy. You don't have to be a genius, but you have to have good sense. The four years of training I did was the hardest thing I ever did. The test has a 50 percent failure rate, which I believe is higher than the Bar exam. You wouldn't want a dummy working on your elevator.
Q: If you had to be stranded in an elevator with someone famous, who would it be and why?
A: I'd have to go with Pam Iorio. She was actually a year ahead of me at King High School. (Patterson graduated in 1978.) I'd want to talk to her about a building idea I had for downtown and that I've designed.