Have a comment, question, additional knowledge to share, or a suggested topic for a future “lesson?”
Louis "LJ" Blaiotta, Jr. on Monday, April 30, 2018 at 12:00:00 am
As part of its “Pay-It-Forward” philosophy, Columbia believes that having a “happy team” of employees, deeply committed to the company’s objectives, is key to achieving them.
In the top photo, (left to right) Chief Operating Officer Ken Hendrickson, Chief Executive Officer LJ Blaiotta and Laura Blaiotta are preparing to serve dessert at Columbia’s Bridgeport Facility’s Summer Field Day.
In the middle photo, at Columbia’s Kansas manufacturing plant, a holiday dinner is being served to staff by (left to right, in white shirts) Chief Customer Officer Marc Dinkes and Chief Executive Officer LJ Blaiotta.
In the lower photo, Columbia’s Miami Director of Engineering Klever Calderon and Executive Director of Operations Tom Birdsall (left to right) are behind the grill preparing a late day barbeque for staff.
At Columbia Elevator, we believe that having a 'happy team’ deeply committed to customer-centric mindset is a major key to achieving our objectives. We have developed our own version of the virtuous spiral, called ‘Columbia’s Pay-it-Forward Culture.’
At the top we have Columbia Elevator as the corporate entity or the ‘solutions provider.’ Columbia Elevator must satisfy, or better yet, make raving fans out of its employees and customers. To accomplish this, we strive to treat our team members kindly and respectfully. We have a genuine concern for their well-being and are dedicated to creating an environment that fosters a sense of pride, self-worth, and fulfillment.
From the way they are treated, our team members are inspired and empowered to ‘pay it forward’ to our customers. I see our team members caring deeply about their work and regularly going the extra mile for the customer. It is our hope that the resulting exceptional experience for our customers will convert them into raving Columbia fans who strengthen our enterprise with the business they bring. A healthy Columbia can then increasingly invest in the well-being of its team and continue the cycle of Pay-It-Forward.
Almost two years ago, Columbia’s revitalized commitment to its team members led to the formal creation of an Employee Engagement & Enrichment division with two primary goals: to create an environment where team members love their jobs and to continually invest in the growth of team members. A volunteer committee was assembled to take an active role in expanding Columbia’s employee focus.
The committee’s first steps were to expand the ways we recognize team member contributions; increase the use of two-way, transparent communication; and increase the sense of community and belonging throughout the organization. Columbia Elevator was founded as a family company, and this committee is dedicated to maintaining that family culture through company-sponsored quarterly events, various monthly meetings, newsletters and company-wide memos, and a robust continuing education program.
This focus on turning customers and employees into fans of the company and creating a supportive, respectful culture has influenced the structure of how Columbia interfaces with our customers. Next time, I’ll talk about how Pay-It-Forward has enhanced our customer interactions.
Louis "LJ" Blaiotta, Jr. on Monday, April 16, 2018 at 12:00:00 am
I have always had a heightened awareness of and focus on the human aspect of conducting business. In fact, it was one of the primary reasons Columbia Elevator was founded. Business cannot solely be about the products, and at Columbia Elevator, part of our mission is to operate with a customer-centric mindset. Our team is focused on promoting a culture built on how best to satisfy the concerns and needs of all its stakeholders - customers and employees alike.
Of course, we at Columbia love our products. While we pride ourselves on our ‘pretty’ doors, for example, we know that our customers don’t buy our doors simply because they’re prettier than the next company’s. Even given the assumption that our products and our competitors’ products are of sufficient quality and match our high safety compliant standards, our customers expect an additional layer of confidence from Columbia.
Elevator contractors care deeply about getting the right solution or product, on-time, every time! This means that what they get from us must be exactly what they need, when they need it, packaged in a way that arrives safely, is complete, and installs easily. In short, what our customers want is absolute reliance on a company that makes them feel good about – and unhesitatingly confident in – their provider.
The Columbia vision and understanding of customer’s needs allows us to operate as a ‘products’ company wrapped in the blanket of a ‘customer service’ company.
