The primary purpose of any business is to identify, describe, and analyze any problem that exists in the functioning of society and offer a sure-shot solution to solve it. In this process, it is important to consider all the stakeholders to come up with a comprehensive solution that will be inclusive of everyone.
Providing such comprehensive solutions in the elevator and escalator maintenance, installation, modernization, and repair space is Champion Elevator. Being an independently owned company, Champion Elevator diligently serves its client and believes in seeking new challenges every day to make itself better, achieve higher standards, increase efficiency, and provide its customers with the very best services in the industry.
Donald Gelestino, the Founder and President of Champion Elevator, quotes, “Our core values are very simple. Real-time Honest Communication is what Champion is all about for the employees and customers. We are also a people-first and cultural organization that helps each other become the best we can be. A true TEAM spirit!”
Displaying such proficiency in providing state-of-the-art services to its clients has earned Champion Elevator many awards. Champion President Donald Gelestino was awarded a Citation by NYC in recognition as a Leader of Labor in 2019, 2020 Champion won the ELLIE award for best family-owned elevator company, then again in 2022 won an ELLIE for best Elevator Contractor East Coast, and in 2021 Mr. Gelestino personally was awarded the most prestigious award in the elevator industry, The William C. Sturgeon Award presented by The National Association of Elevator Contractors (NAEC). The company culture to help others combined with rapid organic growth inspired Champion to return 3.4 million dollars of PPP funds in 2020 that were not required to be returned! Mr. Gelestino stated, “we would rather see 34 small businesses who were almost bankrupted by the pandemic receive 100k each, Champion will survive this.”
Offering Quality Personalized Services
Being only seven and a half years old, Champion Elevator is a relatively young company. Even so, its growth has been substantial in its operational years. Champion Elevator, services over 5,700 elevators in the New York, Hudson Valley, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania areas monthly and still has expansion plans.
One of the unique selling points of Champion Elevator is that it has a distinctive approach for every client with an elevator or escalator. The first step in that process includes the company sending in a highly trained surveyor to survey the equipment properly. The following step then is to submit the report and a pre-maintenance proposal of any deficiencies to ownership. At this step, the owner has the choice to either have the existing company make the repairs for them or have Champion do them. If the repairs are not made, chances are the equipment will not be much different, and Champion may pass on becoming the service provider.
In some cases, Champion simply excludes the cited deficiencies, but in most cases, if the owner is not willing to make the investment, Champion chooses to withdraw instead of settling for a sub-standard device to be placed onto one of its technician’s route. This practice is tried and true, and President Donald Gelestino believes all companies should operate this way, but he states, “The company needs to have a very high-level surveyor or group of surveyors to identify deficiencies.”
This approach enables Champion to have rapid organic growth in the market. The company plans on expanding its footprint by purchasing more elevator companies in the near future.
From the Bottom Upwards
Donald A. Gelestino founded Champion Elevator Corp. in 2015. In less than seven years, he has grown the company from a start-up to one of the Tri-state’s most revered vertical transportation brands, servicing more than 5,700 elevators throughout New York, Hudson Valley, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. The epitome of the self-made man, Mr. Gelestino took his first industry job straight out of high school in 1986, apprenticing for DECO Elevators. Learning on the job, he soon became a skilled technician and, shortly after, was promoted to supervisor. By 1992, he was elevated to company engineer.
The following year, armed with confidence, commitment, talent, and knowledge, Gelestino launched his first company in 1993, Ver-Tech Elevator, which quickly became one of the largest independent elevator companies in the New York metro area. Following its early successes, he sold Ver-Tech to a multinational conglomerate, United Technologies, in 2010 (which later merged with Raytheon) and proceeded to explore new horizons, encompassing everything from a high-tech, luxury carwash brand to SITO Capital, a venture capital firm for start-ups and visionary entrepreneurs, like himself.
