My mother loved doing jigsaw puzzles. The more difficult the better, as far as she was concerned. These puzzles became family projects that we all worked on, especially in the winter while we were cooped up in the house on snowy days.
My mom was no novice of puzzle completion and had a strictly adhered to plan in putting them together that made a lot of sense: start with turning all of the pieces to the picture side and then find all of the corners. From there, the rest of the edge pieces were found and put into to place, making an outline of the picture. The rest of the puzzle, one piece at a time, would then follow.
I remember a Classics Illustrated comic book from my youth telling the tales of Abraham Lincoln. One of the stories involved Lincoln gathering a group of younger boys and having them step in the mud with their bare feet. As a prank, Lincoln held each of them upside down and had them walk their feet across the kitchen ceiling, leaving muddy footprints as they went. When his stepmother, Sarah Lincoln, came home and saw the muddy footprints on her ceiling, she threatened to spank him.
Lincoln was 6 feet 4 inches tall at the time, and I can all but imagine seeing the future President bent over his stepmother’s knee, stovepipe hat and all. Also, his stepmother’s initial reaction to the unnatural site of footprints on her ceiling would have been priceless.
Sometimes when our elevators are craned vertically into place and the inspector or elevator technician is in the hoistway for the first time, they, too, have a reaction like Sarah Lincoln. They see footprints going up and down the hoistway walls, along guide rails and around hatchway door openings. Some have even asked our installation crew where the footprints came from and how they could be up and down the vertical hoistway. And no, we don’t hold people upside down.
That is one of the challenges we face when describing the Phoenix Modular Elevator process of manufacturing. In the mind of most elevator professionals, they think vertically when they enter a hoistway or elevator car. It only makes sense, as they have spent years, if not decades, inside a vertical shaft. For them, it is hard to think of it any other way.
However, our elevator manufacturing process is born horizontally. The hoistway is not built on a work site, but out of tough 4×4 inch tube steel in our production facility. Once the frame is laid out, it is plumbed and squared to make sure the shaft is always perfectly square and straight. Phoenix Modular Elevator workers and inspectors are able to walk alongside the frame, inside and out, testing welds and checking quality. As the frame is constructed, it is placed on a machine that can literally spin the hoistway, so welding in 2×4 C-studs and placing fire-rated drywall takes hours, not weeks. When one side is done, the entire hoistway is rotated to the next side. The guide rails are then installed, leveled and inspected. We know when a hoistway leaves the factory, it is completely square and the guide rails are straight and level.
During this whole process, a great crew of quality inspectors, welders, drywallers and finishers stroll through the hoistway, leaving footprints. Mystery solved.
Simultaneously, the cab is completed to the customer’s specifications. Again, the cab is not inside the shaft; instead, it is built in a separate area of the factory and not in a cramped hoistway. This means building the car is safer, easier and faster. When the car and hoistway are complete, we simply insert the cab in the still-horizontal hoistway. All connections are made, the car and counterweights are roped if needed, and it is ready to be transported by truck to the work site.
So the magician has shown his trick. How did the footprints get up and down the hoistway walls? The hoistway is never vertical until it gets to the site where it is installed faster and easier than a site-built elevator.
Usually, this blog is all about the application and use of modular elevators as a fast, easy solution for multi-story structures. However, every once in awhile, you have to blow your own horn. So here we go! As of January 1, 2017, Phoenix Modular Elevator has a brand new location!
As most of you that follow our Facebook page or Twitter account know, we have been working over the past several months to upgrade our capabilities through an improved production facility, and it has finally taken place.
For nearly 20 years, we have been assembling modular elevators out of an old shoe factory in the middle of Mt. Vernon, Illinois. While historic, this building was far from ideal. It was a multi-story structure with various components of a completed quality elevator built in several locations throughout the building. It was old and drafty to say the least, and a real pain for those that delivered our elevators across the US and Canada. Backing into our depot from a narrow city street was more than an inconvenience, it was a struggle. Also, the old plant limited our volume because of the size of our factory floor.
Our new 25,000 square foot factory is twice as large as our old building, which not only gives us more room to work, but also provides a more efficient production layout. All production will take place on one floor, meaning no more shuffling of hoistways and elevator cabs up and down floors. Completing multi-tower elevators will be easier and will also allow us to mass produce elevators faster for customers that want a large quantity of elevators delivered at the same time.
