The 2018 Ellies Award Winners
ELEVATOR WORLD presents the winning companies of the inaugural Ellies.
ELEVATOR WORLD is pleased to present the winners of our inaugural Ellies, the industry’s first awards program as nominated and voted on by the industry. With more than 12,000 votes, the contest proved popular and competitive, with 14 winners in 15 categories that covered businesses in the U.S. and Canada. Our thanks go out to all winners, nominees and the industry for making this first of what will likely be many Ellies a success. We’ll have new categories for the 2019 edition, for which winners will again be featured in the December issue. Look for announcements at www.elevatorworld.com/ellies and, as always, on our Daily News and in ELENET.
BEST SUPPLIER – CABS/DOORS
Company Columbia Elevator
Headquarters Bridgeport, Connecticut
Columbia, founded in the mid 1960s by Louis Blaiotta, Sr. and now led by his son, CEO Louis “L.J.” Blaiotta, Jr., is winner of “Best Supplier” categories for both cabs and doors. The company has seen a lot of expansion over the last 15 years, beginning with its legacy headquarters in Port Chester, New York, in 2003 with the addition of a second distribution center. In 2005 came the addition of a plant in Miami for making cabs, whereas the older location focused on manufacturing entrances. In late 2007, Columbia acquired Elevator Solutions in Winfield, Kansas, and in 2009, moved to a 170,000-sq.-ft. plant in Bridgeport, Connecticut, replacing the original, much smaller Port Chester facility.
Today, Columbia’s total production space exceeds 325,000 sq. ft., and its number of employees exceeds 150. Its many nominators praised its customer service and quality of products, which include a full range of new and modernized architectural cabs, entrances and door systems, and modernization and replacement parts. Blaiotta commented:
“As humbling as it is to be recognized by our industry for such an honor, I’m even prouder to be associated with all the wonderful members of Team Columbia. The honor of winning two separate Ellies awards could not have been possible without the hard work and commitment of each and every one of Columbia’s loyal team members. I feel lucky and blessed that I get to spend my days working side by side with such an amazing group of individuals. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for making Columbia what it is today.”
BEST SUPPLIER – COMPLETE SYSTEMS
Company Pneumatic Vacuum Elevators
Air-powered home-lift maker Pneumatic Vacuum Elevators LLC (PVE), based in Miami, uses the principles of air pressure and vacuum to create “a transportation vehicle within a bubble.” The company has also created a pretty nifty niche for itself, as it’s the only manufacturer of vacuum-powered residential elevators. Their simplicity makes them a good choice for the home-elevator market, as they require neither ropes nor hydraulic pumps and fluids. They can usually be installed in three days or less. PVE offers models that range from one to three passengers and a wheelchair-accessible lift. Each has a small footprint, is shaft-less and pit-less and can travel up to five stops or 50-ft. total rise. They can go through floors or connect to balconies, so they can be installed virtually anywhere inside a home. All models are panoramic, so purchasers are not only getting an environmentally friendly lift; they’re getting one with a view.
“This prestigious award is a testament to the PVE brand name recognition, our highly valued dealer network, as well as
our elevator community for supporting us,” said Stefan Gruber, director of sales and marketing. “This took us by surprise, as we were competing against well-established competitors in the market. We are truly appreciative to all who voted for PVE.”
PVE is a family-owned company that’s seen much growth since its founding in 2002. More than 12,000 units have been installed in more than 80 countries, through a network of more than 350 certified and trained dealers.
BEST SUPPLIER – MOTORS
Company Hollister-Whitney Elevator
Headquarters Quincy, Illinois
Hollister-Whitney Elevator Corp. (H-W) was likely an easy choice for most of the voters who named the company “Best Supplier — Motors” in the inaugural Ellies Awards. After all, H-W proudly notes that it is “the largest independent supplier of elevator equipment in America.” What was started as a family business with its founding in 1899 by Edward Everett Hollister and the 1906 addition of Frank H. Whitney has today established a global reach from its home base of Quincy, Illinois. It’s there that H-W, a longtime partner of GAL Manufacturing Co., LLC and now operating as a Vantage company, has a 360,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing floor employing more than 300.
