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(l-r) An unidentified bank officer, and Randy and Jim McGinnis when they purchased Smart Elevator in 2007

Family-run company’s decades-long journey leads it to franchise.

After more than three decades in the elevator industry and 10 years of owning their own company, brothers Jim and Randy McGinnis feel now is the time to franchise their Arvada, Colorado-based company, PEAK ElevatorTM. “Our desire was to afford elevator professionals the ability to own their own business,” Jim McGinnis says. Their plans for the next decade are significant, including growing to more than 300 franchises across the U.S. and opening a parts division.

Their path to entrepreneurship began in 1980 when they started working with their father as elevator technicians. After gaining knowledge and experience, they purchased Smart Elevator, which had only 67 units in its service portfolio at the time, in 2007, transitioning to PEAK. The idea to franchise came about in 2012 and was formalized earlier this year. The McGinnis team includes a third McGinnis brother, Spencer, as well as Randy’s two children, Brittani and Brandon, and Jim’s son, Garrett, who helps facilitate business expansion as director of Franchise Development.

Garrett McGinnis is optimistic about franchising, stating:

“Ten or 15 years ago, we had just a fraction of the independent elevator companies that are in existence today. That shift in the industry tells us it’s time to franchise. There are enough men and women who are looking to do what PEAK Elevator has done across the nation.”

Jim and Randy McGinnis state their business values were instilled by their parents, who taught them that hard work and honesty are the foundations of success. They had talked about running their own business since the 1980s, but the timing never seemed right for both brothers at the same time. “Then,” Jim McGinnis recalls, “one day we met on Randy’s patio and decided it was now or never. We knew we wouldn’t do everything perfectly, but we took the chance.”

Before becoming business owners, Randy McGinnis observes he and Jim thought they should have the right expertise, not just elevator-technician experience. The brothers agreed that Jim would dedicate his career solely to the craft of elevator service, while Randy sharpened his management skills by serving domestically and abroad as a field superintendent, operations manager and product-development specialist for companies such as Dover Elevator and KONE, before reconvening with Jim in 2007.

By this time, they were ready to take the next step, which was to find an elevator company to buy. They chose to focus on commercial (rather than residential) elevators, since they believe that sector is less sensitive to the economy’s ebbs and flows. At the time, Colorado had just begun to regulate elevators, which paved the way for business expansion. With what they felt were the right ingredients for success, they bought PEAK, which stands for “Professional, Ethical, Accountable and Knowledgeable,” standards to which each employee is held, according to the brothers, regardless of whether they are family. Today, the company has grown to nearly 50 employees and more than 1,200 units under contract. 

In the beginning, however, the operation was small. Jim McGinnis recalls:

“When [we first purchased the business], we were literally two men and a truck. We had our parts in storage and worked out of our garage for a bit before eventually hiring our first administrator, an apprentice helper, and then a repair technician.”

Over the next few years, the brothers refined their business model and replicated it across five Colorado offices. A turning point came one morning after Randy and his wife, Laura, had been reflecting on the future of the company. Randy McGinnis recalls the idea to franchise “just poured out.”

Before offering franchises, the brothers fine-tuned aspects of running an efficient elevator services operation, from determining manageable service routes to professional development. They performed market research that included surveying clients to determine their most urgent needs and developing a program that would equip franchisees to meet those needs. Among discoveries was the fact that preventive maintenance remains important. According to PEAK:

“Through ongoing support and the PEAK team’s combined expertise, franchise owners become champions for quality customer service, preventive maintenance and elevator repair – three key principles that the McGinnis brothers feel are easily lost in the hustle.”

In early 2017, PEAK partnered with Chicago-based iFranchise Group to launch its franchising initiative. The brothers believe franchising will hold appeal due to the company’s and franchises’ ability to provide:

  • Affordable repair, preventive maintenance, modernization and new installation
  • Manageable service routes for technicians
  • Strategic supplier partnerships
  • Federally approved training
  • A brandwide push to minimize downtime, equipment failures and service calls for customers
  • A good work/life balance for employees

Randy McGinnis observes:

“Our opportunity resonates with elevator professionals who feel they don’t have the latitude to make decisions in the best interest of their families, themselves or their customers. PEAK’s model creates a win/win/win scenario. Customers win with a safer elevator operation, franchisees win as they can provide a better future for their families, and the franchisor wins because we’re helping others realize their true potential.”

About PEAK Elevator

PEAK Elevator is a privately owned company specializing in all sectors of the vertical-transportation industry, including maintenance, repair, modernization and new installation. Today, the brand, headquartered in the Denver metropolitan area, has grown to five corporate offices throughout Colorado, with a team of nearly 50 employees and more than 1,200 contracted units in its service portfolio. Franchising opportunities with it are currently available in 36 states.

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Elevator World Associate Editor