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New firm boasts personal touch.

A real estate professional and an engineer have teamed up to start an elevator maintenance company that they say is bringing back personalized service to offer building owners and operators creative and cost-effective solutions.

Dov Hertz, a property owner, joined forces earlier this year with Bruce Griffith, an electrical engineer with more than 30 years experience, to found Embassy Elevator. The combined expertise of the two owners is currently minding the "ups and downs" of more than 400 elevators in and around New York City.

"He was my elevator man," the 35-year-old Hertz said about Griffith, the former owner and founder of Republic Elevator, a major independent elevator maintenance company. "We started talking and it seemed like a perfect partnership. He knows the elevator business and I know real estate."

Hertz, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, entered the real estate profession in 1978, working for a family-owned business where he became schooled in investment, ownership and management of property. He attended New York University where he studied real estate.

"I understand the finance mechanism, the cash-flow problems at times in today's business environment, especially with the recession when money is tight," Hertz said. "We solve problems with what's there rather than just simply ripping out."

Hertz explained that the process of modernization or replacing elevator equipment may be beneficial to manufacturers or maintenance companies, but it is not always the most efficient solution for owner/managers.

"Modernization is not always the most efficient," Hertz said. There's no question new is, better, but there's a cost. At Embassy, we work with flexibility and creative thinking to reach a happy ending."

One example, Hertz recalled, was the case of a residential hi-rise which had been in the foreclosure process for a number of years and only one of three elevators was working due to lack of proper maintenance. Instead of modernizing the elevators, which seemed like the obvious solution, Hertz said, an overhaul was completed in three weeks at only 15 percent of the cost of a new installation.

Hertz is pleased with Embassy's successful arrival in the elevator maintenance industry and credits Griffith and the ability to work as a team with much of that success. In less than six months, Embassy Elevator is servicing more than 400 cars in the New York City area, including a number of buildings in Hudson and Bergen County, New Jersey. The Long Island Citybased company currently has 20 employees and is affiliated with Local #3 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

"In essence, we're major league players even though we're a new company," Hertz said. "All our employees are field people, the mechanics all have 12 to 15 years experience, with the majority of them trained initially by Bruce."

Griffith, 50, provides the technical expertise to complement Hertz's specialty in finance and real estate. In 1985, Griffith sold Republic Elevator to a large French conglomerate and stayed on to manage the company for the next five years. After that, he agreed to a two-year period of noncompetition, but now he's back in the business as a co-owner of Embassy.

According to Griffith, Embassy Elevator is bringing back personal service to clients in an industry that has seen the rise of large companies where continuity in personnel and individual attention are lacking.

"The whole make-up and face of the independents has changed," said Griffith, who began his career working for Otis Elevator for six years. "A number of independents became quite large during the 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's. Then a lot of large independents were bought by large corporations. Formerly, an owner knew his customers, but now independents have become a subsidiary, they're answering to a major company."

Griffith said that Embassy is filling a niche where owner/operators are coming back to run elevator maintenance companies and clients want to deal with people they know on a personal level.

"People change jobs and the customers begins to say, What am I doing?, I know Dov and Bruce," Griffith said. "They can come in and it's stable, we're here."

As an example of personal service, Griffith noted that he, at the request of the building manager, has attended meetings of a co-op to explain elevator maintenance and answer questions, something that a conglomerate would not be willing to do.

"It's easier to get rid of a wife than an elevator," Griffith joked, emphasizing the need for personal contact in dealing with elevator maintenance problems.

Hertz noted that larger maintenance companies often apply standardized solutions to problems, whereas an experienced, smaller company like Embassy is able to treat problems more creatively.

"We offer two distinct talents," Hertz said. "Bruce offers technical know-how, he rolls up his sleeves, puts on jeans and takes care of problems. I've been in the customer's shoes and I want a guy who doesn't talk gibberish to me, I want someone who can explain things in plain English."

Hertz stresses that elevator maintenance poses difficult problems to building owners and managers in the best of circumstances, but with recessionary market, it is essential to deal with proper maintenance in an innovative and creative way. The team of Hertz and Griffith, and Embassy's maintenance experts, believe their personalized approach is leading the way in satisfying that need.
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Title Annotation:profile on Embassy Elevator Inc., Long Island City, New York
Author:Alger, Derek
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Sep 23, 1992
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