Not everyone wants to follow in the footsteps of their family. Take Paula Manning, for example. If you had asked Manning back in the day where she saw herself after college, it definitely wasn’t the access industry. “I actually hold degrees in formal dance and in culinary arts,” says Manning, vice president, and general manager of Century Elevators. “After college, I was pursuing my cooking and catering career and realized cooking for strangers instead of my family on every holiday was not how I wanted to spend my life.” Manning, whose family owned and operated Champion Elevators, an American manufacturer of rack and pinion personnel elevators and hoists, until 2003, was in luck (even if she didn’t think so). “It just so happened that at about that time my father, Walter Manning, was in search of a new administrative assistant, so I filled in,” Manning says. “After that position was [permanently] filled I went to work in the sales and marketing department, ultimately that oversaw the pioneering of the transport platform industry in the U.S.”
Manning’s career naturally evolved from there – she focused on elevators, platforms, and hoists specifically for the scaffold industry and on scaffold-related projects. In 2006, Alimak acquired Champion Elevators, and the Manning family set their sights on a new venture. Century Elevators was born in 2009, specializing in unique applications, special projects, and high hazard environments. The company now employs 40 full-time employees with part-time and contract labor as required by industry cycles. During Bauma, Century announced its new partnership with Böcker, which followed the news of its partnership with Czech-based Pega, LTD. “We are intensifying and diversify our United States presence,” Manning told ALH at the time. “Böcker are pioneers in the industry and are extremely easy to work with in terms of American needs.”
ALH asked Manning about business, her goals as SAIA president and what it’s like to work with family after all these years.