Watch CBS News

Supply chain shortage impacting elevators in Philly region

GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP, N.J. -- Many rely on elevators to get around and up and down in a building. But shortages in parts mean more elevators are stuck in place.

For South Jersey Elevator, business is going up, but owner Bill McGrath says their chances of finding the parts they need to build and maintain their elevators are going down.

"Oh, you name it," McGrath said, "It's relays to we were just having a problem getting new door detectors to buttons to even someone calling you back from a manufacturer."

It's not just the family-owned businesses being affected.

According to corporate documents, the big manufacturers Otis, Schindler and Kone are also experiencing supply chain shortages.

The manufacturers blame the pandemic. Countries like China, which makes many elevator parts, are still implementing COVID-19 lockdowns, forcing factories making those parts temporarily to close.

"Instead of buying overseas products, now we're buying American products to make it a faster process for us," McGrath said.

And when an elevator breaks down, it means longer wait times for replacement parts.

In just the last year, McGrath has hired someone whose sole job is to source equipment and parts.

He's also working with other independent elevator installers to develop a bartering system for spare parts.

"'A' might have it and 'C' might need it, but 'C' has something that he needs and so that's how us, as the independents, have been surviving to keep our customers and our clients moving forward," McGrath said.

Or perhaps, more appropriately, allow his customers and clients to continue going up.

McGrath recommends building owners and landlords be transparent about the challenges with their tenants.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.