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Estimating Pricing Tools: Online Pricing Tool or Price Sheet from Columbia Elevator Estimators and Account Representatives

Louis "LJ" Blaiotta, Jr. on Monday, November 12, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

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Columbia Elevator Director of Engineering Klever Calderon works closely with our Estimating Team. If you have any unique design requests, give Klever a call to discuss your needs.

In my last blog entry, The Estimator: A Key Contact for Columbia Elevator Customers, I talked about how our Estimators and Account Representatives partner with the customer to execute an accurate quote for any job. For our regular customers seeking quote for basic jobs that require little customization, our Customer Service team provides access to a special tool: Columbia’s online pricing system.  

For customers with access to this tool, the system prompts the customer to answer several global questions. Typically, it’s as simple as adding quantities to questions about specifications - like finish and configuration. Once all customer information and specification criteria are entered, the tool totals up all the selected options. The quote can then be viewed and printed in a format that can be sent directly to the customer.

Follow-up is done by Columbia’s Estimators, who review the quote and verify all content to be certain that the information is accurate and complete. For example, the Estimator or customer needs to explain, comment on, or qualify certain conditions or exclusions so that we all understand exactly what has been priced and what Columbia Elevator can provide customers. When Columbia is awarded an order for a job that was quoted online, the information gathered by the tool is sent to our Engineering team to generate submittal drawings.

For more complicated quotes or cases where the basic online pricing tool cannot adequately address complex design scenarios, Estimators utilize a price sheet and work directly with our customer to understand all aspects of a job. Because there are many variables, a more manual process and often a phone call is more efficient for ensuring the customer is getting a quote for exactly what he needs.

Working directly with an Estimator or an Account Representative is best suited to price orders that are vast in scope or range over a few years with multiple phases, many buildings, and shafts. For some of our largest jobs - such as the LAX project we handled for OTIS involving multiple shafts in different buildings with installation over a period of years - we created excel spreadsheets to keep track of all the shafts with the varying finishes and configurations. This approach provided customers with an easy-to-digest history of pricing adjustments according to specifications changes and time-line updates.

Our Estimating Team and Account Representatives are happy to help you with ordering online or manually. You can contact us at or call our Director of Customer Services at (305) 693-4239 X 2233.


The Estimator: A Key Contact for Columbia Elevator Customers

Louis "LJ" Blaiotta, Jr. on Monday, October 29, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

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Dionne Birdsall

Contact our Director of Customer Service Dione Birdsall if you have any questions about estimating.


The Columbia Elevator Estimating team, including our Account Representatives, plays a critical role as the primary contact to our customers. While we use the word “estimate,” what this team actually provides customers with a “quote” or the price that we would charge a customer for the scope of work identified. The “estimate” is the price the customer considers final (pending any change orders).

To provide accurate quotes to our customers, the Estimating Team is armed with all relevant information needed for a successful order. Necessary information from our company and the customer includes:

  1. Knowledge of how Columbia fabricates products.
    1. This consists of the capabilities, capacities, and labor required and how to best use Columbia’s pricing tools – including our online tool.
    2. Our Estimators can best respond to questions about what Columbia can and cannot build under our existing Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label and whether a customer may need to consider code-related issues that may have been left out of the specifications.
  2. Knowledge to answer customer questions about any special materials or finishes that aren’t part of Columbia’s standard offering and current market prices for those materials.
    1. Sometimes a customer doesn’t realize that a specific finish is out of the ordinary or of a very high cost.
    2. Working with the estimator helps the customer achieve custom architectural finishes.
  3. A full understanding of the scope of work and what the customer wants and expects.

During this information gathering stage, Estimators may go beyond gathering information from the drawings or specs by reaching out to the customers directly. Sometimes it requires qualifying the information multiple times before everyone is confident that the information provided is accurate. It is a lot of work, and it must be performed quickly to meet Columbia’s internal Key Performance Indicator (KPI) of getting estimates back to the customer within 48 hours.

You can reach out to our Estimating Team at our web page or just pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-858-1558.



Zero Clearance Entrances in NYC: Part II Fire/Smoke Barrier Doors vs Zero Clearance Doors

Louis "LJ" Blaiotta, Jr. on Monday, October 15, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

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A typical swing door for a zero clearance installation, this one by Columbia Elevator Products is installed at 56 Leonard Street in NYC.

A typical swing door for a zero clearance installation, this one by Columbia Elevator Products is installed at 56 Leonard Street in NYC.

To better understand NYC’s unique use of zero clearance entrances, you need to understand the designs and purposes of two types of door systems. Fire doors are usually held open by a magnetic catch/switch that retains the swing door in the open position during normal operation. However, upon activation of a fire alarm, the catch is released, and the self-closing swing door closes to prevent smoke from entering the hoistway. Unless properly protected during a fire event, elevator hoistways, as vertical shafts within a building structure, can allow for the unintended migration of smoke and fire between floors – a natural phenomenon referred to as the ‘stack-effect’ (as in a smoke stack.) Placing a second smoke barrier immediately in front of an elevator entryway is an extremely effective solution and an alternative to constructing elevator lobbies at each corridor landing, or to using gasketing, with or without the pressurization of the shaftway. Another solution - the use of roll-down barriers - can be used to similar effect, but present design limitations for the wall space between the top of the entrance assembly and the ceiling above. 

All such solutions, including the swinging fire door, do not allow the entrance to be locked out of service. Passengers exiting the elevator cab during a fire will easily be able to open and pass through the fire/smoke barrier positioned in front of the landing entrance. Their exit can happen without the need for any special keys or tools; plus, passengers will not encounter an entrapment issue. 

Zero-clearance doors, while very similar in appearance to the fire/smoke barrier doors, behave very differently and provide different benefits and features. Just like their fire/smoke barrier door counterparts, zero-clearance doors can also can be used to provide additional smoke and fire protection; however, their primary purpose is one of security, especially in high-end buildings that may have only one or two apartments per floor.

In super-tall, super-thin, and super-luxurious buildings – where typically there is only one apartment per landing – it is becoming increasingly the case that a "common-space" corridor between the elevator entrance and the apartment's front door becomes unnecessary. In this situation, the entire corridor can be eliminated, and the zero-clearance security entrance becomes necessary to help prevent unauthorized entry into an apartment from the elevator.

An ideal way to accomplish this – while at the same time maximizing the interior marketable space of the apartment – is by elimination of the exterior corridor while installing a zero-clearance security door directly at the elevator entrance to the cab. With the addition of such security doors, luxury apartment dwellers enjoy the effect of living with private elevators that directly service their units without the wasted space of dedicated shaftways for each unit. While the addition of the swing door in front of the sliding entrance doors does mean less unusable space and more security, it also means that the doors cannot be opened without the use of a permitted key or special tool, and, for that reason, landings used for egress during a fire alarm cannot be fitted with locked zero clearance doors.

In addition to such residential applications, zero clearance doors are being utilized commercially to accommodate a growing trend of single tenants occupying multiple floors in an office building. As the commercial tenant needs drift away from once-standard full floor/bank block occupancy, new and special requirements are arising for priority and/or express elevators, such as when a tenant’s executives require expedited travel to offices and conference rooms in the higher portion of the building. Next time, I’ll explain how zero clearance entrances eliminate concerns of entrapment.