A metropolitan Chicago company overcomes growing pains to find stable success in its 10th year. by Lee Freeland
Complete Elevator Service, Inc. (CES) is a family owned and operated elevator company founded in January 2003. CES specializes in elevator maintenance; installations; modernizations; service and repair; and, most recently, elevator inspections. The company has 20 employees servicing Greater Chicago. Its corporate headquarters is located in Lisle, Illinois, 20 mi. west of downtown Chicago.
CES began modestly with a single customer under an elevator maintenance agreement. John “JP” Perkins and his wife, Tammy, founded CES with two other partners. During its first year of business, the company saw fast growth. Taking advantage of it, CES quickly expanded its operation into several other areas of the elevator industry to include modernization, installation and service work. New orders poured in, and the company expanded its workforce to keep up with the new volume.
However, within 18 months of operation, one of its unnamed partners began covertly creating a second elevator company, while still working with CES. JP recognized a serious issue when several incorrect elevator packages were ordered and shipped to different jobsites. Suspicious, JP researched and found the partner was also president of another newly founded elevator company. Though the process of separation immediately began upon this discovery, the damage done almost brought a swift end to the startup.
Eventually, CES corrected the elevator orders and shipped the correct ones to its customers. The projects were completed, while much new business continued. According to Emily McLaughlin of CES:
“Our employees worked exceptionally hard to help see us through this time. Our employees showed incredible dedication and willingness to see their company recover from this unfortunate issue. Our employees’ continued dedication and their strong work ethics allowed CES to continue to grow. Within three years, CES performed over 25 new installations [and] over 20 modernizations, combined with a growing increase in elevator maintenance.”
However, CES’ hardships were not over. The economic downturn hit it particularly hard as the company saw construction come to a near halt. Many of its customers lost everything and were unable to pay for their orders. As the market steadily collapsed, CES was forced to lay off some of the same employees who had helped it through its most challenging times. Other employees offered to work only four days a week in an effort to save others from losing their jobs. Eventually, CES’ business improved along with the economy, and many of the laid-off employees are now working for the company again.
CES states its employees have consistently proven to be some of the best elevator mechanics and helpers in the industry. McLaughlin elucidated:
“Their determination to prevail at every challenge we experience together as a family is extraordinary. JP has made known that a tribute to our continued success is directly related to the people we employ. CES would not be here today if it were not for the remarkable people working for [it].”
CES’ modernization business allows it to save many old elevator parts and materials, which it stores in its warehouse until it can refurbish and/or create works of art out of them. McLaughlin explained:
“Our employees enjoy and respect our industry, which is why we have created these tributes. Our employees have offered their own time to help JP create the current artwork on display.” With an appreciation of the past, CES looks toward the future with the hope it will continue to succeed against the odds, which are less formidable now that it has weathered some hard times.
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