Columbia Elevator Moves Up in Miami

(l-r) L.J. Blaiotta, Jr., Columbia president, and Lou Blaiotta, Sr., founder and chairman, cut the ribbon at the February 1 grand opening of the company’s new facilities in Miami Lakes, Florida.

New Southern facility moves company toward goal as a sales/marketing/engineering firm.

On February 1, following a fall 2014 groundbreaking, Columbia Elevator Products Co., Inc. relocated its Miami operations across town to all-new quarters in nearby Miami Lakes. “The times they are a-changin’ – for the better!” said L.J. Blaiotta, Jr., Columbia’s president. He continued:

“With the improving economy and consequent upswing in construction – and the increasing role of the architect in the visioning of new buildings – demand for custom elevator solutions is on the rise. And, to meet this demand, Columbia has vastly upgraded its Florida operation for increased efficiency and exacting adherence to our customers’ specifications.”

Columbia’s first entry into Florida came in 2006 with the purchase of a customer/competitor’s Miami factory, an expansion south to serve the region more efficiently than had become possible from its Port Chester, New York, headquarters (Elevator World, August 2006). Explained Blaiotta:

“We were ‘maxed out’ in Port Chester, in urgent need of more manufacturing capacity and the ability to more cost-efficiently ship product to our Southern customers. We also experimented with having our factories serve specialized functions, with our northern facility making entrances and volume-production cabs, and Columbia Southern focusing on high-end cab interiors of the woodshop, ‘fancy’ variety.”

By 2014, however, the entire scenario had evolved. During the interim, Columbia had acquired a major Midwest manufacturing facility in Kansas and further grown its capacity by relocating its headquarters into several hundred thousand feet in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Additionally, during those eight years, Columbia had significantly upsized its engineering, estimating, sales and marketing areas in Miami, causing the operation there to burst out of its boundaries and require expansion into larger quarters.

Blaiotta said of the new premises:

“Our new Miami Lakes facility features all the modern office amenities of a tech-forward, administrative environment, plus the latest in woodworking equipment in our shop — an ideal combination to raise Columbia to the next level. Miami now houses our rapidly growing XChangaCab® interior upgrade program, with our other locations handling the volume-production cab and entrance work. But, most critically, Miami has been converted into Columbia’s systems hub that drives the work at all our locations.”

The new Miami space has enabled Columbia to augment its staff of estimators and engineers to address its growing volume and mature an increasingly software-driven operation. Columbia’s proprietary parametric pricing and design system, now centered in Miami, goes directly from pricing to production, a major advantage. Each job is drawn to scale in 3D model space and built “virtually” to ensure – prior to fabrication – that it is error free, of highest quality and works as it should. Other software applications are used to virtually unfold the metal, position the holes, and, via T1 fiber-optic networking lines, operate numerically controlled machinery to automatically fabricate the final products at Columbia’s various locations.

Quote requests, order entry, scheduling, engineering and customer support all occur seamlessly and collaboratively in the same space. Instead of having engineers and other front-end personnel scattered around Columbia’s locations as before, all functions are now centralized in Miami for faster response and turnaround, and uniformity of output.

Concludes Blaiotta:

“Columbia Elevator is in the process of morphing into a sales/marketing/engineering firm, with our ‘center of excellence’ in Miami driving our three affiliated factories that manufacture products at the location most advantageous to the shipping point. It’s all designed to ‘elevate’ the customer experience and meet the growing demands of today and tomorrow!”

Columbia’s new location is at 14110 Northwest 57th Court, Miami Lakes, Florida 33014.

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