It was also during this period that Mr. Gelestino’s many charitable and civic endeavors went into full gear, joining the boards of several non-profit organizations and additionally becoming a trustee of Cross County Savings Bank. But the world of vertical transportation continued to beckon, and Gelestino started Champion Elevator Corp., which currently has over 320 employees – and growing!
In addition to being a hands-on CEO running a preeminent brand, Mr. Gelestino continues to expand his philanthropic and educational commitments, including serving on the board of SUNYOld Westbury.
His leadership skills have also benefited industry trades and business organizations: He is the former president of the National Association of Elevator Contractors and currently serves as Vice President of the Rockville Centre Chamber of Commerce. In addition to creating the organization Elevator Champions for Charities to promote safe workplaces and help victims of elevator-related injuries, Gelestino has been honored by such preeminent charities as Friends of Karen, Sharing & Caring, The Maurer Foundation, Bideawee Animal Rescue, and New Ground.
Mr. Gelestino has presented both nationally and internationally. The most recent presentation was in Augsburg, Germany, at Interlift in April 2022. Having gathered the knowledge of advanced technologies, safety, equipment, and best practices, Mr. Gelestino teaches and trains his team about valuable tools and shares ideas to help grow the business and foster relationships. The Champion Senior Management team is comprised of like-minded individuals with the same focus and vision! Vice President Joseph Corrado helps create operational KPIs and sees the team is always rowing together in the right direction. Robert Masterson Chief Technical Development Officer expands the company through the implementation of systems, processes, and procedures while the CFO Patrick Klosterman handles the financial stability of the operation.
Meetings Challenges Head-on
Champion Elevator has always had a heavy emphasis on a client-first approach. The company strictly adheres to this value and takes every action that aligns with this value. Elaborating on the same, Mr. Gelestino says, “The biggest issue facing the elevator industry is always proprietary equipment. Once installed, a building owner is tied to only one vendor. The owner or developer who is not educated about this technicality soon becomes aware and realizes they are “trapped.” Champion only installs non-proprietary equipment that can be serviced by all companies. This keeps our service reliable and our prices competitive.” Many Original Equipment Managers and larger Elevator companies are trying to sell building owners and managers on remote monitoring of their systems. While this may sound like a logical and good approach it is merely a way for companies to dispatch fewer people to a building and save manpower. Champion has a unique remote monitoring system that offers their clients monitoring of the elevators but with a truly transparent and honest system that is actually very preventive and proactive!
Unique Service Offerings
Repair: A product that is made with quality and offers quality service, repairs are always guaranteed. A good business always offers its clients good service and is aware of how to make them happy when they leave. Champion Elevator is aware of the inconvenience and embarrassment caused by malfunctioning elevators for building owners, managers, or engineers. The residents of the building have several hassles, and the building’s flow is slowed down, which results in losses. The only way to fix this is to do a speedy, quality repair.
When repairs are necessary, Champion Elevator offers assistance. The business organizes and sends out its mobile crew of repair specialists on time. The company’s workforce can work specialized shifts, supply replacement parts for all elevator brands, and properly notifies building staff when repairs need to be made. By doing this, the inconvenience to the elevator users is effectively reduced.
Maintenance: It is a firm belief of Champion Elevator that adequate equipment maintenance procedures are of the utmost significance. This ensures that riders receive safer and more effective service while also saving building owners and managers money. Peak performance for passengers and significant cost savings for owners and managers are the results of its customized services, which guarantee that the elevators are maintained at peak performance levels while expensive repairs, overtime, and inconveniences related to downtime are kept to a minimum.
Numerous types of elevators are used in various ways, and Champion Elevator is aware that “ALL ELEVATORS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL.” Some run continuously, while others only do it a few times a year. Every elevator has a unique setting, usage, and maintenance requirements. In order to ensure that all of the mechanical and electrical components receive the required maintenance at the precise right moment, Champion creates a preventative maintenance schedule that is specifically tailored to the type of elevator. The company also serves all independently owned competitors’ non-proprietary equipment. It also provides Standard Maintenance, Maintenance Plus, and Full-Service Maintenance Contracts for Traction and Hydraulic Elevators while respecting clients’ requirements and budgets.
