Onward & Upward
by Lori Williams
Two hundred years ago, Thomas Hornor built the first powered elevator that he called the “Ascending Room,” a crude lift used to bring tourists up to a platform for a panoramic view of London. He never realized how literal his title would be, given today’s luxury residential elevators. A+ Elevators & Lifts (A+) knows a thing or two about the marvel elevator mechanism, having risen to the head of the class as one of the fastest growing and well-managed elevator sales and service companies in the Western United States. The firm has distinguished itself from large manufacturers by creating customized, luxurious, people-moving rooms.
A+ sets itself apart in this specialty market with custom design and cabinetry, revealing excellent craftsmanship, quality, and attention to detail. An A+ elevator is not merely utilitarian. It borders on being a masterpiece of furniture and interior design, quietly making a bold statement. Operating in six markets throughout the West – Utah, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and Nevada – A+ makes both custom residential and commercial elevators and lifts, and also services, repairs, and inspects its own custom-made elevators and lifts and other brands.
“Since day one, we’ve taken a completely different approach from the large manufacturers who are limited in sizes and finishes,” says A+ owner and founder, Chris Harris. “We build elevators to the specs of the house, not vice versa, working with architects, designers, builders, and homeowners during all phases of the construction process.” While very much a luxurious component within the home, elevators are also capable of raising home values and creating mobility advantages down the road.
“We build elevators to the specs of the house, not vice versa, working with architects, designers, builders, & homeowners during all phases of the construction process.”
–Chris Harris, Owner & Founder, A+ Elevators & Lifts
“We get a lot of inquiries about our custom cabs. The sky really is the limit. That’s the best thing here about our A+ team. We all put on our creative hats and our team can build for the client what they envision.”
–Melesa Loosle, Director of Sales, A+ Elevators & Lifts
A+ has 130 years of combined elevator experience within an elite team of craftspeople, technicians, installers, project managers, and quality control inspectors. Their custom creativity knows no limits. The team can design and build whatever a client imagines. It’s truly what sets A+ apart and raises the bar – and the elevator car – above the competition.
Chris himself is involved with the design process. His 22 years of experience in the elevator industry results in ideas and innovations that are mostly unheard of. It’s this type of potential that he teaches and instills in the A+ team. At first point of contact, the sales team will note the ideas that each client has and begin to synthesize the concepts that the in-house design and drafting teams will integrate into the finished product.
Melesa Loosle, Director of Sales, says, “We get a lot of inquiries about our custom cabs. The sky really is the limit. That’s the best thing here about our A+ team. We all put on our creative hats and our team can build for the client what they envision.” Because A+ custom builds everything, the team can match the materials of the house, incorporating wood species, glass or steel, colors, finishes, flooring, and details even down to molding profiles. Adds Nikki Harris, Vice President of Operations, “Each elevator is uniquely specific to the client and the home. Our phenomenally talented in-house woodshop gives us the ability to offer custom endless options with the interior cabinetry.”
“One client in Big Sky, Montana, had their elevator designed as a bar with shelves for liquor and cabinetry for glassware, so that no matter where they were entertaining, There was a bar on every floor.”
–Chris Harris, Owner & Founder, A+ Elevators & Lifts
Chris sees endless potential and creativity, and strives to go beyond an elevator’s utilitarian purpose to that of a statement piece. “We want our elevators to be a complementary focal point of the home – a conversation-starter,” he says. “We’ve built elevator cars that are nine and ten feet tall to reflect some high-end homes with very tall ceilings and doors. It’s pretty unheard of on the market.” One client in Big Sky, Montana, had their elevator designed as a bar with shelves for liquor and cabinetry for glassware, so that no matter where they were entertaining, there was a bar on every floor. Even when the elevator was closed, the bar was on display visible through the glass door.
And though not averse to building low-profile elevators in a back corner closet area – A+ builds several each year – Chris gets excited for designs the likes of a beautiful glass elevator rising through the center of its winding staircase counterpart.
“We pride ourselves on customer relations. We want them to enjoy the overall package from start to finish, not just the elevator construction, but also the team experience.”
–Nikki Harris, Vice President of Operations, A+ Elevators & Lifts
Regular maintenance is a critical part of A+’s service. The mechanics are trained to work on and service all types, makes, and models of elevators. Depending on a client’s usage, that can mean once or twice a year, even quarterly. A+ puts quality and safety first, making sure all equipment is operating at peak performance. “Elevators have wearable parts that need to be replaced at normal intervals,” says Chris. “Our clients are relying on this automated piece of machinery to move their family and guests in a safe manner throughout the home. Although we install our elevators to be completely code-compliant and safe, that’s not to say that settling doesn’t occur over time, necessitating the need for adjustments on a regular basis. That’s why we promote regular maintenance.”
A+ elevators are sold with five-year warranties, with the closest competitors offering three. Says Chris, “We just feel completely confident in our product, and that it’s going to last the lifetime of the home. We have elevators that have been installed in the ‘80s that are still in operation in homes today.”
Upgrades and modernizations of existing units are another area of service that A+ offers. If a homeowner wants to change out manual doors to automatic, A+ can install a new electrical control system using current technology to upgrade an older elevator with a new control system
Like phones and TVs, residential elevators are going high-tech. New are touchscreens instead of the traditional push buttons, allowing for voice control of the elevator via Amazon Alexa or Google Home, or through an app on your tablet or phone, allowing for customization and a personal touch. Simple taps or voice control can “call” an elevator down to garage level, ready and waiting to load in the groceries from the car. Apps are also available to allow for real-time alerts and troubleshooting, including summoning the elevator to a specific floor, knowing what floor the car is on, and knowing if the safety gate is open.
“Remote diagnostics has revolutionized the entire service repair process and response time and elevated the customer experience,” explains Chris. “Instead of scheduling a service call and sending a mechanic to diagnose a problem, by logging in remotely, our technical service team can troubleshoot and know immediately what’s going on and solve the problem in minutes, whether there’s a door ajar on another floor, user error, or a failed component.” This is especially helpful in the more remote areas of the six states that A+ services.
With innovative ideas on the market, diagnostics continues to evolve into better and more stable products. Sensors gathering data about usage can impact wear and tear on parts, allowing companies to predict future maintenance issues. A+ is incorporating remote diagnostics on all new installations, offering upgrades to existing clients’ older elevators as well.
An average home elevator install takes A+ five days to finish. Once it comes out of manufacturing, it’s crated and delivered to the home on a Monday morning when crews begin to install. Says Chris, “We’ll assemble all the mechanisms, bring in the cab, the electronics, electrical equipment, and then install the elevator inside the hoistway. By Friday afternoon the client has an elevator to ride in.”
Even in new home builds, if a homeowner is not ready for an elevator right away, but knows they will want one 10 years down the road, A+ will prep the hoistway for an elevator. That space can then be used for closets until the client is ready for an install down the road.
The highly educated and professional staff at A+ cares about the safety of their customers and takes pride in the work they do. They are friendly, reliable, and provide great communication. It’s truly A+ service. Says Nikki, “We pride ourselves on customer relations. We want them to enjoy the overall package from start to finish, not just the elevator construction, but also the team experience. That’s why Chris named the company A+, just like the grades we used to receive in school; we don’t settle for anything less.