Jack Demmel

How many individuals do you know who were able to afford buying their own house through hard earned wages before they were old enough to buy a beer?

ElevatorInfo recently caught up with a young man who did just that. Jack Demmel, a fourth-year apprentice in the organized elevator industry, will sit for the Mechanic Examination in 2023.

“Once I’ve successfully completed the Mechanic Examination, I’ll no longer be classified as an apprentice,” said Demmel. “I’ll advance to mechanic status.”

The 22-year-old shared with us his journey to the elevator trade. While Demmel did grow up around plenty of people who made a name for themselves in the elevator industry, his path was not necessarily a traditional one.

“I had the grades for college, so after graduating from high school, I gave college life a shot,” said Demmel. “I ended up at Prince George’s Community College for a single semester – then I realized that I was actually happiest when working with my hands. For me, a fulfilling career would challenge me both mentally and physically.”

After completing the recruitment process, Demmel soon was hired as a union elevator constructor and began taking classes through the National Elevator Industry Educational Program (NEIEP), a U.S. Department of Labor-registered apprenticeship program offering craft training – in the classroom and also in the field – for all employees covered by the agreement between signatory contractors and the International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC).

“NEIEP has been great. Not only have I participated in online and in-person classroom training, I have also been provided with a variety of hands-on training opportunities,” said Demmel.

When asked about his early days in NEIEP compared to his experience now as a fourth-year apprentice, Demmel expressed that NEIEP’s training is the reason he feels confident working in such a complex trade.

“I’ve always felt that I was mechanically inclined, but being a smart, safe mechanic requires more than a general knowledge of how to fix things,” said Demmel. “Thanks to my NEIEP instructors and the leadership at IUEC Local 10, everything I do feels like second nature. What’s more, I have found lasting friendships within the elevator trade. The people I study with and work alongside all have a team-first mentality – I’m very happy.”

Demmel went on to explain that, as far as enrollment fees and other charges related to NEIEP, there have been no out-of-pocket costs. People from all walks of life are welcome to participate in the recruitment process. This opens the door to a rewarding career, family-sustaining wages, and a dignified retirement – thanks to the training funded by contributions from IUEC signatory contractor partners.

“If young people are ready to work hard to secure the future they want for themselves and their families, the union elevator industry is a smart path to take,” said IUEC Local 10 Business Manager and IUEC Executive Board Vice President John O’Connor. “The earn-as-you-learn approach means our apprentices don’t incur student debt. Instead, they earn wages and benefits as they learn the elevator trade. It is a career choice that I wish more hardworking young people knew about – and knew about sooner.”

Escalator safety

Did you know that when riding an escalator some footwear, including foam clogs and flip-flops, can be dangerous? Every year, children and adults sustain injuries to their toes and feet at shopping malls, hotels, and other areas with escalators.

According to ABC News article, some people have reported that kids wearing foam clogs have had their feet sucked into the side of escalators.

Luckily, companies including Schindler Elevator Corporation and groups like the Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation have published useful escalator safety tips for the riding public. While some tips may seem like common sense (e.g., step on and off carefully), there are other things you may not have considered. It is especially critical to review these safety tips with children.

Below is a list of escalator safety tips from Schindler’s website:

  • Watch the direction of the moving step and step on and off with extra care.
  • Take care if you are wearing bifocals or similar eyewear.
  • Hold children firmly with one arm or hold child’s free hand.
  • Hold small packages firmly in one hand, but always leave one hand available to hold the handrail.
  • Grasp the handle as you step onto the moving step.
  • Do not go in the opposite direction of the escalator.
  • Do not take wheelchairs, electric scooters, strollers, hand carts, luggage carts or similar items on the escalator.
  • When riding escalators: Keep loose clothing clear of steps and sides.
  • Wear closed-toed and hard-soled shoes, and avoid wearing footwear made of soft-resin or other rubbery materials.
  • Stand clear of the sides of the escalator.
  • Face forward and keep firm grip on the handrail.
  • Reposition your hand slowly if the handrail moves ahead or behind the steps.
  • Don’t climb onto or ride the handrail.
  • Do not let children sit on steps or stand too close to sides.
  • When exiting escalators: Don’t hesitate and step off promptly.
  • Make sure to step over the comb fingers; don’t let your feet slide off the end of the escalator.
  • Immediately move clear of the escalator exit area; don’t stop to talk or look around since other passengers may be behind you.

