Christmas Comes Earlier for PME

Chocolate Factory

Every year it seems that the Holidays and Christmas season creeps up earlier and earlier on the calendar. What used to push into November is now full bloom in mid-October. Christmas songs start making their way into the muzak mix in stores and there is more red and green decorations than florid fall flowers.  Keep in mind that I have generally been resistant to even picking up wrapping paper and Seasons Greetings cards in October and November. As a matter of fact, until recently the bulk of my Yuletide shopping was done exclusively on Christmas Eve! But this year I am admittedly part of the problem. That is because at Phoenix Modular Elevator we decided to try something different for holiday goodies that make their way to our customers every year.

We decided to give Amazon and mail order cookies a rest and buy local.

Christmas Candy

As a reluctant part of the shop early brigade I, the marketing manager, got to go on a rare excursion to the Chocolate Factory in Golconda, Illinois. Yes it is true that leadership has massive burdens and responsibilities and tasting chocolate, caramel corn and novelty candy for holiday gift boxes is just one of Herculean tasks I face. Woe as me, for the crown of decisions comes with a heavy weight on the brow of the wearer, but someone has to do it. I girded myself up for the arduous assignment. All kidding aside, before setting out on my adventure I feigned protest as it is a bit of a drive, but everyone at PME knew I couldn’t wait to try the samples and choose the gift options first hand because of where I was going. The aforementioned Chocolate Factory is an institution in Southern Illinois that has a wonderful reputation for making the tastiest treats you will find anywhere.

I was not disappointed.

Carmel Corn

As the front door swung open and I strolled in, the sweet aroma of chocolate filled the air with an intoxicating and dizzying effect. I was warmly greeted with smiles from the owner and then the marathon began. Presented before me was an assortment of every kind of confection made to perfection. Dark chocolate, white chocolate, milk chocolate, truffles; terrapins, haystacks and butter cups; jelly filed morsels, treats filled with clusters of nuts, salted caramel, almond bark and fudge filled the table as sample upon sample was brought fresh from the kitchen and from sparkling glass cases that adorned the front of the shop. My mind was boggled.

Ultimately, I made my choices with a fair amount of help and so my first Holiday purchase every before Thanksgiving was made. To our faithful modular elevator customers, you can expect your tasty treats sometime in the first week of December with a note of thanks that reads:

“Words cannot express how much we appreciate your business, so it is only fitting that we take this time to offer just a small token of our profound thanks.

This year we have decided to send out candy from a local chocolatier instead of a big mail order company. We hope that it will represent more than just chocolate, but our commitment to a higher standard and personal service rarely found in the elevator industry. 

We wish you the happiest of holidays and look forward to a continued and growing relationship.”

If you want to personally try some samples, visit or order from our good friends at Chocolate Factory in Golconda, Illinois. A better option would be to just order an elevator for your next project. I think we will be sending out candy from the same place again next year.

To get the elevator purchase process started, click the button below and Happy Holidays from Phoenix Modular Elevator.

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Elevator Construction Unsafe


No one wants to see yellow warning tape going up at job site, so here at Phoenix Modular Elevator, we talk a lot about construction site safety, especially regarding elevators. In other words, safety is a big motivator for us, not just when the elevator is up and running, but from the time the elevator hoistway or shaft is being constructed to the final installation of the elevator itself.

Why? Because we know there is a better way. Modular elevators are simply a safer alternative that need to be embraced by everyone in the building industry so injuries and yellow warning tape can be avoided. If we have said it once, we have said it a thousand times; if you care about worker safety, build with modular.

To help punctuate this point, just this month there have been two breaking news stories concerning elevators and construction site safety.  The links are provided so you will know what we are saying is true, but believe me, there is no joy in reporting potentially avoidable accidents.

The first news story is one of the most common accidents that takes place involving elevator hoistways on a job site. The problem is with old-fashioned, out-dated construction methods. The elevator hoistway is built and then just sits there as the building is built around it. The whole time, the shaft has doors that have not been installed and are open; an accident waiting to happen. All the facts are not known as of yet, but it seems an air-conditioning and heating employee fell down the hoistway. There are safety precautions that are required to be taken to avoid the inevitable, but unfortunately, one slip can mean a fall several feet to the bottom of the elevator pit.