Its products include heavy-duty geared and permanent magnet synchronous motor gearless traction machines, available at speeds of up to 500 fpm; overhead deflector machines; and specially configured machines for either overhead or basement installation. There’s also the Rope Gripper®, plus brakes, sheaves, guide shoes and machine-room-less (MRL) elevator packages.
President Brian J. Musholt said the company was honored by the recognition:
“We are extremely grateful to be awarded the inaugural Ellie award for 2018 in our category — certainly there are many fine companies in our industry, and to be recognized by them in this way is a very humbling and gratifying experience. We strive to meet and exceed our customers’ expectations, and we will continue to provide the best customer service and product available in the market.”
BEST SUPPLIER – OTHER
Company KONE Spares
Headquarters Moline, Illinois
“KONE Spares embodies what this award is about,” said Meghan Ludin of her employer. “They create a positive and fun work environment, while maintaining a focus on what their customers and the industry need: quality products, excellent service, safety and reliability.” With 55 employees headquartered in an efficient eight-story office building overlooking the Mississippi River, KONE Spares stocks tens of thousands of parts for the industry, maintains OEM data to correctly identify parts for current and legacy equipment, and, most importantly, is continuously creating safety and reliability equipment upgrades. It came about as a result of KONE centralizing its service center at one location 18 years ago to streamline the processes to grow efficiently. Since then, the company has increased business by listening to customers and delivering to their commitments.
Offerings Manager Mary Lewis, described by many as the “heart and soul” of the operation, compared her team to a big machine made up of in-sync, dedicated departments. Whether they are in the office or warehouse, or out in the field, they listen closely to customers to identify needs. That has resulted in tools such as an online parts catalog that includes more than 100,000 listings of all makes of equipment, complete with pictures and drawings. Relationships with strategic supplier partners help KONE Spares keep inventory on hand and current. Next generation and current Sales Manager Kelly Oberhardt stated: “We up our game every day. We only succeed when you succeed!”
BEST MINORITY-OWNED BUSINESS
Company Deya Elevator Service Inc.
Headquarters Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
Deya Elevator Service Inc. was rooted in the dream of José Guillermo Deya, Sr. to leave his hometown of Ciales, Puerto Rico, and make his mark in the capital city, San Juan. It was there that he began his vocational training and, at age 19, landed a job with a local elevator company. Four years later, in 1962, he launched his own elevator service company, working out of the garage of his home. As more clients signed on, Deya brought in his brothers and other family members to help with the growing company, and then began filling its ranks with young people in whom he saw the same desire to make their way in the world that he’d experienced as a young man. Today, Deya Elevator Service, working from a modern headquarters in Guaynabo, has a maintenance portfolio of some 2,700 units across Puerto Rico. It has its own cabin-manufacturing plant and electronics shop, and is the island’s representative for KONE and other well-known brands. The company sees to it that its technicians have the training, tools and support to give clients the highest level of service.
Deya, who serves as president, said winning an Ellie was an unexpected accolade. “I was surprised at first, but now, I am truly honored to receive this award as Best Minority-Owned Business.” He continued:
“I believe that after spending most of my life building and growing this business, I have created very good and strong relationships with customers and suppliers alike. I believe that people recognize our 56 years of good, quality service as we strive to go beyond excellence.”
BEST WOMAN-OWNED BUSINESS
Company EMR Elevator, Inc.
Headquarters Arlington, Texas
EMR was founded in 1984 and is owned by Hope Evans, who has also served as president since December 1995. She oversees a management team of internal and external operations, while developing company growth initiatives and following through to completion. She also strives to ensure the company remains, as she says, “the largest independent conveyance company in the State of Texas, while working toward expanding in other markets.”
