Tag Archives: Elevator

Are All Elevator Companies Equally Bad?

Are all elevator companies equally bad? This is a question posed in a forum on UrbanToronto.ca in the Design and Architectural Style section. For too many of the commentators in the blog, the answer is an unfortunate yes. Each respondent complained about the state of the elevator industry when it comes to repairs, but none really had the right explanation. It is true there is a bit of a shortage of elevator techs, but that is not the core issue regarding poor repairs. In other words, a technician properly trained can easily tackle most elevator problems, but what if there was something built into how we buy elevators in the first place that totally did away with any incentive to get the job done right?  Here is the first horror story from the blog that was posted by Harry_Fine. It spells out a huge issue in the elevator industry and the reason for the bad rep. It is completely accurate other than the name of the elevator company in question. I took it out because all big elevators companies are largely one in the same:   

“I live in a new downtown condo, won’t mention the name at the moment so as not to stigmatize it. It’s a small building about a dozen floors. It’s been occupied for about 18 months. The elevators are XXXXXXXXXXXX (a big elevator company that will go unnamed) and are awful in terms of reliability. Perhaps not the elevator per se, but when they break, they are down for days. Parts need to be flown in, perhaps from Germany. Our condo board tells us that only they (the big elevator company) can fix their elevators, that they don’t supply parts to third party elevator companies, they keep it all in-house to create a monopoly.

Last year shortly after the building opened, one car was down for 2 weeks. We only have 2 cars. With our new-building move-ins, life was hell.

Now a year later, since Thursday, none of the buttons on the floors work, you press the button and light goes on, you take your finger off and light goes off. So to get by they put it on automatic service opening on every floor 24/7 until it’s fixed. Usually wait is about 7 minutes. Big elevator company seems either unable to fix it or in no big hurry.

On one of the cars we’ve had the door close button not functioning. They have been in several times. Unable to fix it. It’s been broken for 6 months. 

Wondering if people here have similar experiences and have found a way not to be held hostage by these elevator companies?”

Believe it or not, Mr. Fine identified the biggest problem in the last sentence of the first paragraph. The condo board’s hands are tied. When the building was in the early planning stages, the developer of the property or owner was sold on an elevator from a big company (you know them, I won’t name them).  They got a cheap price and likely didn’t double check; they just took the lowest bid. Buried in the plethora of drawings, specs and forms was a clause stating proprietary parts were allowed, hence the reason for the cheap price. 

Just to explain, proprietary is a monopoly machine and the reason for all the pain because proprietary simply means that only one company can work on the unit because they have the special tools and codes to fix problems if they occur. There is no competition, no other company to call and most importantly, there is no way out. Like the blood oath made to a Mafia Don, once you are in, you are in. Yes, you can sue them, stamp your feet and hold your breath, but one of those strategies will have as much likelihood of helping as the other. Ultimately, if you go that route, the result will be being passed out, with flat arches and a lighter pocketbook, due to legal fees.

That is because big elevator companies have been playing the game much longer than any building owner and so they know the wiggle words and loopholes in elevator contracts better than anyone. After all, they are ones who write them. Once a general contractor, building owner or architect signs off on the proprietary units, their hooks are in for the life of the elevator, or 25+ years. That is why big elevator will forgo the up-front profit for long-term gain for them and misery for everyone else.  This is why there is no rush on providing service, no rush on getting parts flown in from wherever and no worry about keeping a unit running like it should. What are you going to do?   

To keep out of proprietary units, you have to start when the building is on the drawing board. Keep in mind that you do not have to go with units filled with proprietary parts at all! But, if you opt for non-proprietary, watch out! Big elevator companies have been known to sneak them in anyway. They understand that often the projects they are included in are significantly removed from the end user and owner of the property. Just like in the case of the condo in question, the current owners did not make the decision to go with proprietary parts and it would be practically impossible to find out who made that decision or if a decision were made at all. 

Another annoyance is that once the elevator with proprietary parts is chosen, the elevator company gets to call all the shots, especially when it comes to prices of service. Many of the service agreements they slide across the table for signature are lopsided and filled with automatic renewals and annual price increases.

And that leads to the final question of the blog: “Wondering if people here have similar experiences and have found a way not to be held hostage by these elevator companies?” The answer would more than likely be no. In some cases, fighting your way out of a contract will work. However, it literally took a court order from a federal judge to get the tools from a big elevator company in a county in Pennsylvania.  But that win is the exception, not the rule. Your best bet is to not move into a building or buy a condo or other building that contains an elevator with proprietary parts in the first place. Yes, they are that bad. Also, ask to see the repair schedules and how often the elevators are down. The person selling the premises should not hesitate in allowing you to see the records. If they refuse…move on. 

