Interlift is the German Elevator Industry Fair held every other year in Augsburg, Germany. Normally, the President of the NAEC attends but this time was not available so I was asked to go as President elect. The significance here is not that I got to go, but that United Elevator Services was introduced to the world stage. Not that we are planning an office in Paris, but we were able to meet with a lot of major manufacturers planning on bringing products to the US in the next couple of years.
Normally this show is the largest in the world with 2000 vendors and 24,000 attendees. Because of Covid there were only around 300 very large booths and several thousand attendees with China, Japan, Korea, Canada, and the Middle East in lockdown. For comparison, a good NAEC show is 200 booths and 2200 attendees. The people who did show were the best of Germany, Switzerland, Holland as well as countries you may not expect like Greece, Turkey, Spain, Slovakia, France, Finland, Austria and on and on including a consultant from Malta.
A couple of things I found really interesting were complete surface mount signal fixtures (you are not supposed to take pictures but I snuck a couple in) that are only 3/8” deep including position indicators and key switches. One group with these fixtures also included a blue tooth feature to call and send the elevator from your phone without going through the controller. I spent lots of time with different vendors offering digital solutions for service which the largest growth sectors in Europe. The most interesting one to me is one that has been talked about for a couple of years but I now got to see is the removal of the mechanical governor and going to a totally electronic method of setting safeties. I am old school on this but in a few years this will be the norm.
I was tasked with giving a short presentation on the US market. Although it is one of the strongest dollar wise at $25 billion annually, we only produce about 25,000 units per year. That is compared to 900,000 in China, 500,000 in India. Granted their average car is 1400-2200 pound capacity. I heard three similar presentations and spoke to many, many other people and all of us independent’s, contractors and manufacturer’s, around the world are in the same boat. Supply chain is hurting our service, lead times our construction, we cannot find qualified workers to meet the demand, and all of us are looking at great opportunity’s to grow our businesses.
We always talk about how small and uniquely connected the independent elevator business is in the US. After a few days here I can honestly say we are part of a much larger- small and unique business we are. The independents we spent time with are like us, fiercely independent, entrepreneurial, family oriented, and extremely optimistic about the future. Any one of us could be dropped in an independent company in Poland or Aruba and we would fit right in, much more so than going to an OEM in the US. It’s a proud fraternity we should all be excited to be a part of.