With a clearly defined vision of our customers’ needs, we at Columbia were then able to align our systems, processes, and our team to think first about the customer and then to design around their wants and needs. Our ‘Pay-It-Forward’ Culture is about delighting our customers every time with consistent, dependable jobsite peace-of-mind. That can only be accomplished when our customer-facing divisions of Engineering, Customer Operations and Sales & Marketing, as well as our methodologies and procedures in Operations and Quality Management, always maintain a customer-centric focus.
Louis "LJ" Blaiotta, Jr. on Monday, April 2, 2018 at 12:00:00 am
Columbia’s car-side interlock: For transparent architectural environments featuring glass cabs and shafts, Columbia has developed this nonvisible device to eliminate and replace the steel fascia routinely included in elevator installations to prevent passengers from leaving a car outside the unlocking zone. It is installed between the top of the car’s glass window and the roller on the hanger above.
California’s growth and expansion is like the changes we are seeing in cities across America. Let’s look at the region’s escalating growth of Los Angeles Airport (LAX), which is home to ongoing modernization and construction of new terminals. The new terminals are dramatic architectural expressions, with high ceilings, glass everywhere, and elevators being built with this same contemporary aesthetic.
Far from simply utilitarian, LAX is installing all-glass cars, which rise up into vaulted glass atriums. Because these elevators are all-glass, visibility of their inner workings becomes an issue, specifically with respect to the fascia routinely included for safety reasons. With this all-glass aesthetic, the architects do not want to see a “view-obstructing” steel fascia, the traditional method of preventing passengers from escaping the car in certain circumstances. To satisfy the architects, the customer came to Columbia Elevator to innovate another system that provides this essential protection without being visible.
Traditionally, on a standard entrance with a blind shaftway, where nobody can see inside, to protect passengers between floors in the event an elevator becomes stuck, a curtain of sheet metal is installed to minimize the gap between the back of the door and the shaftway wall. Known as fascia, this steel curtain hangs down from the sill of the floor above and ends at the header of the entrance below, where the doors are supported and moved on a track, thereby not extending into the doorway itself. While a very effective safety measure, when aesthetics mandate an all-glass shaftway, nobody wants to see a curtain of steel hanging there. Past attempts to solve this problem with glass or clear polycarbonate fascias proved unsatisfactory, as these collected dust, looked unsightly and eventually clouded the view. So, we set about finding a technological solution that would eliminate the fascia altogether.
Let’s get a bit technical and review how elevators are designed to keep its occupants safe.
With a glass shaftway, in the absence of a fascia, if a passenger were to somehow open the car door in between floors, there would be enough space between the car door and shaft wall for a potential fall out of the car. Conversely, on the landing side, every single elevator door has an interlock, an electro-mechanical device with a contact that, when the hook is engaged, closes the circuit and tells the elevator that it is safe to run. If the hatch door is closed and the interlock hook does not engage with the receiver to close the circuit, the elevator will not run. A similar electro-mechanical device, tied into the safety circuit, is needed on the car door to mimic the safety features found on the hatch doors.
For the LAX job, the architects came to our OEM customer, who in turn came to us, seeking a way to eliminate the fascia without losing the passenger protection. What we did was redesign and re-purpose our MAC® hatch door interlock to work with the door operators on the car side. Since the car doors in this application are all glass as well, the space available to position a car door interlock is extremely limited.
On a conventional hatch door, where there is no glass, the clutch and pickup rollers are near the middle of the door, lifting the interlock that is positioned up on the hangers. The long rod that links the pickup rollers and the interlock allows the lock, under its own weight, to open and close on its own. But when there is a large glass window, these unsightly mechanisms must be eliminated, while the space for a replacement, between the top of the glass and the roller on the hanger, is very small.
To the best of my knowledge, Columbia’s car interlock is the only such device approved by California’s DOSH (Department of Occupational Safety and Health).
Led by California, the West Coast is finally getting its share of skyscrapers, and other cities and regions are following. Columbia remains committed to such innovations that contribute to the vertical and aesthetic growth of the American landscape; and, at Columbia, this type of Innovation is Standard!