With safer modular elevators, the hoistway is installed with the elevator equipment already fully in place in the shaft. That means the elevator doors close off access to the hoistway before the unit is even shipped to the site and the doors remain closed and locked until the final installation by a certified elevator technician. Also, the installation takes less than a week in most cases, meaning that throughout the project, there are fewer elevator personnel around to get in the way of other trades or to leave a tool out to trip on. You can clearly see the benefits of modular construction in this video. As you can see, the doors are in place when the complete elevator arrives. Also, even though this was a retrofit project, a hole was created for the elevator the day it arrived and was covered up the very same day, resulting in significantly less risk.

Modular elevators are just safer.

The second story involved $142,270 in U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) penalties that were dolled out to a major elevator manufacturer after the death of a worker. The worker was installing an elevator in Mount Carmel Grove City, Ohio when tragedy struck. There are two points that should be made.

First, if the news story is true, a company that had 2017 sales revenue of 41.45 billion will have to pay penalties of just over $140,000. Again, we do not know the entirety of the story but, is it just me, or does that seem like less than a slap on the wrist? I will let you draw your own conclusions but, clearly government penalties are not going to force improved safety when it comes to elevators

Second, the article indicates the “mechanic died when the elevator platform fell into the elevator pit where the mechanic was working.” This again indicates that the unsafe old-fashioned way of installing an elevator needs to be re-examined. With a modular elevator, all of the components are already in the shaft and properly and safely secured in a factory environment. There is nothing to come tumbling down on the installer’s head. Also, it means that additional costly injuries can be avoided. There is no more heavy lifting onsite. Normally a crew assembles the dozens of components such as platforms and rails one piece at a time inside a cramped and dangerous shaft and an elevator rail can weight up to 18 pounds per foot or more. Modular does away with this hazard. Back strains are reduced and heaven help you if you drop one.  Modular elevators have manufacturing processes in place that eliminate the danger.

So the question is, why do some people still insist on a process that puts people at risk for injury? We have many theories, but we do know that there is an alternative available today and each individual can determine for themselves the value of safety.

Definition and Benefits of Modular

Pleasant PrairieWhen it comes to blogging, usually you use stories or anecdotes to get your point across. It tends to stick better with the reader if they can identify with the examples given.  People tend to engage and respond more favorably if they can feel a connection. But, sometimes you have to just state the facts and tell people point by point what you are trying to say.  That is the case with this blog post. No fluff, no mother-in-law stories, no tragic tales of elevator builds gone wrong or funny anecdotes;  just the truth about modular building and why it is the fastest-growing and best way to build any project.  
Keep in mind that I am talking about modular in general and not specifically elevators. However, you will see that each point applies to modular elevators as well as all other components that make up a building. With all that said, here we go…a definition and points that clearly show why modular is the future.
First, modular construction is defined by the Modular Building Institute as, “A process in which a building is constructed off-site, under controlled plant conditions, using the same materials and designing to the same codes and standards as conventionally built facilities – but in about half the time.  The buildings are produced in ‘modules’ that, when put together on site, reflect the identical design intent and specifications of the most sophisticated site-built facility – without compromise.” Click here for more info. In a nutshell, modular is components that are built off-site exactly as the customer requests.  The various components or units are almost anything from bathroom pods to classrooms, kitchens to offices, and let’s not forget, elevators.
Second, here we go with the advantages of modular in no particular order – simple and straight forward:

1. Faster 

  • Reduce Your Construction Schedule
    When a project starts moving forward with traditional construction, it means when site prep is happening, not much else takes place. With modular construction, the building starts at the same time or even earlier if needed. The result is projects can be completed 30% to 50% faster than the old-fashioned way of building. While the other guys are waiting for concrete to dry, modular is working on the structures.
  • No Weather Delays
    With the bulk of the construction taking place in a factory, the weather doesn’t matter. When traditional companies are bogged down by rain or cold, we are building. This means the project is done faster and buildings are occupied sooner, creating a faster return on investment.
  • No Missing Tools or Materials
    This may seem minor, but in other businesses, it is called shrink-shoplifted or “misplaced” items that cost time and money. In the construction business, these stolen items can be expensive tools or products crucial to project completion. Somehow, with site-built construction, things grow legs and walk off. If you ever wonder why old-fashioned stick-built elevator contracts call for a lockable area, this is why. Too much stuff just disappears, causing costly time delays.

