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Words of Wisdom: Planning for the future

Lou Blaiotta on Monday, September 18, 2017 at 6:00:00 am

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The day-to-day running of a business is overwhelming, as any business owner will tell you. Still, you can’t just focus on the current crisis or the order due at the end of the week. It’s vital that you consider what’s further ahead in the coming months and years. Otherwise, your company will fail.

In my previous blog, I shared some of the Words of Wisdom I have followed to build successful employees and a successful business.  

  • Hopes are just wishes without a plan.
  • Dreams are goals in need of a plan.
  • Reality is the result of well-executed, goal-directed plans. 

What am I talking about? An entrepreneur cannot achieve the dreams or wishes he has for his company if he doesn’t have a concrete plan.

Part of the job of a company owner is to have a broad-stroke/high-level strategy for how a company can thrive in an industry's constantly changing landscape. To do that, it is vital to have a planning process where every three or five years a leadership team sets a strategic plan for the company. To develop a clear plan, the leadership team needs to

  • identify wishes for the company
  • assess current assets and liabilities
  • itemize the threats to reaching the goals of company viability and growth
  • recognize and acknowledge how your company must adapt to the ever-evolving elevator industry

Finally, through the development of a strategic plan, your company can achieve goals by a specific date and convert your dreams into the company’s reality.

photo of employees in lunchroom listening to a presentation

As we build our strategic plan at Columbia, we gather feedback from employees in small, division groups.
This allows us to involve everyone in the plans for the company’s future.


Labor Day Story

Lou Blaiotta on Monday, September 4, 2017 at 6:00:00 am

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Photo of LJ & Mr. B. present day

CEO LJ Blaiotta and I wish everyone a Happy Labor Day!

When my son LJ was in middle school and high school, he spent his weekends performing janitorial duties in our original Port Chester factory. As was our usual Saturday routine, I was at my desk attacking a tall pile of estimates, drawings, and letters that had accumulated in the preceding week while I was running the day-to-day operations of the company. At the same time, LJ was - as he likes to say - ‘executing his Chief Custodial Engineer functions.’  

One time, when LJ was in my office emptying my wastepaper basket, I looked up from my papers and asked,

“Son, what are your plans for the future?” 

He was caught completely off guard. In true ‘middle-schooler’ fashion, he just stood frozen holding the garbage pail looking stupefied.  After what probably felt like an eternity to him but was only a few seconds, I dismissed him with a shake of my head.

“Here’s your assignment. Go off and contemplate your options while you clean the toilets and mop the floors.  When you finish everything, come back with an answer.”

By the time he returned to my office, he was wound up with a million hopes, dreams, and wishes for the future. He told me about all of them - mostly related to NASA, astronauts, rockets, and the space program. I then asked him the big question,


The kid was stumped. He hadn't thought that far ahead because he was just a kid and didn’t realize that there is more to hopes and dreams than simply wishing for them. 

I pushed away from my desk, leaving the incomplete quotes, the specification drawings, and the unanswered letters for later that night.

“Son, the future isn't something we can simply hope for; it's something that must be planned for. Hopes are just wishes without plans. Dreams, on the other hand, are goals-in-waiting, needing a plan to put them into action.  And, reality? Well, reality is the result of well-executed, goal-directed plans.  So, while it's okay to dream big, we need to plan thoroughly. Then, we must execute well to realize our goals.  That's the only way to build a future for ourselves vs. letting fate simply happen to us.”

We spent the balance of the afternoon standing at my office’s big white board listing, discussing, and evaluating a multitude of different career paths and corresponding college choices available to my son given his interests and aptitudes. 

Now – you may be wondering why I have taken the time to tell you this story. Well, first I do like to tell stories, but, moreover, on this Labor Day, it’s a reminder that I have always taken time to provide growth or educational opportunities to my employees in a similar way to how I raised my children. A company can’t just move forward on a batch of wishes. As an entrepreneur you must plan for how you will move forward and that includes how you can provide training to your employees so they can grow with your company.

Happy Labor Day!


Premium Operators Create More Rentable Space for Property Owners: Part III

Lou Blaiotta on Monday, August 21, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

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Premium Two-speed car-door operator

Premium Two-speed car-door operator

Two-speed landing mechanism

Two-speed landing mechanism

It’s amazing how much innovative operator design is contributing to the ever-evolving needs and societal progressions of the human landscape. Over a decade ago, Columbia Elevator first introduced linear operators in our residential ALURE® (Automatic Limited Use Residential Entrance) product line. ALURE® incorporated critical Fermator-supplied components (encoder, motor and belt drive) and was combined with Columbia’s proprietary linear door operator, an ideal solution for the lightweight applications found in a residential setting where fire-rated doors were not required. However, all Columbia entrance assemblies are manufactured in accordance with commercial units as required by Code.

As our customers began requesting the features of ALURE® in commercial modernization applications with our fire rated UL label, we developed Premium. Premium combines all the space-saving aspects of ALURE® and ‘beefs it up’ to commercial standards, while consuming even less space than the Robusta operator.

In addition to space saving qualities, the new Premium system delivers a significant safety factor in the form of a ‘nudging mode.’ Ordinarily, a cab using a light curtain will reverse the door if a rider enters the opening. In the presence of fire or smoke, the light curtain will ‘assume’ there’s an obstruction and not allow the operator to close. When the car is put into Fire Service Mode, it allows the operator to close at ‘nudge speed,’ ignoring reopen signals from the light screen. For added safety, if an obstruction stops the door movement in this ‘natural nudging’ mode, the operator will fully open, then close the door at nudge speed up to the point where it was obstructed, then proceed very slowly through the obstruction zone to verify it has been cleared. Upon a successful full close, the operator will ‘know’ to perform at ‘normal’ nudging speed until Fire Service Mode has been turned off and/or obstruction is cleared.

Property owners will want to have Premium’s features in their building:

  • Columbia’s ALURE® Premium linear operators drive the doors from the hanger assemblies, eliminating the space required by a clutch plate and pickup rollers on the backs of harmonic cab and hatch doors.
  • The back skin of the doors can be eliminated. The resulting door assembly is lighter, easier, and safer to install, making the entire finished cab lighter, quicker to fabricate, and even less expensive.
  • All Premium doors maintain a UL label for assurance of code compliance for commercial applications.
  • Premium’s safe ‘nudging mode’ edge operates in the presence of smoke or fire.
  • Premium utilizes closed loop encoders, featuring ‘smart system’ feedback, telling the operator motor on what floor the cab is traveling at any given time. This ‘smart system’ can pick up a heavy, bronze-relief door in the lobby and move it at a specified, appropriate number of feet per second. Upon traveling to the upper floors – where the doors are much lighter – it opens and closes those doors at precisely the same speed but using less force.

Call Columbia Elevator to learn more about the great technological safety advancements of Premium.