Based in Arlington, Texas, EMR installs, modernizes, services and maintains elevators, escalators and moving walks. It also works closely with partners from around the world on big Texan projects (ELEVATOR WORLD, July 2018) and has branch offices across the state in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Galveston, Houston, San Antonio and Waco. Its installations include energy-saving units the company says are “reliably effective.”
EMR proudly showcases high-profile Texas projects in which it was involved on its website and in social media. Examples are the Austin Convention Center, Doty Arts Building (Austin), Dallas Convention Center, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Cliff Manor Dallas Housing Authority, The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District (Houston), Fort Sam Houston (Houston), San Antonio International Airport and Convention Center, Tower of the Americas (San Antonio) and Darnell Medical Center (Fort Hood).
Chris Pearce of Datahoist nominated EMR, which he called “fantastic.” Indeed, the company’s motto is, “Not to satisfy, but amaze our customers.” It prides itself on being a merit shop, a trait that allows it “to provide a more customized service plan” to its customers.
BEST FAMILY-OWNED BUSINESS
Company Liberty Elevator Corp.
Headquarters Paterson, New Jersey
George Gordon Muttart founded National Elevator in 1960. In 1987, the company became Liberty under the ownership of his son, Douglas K. Muttart, after completing the historic elevator installation in the Statue of Liberty. Twenty-five years later, after having come to be owned by Douglas’ children, the full-service company returned to perform the monument’s Life and Safety Upgrades, which included three new elevators (ELEVATOR WORLD, January 2014). Headquartered in Paterson, New Jersey, Liberty serves an area stretching across New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Liberty’s nomination came with rave reviews. “Caring close-knit company with excellent customer service,” one nominator wrote. “Excellent service. Professionalism. Liberty Elevator has been servicing my 12 elevators for 18 years now. Couldn’t ask for a better/more personal and professional contractor.” Among many other glowing comments, it was said the “sons have made their family proud and not only take pride in their work, but they value their employees.”
President Douglas J. Muttart, son of Douglas K., who owns the company along with brother Darren Muttart and their mother, Janet Muttart, said:
“It’s an honor to be recognized alongside other Ellie winners like EMR Elevator, Delaware Elevator and KJA Consultants. We all take pride in what we do, and our partners value the commitments we make to them. After three generations of ownership at Liberty Elevator, we are still dedicated to upholding the core values of honesty and hard work my grandfather instilled in the company 58 years ago.”
Company KJA Consultants, Inc.
KJA Consultants, Inc. gets high marks both from employees, of whom there are 55, and clients. Think of any major office tower in any major Canadian city, and chances are KJA had a hand in designing, modernizing or inspecting its vertical-transportation (VT) system. The company traces its roots to 1987, when elevator mechanic Keith Jenkins founded what was then known as Keith Jenkins and Associates. KJA Chief Operating Officer Rob Isabelle describes Jenkins as “a brilliant engineer” who saw the future of computers in the early 1960s. That led to the development of software and other unique tools that helped the consultancy grow into one of the largest in North America.
Senior consultant Mark Ockwell began working at KJA in 1987, and has seen a lot of how the company got where it is today. Ockwell managed the modernization of a huge complex of elevators at Place Ville Marie in Montreal. He was there when Jenkins developed the Programmable Performance Analyzer, which recorded and analyzed all relevant operational details and pinpointed how the system could work better.
With offices in Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver and New York City, KJA also contributes to numerous charities. KJA has been owned by Mark Davies since 2010. Several nominators noted the firm’s dedication to helping employees achieve a work/life balance and continue their educations. Nominator Ho Fai Liam stated, “Lessons learned from one office can be taught to other offices in other parts of the country. KJA’s ideology is to work with both contractors and clients, remaining neutral, to improve overall VT service.”
BEST CONTRACTOR – NORTHEAST
Company Delaware Elevator, Inc.
