A+ Elevators & Lifts Leads the Market in custom home elevators and safety technology

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Text: Ann Zimmerman

Chris Harris, founder of A+ Elevators & Lifts, is one of those guys who makes lemonade when life gives him lemons. In 2009, one of the largest retailers of elevators and lifts in North America—and the company Harris had worked for since graduating high school—closed its doors. Chris had one of those “Uh-oh, this is all I know,” moments. The way he saw it, he had two choices: he could go to work for an elevator manufacturing company in Canada and leave behind the area where he grew up along with all his family and friends, or he could go into business for himself.

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Chris says, “When that company closed, it left a huge gap in the North American elevator market, so there was definitely opportunity.” To open his own shop, Chris had to take action. “I sold two vehicles, cashed in a 401k and a retirement fund to get some start-up capital, and I put all my personal assets up as collateral.” In other words, he was “all-in” from the start.

It’s that same sort of commitment to the cause that has made Chris and his A+ Elevators & Lifts team successful. A+ Elevators & Lifts distinguishes itself from its competitors through craftsmanship. In 2011, A+ Elevators & Lifts acquired a high-end custom elevator cab manufacturer and moved its production plant to its Salt Lake City, Utah, headquarters location. Dan Jones, Vice President of Sales, says, “Our competitors sell off-the-shelf, mass-manufactured cabs. We sell custom, made-to-order cabs with the highest quality of craftsmanship. We put quality and safety first. We hold various child-safe patents on elevator products and components, and our products stand high above the rest in quality, safety, and reliability.”

Every homeowner has a different vision. A+ Elevators & Lifts offers endless options and accessories to help homeowners turn their dream elevators into reality.

As for the benefits of buying a custom elevator, Chris says, “We work with the architect from the beginning stages of the plans so the elevator is a focal point and an essential part of the home rather than an afterthought. In addition, buying off-the-shelf products limits the size, layout, and capacity options. Off-the-shelf elevators are delivered unfinished, so all finish work must be completed after the installation, leaving room for error and the possibility of frustration. Frequently, this will leave a bad taste in the mouths of the general contractor and homeowner, and this is unacceptable to our standards. Our elevators are installed with all finish work complete—including custom trim and stain—to match the hardwood profiles and décor of the home.”

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There is one important benefit to custom elevators that is not obvious to the eye. “Every elevator that leaves the production plant,” says Chris, “has to be rated for certain weight capacities. If the elevator is installed and then finished with trim and fixtures, the elevator safety rating and weight capacity has to be derated. With our custom elevators, we finish them before going through the rating process, so there is no derating necessary.”

A+ Elevators & Lifts offers a range of services including sales, drafting (with 3D renderings rather than the industry-standard 2D drawings), project management, management of the approval process, production of the custom cabs, installation, maintenance, and repair.

Recently, A+ Elevators & Lifts was featured in The Wall Street Journal. One of their journalists had come across a custom cab in California that A+ Elevators & Lifts had manufactured. After the discovery, the phone at A+ started ringing off the hook with journalists desiring interviews.

Both Chris and Dan love what they do. They agree that the “Wow” on their clients’ faces is the biggest highlight. The entire team at A+ Elevators & Lifts takes pride in the quality of their work and the ease and professionalism of the process. Dan adds that another bonus for him and for the entire company is stepping in to help those in need. “Recently, a young man was injured on a trampoline and paralyzed. A builder we work closely with called as he was organizing the effort to get an elevator installed into this family’s home before they brought their son home from the hospital. We designed and produced a gorgeous glass elevator, completely automated hands-free wheelchair access, which is now an integral part of their home. We were happy to help out in this situation and others like it.”

Chris, whose background is on the technical side of things, gets excited when he thinks of the out-of-the-box custom requests that they have made a reality. A few of his favorite custom requests?  “Voice-activated call stations and touch-screen panels. It’s not your run-of-the-mill call method. We can integrate our elevators into smart-home systems so you can call up the elevator from the same panels you control the lighting, audio, and other automated systems in the home. We have also integrated our elevators into systems that allow you to call the elevator right from your smart phone as you drive up to your house so it’s there waiting for you when you arrive. Motion-activated systems for hands-free control have also been added; it’s one of many custom features we have to offer. If someone has a vision or a desire for a certain operation, we do everything in our power to make it possible.”

As for the automobiles that Chris sold to make A+ Elevators & Lifts a reality back in 2010, one was just a regular-drive-everyday truck, but the other was “a drag racer that I custom built. I had over triple the investment into that car than the return that I got out, but it helped kick-start this business.” Here’s to the entrepreneurial spirit.

Today, A+ Elevators & Lifts is the largest residential elevator retailer in the Rocky Mountain States. With its corporate headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, A+ has local offices and staff serving Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana.

For more information call a+ elevators & lifts at 888.444.2758 or visit apluselevators.com