When it comes to safety, integrity, and quality, TEI Group is on the up and up.
When TEI Group President Mark Gregorio was just a young elevator technician, he worked in some of New York City’s most iconic buildings, including the Empire State Building and the world-renowned Sherry-Netherland hotel. That was 30 years ago. Today, the company he co-founded with Michael J. Staub (Partner and EVP of Operations) and John Fichera (Retired/Former Partner) are pleased to have Sherry-Netherland as a client.
A love of electrical engineering brought Gregorio to his current role as President of TEI Group. In 1986, after working as an electrician for the NYC Transit Authority, he sought more meaningful work, and chose to be an elevator mechanic as a path to that goal. “I didn’t know anything about elevators,” he confessed. “Just that you press a button to go up or down.”
He learned fast, moving from the repair department of legacy firm Millar Elevator Industries, Inc. to their service department, and through the ranks to become an assistant supervisor. After the firm was acquired by Schindler, Gregorio was so well known by the Millar customers he’d worked with as a service and repair go-to that, when tough problems arose, they began asking for him by name. “They were very well serviced,” he recalled.
Gregorio’s ability to find and fix problems and to assemble proficient teams that would become the best in the industry led to TEI’s creation in 1989. With TEI Group as an independent company, he understood the importance of maintaining a high level of customer service, which meant treating clients the way they want and expect to be treated — like family. For example, he ensured that from the start that TEI would provide exceptional preventative maintenance by hiring top-tier talent and ensuring small and manageable routes, which would greatly help their clients maintain healthy running elevators. He viewed running a company through the same lens as making an electrical connection. “It’s like mechanics,” he said. “Where is the electrical circuit that's causing the problem with the elevator, and how can I fix it? That became, ‘Which department is not performing to its potential, and how do I get it to function as best that it can be?’”
In the early days, Gregorio, the partners and their crews would often sleep at their desks. One generous hotel client offered a TEI crew an apartment to live in while they made round-the-clock repairs to a fire damaged elevator machine room. “We slept on the floor in sleeping bags. If we hadn’t, the repair would have taken up to two months. We did it in two weeks.” While simultaneously learning how to run a company, that is.
They learned very well, and by now they’ve forgotten more than most will ever know about vertical transportation. This allowed TEI Group to move on up with the most seasoned and innovative mechanics who belong to Local 1 International Union of Elevator Constructors — the only technicians trained and licensed to work on every aspect of an elevator or escalator project. TEI is on call 24/7/365 with a local home base for quick arrival to job sites. Today, TEI is also the best provider of new construction elevators, offering in-house design and installation services. In addition to TEI’s Maintenance, Repair, Modernization, and Construction offerings, their Code and Violations department works to successfully maintain clients’ buildings in compliance throughout the year.
Fast-forward to 2020, TEI inked a joint venture partnership with Analogue Holdings Limited (ATAL), a leading publicly traded engineering and mechanical service provider based in Hong Kong. The move is part of TEI’s goal of becoming an international market player on par with other global companies in the sector.
Their investment is helping to fund TEI’s planned expansion throughout the eastern corridor of the U.S., and TEI is pitching in to help ATAL grow their small but promising elevator division. “They’d like us to help them build their international high-speed high-rise elevators,” Gregorio said. “It’s pretty exciting. We’re a good match for each other.”
As a leading E&M engineering service provider, Analogue pioneers in applying innovative technologies such as Modular Integrated Construction (MiC), Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Multi-Trade Integrated Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MiMEP) systems to both public and private sector projects. The edge in innovation and technology, together with its track record in sustainability projects and practices, enable it to capture new opportunities in Hong Kong, the Greater Bay Area, and overseas. Analogue’s overall business continued to achieve sustainable growth, with a record high value of outstanding contracts in hand amounting to HK$11.9 billion ($1.52 billion) in the first half of 2021, underscoring their strong foundation for sustained and promising development.
Last year, Analogue was honored with the ListCo Excellence Awards’ 2021 and gained much cross-border recognition. TEI Group also received praise from the industry last year after winning their third Ellies Award for Best Contractor East, a prestigious award presented by Elevator World.
Safety, Integrity, Quality
TEI Group’s culture is rooted in safety, which drives the company’s additional core values of quality and integrity. Nationally recognized thought leader in elevator safety Raymond E. Downs oversees the company’s EHS. In his efforts to make elevators safer for passengers and workers, Downs developed the “10 commandments” of elevator safety, nine of which were embraced by a pair of the industry’s biggest associations, the National Elevator Industry, Inc., and the National Association of Elevator Contractors.
The directives are now known as the Nine Absolutes, and they represent a watershed development for an industry that lacked common agreement on the core components of elevator safety programs across all building, installation, and maintenance organizations.
