MEWP Industry Veteran Robertson Was ‘Legendary,’ Colleagues Say

Alastair Robertson, left, Lift and Access Editor Karen Scally, and Lift and Access Publisher Franci Motz at IPAF Innovate 2018.

Describing him as “grand in all aspects of the word,” colleagues from throughout the access industry are paying tribute to Universal Equipment President Alastair Robertson, following his death Jan. 30, 2019.

Robertson worked with many OEMs since he started in the MEWP industry in 1981, and he served on the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) North American Regional Council since 2004. He also shared his expertise as a Leadership in Lifting Equipment and Aerial Platforms (LLEAP) Awards judge for Lift and Access magazine.

Since coming on board as the editor of Lift and Access in 2018, Robertson was quick to share his knowledge and serve as a helpful adviser to me. I appreciated his direct approach to offering insights, and he made me feel very welcome as a someone just entering the MEWP industry. I only got to work alongside him for a brief time comparatively to many others in the industry, where it is evident he made a significant impact.

Here’s what some of his colleagues had to say about him.

Jeff Stachowiak, national safety training director at Sunbelt Rentals:

“Alastair was to me one the first aerial lift persons I remember meeting at The Rental Show many, many years ago. A great resource and always ready to help. He’ll be missed by the entire industry.”

Tony Groat, North American regional manager for IPAF:

“I am not unique in stating how wonderful Alastair was as a person to work and socialize with. He exemplified that if you enjoy your job, you will never work a day in your life – he was a joy to be around.

“He was a great ambassador for IPAF and our industry. He will be missed by all he came in contact with. He was a great family man, and we send our deepest sympathies to them.”

Mike Larson, editor of Crane Hot Line and previous editor of Lift and Access:

“During my seven-plus years as editor of Lift and Access, Alastair was a continual source of insight and expertise about the industry, its products, and its workings. He was also great company: always honest, friendly, insightful, articulate, and witty. I am so sorry to hear of his passing. The industry and so many people in it have lost a great friend.”

Bill Holler, senior vice president for risk advisory solutions at the Horton Group, and Debbie Szyszka, client executive for risk advisory solutions at the Horton Group:

“You couldn’t utter the words ‘aerial lift’ without thinking of Alastair Robertson. He was synonymous with the industry; he simply knew everything and everyone. He helped each and every one of us by providing contacts, referrals, information on newest trends, and safety concerns. He was truly a one-stop-shop. 

“Besides his limitless knowledge, he always provided a kind word, gesture, smile, or laugh just when you needed it. Alastair was a true gentleman. We were lucky to call ourselves friends, and he will be missed by many today and forever.”

Ebbe Christensen, IPAF North American Regional Council chairman and president of ReachMaster:

“I benefitted from Alastair’s help and friendliness when I started in the industry some 20 years ago, looking into selling the ReachMaster product here in the U.S. with no knowledge of the industry. The folks at the factory in Denmark gave me a stack of old business cards they had from trade shows they had attended in the past. I started calling around, most would have no clue who or what ReachMaster was, nor any interest in sharing knowledge or time to talk.

“Then I called Alastair and left a voicemail like I had done to so many people. Five minutes later, he called back, and we talked for at least half an hour. Alastair had all sorts of ideas how I could get started, and he immediately shared his network of reps with me and that is how I got introduced to the business. That was how Alastair was; he had no reason or gain by calling this guy with a strange Danish name back and share all his great knowledge right there, over the phone. But he couldn’t think of doing it any other way, and that is what earned him the legendary reputation he has in the industry. Whether you were Mr. Nobody or the CEO of a large corporation, Alastair would always generously share his time and knowledge with you.

“Alastair gained lasting friendships around the world by his open-minded approach to new products and services, and he was always a straight shooter as far as his opinion on things. His integrity could never be doubted, whether it was professionally or personally.

“You could always count on Alastair, and IPAF in particular benefited from that. He was a stout supporter of safety first, and he generously donated his three T’s: time, talent, and treasure to the organization, both here in North America and internationally.

“As I mentioned in my note to the NARC group, all Alastair did was done with a big smile, he had a great sense of humor, and no matter your mood, after a few minutes in his company, there is no way you wouldn’t have to crack a smile or a laugh. He was grand in all aspects of the word, and that’s why so many memories will fill the industry news this morning from all the people he touched along his life.”

To include a comment about Robertson’s contributions to the industry, please email me at karen.scally@hlipublishing.com.