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The Right Direction: D&D Elevator

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Steiner Studio machine room

After 30 Years, D&D Elevator is still growing, thanks to a solid foundation, strong client relationships and an emphasis on education.

D&D Elevator Maintenance, Inc. President Bobby Schaeffer always says, “For the future, I want two lines out the door – one for employees who want to work for D&D and the other for customers who want to use D&D.” For the Elmsford, New York, company that handles maintenance, violation removal, new construction and modernization, it looks like that future is right around the corner. That is likely thanks to the company’s emphasis on long-term planning, forging strong customer relationships that lead to referrals and building a workforce through education programs such as the National Association of Elevator Contractors’ (NAEC) Certified Elevator Technician (CET®) program. The company has never stopped growing, even during the recession, where it saw 10-15% growth year over year. In 2011, D&D marked its 30th year in business. Although the company is traditional in some ways, it unveiled a new website, www.ddelevator.com, this month. “To look beyond the right now has always been the standard at D&D,” Schaeffer stated. “Long-term planning is the key to our success.”

“Licensing in New York will become a necessity in the near future, and all technicians in the industry will have to go through some type of educational program.” – Bobby Schaeffer, D&D CEO Continued

The new D&D Website was built on the premise of “forward thinking.” Schaeffer described how the website came about:

“Most of our past business was based on referrals, but we wanted to reach out to those who were not aware of our capabilities and experience. We wanted the website to be all encompassing, not just our name and location. We made sure we included all aspects of what we do, featuring photos, our staff and how to contact them, our training program and even reaching out to those who may want to join our team someday.”

Schaeffer was instrumental in getting CET off the ground in 2002 and believes very strongly in education. Long-term planning includes building an area school based on a program similar to CET and open to all those who wish to participate. “Licensing in New York will become a necessity in the near future, and all technicians in the industry will have to go through some type of educational program,” Schaeffer pointed out. “We want everyone in our company to be licensed.” A merit shop, D&D has approximately 50 employees, some of whom have been with the company for more than 25 years. Schaeffer said the company hires one or two entry-level persons per year, then teaches them the ropes through hands-on and formal education. He believes such a system helps safeguard D&D against the skills shortage much of the industry struggles with, both nationally and globally.

Building Strong Foundations

D&D was founded by Tom Davies and Theodore Dettmering, and Schaeffer has been with the company from the start. Before D&D, Schaeffer graduated from U.S. Coast Guard Engineering School, then worked as an elevator apprentice at Flynn Hill Elevator Co. Once at D&D, he worked his way up from apprentice, learning how to install, maintain, repair and modernize elevators under Davies and Dettmering. Schaeffer quickly advanced, becoming partner in 1984 and vice president in 1989. He assumed presidency in 1995. Nunzio Meccariello joined D&D in 1984 as manager of Construction and is currently the company treasurer. In 2005, Michael Bonardi, currently D&D’s vice president, joined the company. Bonardi brought 40 years of field and management experience with large companies to the team. He has focused on growth through enhanced customer service, relationship building and getting the word out about D&D’s strong capabilities in modernization, new construction and service.

D&D lists among its accomplishments several industry milestones, including:

  • Installation of the first AC gearless machine in North America at St. Bart’s Church in New York City (NYC). The machine is still in service after 20 years.
  • Introduction of the Engineered Elevator Service Plan in 2001, based on new NYC and state code requirements and complying with ASME A17.1, Section 8.6.
  • In partnership with NAEC, development of an industrywide certification program in 2002 geared toward training and educating field technicians. Today, the program is used by more than 80 elevator companies in the U.S. to train and license their employees.
  • Federal and state Department of Labor approval of the company’s CET program in 2003.
  • American National Standards Institute and International Organization for Standardization approval of CET in 2011.

D&D considers the website launch a company milestone as well, one geared toward further enhancing customer service and laying the groundwork for a future becoming more and more digital. In conjunction with the website, the company also rolled out a new logo, a shield, which Schaeffer said sends a message of security and safety to the customer. Along with this, D&D introduced an app designed to facilitate a quicker response in after-hours emergencies. A future goal of the app, he said, is online customer account access.

D&D has built a respectable arsenal of capabilities over the years, all of which are described on the new website. The company services all types of elevator controllers from all the major OEMs, as well as from independent manufacturers. D&D also has the access and ability to use many OEM parts needed for repairs and maintenance. It has an onsite parts warehouse that includes these parts, as well as rare, out-of-production equipment. The majority of D&D’s work takes place in the greater NYC metropolitan area. Recent projects include a number of notable renovations and modernizations, including:

  • Removing and replacing existing equipment from an original 1890s elevator in a lower Manhattan, New York, loft apartment using the existing shaft
  • Replacing the original 1930s basement traction equipment of two passenger and two service cars in a residential building in Scarsdale, New York, while preserving existing rails, sling and counterweight frame
  • Installing four brand-new 10,000-lb. elevators and modernizing one unit at Steiner Studios, delivering the first two cars one month ahead of schedule
  • Transforming a 1960s system in a residential building in Bronx, New York, to an energy-efficient, code-compliant “green” system D&D handles jobs involving all types of elevators in every type of building. There is a consistent emphasis on the importance of monthly maintenance, Schaeffer said, which has minimized callbacks. Observes sales associate and Marketing Manager Judy Uliano: “[Schaeffer] doesn’t just talk about it, he does it.”  
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