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  • Chip Nyborg

Impending Building Code has Real Estate and Elevator Industries Scrambling

Written by Chip Nyborg, President of Tri-State Elevator, June 18th, 2018.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, and the age of foolishness…” - Charles Dickens

The mandatory retro-active door monitoring provision of the NYC building code deadline is 1/1/2020. There are not enough inspectors, DOB personnel, expediters, elevator technicians, helpers and even supplier employees to handle the surge in work to meet the deadline. Assuming there is a surge.

The elevator industry is busy and more work is ahead, bearing down at us like an oncoming freight train. In the next 24 months there will likely be more permits filed with the DOB than any other 24 month period. This demand is going to push the limits of the local industry. Where or how will the industry find qualified help to meet the demand? From the filing process to obtain a permit all the way through to the acceptance test, the industry has no slack capacity to absorb the spike in demand.

The City of New York DOB Elevator Division competes with the local elevator industry when looking for qualified staff. Ask any seasoned elevator professional and they will tell you it is a humbling industry. Qualified inspectors that have a working knowledge of the industry and code rules are in short supply. Many private inspectors are working part-time in semi-retirement, which is how the industry expanded its’ labor base to perform Category 1 & Category 5 inspections. Younger elevator professionals will likely get opportunities to step up and perform mechanic’s work adding overlay panels and wiring such, while the more experienced modernization mechanics will be pushing hard to do more modernization work. Controller manufacturer’s and overlay-board vendors will also see a spike in demand. This demand is going to push the limits of the local industry.

The next 24+ months has the potential to be one of the most intense times for the elevator industry in NYC. It will be interesting to see just how the DOB, vendors, contractors and third-party inspectors, with too much work and not enough manpower will adjust to meet the demand, and then unfortunately how the industry adjusts again to excess manpower.

Speaking of manpower…it is rumored that NYC and or NYS will require licensed elevator mechanics. This issue has been percolating for many years and now, unfortunate timing, it seems as if legislation is more likely to pass this sooner rather than later. So, more work, more bureaucracy, insufficient manpower and new regulations coming at the elevator industry. I am in favor of licensing, OSHA certification etc. for the elevator professionals working in the field. How this will be accomplished is a bit worrisome, and of course the timing could be awful, pushing an already overburdened industry even more. It makes you wonder as the industry endeavors to create safer elevators, will the ultimate outcome be an increase in safety? If we are not prudent we may be doing a disservice to those that work and ride on elevators.

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