Several months ago, ElevatorInfo went to Nashville and visited TriStar Elevator, an up-and-coming independent International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC)-affiliated company. With company headquarters based in Columbia, TN, TriStar elevator constructors perform construction, service, and modernization work across the middle-Tennessee area.
“We pretty much do anything at Tristar,” said Roman Sensing, an adjuster/modernization/construction mechanic and member of IUEC Local 93. We met Roman and Michael Halfacre, another Local 93 mechanic who works for TriStar, while visiting some of their active jobsites at an airport, a parking garage, and a bar under construction right on Broadway in the downtown music district.
“Working for TriStar – and just in Nashville – is wonderful,” said Michael., When we asked him why, he said it was TriStar’s family-oriented culture, responsiveness, and focus on jobsite safety. “If you have to call somebody, they answer. TriStar ensures we have a safe jobsite by giving us everything we need to make it safe.”
Roman agreed that TriStar’s focus on safety is an important part of their work from the beginning to the end of each job – something that’s critical given the hazards elevator constructors encounter on their work sites every day. “Typically on a workday we come in, talk about the job and what we are going to accomplish, and how we are going to accomplish it safely. We include all of those steps on a JHA (Job Hazard Analysis),” he said.
Once work starts, there is an ongoing system of checking and re-checking to ensure that no potential dangers are overlooked. “During the process we talk about anything we may have missed on the JHA and then update it, or note anything we may have encountered on a repair or modernization that could become a hazard.”
This is a significant shift for a mechanic like Roman, who came into the trade after being organized from a non-union elevator company a few years back. The company he used to work for offered little to no formalized safety training before they put him on the job. But once he was organized as an IUEC apprentice, he was enrolled in the National Elevator Industry Educational Program (NEIEP), where elevator constructors complete a four-plus year USDOL Registered Apprenticeship with hands-on training in the classroom, practical labs, virtual simulations, and a major emphasis on safety. (NEIEP training is conducted concurrently with apprentices’ 8,000 hour on-the-job learning under the supervision of a trained mechanic.) Industry-specific OSHA, Arc Flash, proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), American Heart Association Heartsaver First Aid CPR AED, and Scaffold and Access Industry Association (SAIA) Competent Person for Framed and Suspended Scaffolding are just a few of the safety trainings provided for apprentice and mechanic-level elevator constructors.
“I started in the trade about six years ago with a non-union company… the training that I received through NEIEP was much more geared toward safety,” said Roman. “Non-union, not so much. I didn’t really receive much training there as far as safety goes. Very little to none. It was just on-the-job training with the mechanic I was working with…what you should do and what not to do, very vague.”
He continued, “In the (NEIEP) apprenticeship program, they outline a lot of safety issues, a lot of things that may come up on the job. They basically teach you about everything that you might come into contact with or that you might experience on the job. It’s a good base-learning program. Of course you learn a lot more on the job with the mechanics, actually seeing the equipment, but you get a lot of training and knowledge through the programs and the simulations.”
Another advantage to becoming an IUEC elevator constructor that Roman told us about was “. Health insurance – I didn’t have any at the non-union shop – I got health insurance, retirement, annuity, pension, 401(k) – we have all those benefits here with the IUEC.”
The National Elevator Industry Health Benefit Plan provides the most comprehensive health care coverage out there for IUEC members and their families, without additional out-of-pocket premium costs. This includes medical care, coverage of prescription drugs, mental health/substance abuse disorder treatment, dental care, a vision plan, and even hearing benefits.
Michael, who began his career as an IUEC apprentice after applying to a recruitment at Local 93 in Nashville, agreed that the security his benefits provide for his family is a major perk of the job. “One of the greatest things for me is the benefits package. I have two children, they’re completely taken care of by me doing this for a living. Me and my family are both super-happy about that. And I enjoy the work.”
The conveyance industry’s most comprehensive education and training program, a really good health care plan, and a solid retirement plan through the IUEC’s robust Pension, Annuity, and 401K benefits allow Michael, Roman, and the rest of the elevator constructor apprentices and mechanics at TriStar to keep their minds focused on providing consistent, quality work and attentive customer service. Take a close look at the machine room in the background of the video here – it’s an example of the clean, well-organized, and safe work areas TriStar mechanics pride themselves on. To learn more about Tristar Elevator, check out our interview with company owners Stacey and Brandon Jackson.
To learn more about the advantages of becoming an IUEC elevator constructor, or if you are a building owner or manager interested in hiring an IUEC-affiliated company like TriStar for installation, service, troubleshooting, modernization, repair, or inspection work for the elevators, escalators, or other conveyance equipment on your property, contact ElevatorInfo.