Headquarters Salisbury, Maryland
“Going above and beyond for customers and employees” is how two nominators described our Best Contractor, Northeast winner Delaware Elevator, Inc. Training Administrator Georgeta Wainwright was one of them, stating that owner and CEO Pete Meeks runs “a great family-owned elevator company.” Pete Meeks’ father, Charles, founded Delaware Elevator of Maryland upon his return from World War II in 1946. Since then, employment has grown from seven in 1985 to more than 300 today.
Continuing to focus on Charles Meeks’ philosophy of recruiting top talent and installing new, nonproprietary equipment, the team does significant work throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions, is strong in the Southeast and performs specialty work throughout North America and abroad. Delaware Elevator branched out into manufacturing about a decade ago. Around that same time, Pete Meeks decided to invest in a two-story training facility that is used by not only the company’s new hires but others such private elevator inspection firms. All of Delaware Elevator’s new hires are required to participate in the National Association of Elevator Contractors’ four-year elevator-apprentice program. Delaware Elevator has strong roots in the Washington, D.C. area, and frequently works with notable clients such as the General Services Administration and NASA. Despite serving high-profile clients, Pete Meeks states its rural customers are the company’s bread and butter. “It was heartwarming and welcome to receive this honor from our peers as a contractor, which has been our core business for three generations — now four,” Pete Meeks said, adding that the company will “continue to provide quality services on both the contracting and manufacturing side, and provide guidance and support for our valued customers and employees.”
BEST CONTRACTOR – NORTHWEST
Company PEAK Elevator
Headquarters Arvada, Colorado
PEAK (Professional, Ethical, Accountable, Knowledgeable) Elevator has offered commercial and residential elevator repair, maintenance services, equipment upgrades and new installation of all major brands of elevators (including Schindler, thyssenkrupp, KONE, Otis, Savaria and US Elevator) since 1980, back when it was known as Smart Elevator. Serving Colorado and Wyoming from Greater Denver with approximately 50 employees, the company has more than 1,200 units under contract. Last year, it began franchising in most U.S. states and set plans to open a parts division (ELEVATOR WORLD, April 2017).
PEAK prides itself on its customer service, which it calls “our forefront focus.” The company strives to exceed industry standards and its customers’ expectations. “PEAK Elevator is your dedicated go-to customer service resource in the elevator industry,” proclaims its website.
President Randy McGinnis, who co-owns the company with his brother, Jim, exclaimed: “We are beyond excited to win the Inaugural Ellies Award for Best Contractor — Northwest! We owe this honor to our hardworking employees and dedicated clients. A sincere ‘thank you’ from all of us at PEAK Elevator.” The business includes more of the family, too: brother, Spencer; Randy’s children, Brittani and Brandon; and Jim’s son, Garrett.
BEST CONTRACTOR – MIDWEST
Company Midwest Elevator Co. Inc.
Headquarters St. Louis
In fewer than 20 years, Midwest has grown from a four-person operation in St. Louis to a staff of more than 100 serving customers from three offices: Kansas City, Kansas; Columbus, Ohio; and the home base in St. Louis. The company got where it is by following a “simple” strategy: “Identify the unique needs of each customer, provide highly skilled technicians and exceptional customer service to complete each job beyond expectation.” The company’s focus on “strong customer relationships” has resulted in its being named Best Contractor — Midwest in the inaugural Ellies Awards.
Midwest’s company philosophy has meant having enough properly equipped and trained technicians to give each enough time to do the job for each customer. It is this philosophy that allowed Midwest to not only retain its service base, but to also add to its portfolio as it gained a reputation for service. In an effort to give customers the best range of choices and options, Midwest uses only nonproprietary equipment. Its services include maintenance, repair, modernization and new construction.
“We were ecstatic when we heard we’d won the Ellie for best contractor in the Midwest,” said Sales Manager Dustin Witham. He continued:
“When we were first presented with the opportunity to participate, we asked our suppliers, clients and employees to vote. We did this on many different platforms (phone, email, social media, networking) and, apparently, they all stepped up. What a great honor to be nominated in the first place and then the ultimate win!”
BEST CONTRACTOR – SOUTHEAST
Company Madden Elevator Co.