Gregorio recently accepted an appointment by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul to sit on the New York State Elevator Safety and Standards Board, an entity established as part of the passage of the state’s Elevator Safety Act in late 2020. The Act, of which he was a vocal supporter, requires elevator inspectors to be licensed, as well as anyone working in elevator design, construction, maintenance, alteration, and repair.
“It’s been a really good environment the last few years, and the industry incident statistics continue to trend down,” he said. “That’s a wonderful thing both in technology and training.”
Gregorio describes the company’s staff as the “ultimate workforce.” TEI is a certified Great Place to Work, and an ideal place for young talent to perfect their trade.
“There’s none better, pound for pound, our people are the best without question. We are very good about training people and seeking out the best and brightest, and it’s kind of known that if that’s not what you want to be, don’t even apply.”
Gregorio is speaking of every department and role in TEI. The vast majority of the company’s leaders and managers have multiple years of industry experience and spend time in the field. “We’re out there commenting on the workmanship, giving a pat on the back for jobs well done, riding elevators, seeing what our customers see, feeling what our customers feel, and that’s a continual drumbeat throughout TEI Group.”
Green and Growing
Electric power consumption has been a critical area of focus within the building sustainability movement for decades, particularly in New York City. “The city’s design was facilitated by elevators,” Department of Building Commissioner Melanie La Rocca told Gothamist late last year. “You wouldn’t have the vertical nature of this city without elevators to transport people.”
An ambitious initiative to become carbon neutral is woven into the city’s future, and its impact on elevator technology has been particularly effective. For example, commercial building energy performance benchmarking is driving building owners to adopt the most energy-efficient vertical transportation technologies available.
As such, many have moved away from the traditional “estimated time of arrival” technology — think pressing a button inside the elevator to take you to another floor — to innovative destination-based dispatching.
According to the NEII, destination dispatch technology uses advanced algorithms to optimize the flow of traffic in a multi-elevator building. Passengers request their desired floor before getting into the elevator itself, using a lobby keypad, touch screen interface, or proximity keycard, and they are then directed to the elevator they should take to get where they want to go.
Depending on the number of elevators in a building and the number of floors they serve, destination dispatching can make elevators 20% more efficient in terms of trip duration, and a reduction in the number of trips can save 20% in energy consumption. “Couple that with more efficient motors, and we’re moving along,” Gregorio said.
In some of the buildings they serve, TEI uses LiftOff non-contact mobile elevator dispatch technology from braXos. Users simply walk into a lobby and access elevator information through their mobile phones.
Not all buildings have the physical capacity to expand, and in those cases, destination dispatch can increase elevator capacity by as much as 33%. TEI is using the technology in a host of sites, including 1166 Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan, which the company says will be the largest single deployment of the technology to date.
The usage data collected by these smart dispatch systems provide real-time information that can be used to manage elevators more efficiently and safely. Gregorio noted that modern technology is making elevator technicians safer as well, with virtual reality training that enables techs to safely experience being in an elevator shaft on the near horizon.
As part of the over $1 billion remodel of the legendary Waldorf Astoria hotel on Park Avenue, TEI will be installing 26 new elevators. At 650 feet high, the dual-tower building is far from the tallest in the city, but the logistics required to bring the elevator infrastructure to the site offers a helpful perspective on what it takes to make elevated transportation possible in a major urban center.
The tallest elevators in the renovation span 500 feet. In those machines, four sections of guardrail each weighing 240 pounds are set at 16-foot intervals. That represents thousands of feet of guardrail and tens of thousands of pounds of rail systems. Additionally, several 8,000-pound hoisting machines are in place at the top and middle of the building. All the heavy infrastructure is brought into the building through its underground bowels.
“Logistically, getting all these big pieces of equipment into these buildings is a challenge. But it’s cool,” Gregorio said. While many visitors opt for a street level view of the city, vertical transportation specialists prefer the view from up high. “That’s where the energy is for us. You see the whole 60,000-foot view from the top of a skyscraper.”
For over 30 years, the TEI Group has continued to evolve from its roots as an independently owned elevator maintenance company to become a leading provider of comprehensive, full-service vertical transportation construction, modernization, maintenance, and repair services in the New York Metropolitan Area.
TEI Group leaders started their careers as elevator mechanics, building on their hands-on experience to provide multiple generations of customers with unprecedented safety, integrity, and quality service.
Our achieved growth is equally driven by superior customer relationships, rewarding TEI Group with a 98% customer retention rate.
Simply put, our customers are family – all treated with the highest degrees of honesty, urgency, and attention.
By keeping our customers’ vertical transportation systems safe and always moving, our experienced team of over 300 highly trained professionals also keeps property managers and their occupants happy, further enhancing the valuation and profitability of the facilities under our care.
We live by our core values of Safety, Integrity and Quality.