Lastly, and you knew it was coming, the sales pitch. Phoenix Modular Elevator always provides non-proprietary parts. They are always high-quality and, in most cases, the very same parts you find in any elevator. Dirty little secret…all elevator companies mostly use the very same parts. Any certified technician can fix our elevators so you can shop for prices and if a poor job is done, you won’t go begging for relief. You can fire the company and look for a better one. I know that doesn’t help the current complaint very much, but hopefully this will serve as a warning to shopped elevators for ones with non-proprietary parts at the top of the list. 

If you are in the market for a new elevator click the link below for a fast free estimate. Just some key information or approximate guesses and you can find out what a commercial quality elevator would cost.   

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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

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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.

Hurricanes Toughest Building Codes

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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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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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Find the Magic Number – Elevators Per Building

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Photo by Scott Szarapka on Unsplash

Talk about a tricky subject! Few try to tackle it in a blog because no matter what I write, there will be people that take exception. Why is this not just some simple formula with occupancy numbers, building type and square feet? Because it is more complex than that. So don’t worry I will get to rough numbers to help guide you on your project, but with a few caveats. The most important being, a qualified elevator consultant can be a huge help in this area. Consider finding the right one. Now on to the things that you should consider.

The number of elevators needed has a lot to do with many factors that may not be known when a building is in the planning stages and the first thing that gets dropped into the architect’s plans are the ways to go up and down in a building. So do your best with the list below so you can take the rough numbers I am providing and tweak them closer to your needs. Here are the things to consider…click here! 

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Elevator Ignorance Cost Big Time

benjamin-franklin-portrait“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Recently we received an inquiry from a prospective client regarding our suggested use of a hydraulic unit in a four story project with approximately forty-five feet of travel.

The client was very impressed with our eight week lead time and one week install that could simply not be matched by any stick built alternative. However, they were being sold hardcore on the notion that hydraulic elevators were too out-dated and more costly regarding electricity used over time and the initial wiring. To answer their questions and suspicions, they went to an electrical contractor for basic answers and got some really bad info.  Fortunately, they reached out to us before making a decision. Without casting aspersions, the electrician was obviously out of his depth and showed the ignorance that good ol’ Ben Franklin was warning about.

Click here for facts you can’t ignore! 

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Tales of Elevators Past – Life Lessons for the Holidays

Kelly HeadshotBy Kelly Schloss 

For my family, Christmas and the holiday season is a time to share and recount days past. This year, I’d like to do that in the form of an old cautionary tale of magical doors and a secret room. It is about the thrill of Christmas shopping with mom: discovery, fear, separation, reunion, and my very first elevator ride (that I can remember, anyway).

It all begins in the parking lot of a busy shopping mall during the Christmas season and walking past bell ringers in bright red aprons and dodging icy puddles on a chilly day at  a Chicagoland mall. I was an over-exuberant 8 year old, already straining against holding my mom’s hand or latching on to the stroller of my younger sister. I had been enticed by the tale of shopping for Christmas gifts over Thanksgiving turkey, cranberry sauce (yuck!), and mac and cheese, but had never experienced it for myself. As we moved closer to the entrance, I licked my lips with anticipation and strained to wedge myself in the door first.

You must finish this tale of Christmas past here!!! 

Factory Built Elevator- Early Planning Makes for Easier Planning

MBI WOM 2There is no doubt that modular elevators are the future for almost any building application, from modular buildings to traditional projects and from low to medium rise and beyond. Everyone knows that modular elevators are simply safer, faster, and smarter.

But they are also easier for everyone involved in the process. Designers, architects, builders, and elevator installers are all helped by the overall concept and tremendous flexibility provided with modular.  However, there is one thing you can do in the earliest phases of construction that can make converting to the modular solution even easier:  consider a modular elevator solution as early in the process as possible.

This is not to say that you can’t consider modular at anytime during the project from design to completion. You can certainly decide on modular late in the game and we are more than willing to help.  We have even been asked to provide a modular elevator solution after a building has been completed. The customer simply got tired of waiting for the stick-built elevator company to show up and get the job done. Turns out, in most cases we can design, engineer, manufacture, ship, and install a quality commercial elevator in less time than a traditional elevator company orders and receives all its components.

Click here for the whole story.

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All Aboard – Modular Elevators

Train in DurangoThere was a time when black, steam powered locomotives would huff and puff into the station, take on water and coal, load up with cargo and passengers and the conductor would yell, “All aboard!” It signified the train was leaving the station and if you weren’t on the train and ready to go, you would be left behind in a cloud of steam, smoke, and coal dust.  The analogy has been used countless times when writing about new innovation and being a part of a movement forward or advances in technology.  You don’t want to miss the train and be left behind.

See the future of elevators here.