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Company relocations and personnel changes complement the founding of a new company and an important milestone in a busy start to the new year.

Serapid Moves to Larger Nearby Premises

Serapid Inc. moved to a larger facility in February. Located in Macomb County, Michigan, just outside of Detroit, the existing manufacturing building was renovated before the lift manufacturer and supplier moved in, gaining 18,000 sq. ft. over its former location in the same county. This allowed Serapid to build both a sales showroom and R&D lab. The campus itself sits on 4 acres and is billed by the company as environmentally friendly.

Koons Brings Elevator Experience to Serapid

Serapid, Inc., supplier of lifts and related equipment to diverse industries, including architecture, defense and entertainment, has hired William “Bill” Koons to lead its Sterling Heights, Michigan-based Theater Group. Koons brings a wealth of elevator experience to the company. He most recently served as Product Marketing manager — New Equipment at Otis, and has held key positions at ThyssenKrupp Elevator and Universal Supply. He is a presenter for the American Institute of Architects’ continuing-education sessions and is certified for elevator process-improvement programs. He is currently studying Marketing at Indiana Wesleyan University. Stated Serapid Vice President Dennis Lucas:

“As Serapid continues in its recent growth, the addition of [Koons] provides an excellent complement to our sales group. We are confident that his technical knowledge and experience will be crucial in securing sustained growth.”

Elevator Safety Company Established

Vanguard Elevator Safety Solutions (VESS) has been established to offer personal protective equipment (PPE) and a safety training program tailored for elevator mechanics. Developed by elevator mechanics and OSHA-certified trainers, its program includes required PPE, access to OSHA-10 online certification, and lockout/tagout and jumper-usage training. Classroom time is conducted on a quarterly basis in an effort to minimize work interruptions.

Those at VESS said that as the elevator industry faces new challenges and tougher regulations, lawmakers and public agencies are pushing for drastic changes expected to take effect in the near future. Believing the implementation of a safety program will soon be mandated in many AHJs (and citing the State of New Jersey’s hiring of an agency to do that), a company statement explained that a comprehensive safety program is crucial:

“Elevator companies pride in hiring the most talented and advertise best services, but fail to disclose their safety procedures. The extent of a safety program in most elevator companies is reading from a manual and providing mechanics with a safety bag. This is not an effective safety program and, ultimately, becomes a huge liability.”

Contact information for the company is as follows: 458 Elizabeth Avenue, Suite 5381, Somerset, New Jersey 08873; toll free: (855) 562-6046; email: info@vesafety.com; and website: www.vesafety.com.

Barist Celebrates 40 Years in NYC

Barist Elevator Co., Inc. celebrated its 40-year anniversary on February 20. One of New York’s (NY) longest continually operating elevator installation, inspection, maintenance and repair companies, Barist has been a family owned and operated business since its inception.

General Manager Steve Dalvano commented:

“Congratulations to all of us at Barist Elevator, and to my father, Richard Dalvano, Sr., who founded our company on February 20, 1974, and has worked tirelessly from its inception to help make us one of the best elevator companies in NY. We want to especially thank our Field Forman Jerry Nardello and all our loyal, dedicated employees and staff members for all their hard work over all these years (without them, none of this would be possible), as well as our loyal customers and all our vendors, of whom we have made many, many good friends over the years, and everyone associated with us — past and current — in helping us reach our four decades of success, with many more years to come.”

The elder Dalvano has more than 50 years of industry experience and is also cofounder of the Elevator Conference of NY (ECNY). Barist remains an ECNY member and also belongs to the National Association of Elevator Contractors and the International Union of Elevator Constructors’ Local One. The company is NY City licensed, QEI certified, and OSHA accredited, certified, approved and bonded.

Lerch Bates Hires Baker to Lead Logistics Consulting

Lerch Bates Inc. has hired Robert Baker to manage its Logistics Consulting Group. Baker comes to the Denver-based firm with more than 30 years’ experience consulting on and preparing engineering documents for materials and waste-management projects throughout the U.S. He holds a BS degree from the University of Maryland University College. Stated Lerch Bates President and CEO Bart Stephan:

“We have experienced tremendous growth in the last few years in the logistics segment of our operations, and an industry veteran with decades of industry experience is a welcomed addition to our team. [Baker] will be a valued asset to Lerch Bates and our diverse portfolio of clients as we strategically grow the firm.”

ThyssenKrupp Elevator Plant Move

ThyssenKrupp Elevator is moving its Moonachie, New Jersey, operation to Tennessee and laying off 50 workers, NorthJersey.com reported in December 2013. The workers, who include salespeople, engineers, production workers, accountants and an administrator, were scheduled to be laid off on February 28 at Computerized Elevator Control Corp., noted a ThyssenKrupp Elevator Americas letter filed with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

The company intends to offer eight to 10 employees positions elsewhere in the company. Spokeswoman Sasha Bailey explained:

“The closure is a result of the need to centralize and streamline operations to optimize efficiency. This move enables ThyssenKrupp Elevator to better serve our customers and remain competitive now and in the future. We will work with the affected employees to help them locate other employment opportunities within ThyssenKrupp Elevator or provide them with severance benefits and outplacement support.”

Mississippi Elevator Safety Law Enters First Year

In March 2013, the Mississippi legislature passed the Elevator Safety Conveyance Act, a two-part law that requires only qualified and licensed mechanics, technicians and companies install, repair and inspect equipment, and that all existing elevators, escalators, moving walks and dumbwaiters undergo annual safety checks. The first inspection under the new law was performed by St. Louis-based ATIS Elevator Inspections in November 2013 at the Governor’s Mansion in Jackson (ELEVATOR WORLD, February 2014).

