Survey reflects challenges, but also progress and determination.
Nearly 100 vertical-transportation (VT) professionals responded to a survey ELEVATOR WORLD conducted in May to gather feedback on the current state of the industry, and answers — the lion’s share from independent or family-owned VT companies — painted a picture of where the industry stands now and where it’s headed. Restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic are clearly in the rear-view mirror, but aftereffects, such as “work from home,” supply-chain issues and parts availability, persist.
Additional challenges include inflation, rising wages and the availability of a skilled workforce. The latter, one respondent notes, is nothing new: “It’s always been hard to attract qualified mechanics,” the person observes. Others have a slightly dimmer view, with one respondent stating:
“Fewer and fewer experienced mechanical and electrical applicants are coming into the trade. Basic mechanical ability from apprentices is lacking. It seems everyone just wants to plug in a computer or service tool and have it tell them what’s wrong. Troubleshooting and basic meter-reading skills are lacking.”
Economic uncertainty looms over the main challenges of a shortage of skilled workers and scarce, expensive materials. Respondents spoke about how reduced office occupancy is affecting their business. While modernizations and maintenance remain strong, new installations are stagnant. “Construction work has decreased significantly due to high interest rates,” one respondent observes. “Large developers are less likely to take out construction loans required to fund major projects.” Another went so far as to describe the weak commercial real estate market as “a looming crisis.”
The survey also reveals views about digitalization, mergers and acquisitions, safety and diversity, where responses show the industry, while still skewed to the traditional, is trending in a slightly progressive direction. Most respondents are from the Northeast — likely the NYC metropolitan area. The city, like the VT industry, has seen its fair share of ups and downs and, in the long run, always returns to thrive.
Several of the questions were open-ended and called for individual responses. The remainder are shown below.
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