2. Reduced Costs

  • Lower Labor & Operational Costs
    Lower labor and operational costs occur simply because it is a shorter project timeline and less time at the job site.  Less time on the site reduces injuries and time off due to those injuries, liability, administrative costs and some payroll. Shorter construction time also induces lower overhead costs and provides for earlier opening of the new facilities, generating higher rate of return on the investment.
  • Standardization
    Standardization of the building process reduces costs in procurement and materials. Purchasing large lots of materials for multiple projects is possible, giving more buying power. Also, why pay for the same plans over and over again when you can easily duplicate plans for higher capitol efficiency once a design is complete? Component lists are the same in large part, so repetitive functions are reduced.
  • Less Interruption
    Off-site module construction does not interrupt or slow down other trades or site prep work. With elevators, for instance, we know when the elevator tech is on site, things tend to grind to a halt for everyone else. This is not the case with modular building.

 3. Safety Benefits

  • Reduced Risk – Fewer Hours
    Modular is safer due to reduced risks regarding in-plant operations versus site construction. There are fewer onsite OSHA exposure hours and smaller crew sizes.
  • Better Conditions
    The conditions for building are much safer in an enclosed factory rather than a job site. The factory floor is always level, and not compromised by rain or ice. Overhead cranes are used in modular building, whereas manual lifting is a common practice onsite. The factory environment allows for improving the building system to incorporate more safety.
  • Testing & Corrections
    The modular process is more conducive to testing and correction of vital components before shipping. Daily, the manufacturer of modular components is looking for safer ways of building. For instance, we rotate our elevator hoistways so there is no lifting of drywall, resulting in fewer strained backs.

4. Fewer Resource Requirements

  • Reduced Waste
    Modular production systems and factory construction conditions reduce material waste. Waste is reduced as the parts of assembly are simplified and ordered as close to used dimensions as possible. Also, when there is waste, it is easily sorted and recycled. There are no unexplained piles of debris in a factory, but these are always present at a traditional building site.
  • Greener
    There is less on-site pollution, as the bulk of construction is moved to a controlled environment. This results in less noise pollution, air pollution and dust. Building materials are protected from the elements, eliminating ruined materials due to rain or snow.  Smaller field crews also means less travel to and from the job site.
  • Smaller Building Area
    Less on-site space is required because systems are assembled in factories. Even when considering a staging area, it often smaller than a conventional construction site and occupied for a shorter time.

5. Higher Quality

  • Higher Quality Inspections
    The inspections take place indoors in a factory setting where access is easier. They take place in a closed environment where cold, snow or rain does not keep the inspector from looking at the process and building closely. Modular builders are accustomed to inspectors and they can be easily accommodated.
  • Highly trained and experienced technicians
    The workforce in a modular factory is well-trained for the job they are doing. Welders weld, drywallers drywall and carpenters drive nails. They are well-trained in the process and procedure of their unique position. Each job is more specialized than you would find with onsite construction. This leads to consistency of the product.

From the list above, it is easy to see that modular is the future of construction. If you would like to find out more about modular building or have an elevator project you would like a quote for, click the button below.

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Hurricanes Toughest Building Codes


When it comes to devastating storms in the United States, no place is more often the target of hurricanes than the Sunshine State – Florida. According to National Hurricane Center data, from just 1995 to 2017 the number of hurricanes, tropical storms and tropical depressions that have passed through some portion of Florida equals a stunning total of 42. The next closest state on the list is North Carolina with 27 and finishing third is Texas with 22.

The Florida hurricanes since 1995 includes Opal – 1995, Charley – 2004, Ivan – 2004, Jeanne – 2004, Dennis – 2005, Wilma – 2017 and now Michael a category 4 storm beating up the panhandle.

As a result of the constant barrage of traumatic storms, building codes of Florida have continually been fortified since 1998. It was in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew and all the damage left behind created by the storm that compelled the state to complete and pass their very first building code in 1998. The code became effective in March of 2002 and has been tweaked many times since.

It has led Florida to being deemed as having the strictest building codes in the United States and for good reason. Due to the plethora of storms and all the damage they do, there is a very big cost to the economy that can be quite hefty. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the expected annual damage cost to the United States due to hurricanes overall is currently about $28 billion. “Florida accounts for the largest share of expected damage at 55 percent in the agency’s calculations.” That is a pretty big chunk of change in just storm damage so Florida is not messing around.

