A company steeped in history
In 1949, the Toller family, already involved in the textile and tobacco industry, decided to expand their business to elevator manufacturing. They named this arm of their business, Southern Elevator Company. For over 40 years, the family owned and ran the business until 1991 when it was sold to Rodney Pitts, a graduate of Duke University and the University of Chicago’s School of Business.
When Rodney took over the business, he noticed that the region had an influx of elevator manufacturing companies who had abundant resources dedicated to research and development. He also noticed that among these companies there was a shortage of specialization in the repair and maintenance of these same elevators. Realizing that there was an opportunity to fill a gap in the market, Rodney decided to pivot away from elevator manufacturing and focus his newly acquired company on elevator maintenance, repair, and modernization. With this decision, Southern Elevator positioned their future for growth with recurring revenue and became focused on building lasting client relationships.
A company constantly evolving
Fast forward to 2008, when Chris Short of Connecticut, decided that he wanted to work for a company that held the same family values as he did. After his initial interview when he had the chance to meet many of the genuine and honest people of his future company, Chris decided to transfer his family to Raleigh, North Carolina, where he would be the company’s first Director of Sales.
Armed with a career full of sales experience, Chris’s first order as Head of Sales was to create a training and sales program for the company, which at the time, acquired new business through referrals and word of mouth. While this worked well for the business, Chris’s vision was to scale the company by offering a consultative approach to solving elevator concerns.
In addition to offering a non-cookie-cutter approach to elevator repair, Rodney wanted to ensure that each customer knew the names of the people working in the field and in the office. This meant that each region that they served required a local office and field team that would be able to offer their customers timely and expert service. With these mandates, Chris knew that the team had to grow and needed to communicate with each other more effectively despite their location and size.
No more pen and paper
Like many companies before it, Southern Elevator depended on pen and paper before making a switch to paperless operations. In 2013, when Chris became President of Southern Elevator, he knew that as the company continued to head for growth, they would need something more automated and seamless to keep up with their growing staff and customer base.
When an outside consultant referred Chris to Expert Service Solutions, he decided to try their premier product, Mobile Service, to better facilitate communication between his office staff and field technicians. With Mobile Service, Southern Elevator was able to efficiently dispatch in-coming tickets to the technician closest to the job location. By transferring tickets in real-time from customer call to the field technician, they could improve their communication initiatives and decrease incidents of miscommunication.
Since Southern Elevator wanted to ensure that each of their technicians was properly trained through the IUEC, one of the highest costs to their business was labor due to union labor rates and benefits. With Mobile Service, they made better use of their technician’s time with a simple tool that would allow them to easily access and diagnose any problem. By adopting the field management app, the field technicians were able to save time arriving and completing the job, without sacrificing quality.
Mobile Service also allowed the Southern Elevator technicians to submit their timesheets in a timely fashion, improving payroll cycles for the business. By allowing technicians to send invoices from the field back to the office, customer wait times for invoices were reduced from 6-8 weeks to the same day!
The journey to where they are today admittedly was not always an easy one. In the beginning, it was difficult to transition the technicians from their flip phones to smartphones with mobile applications. However, over time, and thanks to the on-boarding and customer support of ESS, the administrative and field staff got the training that they needed to use Mobile Service to its maximum ability. As Chris says, “The customer support and the timeliness of response that we’ve received from ESS have never wavered and have never failed.”
A bright future for Southern Elevator Company
Today, after being in business for nearly 70 years, Southern Elevator is in six regions in North and South Carolina and Virginia. They service over 1200 clients and maintain over 4000 elevators. With 53 field technicians and 19 administrative staff, Southern Elevator is a company that has stood the test of time and is a business that is constantly evolving and growing thanks to internal foresight and a focus on operational efficiency and customer satisfaction. By utilizing modern technology like Mobile Service, Southern Elevator Company has been able to take their business to the next level.
Thank you, Chris, for sharing your story with Expert Service Solutions. We’re so proud and thankful to play a role in your company’s history!