The new location is located in a recently opened industrial park at 4800 Phoenix Drive, still in Mt Vernon, Illinois. It is right at the crossroads of Interstates 57 and 64, making delivery to both coasts and Canada easier.
While we are already up and running, we will be hosting a grand opening and factory tour in the Spring when the weather is a bit better. During the tour, we will be demonstrating how we make modular elevators and what makes them safe and fast to install. We will have personnel available to answer any of your questions regarding elevators and what makes modular elevators the best solution for most building projects. We want you to come and celebrate with us. Click the link below to get your invitation.
Retrofit elevator projects are common for Phoenix Modular Elevator. However, the challenge in this case was to build and install a durable retrofit custom elevator in the middle of an existing five-story building quickly.
The purpose of the elevator was to increase accessibility for students, faculty, staff and visitors to Morthland College. It was very important for college that the project to be completed as fast as possible so there would be minimal interruption between semesters and at a reasonable cost.
Also, durability was a major concern. As the elevator would be open to the public, including to students it had to be tough. With full access granted to everyone use would be high during semesters so it had to be ready to take the rigors of a lot of use.
The Phoenix Modular Elevator team met with the Morthland personnel and discussed the goals and needs of the project. They then went to work with the goals in mind to produce the solution they needed.
Like most projects the Morthland elevator was created with a frame of durable 4×4 inch steel beams. Once the frame was welded, aligned, squared and plumbed, it was covered in fire-rated drywall. What makes Phoenix Modular Elevator so unique is that the elevator is constructed horizontally and the hoistway can be rotated so the entire project can be worked on safely.
The elevator doors and frames were then put in place and the internal workings of the elevator were installed and aligned. This means that the guide rails will be set up properly as they are easily accessed for inspection during the build. Unlike the out of date method of building a hoistway on a job site and then putting all the parts together from the inside vertically, we build ours to be easily rotated. One of the final steps is the insertion of the elevator car, final wiring, testing and inspection.
Of course prior to the final placement a pit area needed to be prepped. For this particular project a single in-ground hydraulic jack was used. When the pit floor was poured anchor bars were placed in the corners for the completed elevator and hoistway and a hole was left in the middle of the pit for drilling the in-ground jack hole. The hole was drilled, lined and the jack was put into place. The lining of the hole is crucial as it protects against possible future leaks of hydraulic fluid. Once all the preparation was completed, the entire finished elevator was lowered down the hoistway through the roof into the pit.
This project was completed quickly as requested. From the time we received the approved plans the elevator was built in our factory in less than eight weeks, then transported to the main building on campus and install in less than one week. Phoenix Modular Elevator has the shortest lead time of any commercial grade elevator. Also, the design was durable and we were able to complete the project under budget.
The groundbreaking was a tremendous success! We were joined by dignitaries from the Jefferson County Development Corporation, Wohltman Construction, Jefferson County Board, the city of Mt. Vernon, US Representative Mike Bost’s office and Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce. The heavy equipment is already moving dirt and we should be in our new location by mid December.
Phoenix Modular Elevator president Allison Allgaier said a few words about how modular elevators work and why they are the best alternative for new, modular and retrofit projects. She also thanked all those that have played a part in the new building.
Phoenix Modular Elevator is the first occupants of the new industrial park in Mt Vernon, Illinois and soon the field behind her will have a brand new manufacturing facility that will double the size of the current factory and be more efficient.
A big thank you to all those that made this project possible.
Phoenix Modular Elevator (PME) is set to break ground on their new production facility in Mt. Vernon, Illinois on August 24, 2016 at 11:30AM. Phoenix Modular Elevator and dignitaries representing the city, Jefferson County Development Corporation and Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce will be on hand to officially begin the project. This means that the first tenant of the new industrial park is ready to begin construction.
The new 25,000 square foot manufacturing plant and ground breaking will be located in Mt. Vernon, south of Highway 15 and west of Interstate 64, at the end of a temporary road that has been constructed for the project off of Davidson Avenue to the west.
Phoenix Modular Elevator has outgrown their current location in an old shoe factory. The new manufacturing site will increase productivity and efficiency by being larger and keeping all of the production on one level. In the current location, manufacturing is in several separate areas and on two different floors. The new larger location and design of the plant will allow the assembly and manufacturing area to be more organized and to flow more smoothly.