Their serious approach seems to be paying off, too. According to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, after Hurricane Irma ripped through the state in 2017,  because approximately 80 percent of homes in Irma’s path had been built after the State’s new and improved construction codes; destruction, and therefore costs, were significantly less. Likewise the officials learned from Hurricane Charley in 2004 that houses built after the mid-90s with the improved codes better withstood the winds.

The good news is that when it comes to elevators, Phoenix Modular Elevator understands local codes (even in Florida) and our elevators can be engineered to meet any building codes especially when it comes to wind concerns. Not only does our standard hurricane area model come with a rating that can withstand a 150 mph, but we also can upgrade modular elevators to withstand 180 mph winds. It is even possible to make them more durable if the rules ever go beyond that. The same can be said about earthquakes as well. Our elevators find homes from Florida to California, Alaska to New York.

If you would like more info or have a project in mind in an area prone to hurricanes click below.

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Off-Site Construction Expo – Perfect

OSCE2018In almost any industry,  there are a plethora of trade shows. So when you finally find one that is a great fit, you like to let others know about it. The Off-Site Construction Expo (OSCE) has been one of the best, and this opinion is not from a novice. At Phoenix Modular Elevator (PME), we attend lots of trade shows because we fit into many different categories, including the construction industry, elevator industry, modular building industry, etc. The list goes on and on because we can, and have, attended many shows for specific sub-groups such as hotel owners or building managers to name just a few. All have their pluses and minuses.

With that said, our Sales and Marketing team just got back from the Off-Site Construction Expo that took place in Berkeley, California sponsored by the Modular Building Institute, the American Institute of Architects – San Francisco and several corporate sponsors, including USG, dryvit, Wesco, Skender, Precision, ExaLeap and Mr. Shrinkwrap. The expo was perfect.

You may ask, “How can a trade-show be perfect?” That is an audacious claim, but I can back it up.

First, the location. It was not the typical cavernous, half-filled, concrete hall that echoes like the rim of the Grand Canyon, but a more intimate setting on the campus of University of California – Berkeley. The confines allowed for discussions and opportunities for long conversations outside of the hall without the usual trek to a hotel across the street. Everything was very simple, but very well done. Additionally, the northern California area was tailor-made for our business. Our solution hit the need of the region we were in perfectly. We really opened some eyes. The fast delivery and installation of a high-quality commercial elevator made the day of people so tired of fighting stick-built elevator companies.

Second, the structure. One day – need I say more? There are some trade shows that are so big or so poorly structured that the vendor area is open for days on end. We end up honing our juggling skills with stress balls between rushes or playing “Name that Tune” against other vendors using the piped in muzak (we always win). The constant checking of the wristwatch just makes the whole day pass like it is stuck in molasses on a cold day. The opposite was true at the OSCE. We were busy at every time we were supposed to be. Also, the speakers were not just hawking goods but bringing important information to the table while also taking questions. It wasn’t just preaching but in-depth, thoughtful answers. Even the mealtime was well planned out and timed. We had just enough time to get our meal, meet someone we didn’t know and break bread while talking about the industry.

Third and most important, the attendees. I have no idea what mystic arts were employed, but it seemed like every attender needed and wanted to hear about PME. The booth was busy with a steady flow and we were able to provide several quotes for new jobs and ones on the books. Too many trade shows are filled with swag hunters and fellow exhibitors looking for conversation. OSCE was filled with opportunity, as all of the booths were buzzing with activity. I have never been involved in a trade show that had so many positives. Kudos to all the folks at the Off-Site Construction Expo! They have everything down to science; the location, structure and attendees.

If you missed us at the conference but would like a cost estimate click the link below.

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NAEC Purpose for PME

NAEC FinalThe National Association of Elevator Contractors (NAEC) meets every year, this year for the 69th time in Atlantic City, New Jersey  from September 24 – 27. It is being billed as the “Largest Vertical Transportation Show in North America” and without doubt, it is just that. There will be opportunities for education, building connections in business and seeing what’s new in a huge exhibitor area. Phoenix Modular Elevator will be a very active participant; stop by booth #1846 to say hello!

For instance, on Tuesday, September 25th at 1:00 pm, PME President Allison Allgaier and Marketing Manager Russ Ward will be leading a roundtable discussion on how to become a course provider for the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The course presentations are commonly referred to as “Lunch and Learns” and have been very successful for us. We get a great opportunity to tell architects across North America about the health, safety and welfare aspects built into high-quality modular elevators during these lunchtime presentations. It is something others can do as well and we will be available for questions and answers to help you get started.

