Surveying the Industry, Plus 100 Years of Code
We recently conducted a survey of the industry, mainly in the U.S. (see Taking the Pulse by Lindsay Fletcher). Nothing in it surprised me very much. We all had a similar year in 2020, and we’re all experiencing spotty recovery in 2021. The future of the industry is very bright, but right now everyone is dealing with supply-chain issues, inflation and the inability to find enough good people to work. Some 56% of respondents have difficulty hiring. That last one always surprises me. We are a US$120-billion industry that moves the equivalent of the population of the world every three days. Everyone in the industry makes a good living and, once in it, no one leaves it. As one industry exec in this issue puts it, “They pay me to do what I love!” How can we be the world’s best-kept secret?
Private-equity firms have discovered the elevator industry. On our survey, 52% of those who answered think private equity is good for the industry, offering an influx of needed capital, talent and new perspectives. Ten years ago, in 19 out of 20 deals, an OEM was the buyer. Today, it’s private-equity firms, and there may be 10 to 20 of them bidding for a single company. The risks would be reckless cost-cutting to make money. But, most of the independents working with private-equity firms are focusing on training, professionalism and customer satisfaction. For your own perspective, see two articles in this issue: A Second Bite of the Apple, an interview with Dominik Sachsenheimer, a partner in the Maven Group who helps small companies deal with buyers, and Elevator Safety Training Hits the Road, an article about how American Elevator Group, a private-equity group of 17 independent service companies, is bringing safety training to the field with a new mobile training unit.
We are meeting in person again! Kaija Wilkinson writes about one of the first “in-person” events in the U.S. Happy To Be Back reports on the International Association of Elevator Consultants Forum that provided an opportunity to learn, network and relax in Orlando, Florida. Turnout was better than expected.
Early next month, the largest vertical-transportation (VT) industry association in the U.S. plans to hold an in-person convention in New Orleans. The National Association of Elevator Contractors (NAEC) is definitely ready to Let the Good Times Roll. This article by Fletcher gives details of NAEC’s 72nd Annual Convention and 2021 Exposition. It has been almost two years since a U.S. exhibition was held. There are a lot of new products out there waiting to be discovered. Please see our Special Section on the event that you can use as a guide to exhibitors. . .and New Orleans.
We focus this month on Suspension Means and Materials with two very different articles. It’s in the Groove by Joseph Thompson is a study to show that rope prefers a U-groove — and the author does the math. Next, we have A Design Methodology of Rope Tension Meter Used for Lift Automatic Door Assembly by Arup Batharpure and Rohit Nehe. This concerns a potentially easy-to-use rope tension measuring device that could be quickly put into production.
Our cover photo this month comes from Salt Lake City Airport Takes Off by Fletcher. In providing the VT for such a large facility, Schindler touts the value of pitless moving walks and IoT solutions.
Almost a year ago, ELEVATOR WORLD started working with a small group of codemakers and our historian to tell the story (in multiple media) of the 100th Anniversary of the A17.1 Safety Code for Elevators and Escalators. The result is a six-page story in Mechanical Design magazine; a great story of how EW has reported on the codes since 1953, The A17.1 Centennial by Dr. Lee Gray; and, best of all, a limited-edition book of the same name that details how the code came into existence, grew and adjusted to inventions. Many thanks to codemakers who developed this book: George Gibson, Jim Coaker and Davis Turner.
I know this sounds like a lot, but this issue has so much more — many interviews, new products and project spotlights. Please enjoy!