While the list of safety tips included in this post is surely thorough, remember that, in the event of an emergency, pushing the “STOP” button at the top or bottom of an escalator will immediately halt the machine.

Also, if you have children in your life, ElevatorInfo would like to introduce you to the Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation. EESF, the leading resource for educational programs that teach children and adults how to properly ride elevators, escalators, and moving walks safely, has an excellent website that offers plenty of practical, hands-on methods to help kids learn about safe riding rules on elevators, escalators, and moving walks.

join IUEC

The International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) offers elevator apprentices more than stable elevator union jobs and elevator union wages – it offers a lifetime career that for most members has spanned generations. The IUEC offers union elevator careers, an elevator union salary, and ultimately an elevator crew that always has your back.

You’re Never Too Young to Score a High-Ranking Career

No more significant experience exists for young people to start a career than in the elevator apprenticeship program(s) of the IUEC. The National Elevator Industry Educational Program (NEIEP) is available to applicants at least 18 years of age, with a high school diploma or a state-approved GED.

Candidates can apply to the elevator union apprenticeship program at the available locations listed on the NEIEP career page. NEIEP Area Coordinators will invite applicants to take part in the Elevator Industry Aptitude Test (EIAT), consisting of three sections: basic mathematics, verbal reasoning, and mechanical skills.

To pass the EIAT, applicants must score at least 70%. After you’ve passed the test, you’ll be contacted and scheduled for an interview by representatives of the Joint Apprenticeship Committee (JAC) – an IUEC representative and an employer representative. You’ll also complete a tool assessment, where applicants are asked to identify specific working tools. There are many IUEC signatory employers across North America, including the global industry leaders Otis, Schindler, Kone, Fujitec, Mitsubishi and TK Elevator. You are never too young to start the best blue-collar career and secure your future.

What Certification/Preparation is Best to Complete Before Your Elevator Apprenticeship Interview?

Applicants who wish to enroll in the IUEC’s elevator constructor apprenticeship program need at minimum a high school education or its GED equivalent. As an aspiring elevator apprentice, it will be helpful if you have previously taken courses in physics, electricity, and mathematics. Additionally, possessing knowledge and skills in reading a tape measure and following instructions are beneficial. Shop courses on carpentry, welding, pipefitting, or electrical work also provide a decisive advantage.

Continuing Education and Training

Continuing education is essential to the IUEC elevator mechanic’s success as well as way of life, and it all starts within the NEIEP apprenticeship program.

After you have passed the EIAT and final interview, you will be placed on a ranked list. When a position opens, you’ll be called by the IUEC to begin work as a probationary employee, and you will start your college-level NEIEP apprenticeship program. This consists of over 8,000 hours of on-the-job learning (OJL) where you earn while you learn, as well as a minimum of 576 hours in theoretical and practical courses of related instruction.

During your apprenticeship OJL, you will work and learn under the supervision of your IUEC mechanic performing all aspects of elevator installation, modernization, and repair – all while you learn the theoretical aspects of the trade one night a week in the NEIEP classroom. During these courses, instructors will cover subjects such as electrical fundamentals, hoistway structures, solid state theory and application, power and logic, and many others.

During your time as an elevator apprentice, you will be working on the installation, repair, and maintenance of passenger and freight elevators, escalators, dumbwaiters, or moving sidewalks.

Elevator Apprentices Get Paid to Learn

Unlike other educational programs in which you usually pay to learn, in the NEIEP Apprenticeship Program, YOU are the one getting paid to learn. During your apprenticeship, you earn a percentage of the mechanic’s rate, increasing upon completion of two semesters until after your eight semesters are completed and you pass your mechanic exam.