Also, in addition to exhibiting,  we get to see what is out there on the trade show floor. At PME, we are forever looking for ways to improve our elevators and how we deliver, install and maintain them. More than one idea from NAEC has turned into an improvement.

But the real purpose of our visit to Atlantic City is not for the parties and one-armed bandits, or even leading a roundtable discussion; it is meeting elevator installers that are looking for a great product to put in their line of business. See, the elevator industry through modularization is on the cusp of a transitional move forward and leading the way with the innovation is Phoenix Modular Elevator. We have seen exponential growth over the past few years as people become more acquainted with the company and what makes us unique to the building and elevator industries. That uniqueness, to state it plainly and simply, is due to the fact that we offer a manufactured, commercial-quality elevator that is safer and faster to install than any traditional elevator available at a comparable price.

Faster and Safer

Faster? Think days, not months, for the hoistway and elevator to be fully installed and functional. Safer? No heavy rails to to lug around, no cab to install in cramped spaces, and no open hoistway hatches to fall through.

Elevator technicians have confided with us, stating that Phoenix Modular Elevator has eliminated the most dangerous and time-consuming aspects of the elevator install. Manufacturing a completed hoistway, with the elevator car and rails already installed, that is pre-roped and pre-wired, makes all the difference. But not all are ready for a new age. There was a time when innovation, especially in regards to safety, was a paramount concern, but, inexplicably, many are still holding on to old technology that puts installers at risk.

Fortunately, many are now starting to see the benefits of less potentially harmful physical labor. They have come to the same conclusion we have: modular elevators are just much better than old fashioned elevators for the people that have to do the installing and the speed of the installation is better for the customer.

Modular elevators are a win/win all the way around.

For the elevator installer, the primary benefit is safety. But the speed of the install has an ancillary benefit as well. The number of elevators under lucrative maintenance contracts can be increased by the right company because you no longer have to tie up a team of elevator technicians for installations that take months on end. Instead, the fast install means more elevators can be installed in a shorter amount of time, thereby putting more elevators under maintenance agreements. In the time one team installs a single traditional elevator, you can have a half-dozen modular elevators installed.

You may not be willing to step in this new business model, but your competitors might. So, you can ignore the trends of safety of elevator technicians and the benefits of fast installation, but just remember that others are getting on board and fast. We have doubled the total number of installers selling and installing modular elevators in just a few years. They see the value and profitability.

If you attend NAEC, stop by booth #1846 and talk with us about your future and the future of the elevator industry. We would love to listen. If you are not attending NAEC and would like to be considered as an installer for Phoenix Modular Elevator, just fill out the simple form here and someone will be in contact with you shortly.

If you already have a project in mind just click below.

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Three Stooges to PME – History of Modular Elevators

6a00d8341c5fc853ef01348883d390970c-450wiModular buildings have been around longer than you think. In the United States, Sears started offering their version of modular in the form of self-contained kits in 1908. These are often claimed as “modular” but in reality, they were an all inclusive truck loads of parts and boards pre-cut for specifically purchased plans.

This unique style of home building is forever immortalized by the Three Stooges in “The Sit Downers” where the Stooges attempt to build one of these homes for their new brides (be patient the home arrives 7 minutes in). Larry sums up the Stooge’s problems with the pre-cut lumber when he exclaims, “There’s nothing ready cut about these houses every board is too long.” So much for Sears’ foray into modular.

Older than the Stooges

Most people don’t realize that modular building pre-dates the Sears and Roebuck catalog and Moe, Larry and Curly (I refuse to acknowledge Curly Joe or Shemp) by decades. The first known modular building that was factory built and site erected was called the Manning Portable Cottage. The cottages were built in Great Britain and shipped to Australia of all places starting in the 1830’s. Hundreds were sold. Not only that, the Quaker movement “Down Under” saw the value of modular and ordered meeting houses. There is still one around today in Adelaide, Australia and it is a recognized heritage site. Although the meeting house was shipped in over 60 packages, it is recognized as truly modular.

Today modular is vastly different with totally completed segments ready for homes, hospitals, schools, office buildings and almost any other type of building, temporary and permanent (see a video here). It is in a huge growth spurt due to speed and quality.

