The Automotive Lift Institute (ALI) unveiled its Hall of Honor at an induction ceremony for the inaugural class of eight honorees on Oct. 24, 2023. The ALI Hall of Honor, housed in the organization’s Cortland, New York, headquarters, recognizes the nine lift manufacturers that formed ALI in 1945, as well as the men and women whose exceptional dedication and leadership have furthered the automotive lift industry in North America.
The initial class of honorees features inventors, engineers, and business leaders, including three past ALI board chairmen and its first president. They are: E.K. “Chic” and Anne Fox of The Parker Organization, F.G. “Rick” Heath of Heath and Associates, Curtis Joseph “Joe” Matthews Sr. of Rotary Lift, Jim “J.R.” Williams of ETL Testing Labs, Gary Kennon of Vehicle Service Group, Jerome “Jerry” Lentz of Challenger Lifts, and Joseph L. “Joe” Gray of Gray Manufacturing Company.
“For more than 75 years, ALI and its members have watched over the automotive lift industry to help ensure operator safety,” ALI President R.W. “Bob” O’Gorman said at the ceremony. “The men and women we’re honoring here today played crucial roles in the evolution of ALI, their companies, lift technology, and the industry. On behalf of all lift operators, we thank them for their service and dedication.”
Meet the 2023 honorees
Chic and Anne Fox dedicated 43 years to ALI, guiding it through lean economic times and onto the path of redefining lift safety requirements. During their tenure, ALI moved to a performance-based safety standard, developed requirements for third-party lift testing and certification, introduced the ALI Gold Certification Label, and created the first lift safety materials. Chic was ALI’s original president from 1974 until 2005. He died in 2020.
Rick Heath was instrumental in every major ALI lift safety undertaking for more than 50 years, serving ALI as a member, committee chair, board chair, and technical consultant. His significant contributions to the ALI Engineering Committee (later the Safety and Standards Technical Committee) included preparing the initial drafts of the three current ALI-sponsored lift safety standards ANSI/ALI ALCTV, ANSI/ALI ALOIM and ANSI/ALI ALIS. He also helped develop the ALI Automotive Lift Certification Program and served as a subject matter expert for the ALI Lift Inspector Certification Program.
Joe Matthews had an unwavering dedication to automotive lift safety in North America. As Rotary Lift’s representative to ALI for more than 30 years, he managed the organization’s technical matters and standards activities through the evolution from a national design standard to the introduction of the first lift safety performance standard in 1974. He died in 2022.
J.R. Williams was instrumental in the development of the ALI Automotive Lift Certification Program, the first and only accredited independent third-party lift testing and certification program in North America. He introduced key product safety requirements during the process, including electrical product listing, labeling, and testing by an OSHA-accredited nationally recognized testing laboratory (NRTL). He died in 2007.
Gary Kennon served on the ALI Board of Directors and many committees over 25 plus years of service. His vision of a modernized ALI representing a larger segment of the industry was instrumental to the launch of the ALI Lift Inspector Certification Program and the development of the ALI Associate Class in 2013.
Jerry Lentz served ALI for 26 years, including three terms as chairman of the board. He provided a sound strategic and financial presence and unwavering support as ALI experienced significant growth and relocated twice under his leadership. He helped bring the ALI Lift Inspector Certification Program to fruition.
Joe Gray, an inventor and mentor in the lift and jack industry, founded Gray Manufacturing in 1952. He was passionate about making the industry safer through product design, manufacturing, and ease-of-use innovations. He died earlier this year.
Many of the honorees, their families, and colleagues traveled from around the country to attend the ceremony.
“I’m flattered and proud to be honored by the industry that has relied on me for raising the safety bar over all these years,” said Heath. “It’s wonderful to be here with people I’ve known forever who have done so much to improve lift design, manufacturing, testing, inspection and training.”
One of Joe Matthews’ daughters, Brittney Baird, and his son, Curtis Joseph “Curt” Matthews Jr., were on hand to see their father be honored.
“Dad’s legacy is his work at Rotary Lift and ALI,” said Baird. “He was very forward-thinking and always focused on how to improve anything he was working on. It’s awesome to have this tangible evidence that he did make a difference. Maybe his grandchildren and great-grandchildren can come to ALI to see this someday.”
For a recap of the ALI Hall of Honor induction ceremony, including additional photos, visit the ALI blog at autolift.org/ali-unveils-hall-of-honor/.