PME is an elevator manufacturer that produces high-quality, commercial modular elevators. A modular elevator is comprised of a steel hoistway with the elevator car and components completely pre-wired and installed inside. They are manufactured horizontally, trucked to jobsites, craned into place and installed in less than a week. This makes PME elevators the fastest installing elevator available. The units are found across the United States and Canada and used in schools, medical facilities, universities, hotels, stadiums, amusement parks, office buildings, government buildings and churches. Phoenix Modular Elevator has been constructing modular elevators since 1995.
Mt. Vernon, IL/August 4, 2016 – A nationally broadcast television program will feature Phoenix Modular Elevator (PME). Television producers for Office Spaces™, a program on Lifetime® Television and airing on Fox Business channel, contacted the Mount Vernon, Illinois, company. They made arrangements for videotaping the production and placement of one of their modular elevators.
The producers were looking for an elevator product to be featured in a current building project that would install quickly and meet the Americans with Disabilities Act regulations. Production and installation will begin filming in late summer or early fall and will be broadcast near the end of the year.
Office Spaces is solutions oriented and reveals the step-by-step transformation of an office space. The program features various products and services used in the transformation and illustrate how they fit in as part of a major renovation of an office building. It is hosted by Kalyn Rothaus, a commercial interior designer for the building project, as well as the project manager.
Kalyn and her team have already transformed much of the interior of the building project; however, transportation to the second floor was still needed – until she found Phoenix. “I am excited to be working with PME for Season Two of Office Spaces! My design challenge is to create ease of access to the second level for all employees with a cost effective solution. When I came across PME, I knew that they had exactly what I was looking for. I am excited to learn more about modular elevators and have my client benefit from a modular solution!”
PME is thrilled to be one of the featured brands for this renovation and looks forward to showing viewers how modular elevators are the safest, easiest and most cost-effective solution for vertical transportation needs.
PME is a Mt. Vernon, Illinois, elevator manufacturer that produces high-quality, commercial modular elevators that are comprised of a steel hoistway with the elevator car and components completely pre-wired and installed inside. This makes PME elevators the fastest installing elevator available. The units are found across the United States and Canada and used in schools, universities, hotels, stadiums, amusement parks, office buildings, government buildings and churches. Phoenix Modular Elevator has been constructing modular elevators since 1995.
During the long flight from San Diego, I had time to consider all of the information presented during the previous four days at the 2016 World of Modular Annual Convention and Tradeshow. The Modular Building Institute was the host for the event that ran March 17 – 20, 2016, and they filled the convention with several opportunities to dive headfirst into the modular construction business. As the premiere modular elevator company, Phoenix Modular Elevator straddles the fence between elevator and modular with feet firmly planted in each category, so it was refreshing to be surrounded by people who are 100% serious about modular construction.
Participants were able to learn about intricacies that set modular apart, what concerns there are in the industry and where experts in the field see modular going in the future. For instance, Lad Dawson, CEO of Guerdon Enterprises, spoke about recent developments between modular building and the hospitality industry. Modular elevators could be a great fit with the hotel business, particularly the burgeoning modular hotel business. Phoenix Modular Elevator is currently engaged in a modular hotel project, and the future could hold dozens of additional opportunities.
In another session, Kalyn Rothaus, host of Lifetime’s Office Space, exuded the optimism of a reformed skeptic. She explained how modular building principles created a big win for her as a designer with time and resource challenges. She partnered with Allied Modular Building Systems to get the look and feel she wanted in less time than she ever expected. Her project was a two-story office building with an industrial look that Phoenix Modular Elevators could easily provide. So who knows? Maybe you will see us featured in an upcoming episode!
Policy was the center of many of the breakout sessions dealing with education, code interpretation and energy.These sessions revealed how the industry tries its best to stay current, informed and ready to be a safe, green alternative. For example, consider the “little house” trend. Why are these considered modular if they have wheels? Doesn’t that make it an RV? Thank goodness deep thinkers at every level of governance are pondering the implications of the “little house” phenomenon.