Modular Elevators

The history of the modular elevators is much shorter, but just as important. People with disabilities in the United States had been struggling with access for as long as the republic existed and the increase of above-grade, multi-level buildings in urban areas with stairs exacerbated the issue. Most often unintentionally, building owners were creating barriers for people that had mobility problems.

As leaders and the public became more aware of the difficulties through activism and information, governmental solutions were demanded. That demand grew slowly, but ultimately, resulted in new laws including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) signed by President George Bush in July of 1990. But the struggle of people with disabilities to have access to jobs, housing, and goods and services did not automatically disappear with the stroke of a presidential pen, despite what President George Bush said at the time of the signing:

“It will ensure that people with disabilities are given the basic guarantees for which they have worked so long and so hard: independence, freedom of choice, control of their lives, the opportunity to blend fully and equally into the rich mosaic of the American mainstream….It will guarantee fair and just access to the fruits of American life which we all must be able to enjoy. And then, specifically, first the ADA ensures that employers covered by the act cannot discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities. Second, the ADA ensures access to public accommodations such as restaurants, hotels, shopping centers, and offices.”

Now the search was on to find a fast and easy way to tackle all those buildings with stairs, help people comply with the new law, and allow access for everyone.

Infinite Access Born

Surprisingly the solution was created by three men in Southern Illinois at a small company called Infinite Access. Richard Black, Kevin Phillips and Stanley Holtkamp worked on and ultimately patented the modular elevator as a retrofit solution. The first intention of the new invention was to find a way to lower an elevator into a pre-poured pit and have it up and running in a matter of days. As building owners scurried to find a fast cost-effective solution to vertical transportation to comply with the law, modular elevators quickly became the best option.

The company continued to grow and produce elevators.

But, it wasn’t long before architects, building owners and contractors saw that a broader application of the product was possible. Not only were modular elevators perfect for retrofit projects, but also new construction, temporary, and permanent modular as well. They were tired of being held hostage by “Bigg Elevator” and timelines that seemed to drag out forever.

Phoenix Rises

In 2009 seeing a great opportunity, the assets were purchased by another company with production continuing in the same Mt. Vernon, Illinois factory and with largely the same personnel. But a new company was born. Phoenix Modular Elevator (not the city, but the bird) saw the potential of the world’s fastest installing elevator and took steps to improve production and increase sales. As growth occurred, factory production expanded to capacity and with projected growth exceeding 40%, a new factory was built.

Today Phoenix Modular Elevator is the leader in the modular elevator business, the largest producer, with the biggest most modern facility dedicated to modular elevators and most innovative product line. The line of products offered include: hydraulic elevators, machine roomless hydraulic, traction and machine roomless traction. Hundreds have been successfully installed in 30 states and four provinces in Canada. Also, the future remains bright for Phoenix as growth continues and people continue to  look for ways to increase accessibility, save on construction costs and reduce time for installation all while providing a high-quality, safe product.

If you have a project in mind or just want to talk about the Three Stooges, please feel free to contact us by clicking the link below.

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Respect the Code – Elevator Code Bible

Code BookI bristle at calling any book, “The Bible”. Not necessarily for the notion that something is authoritative and has the last word in matters of the law, but because it can reduce the Bible to a bunch of codes and rules which is not the case. But when it comes to elevators, there is an actual bible (grandma I hope you noticed the small “b”). That bible is the American Society of Mechanical Engineers – Codes and Standards A17 and CSA B44 for our Canadian friends.

The primary purpose for this code is clearly stated by Norman B. Martin, a proponent of the ASME Codes and Standards and highly respected Chief Elevator Inspector for the state of Ohio. He said the following:

“I think the ASME Codes and Standards committees’ most important work is to be able to provide consistency throughout the nation and through North America…An elevator is an elevator and if you build an elevator in California, you should be able to sell it in Ohio, and if you build it in Ohio, you should be able to sell it in Ontario. As such, I think the consistency across the board with the North American standards has allowed that to occur; provide a base level of safety, and allow each jurisdiction to be able to enforce it properly.” Link

His point is that without ASME standards: chaos would reign, safe and unsafe would mix like Labs and Poodles, confusion would hurt commerce, and the safety of the elevator-riding public could be compromised. Truer words have ne’er been spoken.

But what happens when an inspector is unfamiliar with the code or a state or other government entity tries to make changes to elevator standards without directly consulting ASME first? Nothing good and usually problems, delays and compromise.

