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“Three Ps” on the Banks of the Mississippi

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In this Readers Platform, your author illustrates how KONE Spares focuses on people, parts and performance.

Overlooking the banks of the Mississippi River, KONE Spares resides on the sixth floor of the KONE Centre building (known locally as “the world’s most expensive Christmas-tree stand”) in Moline, Illinois, with its warehouse and distribution center only a few blocks away. But, 127 years ago, before all this was here, there were two brothers who started a company in the very same neighborhood that would eventually become known as the KONE Elevator and Escalator Operations Center, of which KONE Spares is a part.

In 1892, James and Alexander Montgomery invested everything they had to form Moline Elevator Co., a combination machine shop and manufacturer of hand- powered elevators. Over the years, they adopted emerging technologies and came out with their first elevator with double belt drive and tiller rope control. By that time, they were known as Montgomery Elevators. They continued to grow their company rapidly, building on a reputation of superior customer service. That mantra continues at KONE Spares.

Today, in this unimaginable future of 2019, the company the Montgomery brothers founded still lives at the heart of leadership at KONE Spares. Acquired by KONE in 1994, Montgomery’s Moline Accessories Co. (MAC) spare-parts division eventually became KONE Spares, and the solid Midwestern soul of the company lives today. Many staff members are lifetime Montgomery/KONE employees, and they pass on the same customer-focused passion and traditions to newer employees.

Still the only OEM supplier of Montgomery parts, KONE Spares is also the OEM for KONE, O&K Escalators and MAC door equipment. KONE Spares ships more Montgomery parts than any supplier in the industry, as Montgomery elevators and escalators are still out there and going strong.

Supporting this aging equipment with engineering improvements is the KONE Spares Life Cycle Management (LCM) team, which develops and delivers engineered solutions to replace obsolete equipment. From new elevator control packages to complete escalator safety upgrades, this team supports all of KONE Spares with technical expertise and historical product information for the benefit of our customers.

KONE Spares maintains a robust product catalog of tens of thousands of parts with an immense amount of cross-referenced part numbers, including OEM parts for other manufacturers, at konesparescom. Even while investing in ongoing digital innovation, the company has rejected the trend of distancing itself from customers with technology. Sales team members’ direct phone numbers are available on the mobile-friendly website. Click and call, and you’re speaking to someone by name — a Midwestern approach to doing business. That close personal contact is not something the staff ever wants to lose, no matter how sophisticated the technology. KONE Spares External Sales Manager Kelly Oberhardt says:

“We only succeed if our customers succeed. We live and breathe that. Our livelihood is tied directly to our customers, so, by our very nature, we want them to succeed. When we tell someone we want to partner with them, we mean it. We work together with our customers on projects big and small, and we celebrate their wins as if they’re our own wins — because they are.”

The advantage of customers calling KONE Spares staff instead of just picking parts from a website catalog is that the company has access to more than 100 years of job history, and, in many cases,

staff can look up the job records and help identify which equipment had originally been installed. “Part of being a partner to our customers is to make sure they get the right part, up front,” Oberhardt says. “Then, our warehouse team does everything they can to get that part shipped out the same day.”

One of the perks of being right on the banks of the Mississippi is the beautiful view, and, at certain times of the year, KONE Spares has the added spectacle of bald eagles flying right outside its windows. “Unfortunately, we’re too busy to look out the windows,” says Oberhardt. “We rely on our resident award-winning photographers to keep an eye out and alert us that there’s something spectacular to see.”

KONE Spares Digital Marketing Manager Jerry Davis says he has the best view in the building. “So, it’s my duty to keep my eye out for the bald eagles or. . . sometimes things like tornados.” Whether it’s eagles, tornadoes, or just an extra-beautiful day, Davis shares photos and videos on the company’s blog and Facebook pages. You can find links to these, as well as all KONE Spares parts and direct contact information, on the KONE Spares website.

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Elevator World | March 2019 Cover