The MHI community entered the new year mourning the death of Jim Galante, a leading expert in ergonomics whose distinguished career in the material-handling industry spanned more than five decades. Galante, 76, died unexpectedly at his home in Falmouth, Maine, on Dec. 22.
Galante had been director of business development for MHI member Southworth Products, a large manufacturer of industrial lifting and positioning equipment. Prior to that, he spent almost 30 years with MHI member Autoquip, rising to become their vice president of marketing.
Galante devoted much of his life to ergonomics, seeking to eliminate the number one cause of workplace injuries. He was the principal editor of “Ergonomic Guidelines for Manual Material Handling,” an internationally recognized manual on the subject, and presented at myriad symposiums, seminars and tradeshows such as MODEX and ProMat.
For MHI, Galante was the longtime chairman of the Ergonomics Assist and Systems Equipment (EASE) Council, building a reputation for his kindness, knowledge, teaching ability and consummate professionalism. He also was a past chairman of MHI’s Lift Manufacturers Product Group (LIFT) and the Vertical Reciprocating Sorters (VRC) Subcommittee of the Conveyor & Sortation Systems (CSS) Committee.
Brian McNamara, former president and chief executive at Southworth, said the EASE Council “has set the operational and performance standards for all others,” and that Galante’s leadership was key to the group’s success.
“Nobody would ever dispute that conclusion,” McNamara said. “Jim’s passion and work ethic made everything he touched and everyone he worked with better. His support of others was ever-present and without limitation.
“Jim loved what he did,” McNamara added. “He never planned to retire. Most importantly, he totally appreciated everyone he had the opportunity to support because they gave him the opportunity to do what he loved to do.”
In 2006, Galante was appointed to the ASME Board on Codes and Standards. His LinkedIn page noted that he led the committee responsible for ANSI Standard MH29, the safety standard for industrial scissors lifts and tilters, and was vice chairman of the main committee for ASME B20, the safety standard for conveyors and related equipment.
James Cabot, Southworth’s president and CEO, said Galante had a “magnetic personality” that truly shined during his highly informative presentations.
“Jim was a gifted teacher,” Cabot said. “He loved to be in front of a group, sharing his knowledge of material handling and ergonomics best practices. My best memories of Jim are of seeing him in front of our annual distributor salesperson training school, sharing his insights into material handling—his enthusiasm, his deep, almost mischievous laugh, his precise knowledge.”
Cabot said Galante was driven by the desire to eliminate injuries for workers and solve clients’ most challenging material handling problems.
“He knew that when he developed a solution for a company, he was making life easier and safer for the hardworking, men and women in our factories, warehouses and distribution centers who keep our world moving forward,” Cabot said. “Nothing in his professional career was more important to him.”
Amy Blueter, president of Material Movement Solutions, described Galante as a “kind, generous and genuine” person who frequently could be found greeting attendees with a hug and a smile at MHI conferences and events. She said Galante was known for his “ability to build people up and give them his passion and drive for making MHI and the user groups what they are.”
Blueter said one of her last memories of Galante came at the MHI Annual Conference last October in Phoenix, where he encouraged members to re-elect her as vice chair of the EASE Council while barely mentioning that he was seeking re-election as chair.
“He was so complimentary of what we had accomplished over the past two brutal years with COVID-19 and of me, it made me tear up and blush,” she said. “Jim was like that—he was humble, and he was always building up the folks around him, making this industry group even better.”
John Paxton, CEO of MHI, added “Jim was a truly special volunteer whose energy and passion for sharing his knowledge made him one of a kind. Anytime I was with Jim, I always learned something, whether it was about work or life. He will be missed by the many people who knew him.”
Jim is survived by his wife of 53 years, Holly; their daughter, Dr. Nicole Galante; and her fiancé, Mike Kearns.
An animal lover, Jim and Holly traveled extensively with their two rescue dogs. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland, 217 Landing Road, Westbrook, ME 04092, and ARK Animal Shelter, 60 Barber Lane, Cherryfield, ME 04622.