Modernization: Making the ideal selection of equipment, supplier, and installer is essential. Also, when to select the correct time to modernize the elevator system is a tough task. If the equipment is excellent in quality and fitted correctly, all passengers will benefit from years of safe and dependable elevator service. By making use of their knowledge, skillful specialists, and cutting-edge modernization processes, Champion helps in achieving the modernization objectives. The company keeps a keen eye on every detail, and also assists in taking serviceability, cost, and aesthetics into account. The modernization project is guided by Champion Elevator, which can offer basic control updates, aesthetic cab and fixture changes, car and hall door packages, or a comprehensive replacement of all the elevator equipment.
To avoid expensive delays in the renovation of the elevators, Champion’s skilled management and installation teams collaborate closely. Their ability to stick to strict timelines and spending limits consistently impress managers, renters, and building maintenance staff. The projects become successful due to Champion Elevator’s pre-planning coordination efforts and more than three decades of experience in management.
Violations: Champion Elevator is aware that a prompt, appropriate, and economical remedy is essential if the elevator equipment is found to be in violation of the law for any reason. There are now steep fines and penalties levied by the NYC Department of Buildings for filing Category 1 inspections, Category 5 inspections, and A.O.C. adjustments beyond the deadline. Penalties can sometimes be more expensive than the actual repair. The NYC Department of Buildings, Westchester, and Long Island governments are all in daily touch with Champion Elevator’s Violation and A.O.C Correction Department. For the benefit of its clients, Champion’s experts can speed up the documentation and prevent penalties with their experience and connections.
Testing: All elevator types are tested by Champion Elevator in all jurisdictions. It is an authorized inspection company in NYC. Regular annual Category 1, Category 5, and QEI inspections are carried out by its skilled employees. It has the skills and resources necessary to ensure that the elevators are secure, dependable, and up to code. Additionally, Champion offers all of the expediting and documentation required for the file in accordance with the client’s jurisdiction. Champion’s inspectors are always properly identified and in uniform. They behave professionally and politely when speaking with visitors and employees of the building.
Being a seasoned leader in the industry and also being familiar with all the nooks and crannies, Mr. Gelestino imparts this valuable advice to budding entrepreneurs and enthusiasts who wish to venture into the elevator and escalator service and repair space. “The elevator space is amazing and a great career. My suggestion is to always be open and honest with all customers, and always return calls and emails immediately even if you don’t have an answer yet or the answer may not be what the customer wants to hear. Also, make big investments in safety equipment, education, and training. This industry is great, but you must lead by a safety example to be successful,” concludes Donald Gelestino.
A Visionary Leader!
Leaders are never dependent on opportunities. Instead, they carve out their own unique ways to produce astonishing results. Donald Gelestino, Founder and President of Champion Elevator, is a prime example of excellent and visionary leadership. He ha proven his skills throughout the course of his work and continues to excel in the industry. Under his leadership, Champion Elevator has been amongst the fastest-growing elevator companies in the US. Donald believes in keeping real-time transparent communication with the Champion’s staff and clients, which become a key factor in easing the transformation in any circumstance.
Donald has a unique leadership style and believes in hiring good people and later helping them to learn their roles inside the company. Being a great leader, he knows the value of self-motivation and creating a team of people who are self-motivated. He is extremely passionate about business and aims to provide people with the best opportunities in terms of both service and employment.
Donald has successfully established a strong culture in the company by maintaining open lines of communication with the employees. He conducts meetings every week with every department and connects with the maintenance team on call regularly. He believes in inclusivity and visions to create an environment where every employee knows that they are part of a team and their opinions and suggestions matter. He ensured that the company maintained a suggestion box where employee could express their concerns and opinions.
He is driving Champion Elevator continuously toward the height of excellence and makes every effort to maintain and offer the best services to the customers.