We recently ran into a rare rogue inspector on a project, that will remain nameless for obvious reasons, where he insisted that the elevator pit light had to be fixed to the pit wall. Of course our lead engineer (with over 20 years of elevator experience) pointed to the applicable code, but that wasn’t good enough and the entire project was put on hold while we awaited more information. Ultimately, we were proven right of course. Read the info from ASME here! But the time and frustration on our part and the customer’s part was real.

When it comes to some states and other governmental agencies, we are seeing new subsets of existing codes, usually stemming from those agencies trying to flex some bureaucratic muscle or divas with a wish list of unrealistic expectations that often conflict with the wisdom of ASME.

A case that illustrates this clearly was one that involved handrail location in an elevator car. The inspector and the “new” code insisted on a certain location for handrail placement, but they were utterly wrong. And when I say utterly, I mean it. The location the inspector and code was touting and requiring was in direct violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), ASME and the elevator code of the state the project was located in. Again I will refrain from besmirching the inspector or the team that came up with the aberrant code, but again they would not budge. It left us with a true Hobson’s choice. We could either violate ADA, ASME, and state code or not have the elevator pass inspection. No choice indeed. We opted to civilly argue our case to the powers that be, hoping for wiser heads to prevail. Again weeks passed as did dozens of emails. After all the evidence was gathered, we once again prevailed. But our additional investment of time, emails, and research could not be recouped despite being proven right.

So what does this ultimately mean? It means that the ASME code is the bible for elevators and more. After all, they have been at the code and standards creation business since 1884 and have been writing elevator codes since 1921. They don’t just “kind of” know their business; they have literally written the book. Violation of those codes, for lack of better words, is a sin that should not be engaged in. That is why every elevator we produce meets or exceeds ASME – A17 and CSA B44 codes and always will. After all modular is not just faster, but also higher in quality and safety.

If you have a project in mind that requires an elevator, click the button below! We would love to give you a numb nail number.

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Banana Splits and Manufacturing Standards

Banana1While waiting tables in college, one of the duties that fell to me as part of the wait staff was preparing desserts. One of the most popular requests was the classic banana split. It was easy enough, right? Not so much. There was actually a policy, standards, and procedures sheet in the training and reference manual that encompassed the proper way to make the specialty dessert. This meant that every customer got the very same dessert with the same style of cut banana, the same toppings, the same whip cream, the same nuts and cherry and the same boat or dish everytime.

The result was perfect quality.  And unparalleled deliciousness.

Having standards, policies and procedures is important to any business and the more that a product can be produced in a controlled atmosphere with strict standards and procedures, like a factory, the more likely the result at the end will be perfect in quality. That is one of the advantages the modular industry creates when producing room units for hotels, business offices, classrooms, bathroom pods and of course elevators.

For instance with the banana split we were instructed in exactly how to cut the banana to save time in production, but also provide a superior product. That meant instead of simply cutting the banana long ways like you generally find, we were told to remove half of the peel and then use the remaining half to hold the banana as we made slices. We could then pick up the fully-sliced banana by the peel and not get our fingers or the cutting area sticky. Also, by cutting the banana into slices the customers were happier because they did not need to wrestle with trying to cut the banana with a spoon. They were already cut into perfect, bite-sized slices ready to be eaten.

It was well thought out and not haphazard at all. And it was a standard that was closely adhered to, meaning that the end result was perfect for speedy production, but also met the needs for the consumer.

Modular building is similar. Everything is planned out well in advance with specific standards in place for each project. This makes the build much faster than stick built, but also results in exactly what the end-user specifies. Each finish is chosen, each fixture purchased to the customer’s desires and then the project is finished to precise standards.

Also every dollop of ice cream of the banana split was always the same in volume and size as was each flower of whip topping. The sprinkles of nuts were measured and a single cherry topped off the dish to perfection. Again thought and balance of presentation was considered, but also the proportions and amount of the components made waste an impossibility.

Likewise with modular: the steel, wood, wiring, plumbing, trim and drywall are always in perfect harmony with need and functionality, leading to efficiency that cannot be seen in any stick-built project. You will not see a stack of wasted resources in modular building.

Well, what if you don’t like pineapple? Good question! I don’t like it myself (especially on pizza). I want a hot fudge banana split, or only strawberry and chocolate. No problem, just because there are standards doesn’t mean that you can’t mix things up. As a matter of fact because the waste and time are reduced by better production practices, it takes less effort and resources to make the banana split you want.

