Controlled Ascent


Smartrise Engineering strives to be a force in the independent market.

With a new headquarters and manufacturing facility in Texas and two key personnel moves, Smartrise Engineering, Inc., a leading provider of open-market elevator controller systems and solutions, is positioning itself to be an even stronger force in the independent-contractor market.

Smartrise, founded by Gilbert Zogbi, Alex Bouchez and Tom Parra, has been operating in Sacramento, California, since 2004. Zogbi has said the company was founded “out of a need to empower independent elevator installers across North America with significantly more capable technology” (ELEVATOR WORLD, January 2015). Smartrise prides itself on understanding the needs of the independent elevator contractor and provides 24/7 technical support for its customers.

Since its founding, the company expanded to a second California location but, in July, opened a new, 53,000-sq.-ft. headquarters and manufacturing facility in the Dallas suburb of Irving, Texas, with product expected to begin shipping from the new factory beginning this month. The company will still operate its two California locations, which will provide additional production, sales, engineering, customer support and R&D functions.

In addition to its new facility, the company has announced recent management changes involving two longtime members of its team. They are:

  • Richard Linn, who was appointed general manager
  • Ryan Pavusko, who was promoted to vice president of engineering

Prior to joining Smartrise, Linn served in CEO and vice-president roles at a national engineering services company and a medical products manufacturer. He also founded a company designing printed circuit boards (PCBs) in San Jose, California. Pavusko was previously employed with Signal Antenna Systems, where his team designed and manufactured a personnel-worn improvised-explosive-device jamming system currently in use by the U.S. Armed Forces.

Smartrise’s business strategy has been to move beyond “nonproprietary” and proceed into what it calls an “open market” model. Smartrise uses parts readily available from many vendors, with which it builds systems compatible with most elevator components, including machines, motors, pump units, door operators, fixtures and security systems. The company’s universal PCB is part of each elevator controller it produces, providing a consistent product at every site, be it hydraulic or traction, geared or gearless. A universal board also means fewer spare parts to stock, which minimizes downtime.

Smartrise controller systems are designed for ease of installation. This is in large part because of the controller’s minimal travel-cable requirements, as well as the limited number of parts and PCBs used. For the independent elevator contractor, this approach may be a breakthrough that allows for significant savings on labor and support services that fall in line with most elevator service contracts.

The Smartrise customer base is made up primarily of family- owned and -operated businesses that offer their own clients 24/7 support, and Smartrise does this for them, having expanded its support department to include a branch dedicated solely to customer service. From requesting a tracking number on a shipment to setting up training for mechanics, or even just to relay a suggestion, the newly implemented service branch has created a one-stop shop for anything Smartrise.

Smartrise’s latest open-market product is the all-new C4 traction controller. The C4 is a nonproprietary controller designed for high-rise, high-speed applications — more than 2,000 fpm. Built on the Smartrise platform, the C4 integrates a sophisticated pattern generator designed to minimize floor-to-floor times, adapt to elevator traffic fluctuations and boost high-speed-elevator traffic flow.

To further raise efficiency, minimize wait times and enhance experiences, Smartrise’s new SmartGPS (Guided Personal Service) option enables passengers to be assigned cars based on their destination. This, in turn, boosts peak performance for multigroup elevator systems.

Today, as the economy continues to expand, so does the highly competitive elevator industry. Local independent elevator- company owners are under tremendous pressure to deliver value, while, at the same time, keeping up with the rapid pace of technological change. To better serve the independent elevator community, Smartrise is always seeking to expand its highly trained workforce. In Irving, Smartrise plans to hire for all positions, ranging from production professionals to senior R&D and business-development specialists. It is expected that in the next few years, Smartrise will roughly double its current staffing levels in an effort to ensure it meets all its commitments in the independent marketplace and the elevator industry as a whole.

Smartrise was built to help independent contractors meet aggressive timelines in an increasingly competitive business climate. Part of making good on this commitment calls for geographical expansion, which is already underway in Irving. Though the company currently has no plans for additional locations, Smartrise is poised to continue growing whenever and wherever demand dictates.

To grow a business, you have to think creatively. Some put their faith in advertising or spend time tending to their social media platforms. Those strategies have their place, but the biggest opportunities often require key market insight. Early on, analysts at Smartrise realized the companies and universities that want to standardize within all product designs — including hydraulic and traction — presented a chance to offer lasting value, while also building a relationship that will endure the ebbs and flows of any economy.

Smartrise is, in a sense, a knowledge base that requires a constant supply of fresh thinking. One way the company asserts its leadership and sharpens its edge in the marketplace is by regularly attending tradeshows and speaker events. With so many intelligent, experienced people in this industry, engaging with the experts and exchanging insights is a valuable way to keep the whole community informed and thinking creatively.

Smartrise’s growth strategy isn’t really to grow itself, but rather to grow its customers’ businesses. When Smartrise technology and support helps its customers win more contracts, it’s a true “win- win” for everyone.

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Elevator World | September 2018 Cover