A Cab Ride From a Barn to Abu Dhabi
In 1978, business partners Gary Mundis and Ron Hudak began shipping the first of their customized elevator cabs from a barn in Andover, Minnesota. Although both men are now retired from the company they built, the start-up stories live on.
“The barn had livestock. Sometimes chicken droppings ended up on the shipping containers they sent to clients,” laughs current company president Ken Persons. “But the work was good.”
Good indeed. G&R Elevator Manufacturing has produced elevator cabs for upscale office towers, luxury hotels, hospitals, and retail complexes worldwide. The company’s Facebook page contains hundreds of photos of their work, including the Hyatt Regency Hotel at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, the Abu Dhabi Financial Center in the United Arab Emirates, and the 8200 Tower in Bloomington, Minnesota.
G &R has produced elevator cabs for all four of the world’s largest elevator systems contractors: Otis Elevator Company, headquartered in Farmington, Connecticut; ThyssenKrupp of Essen, Germany; Schindler of Lucerne, Switzerland; KONE Corporation of Espoo, Finland.
What’s an Elevator Cab?
The elevator “box” that you walk into and ride in is called the cab or car. In Europe they are often called cabins. Commercial interior designers and architects consider the cab to be an extremely important component of an upscale building.
“When people step into an elevator, they notice details that would ordinarily get overlooked. It’s a small space and people see the materials and workmanship up close,” Persons said. “You make a statement to visitors when your elevator cab is impressive. Business firms and hotels want that good first impression.”
Persons said G&R uses stainless steel, aluminum, wood, veneers, glass, CorianTM, leather, FormicaTM, and a variety of textures and lighting styles to offer architects a wide range of design alternatives. When producing highly-customized cabs, G&R creates full-size, detailed mockups prior to manufacture so designers and architects can preview workmanship.
“An architect will spend an hour inside our mockup on our shop floor, inspecting every tiny detail,” he said. “Then they will come discuss the project with our team for an hour. Then they will go back and inspect the mockup for another hour. It’s that important to them.”
Abu Dhabi Financial Center
G&R worked directly with renowned architectural firm Goettsch Partners of Chicago to produce the Abu Dhabi Financial Center cabs. The Abu Dhabi cab designers used suspended glass, etched glass, and pattern glass lighted by LED strip lighting to create a stunning internal and external look. G&R manufactured the cabs for both the office building and the parking ramp.
Persons said G&R Sales Manager John Omorean used his years of experience and good relationship with Goettsch Partners to win the Abu Dhabi contract. “Architects expect us to speak their language and add value to their concepts,” Persons said. “Our team does that. We can provide more creative options without losing sight of costs.”
Persons said another key is to bring manufacturing quality to the table. “We have a shop full of experienced craftsmen who produce stunning cabs. Sometimes we pick up custom jobs for that reason alone.”
Less is More
Persons said that cab weight is much more important than in the past. Building owners want lighter cabs so they can use efficient elevator motors that run quietly and draw less electricity. As a result, architects are pushing the physics envelope.
“The specs can drive you crazy sometimes,” Persons said. “Our clients want everything, all at once. We are expected to innovate more, invent more. But we’re thriving in that space because we know it better than anyone else. “
For more information about G&R, contact:
Ken Persons, President
G&R Elevator Manufacturing
2352 Station Parkway NW
Andover, MN 55304