A big mistake that people make when determining if modular is a good fit is, they think that the whole project is always stamped out of the die the same way, all the time. While true there are usual standard finishes available, making changes, enlarging areas and altering design is not a problem. Again because modular is a thought out process and not a haphazard exercise, changes are easy as pie…or banana splits!

I hope you have a clearer understanding of why modular is the best option for most building projects and give it consideration for your next project. It just makes sense. If you have any questions about the modular business, feel free to contact us at your convenience and as members of the Modular Building Institute, we can direct you to the right folks. If you have a project in mind click the link below.

Now, I have to go, for some reason all this talk about modular building is making me hungry.


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Tough Love – Time for Elevator Biz to Grow Up

Button PushWe all have that moment when we need to hear the truth: to ignore it means growth will cease and improvements halt.  When it comes to elevators, that time for truth is now and so we need to dish out some tough love. Often times we associate “tough love” with teen angst and pimply, overwrought middle-school students, but as it applies to our industry as well as the elevator business, it is at a crossroad. As an industry, vertical transportation sits astride two differing paths and it is time for a sober conversation, not hyperbole and not blind to truth.

That crossroad is between the old fashioned stick-built method of elevators or the more modern modular elevators and whether modular ultimately makes sense for all low to mid-rise elevator applications. Should modular elevators be the first choice?

To make an assessment a few facts about elevators, modular and stick-built is in order.  So here is a list of truths that the industry needs to come to grips with:

  1. Modular is here to stay. Despite the best efforts of those in the weary old-guard elevator business, modular elevators are being placed in more and more locations around the US and Canada. Phoenix Modular Elevator had 40% growth last year and on pace for nearly that same growth this year.
  2. The elevator business is too busy. Maintenance and current installs are stacking up and delaying construction. To keep up with demand the growth for the occupation of elevator technician is 12%! That is just to keep up. One of the ways to lessen the time burden of installation is to go modular as an alternative. We just received a call from a frustrated general contractor that couldn’t even get thumbnail numbers and no promises for six-months. Depending on the location in Canada and the United States there is a big shortage of qualified technicians.
  3. Don’t waste your best assets. Our industry is too smart to be hanging rails. We have very busy and great elevator techs across the continent, but unfortunately too many are lugging rails and screwing together elevator cars instead of setting up elevators to run properly. When you have limited resources, you must use those resources wisely. With modular elevators the grunt work is already done leaving professionals to do the work that is needed.
  4. Safer. Speaking of grunt work, a report by the Center for Construction Research and Training found the major causes of lost-time injuries to elevator constructors were being struck by an object, overexertion (especially in lifting), falls, and being caught in/between (such as between the elevator shaft and the elevator) in that order. Too many elevator technicians strain themselves installing doors, lifting rails and building elevators cars in cramped spaces. Modular does away with all those risks. They are safer to install.
  5. Financial commonsense. With modular elevators many more units can be installed faster. This will generate more income quickly on lucrative maintenance contracts for growth minded businesses. The business that adopts the modular concept will be installing more units than competitors and win the race of picking up maintenance agreements. After all commercial quality modular hydraulic elevators take only a week to get up and running.
  6. Quality is the same or better. One of the biggest arguments against modular is quality. The argument is largely out of lack of knowledge as elevators are highly regulated with very specific standards, modular or not. Also, there are just a handful of companies that produce most of the components in any elevator. We use those standard, highly regulated parts! When it comes to the hoistway, ours are always plum and level and so are the rails. They are fixed in place by welds that are inspected closely for quality. Every hoistway is constantly measure and tested because of the production process. No stick-built elevator can compare.

So what is the outcome of the above truths? When we say faster, safer and smarter we are not just saying it. It is true and modular warrants consideration for most project.

With that said, the primary take-a-way is if you are operating an elevator company, contact us to find out how to start installing modular elevators today for all of your low and mid-rise projects. They are safer and more profitable. We can put you in touch with some of our installers and assist you with training. Most of the new installers we have are surprised at how fast and easy they are. Also if you have been contacted to install a modular, don’t be afraid of the product. They go in all the time in almost every jurisdiction in the United States from New York to Los Angeles.

The elevator biz is at a crossroad. Make the wise choice, go with modular.


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