Headquarters Louisville, Kentucky
A do-it-yourself attitude and treating customers like family are hallmarks of the way the Madden family does business. Madden Elevator Co. was founded by Sean Madden in 2011 after he and his late sister, Kerry, grew up in the elevator business. The younger Madden initially followed in his father’s footsteps. A small service company approached Sean Madden to buy its operation after seeing him service elevators. After that, he decided he wanted to run his own company, so he set about learning by working in the field, then in supervision and management positions at several Louisville firms before founding Madden, with his wife, Susie.
Madden started as a service company but entered construction after a general contractor recommended Madden based on its “reputation for good communication and quality service,” Sean Madden said. Despite the growth brought about by bidding, winning and successfully completing construction contracts, Madden remains a “small, family-owned-and-operated company,” he continued. That small company is proud of the big government jobs it’s handled since its inception, including at Fort Knox, Louisville Veterans Administration Medical Center and Commonwealth of Kentucky state buildings. Madden shared with ELEVATOR WORLD:
“It was amazing winning this award. Madden Elevator continues to focus on our vision of taking care of customers like family and their elevators like they were our own. Our team’s hard work and dedication to taking care of our customers is what makes the difference, and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
BEST CONTRACTOR – SOUTHWEST
Company Southwest Elevator
Headquarters Fort Worth, Texas
Southwest prides itself on the installation of well-built commercial elevators, as well as providing top-notch maintenance and modernization of elevators and escalators, which it has done over its 20-plus years. The company is run by its original owner, Tom Cavinder, who comes from a family of elevator contractors in the Midwest and South. In 2004, Tom and his brother Todd decided to spread “the family experience” to the west, choosing Gilbert, Arizona. In 2008, Tom branched out to Texas. He now runs the headquarters from Fort Worth.
Southwest says it is one of the largest independently owned elevator companies in the country. In 2011, it sold its Arizona branch to a major elevator company, but Tom continued with the Texas division and is expanding the business to all areas of Texas and branching out to Nevada and California.
Tom is actively involved in new-client acquisitions and all new projects. From new design and installation to renovation and modernization, Southwest also offers service and support and preventive-maintenance programs. It says it specializes in “True Preventive Maintenance” and intends to continue offering service “on every level” to uphold the reputation it prides itself in and has built over the years. Tom said of the Ellie:
“It is such an honor to receive the Ellies Award for Best Elevator Contractor, and Southwest Elevator will work hard to achieve this award again in the years to come. This award would not be achieved without our strong management team and the dedication of all field labor that make it truly a family atmosphere at Southwest Elevator.”
BEST CONTRACTOR – CANADA
Company Richmond Elevator
Headquarters Richmond, Canada
For nearly 45 years, Richmond Elevator has been providing new elevators, maintenance and service in British Columbia, Canada. During this long tenure, it has amassed a portfolio of thousands of elevators under contract for service — not to mention the more than 9,000 new installations it has undertaken. Following the philosophy “a good product backed by good service will always promote itself ” has been smart business for Richmond’s growth, and it’s earned it the title “Best Contractor — Canada” in the inaugural Ellies Awards.
Richmond was established January 1, 1974, by Walter and Irene Zachata, whose focus was the low-rise apartment building sector. The company continued to build on modest beginnings, growing into the versatile and successful third-generation business it is today. It is run from its 30,000-sq.-ft. headquarters facility in Richmond and has a second British Columbia location, in Victoria on Vancouver Island. With a staff of more than 200, the company is able to respond quickly and work on a wide range of equipment. From its base in British Columbia, Richmond has traveled to most provinces of Canada and some parts of the U.S. to install its elevators, which can be found in resorts, hotels, hospitals, office buildings and college campuses. Richmond handles high-rise traction and low-rise hydraulic commercial, freight and service elevators. Alongside its standard offerings, Richmond can provide custom-designed elevator packages. Field crews are supported by an in-house engineering department, which enhances Richmond’s strong reputation for service.