Doing Things Differently
Rocky Mountain Elevator Products stands for quality and improving safety throughout the industry.
Based in Grand Junction, Colorado, Rocky Mountain Elevator Products (RMEP) is made up of a 20-member team, the members of which enjoy remote, small-community living. Western Colorado’s picturesque landscape between Salt Lake City and Denver offers a wide variety of outdoor activities, including world-famous mountain-biking trails, ski slopes, hiking, fishing, hunting, whitewater rafting and many other outdoor adventures. Its nearby mountain ranges have provided the backdrops of many movies over the years, making the surrounding areas familiar even to strangers. This seemingly remote location has an oddly global reach, as many manufacturing companies call Grand Junction home.
RMEP is the vision of John Ray, president and CEO. He has held a QEI license and type-1 commercial mechanic license in two states. Ray used the knowledge gained in more than 20 years as an installer, service technician and business owner to create RMEP. “We still run and operate our local elevator service company, Colorado Custom Elevator & Lift, and will continue to do so,” he added. “It’s where we get our best feedback on the products we develop. Our technicians have hands-on experience with the products, and this allows us to have a vertically integrated company.”
After decades of personally installing every brand of home elevator, Ray felt it was time for a safer and innovative product. This idea turned into the core of RMEP’s mission statement: “To improve safety and customer experience by providing a superior level of design and innovation. We aspire to create industry-wide change by setting a higher level of excellence and always exceeding customer expectations.”
Originally, RMEP saw the need for a safer, better-built door interlock in the home elevator industry. Those of us in the field have seen far too many unsecured doors and disabled elevators due to plastic parts and broken locks with damaged microswitches. We feel that this component of the elevator should be one of the most robust, as it projects the durability and safety of our products. The door interlock is the first line of defense in both liability and the homeowner’s safety. With that in mind, the Smart Lock was born (ELEVATOR WORLD, February 2017). Now our bestselling product, its design allows left or right handing changes in the field just by flipping the cover of the lock; no other parts need to be changed. This feature saves time by cutting out additional trips to a job where the door swing was changed. The product’s safety contacts make it microswitch free, creating one of the safest electromechanical locks possible. Getting companies to make a change and try new products has been our biggest challenge, but once they do, there is no going back.
Child safety is on the forefront of our industry today, and this was sadly reinforced again with the death of another child this past February in a home-elevator accident. To address this, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers issued a code change in October 2016 that took effect in May. RMEP has been working continuously to provide 3/4-in.-clearance and zero-clearance door frames to meet these crucial changes. The products are easy to install, and have a low visual impact. Many have already been sold to dealers in Massachusetts, a state with one of the strictest clearance requirements. The frames accept most manufacturers’ locks and have a variety of strike options. “We could have easily made the door frames to only accept our Smart Lock, but that is not the way we roll,” explained Ray. “We want to help end these tragedies, and having a product that can be implemented quickly and used by all is the quickest way to ensure this.”
When business was slow during the economic downturn, RMEP took advantage of the extra time to work on structure, product documentation and product support tools. We also began upgrading our facilities and built a 13,000-sq.-ft. addition. With our new facility up and running, we are ready to leap to the next level.
We are also expanding our product offerings to dealers all over the world. We feel the industry needs a supplier that understands the dealer’s problems, liabilities and growth issues. We know they want new and innovative options that will give them a competitive edge. Being able to train newly hired technicians quickly and effectively as their company grows in an expanding market is extremely valuable. Having to train a technician to be efficient on one rail and controller, then again on another style with many components specific to each and not interchangeable has been a challenge, even in our own experience. That drove us to simplify the differences between the systems.
For several years, RMEP has been developing a home-elevator line that uses the same platform control system, sling, rail and components for use in all our drive systems so technicians’ proficiency in the systems is high, and the parts stock needed to service all the systems is low. The system will also accept the use of a variety of car gate options, including our exclusive, new 2016-code-compliant wrap gate system that wraps the gate around the outside of the car using as little as 1/2 in. of space. RMEP has also developed a compact, three-panel car and landing door that will make its debut at this year’s National Association of Elevator Contractors Convention in Orlando on September 11-14.