Business

Embree Elevator of Lynn nets Coast Guard contract

LYNN ? A Lynn elevator repair and maintenance company is continuing its track record of obtaining federal contracts amid a soured national economy.Embree Elevator Co., which has its corporate headquarters, machine shop and parts warehouse at 26 Farrar St., has been awarded a $31,200 federal contract from the U.S. Coast Guard Base Support Unit in Boston to refurbish elevator cabs.”The Coast Guard contract is in paperwork right now,” said Cliff Washer, the company’s chief financial officer. “We also have a large contract in Portsmouth, N.H. with the U.S. Navy. The contract to maintain 34 elevators is for 10 years and we’re three years into it,” he said. “We have a variety of CIA and non-CIA buildings where we maintain the elevators, so it gets pretty interesting.”Embree Elevator, which has 34 employees, additionally has a three-year contract to maintain and repair elevators at Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford.”We’re starting to see more of these contracts come out in recent months,” said Washer. “Things have been quiet for the past two years. When it comes to federal contracts, it’s mostly knowing how to drill down and find the local stuff.”The Embree Elevator fleet of 24 vehicles is spread south to Fall River, west to Framingham and north to Manchester, N.H. The company is downsizing from Chevrolet Astros to Ford Transits, a Euro-style van which gets 30 miles per gallon.”We already have six Transits and we’re getting two more,” Washer said.Environmental consciousness is playing a role in one of the company’s commercial contracts in Haverhill, where it recently became the first independent contractor to install an elevator in Massachusetts without a machine room.”A machine room-less elevator is great when you are doing condos where space is critical,” Washer explained. “Most of the equipment fits into a coat closet and everything else is at the top of the shaft. It’s the newest technology on the street and we were the first in the Boston area to put them in.”Machine room-less elevators (MRL) are commonly installed by national elevator companies like Otis, said Washer, adding, “We work with low- to mid-rise buildings, usually not over 15 stories, which is the overwhelming majority of all buildings. The high rises are dominated by the national companies.”Industry reports note that MRL elevators use up to 60-percent less energy than traction-type elevators, require less power, are usually quieter and afford a smoother ride. Since they use no hydraulic oil, there is no oily smell or risk of spill.Embree Elevator has been doing business in Lynn since 1873 and perhaps earlier, first as a carriage works for horse-and-buggy systems. As technology changed after the turn of the century, the company entered the millright and freight business.”In 1923, the company became a partnership n Embree & White n and at the time did more in the freight and millwright areas,” said Washer, explaining that millwrights align belt-driven machinery in factories. “We got out of that and in the past 20 years have been more into passenger elevator work, moving away from manufacturing all together.”Embree & White, which does business as Embree Elevator, is owned by James Comley of Bedford, who purchased the company in 1973.In 1995, the company signed a contract to affiliate its field employees with the International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC), a decision that gave Embree Elevator access to the Boston labor market of over 800 highly-skilled elevator professionals trained in installation, maintenance and repair of elevator systems.”We have to go to school to learn how to repair these,” said Embree Elevator mechanic Michael Livingston during a recent call to Lynn with apprentice Brendan Folan. “The Local 4 elevator union in Dorchester has classes, labs where you learn how to troubleshoot the problem. They put in error codes and you have to figure out what’s wrong with it.”Livingston said some repair work relies on experience, especially when it comes

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