High Rises for the Future

Towers on tap for Florida, New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

1,000-ft. Seaglass Tower Proposed in Florida

City leaders in Jacksonville, Florida, are considering a proposal to build a 1,000-ft-tall observation tower surrounded by a world-class aquarium, hotel, convention center and residences on the city’s waterfront, The Florida Times-Union reported. Developer Killashee Investments maintains Seaglass Tower and nearby amenities would attract visitors, in turn generating revenue for the city. If built, Seaglass would dwarf all other nearby buildings and be taller than the 600-ft.-tall Space Needle in Seattle. The estimated cost for the total development is US$1 billion, according to Killashee.

New Jersey’s Tallest Residential Project Breaks Ground

Ground was broken in January on the 720-ft.-tall, 69-story Urban Ready Living (URL) Harborside 1 apartment building in Jersey City, New Jersey, which, upon completion, will be the tallest residential building in the state, Multi-Housing News reported. Targeted for completion in 2016, URL Harborside is set to have a trio of towers housing more than 2,300 residences. Designed by Dutch architecture firm Concrete, the development overlooks the waterfront, where public spaces and stores are also planned.

Elevators, Escalators Part of Maryland Pedestrian Tunnel

Two escalators and seven elevators are part of a US$68-million, federally funded pedestrian tunnel project designed to ease traffic flow at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center campus in Bethesda, Maryland. The tunnel, which will allow employees to reach the Medical Center Metro Station, won final approval from the Montgomery County Planning Board in January, The Gazette reported. The escalators and elevators will carry people 120 ft. below ground to the metro mezzanine. Work is expected to begin by the end of 2014 and be complete by fall 2017.

Porsche Designs Plans to Break Ground in Miami This Year

Porsche Designs hopes to break ground on its 60-story, 650-ft.-tall Porsche Design Tower by the end of 2014. The high-end luxury residential building on the Miami waterfront will feature a trio of glass-encased car elevators to take residents and their vehicles directly to their flats, where they may park their cars, the U.K.’s Daily Mail reported. The building is slated to include 132 units, ranging in price from US$4-32.5 million, and approximately 80% of them have already been sold. Dezer Development of South Florida and Germany’s Porsche Design Group are partnering on the project.

Philadelphia Tower Would Be One of Tallest in U.S.

Comcast Inc. announced it is planning a US$1.2-million, 1,121-ft.-tall, 59-story skyscraper next to its 975-ft.-tall tower in Philadelphia, the Boston Herald reported in January. Outside of New York City (NYC) and Chicago, it would be the tallest in the U.S. Designed by Norman Foster in glass and stainless steel, the mixed-use building would house the telecommunications company’s technology and engineering staff. Its construction is scheduled to start in summer 2014 and be complete by fall 2017. According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, the building would be just 7 ft. shorter than the 1,128-ft.-tall John Hancock Center in Chicago. At 1,776 ft. tall, One World Trade Center in NYC is the tallest building in the U.S. (ELEVATOR WORLD, February 2014).

Microsoft Research Tests Elevator AI

Microsoft Research recently announced its primary focus is on artificial intelligence (AI), which includes applications for elevators. Called a “smart elevator” by The Next Web, the idea is for it to determine which floor a person entering an elevator wants to go, based on personal history and other factors. Head of Microsoft Research Peter Lee of Microsoft Redmond in Washington anecdotally explained:

“If your environment knows, for example, that it’s lunchtime, that you had spoken yesterday about having lunch with a colleague on the second floor, and that it notices that you seem to be now leaving your office to go to the elevator, the elevator can be smart enough to take you, without your need to operate anything, to your colleague.”

Microsoft Research set up sensors in front of elevators that observed passenger behavior for approximately three months. Over that period, the AI system learned how passengers behaved and, reportedly, began to understand their intentions. After the training period, the learning portion was turned off, and the intelligent system could control the elevator and act on the user’s behalf.

Maintenance-Related Contracts

Lerch Bates hired to manage maintenance; Atlanta authority purchases lifespan-extending detectors.

Clothing Retailer Forever 21 Hires Lerch Bates

Los Angeles-based clothing retailer Forever 21 has hired Denver-based Lerch Bates Inc. to manage maintenance of 168 elevators and 238 escalators in 144 stores throughout the U.S. The three-year contract includes evaluation of service contracts with repair companies, as well as management of bidding for new service contracts, selecting new providers and reviewing invoices. Jeff March, Lerch Bates Vice President of Business Development and Marketing, stated:

“Lerch Bates has seen remarkable growth recently with the demand for elevator and escalator management services. Forever 21 is a rapidly expanding international brand, and we are eager to begin consulting for yet another thriving global company.”

Atlanta’s MARTA Installs Elevator Urine-Detection System

Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) has launched a pilot urine detection device (UDD) program geared toward cracking down on people who use the system’s elevators as urinals, WSB-TV reported. Sensors detect when a splash occurs, sounding an alarm that quickly summons police. Signs remind riders that public urination is illegal, and warn them about the UDD. MARTA has also installed better lighting systems and security cameras in its elevators. In December 2013, a UDD was in place in a single elevator, and had already resulted in one arrest and a steep decline in incidents, according to MARTA, which eventually hopes to outfit all 111 elevators in its system with UDDs, at an estimated cost of US$10,000.

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