Founded in 1977 by brothers Danny and Charlie Breaden, DC Elevator set out to provide their customer base with skilled technicians and prompt, personalized service at a competitive price. Now the largest independent elevator company in the State of Kentucky, almost 80 employees continue to serve in this tradition.
In 2002, under the leadership of President Steve Bowlds, the company changed ownership with the introduction of the ESOP (employee stock ownership plan), now all employees are stakeholders in its success, growth, and prosperity. Under Bowlds’ guidance, as he celebrates his 20th company anniversary this year, customer trust and satisfaction built by the DC Elevator staff are key elements to a mutually beneficial long-term business relationship, and – as the 2017 40th company anniversary proves – the key to success.
We talked to Founder Danny Breaden regarding the anticipated September 2017 anniversary, and he shared some insight on the early days of DC Elevator:
“I founded the company with my brother Charlie, who worked on the mechanical side of elevator technology, with a base capital of only $3,000. I would take on the business portion of the company. Even without a non-competition agreement, we saw it the right thing to do and not engage any of the clients we served before, for the period of one year. Shortly after that year, a few of our old clients approached us, though. They got used to and did rely on the quality of service we provided to them before, laying the foundation of what DC Elevator stood and stands for.
The fundamental reason to start our company was the realization that most of the existing elevator service companies did treat their clients in the area like ‘second cousins,’ providing poor service and charging outrageous prices. They lacked competition, leading to neglect in service, and providing a niche for our company. Converting those clients to our newly founded company was easy.
Backing up one’s mistakes and making good towards the customer builds great relationships. Learning from mistakes contributes to good business, too, and putting means in place so that mistakes are not repeated. Being off-the-grid should not create a disadvantage for the customer, for everybody to receive excellent service at a great price always was the main goal of the company.”
The rest is history. The company grew leaps and bounds and became the region’s largest independent elevator company. Steve Bowlds did not work all his professional life in the company his father-in-law founded. Steve began his career at a competitor, Lexington’s Dover Elevator Company, where he quickly rose to the role of a temporary mechanic while completing his education. Five years into his career, he was promoted to the position of a mechanic and mastered the certification.
With a knack for wiring and understanding for relay technology, he changed to a role in adjusting, where he finished the installation of elevators. Where the passenger only would see a box with buttons, Steve Bowlds would see an elevator as an intelligent system that needs to measure, acknowledge, coordinate, and continuously decide how to act and interact with other elevators – based on performance algorithms.
Steve enjoys the work of an elevator company, yet also understands the administrative responsibilities. That he has worked in elevator companies for the most of his professional life comes naturally, because he loves elevators – from the way an elevator functions to all the different systems in place, that must work seamlessly for an elevator to perform with excellence.
As he has proven himself in this industry, his father-in-law finally convinces him in 1997 to join DC Elevator’s leadership as Vice President with a working title of Superintendent. This makes 2017 his 20th company anniversary. Under his leadership, the company grows in size, revenue, focus, and reach. It now serves six states with the Lexington corporate headquarters, four Kentucky representations and a West Virginia office with construction, modernization, maintenance, and repair.
Asked, what the future does hold for DC Elevator, Steve Bowlds smiles, and winks:
“We have just re-invented our brand, launched a new website, and you can recognize our logo from afar. Makes you want to press that ‘up’ button. Forty years, and we’re just getting started!”