Alastair Robertson, one of the giants of the aerial work platform industry, passed away this week at the age of 69, of heart-related illness. Robertson, who has worked in the AWP industry since 1981, owned Universal Equipment, which bought and sold aerial work platforms around the world, headquartered in Glen Ellyn, Ill., near Chicago.
Robertson was born in South Africa and was educated in the U.K., eventually moving to the United States. In 1981, he began working with Simon, Economy Engineering and Snorkel, and then later for Grove Manlift. He also worked for Skyjack and other manufacturers. He worked in distribution with Niftylift, Haulotte and Aichi. He worked in the rental industry as well, during a stint for S&R Equipment’s aerial dealership in Chicago from 1991 to 1995. He started his own AWP business Universal Equipment in 1998.
Robertson was immensely popular and well-respected in the aerial industry, mentoring and teaching many in the industry. He was a frequent source of encouragement and knowledge for RER and other media outlets as well. Robertson traveled all over the world buying and selling equipment and his Facebook page was filled with pictures of him with friends he’d made in dozens of countries. Robertson played a significant role in helping to grow the aerial industry internally, providing equipment along with knowledge.
A tireless advocate for aerial safety, Robertson was one of the first to embrace the role of the International Powered Access Federation when it got started in the U.S.
“Many people who knew Alastair will have reacted as I did to this news, with real shock and sadness,” said Tim Whiteman, CEO of IPAF. “Alastair was a tireless force for good practice and safety in our industry, a great supporter of IPAF, a keen participant at industry events around the globe and a committed and valuable member of IPAF’s North American Regional Council. All those who knew and worked with him are indebted to him for his unfailing enthusiasm and considerable industry knowledge. He will be sorely missed and fondly remembered as one of the undoubted good guys. Most importantly, we have lost a great and dear friend. Rest in peace Alastair. All of us at IPAF wish to send our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends at this very sad time.”
And above all, Robertson was known as a family man. He is survived by his wife Beth, his sons Glenn, Struan and Brent, and daughter Keri, and several grandchildren. His sons Glenn and Brent partnered with him at Universal Equipment and will continue to carry on the business.
RER sends heartfelt condolences to the Robertson family.