During the first six months, you are a probationary apprentice and earn 50% of the mechanic’s rate. As a first-year apprentice, you make 55%, as a second-year, 65%, third-year, 70%, and, finally, as a fourth-year apprentice, 80%.

You Get All the Benefits Sooner

Because employers have signed a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the IUEC, they are bound to make fringe benefits on behalf of the employees that work under the agreement. This means that, by federal law, employers make contributions to the National Elevator Industry Pension Fund, the National Elevator Industry Health Benefit Plan, the National Elevator Industry Educational Program, and the Elevator Constructors Annuity and 401(k) Retirement Plan and the Elevator Industry Work Preservation Fund on your behalf.

Bottom line: you get all of those benefits by joining the IUEC.

So Why Overthink?

Most members of the IUEC say they wished they had joined it earlier in their lives, that they would have grabbed the opportunity if it had been presented to them earlier. Members of the IUEC are Brothers and Sisters. Move through the apprenticeship ranks of probationary, apprentice, and then NEIEP qualified elevator mechanic. Give back by becoming a NEIEP Instructor, Local Union Officer, or even an International Officer.

Imagine how far you could soar with the IUEC. And imagine what you could do for your family and future with the benefits package.

The sky’s the limit with the IUEC.

Recently, we visited the National Elevator Industry Educational Program’s (NEIEP) fair in Arlington, Texas alongside the members of IUEC Local 21. While at the event, we got a nice overview from NEIEP’s Head of Development, Lester White.

NEIEP has established a national educational program that is uniform across the country, so the apprentices all receive the same coursework regardless of which state they are enrolled in the curriculum. The apprentice program is set up as a four-year program with eight semesters.  Each semester focuses on different disciplines and has a respective final exam and then a comprehensive mechanics exam that the students must pass in order to become a mechanic.

Lester shared with us how he advises his students on how this program provides a pathway of choices for them to have careers in the elevator industry. From working in construction, being an adjuster (is that all just two things? NEIEP helps them reach their goals.

Lester shared with us the importance of this training, as it opens up pathways to have a career in the elevator industry. NEIEP not only covers all the basics that an apprentice needs to know, but also offers continuing education courses for those that want to go even further with their training and knowledge. “We have code courses, we talk about different safety issues and factors, how to keep you and your crew safe”, added Lester.

NEIEP also offers continuing education to the workers already working in the trade like code courses and safety topics. “If you want to be successful in this field, and I would say life, you have to continue to learn” says Lester.

ElevatorInfo was recently in Chicago and had the great pleasure of interviewing International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) General President Frank J. Christensen and his dear friend Chris Gardner, whose rags-to-riches story was shared with the world in the hit movie The Pursuit of Happyness, starring Will Smith.

Frank and Chris are leaders working together to change the world. Specifically, their organizations – the International Union of Elevator Constructors and the Christopher P. Gardner Foundation – are uplifting children and young adults across the United States, helping them achieve their goals by offering significant guidance and mentorship, meaningful opportunities, and fundamental tools. They are transforming lives by literally setting young people’s careers in motion.

Keeping The American Dream Alive

With Labor Day upon us, ElevatorInfo engaged in a dynamic conversation with Frank and Chris about the American Dream – and what keeps it alive today.

The American Dream – something that Frank and Chris agree is an idea that every generation can take a little bit further and a little bit higher – is still possible thanks, in part, to the great careers found in the unionized building and construction industry.

Making it a reality

The Building Trades Unions, the International Union of Elevator Constructors, and The Christopher P. Gardner Foundation connect today’s youth with earn-as-you-learn apprenticeship training that leads to exciting careers – careers that offer family-sustaining wages, excellent health benefits, and retirement security.

“To get where you want to be in life – it takes hard work. It’s not luck,” said IUEC General President Frank Christensen. “Our role is to help guide young people. That’s our shared goal – the union and Chris’s foundation – we want to help men and women achieve their goals in life by giving them a hand up, by giving them guidance. Chris and I are doing everything we can to make their dreams a reality.”

With a smile, Chris Gardner added, “Luck is the dust created when opportunity and preparation collide.”