Phoenix Modular Elevator was invited to give a lecture on the viability of business-to-business social media marketing. The presentation was well received and led to dozens of new contacts and friends. We also exhibited in the trade show and explained the numerous ways modular elevators make a positive difference for many construction projects.
At the end of four days of concentrated discussions, breakout sessions and lectures, the conference was summarized by keynote speaker Anirban Basu, economic and trends expert and CEO of Sage Policy Group. Basu spoke about current economic trends, the long-term outlook for the modular industry, and whether there would be sustained growth in the construction sector. He concluded by offering an optimistic view of the future of modular building, as he views this as a positive trend overall.
What Basu said makes a great deal of sense. If there is to be building in the future, isn’t it better to build with a method that is environmentally conscious and increases safety, speed and efficiency? The future is bright for modular and Phoenix Modular Elevator.
Every year, the Modular Building Institute at the World of Modular Convention gives Awards of Distinction to modular builders for outstanding building projects in various categories. Phoenix Modular Elevator (PME) would like to congratulate all of the winners and participants at this year’s event held March 17 – 20, 2016, in San Diego, California.
Although PME did not walk away with any hardware, we were thrilled to see three of our customers nominated for their excellent work in the Permanent Modular Education category.
First place in the category was the Basis Independent School, located in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. Built by repeat customer NRB, it is seven stories high and has over 100,000 square feet. PME produced an interior seven-story traction elevator for the school, and we are proud to have been a part of this fabulous looking project.
Meehleis Modular Buildings is the powerhouse company behind the other two entrants. They built Nesbit Elementary School and Ralston Middle School, both located in Belmont, California. Each of the schools are two stories and contain holeless hydraulic elevators produced by PME. These are exceptional examples that illustrate how modular elevators can be integrated into a great design.
Although PME did not win a trophy, we are proud to be a part of successful modular building projects. Again, congratulations to all of the winners and a successful World of Modular Convention and Tradeshow!
A lecturer once told a familiar story about a young newlywed that was preparing a roast for her husband. It is a good lesson about breaking old ways of thinking so I will retell it here.
The husband was watching his new wife as she prepared a roast for their first meal together, before she put the roast in the pan she cut off the end. This made him curious so he asked, “Why did you cut the end off?” She replied, “I’m not sure it’s the way my mom always did it.” Now she was the one that was curious and called her mom and asked her why she always cut the end off the roast before cooking it. Her mom said she didn’t know why either, but it was the way her mom always cooked roast. Not satisfied and undeterred the newlywed called her grandmother and asked her the same question, “Why cut the end off the roast?” Her grandmother simply replied, “I never had a pan large enough for the whole roast so I always cut a bit off so it would fit.”
Every day we take action, consciously and unconsciously making decisions that impact our business and those we work with. But how often do we truly consider why we take the actions we take. There is some justification for not overthinking everything we do. Some habits are healthy and even save our lives, like brushing our teeth and signaling before we change lanes. But when it comes to the day to day business actions we take when do we consider “Why do it this way?”
Most of our behaviors were formed years ago, as a youth or when we first started our practice and others more recently. But, many of our behaviors come out of circumstances that may no longer be relevant or are from another place and time. Despite this we continue to repeat the same actions over again without a thought of why. We should question if our behavior is an anachronism that has outlived its usefulness. We should consider what we should do differently and more effectively if not constrained by the ghosts of past behaviors. We must review our actions and make change where change is needed. This demonstrates leadership by understanding that change is not the enemy, but something that needs to be examined, considered and implemented if it truly is a better way.
When polling a group of architects about modular elevators I could see the “roast” popping up all around me. Each admitted they had not thought of quality modular elevators as an alternative because they just did things the way they always had done things before. Each had heard of the concept but had not explored the possibilities, as a result a modular elevator was not even a consideration.
However, once I described the factory process, high quality, standards, speed of construction, reduced installation time and lower cost they began to change their minds and thought of several commercial applications.
Whether you are considering modular elevators or not remember that leadership requires flexibility and creativity. Change is a good thing and often it is necessary for both personal growth and the businesses we run. Flexibility and change can be difficult hurdles for any business or organization, however if we are to keep things fresh and moving forward we need to consider options outside of the box we are currently in and we need to keep pressing against the edge.
Before you take your next action today truly think about why you do it and if there is a reason, or are you just cutting the end off the roast.