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Creative solutions for elevator ups and downs.

Elevator maintenance poses difficult problems to building owners and managers in the best of circumstances. But recessionary conditions have made the task even more daunting - forcing many owners/managers to neglect proper maintenance due to lack of cash flow, or in extreme cases, foreclosure. Then, as properties change hands or owners are present with the opportunity to sign new leases which would generate cash flow, the elevator equipment is in dire need of extensive and extremely costly repair. It is when owners and managers are faced with such predicaments that they need innovative and creative solutions from their maintenance experts.

Why buy "new" when repairs will do?

The process of modernizing or replacing equipment may be beneficial to manufacturers or maintenance companies, but it is not always the most efficient solution for owners/managers. The following scenarios illustrate that, when diagnosed and carried out by top professionals, an overhaul can be the best answer.

In one instance, a residential hi-rise that had been in foreclosure process for a number of years had only one out of three elevators working due to lack of proper maintenance. There had been vandalization, and many controller parts were either missing, or worse, had been replaced with wrong parts. Instead of modernizing the elevators, which would have been the obvious solution, an overhaul was done. This took only three weeks to complete, and cost 15 percent of what a new installation would. In another case, when the owner of a distressed office building was presented with the chance to lease most of his vacant space, it looked liked the cost of doing the necessary repairs and customizations (the new tenants required special dispatching features in the elevators), would make the deal impossible. Instead of replacing the relay logic controller with a new computerized controller, a micro processor dispatch overlay was installed in the existing system, giving it many of the computerized features at a fraction of the cost.

The tough economy has generated many such scenarios, each presenting its own set of challenges and even bizarre details. The one common element in these stories is this: to reach a happy ending, creative thinking should be applied by both the owners/managers as well as the maintenance contractor. And herein lies another complication.

Without the specific technical expertise, how is an owner/manager to know that the contractor they've hired is capable of such innovative thinking? The answer is, they can't Owners and managers must often judge contractors on reputation alone, which generally leads them to signing contracts with larger maintenance companies. This must be balanced however, with the understanding that a larger firm may often apply more standardized solutions to problems. Whereas an experienced but smaller and more aggressive shop may treat problems more creatively. It is up to owners and managers to evaluate their needs: if the building is in good financial shape and maintenance has run smoothly thus far, then a change in contractors is ill-advised. If there are problems, however, and finances are limited, they may wish to investigate working with more creative problem solvers.
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Title Annotation:Review and Forecast, Section III
Author:Hertz, Dov
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jun 24, 1992
Previous Article:Flexible co-op financing.
Next Article:Strategies for survival.

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