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Introduction | Business Approach | Innovation | History

Introduction


Otis Canada, Inc. is a leading supplier of elevators, escalators, moving walkways and support services in Canada. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Otis Elevator Company, U.S.A., a unit of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:UTX).

Otis Canada has offices and service centres across Canada. This complete country-wide representation enables Otis to provide comprehensive support for its products and services.


Business Approach


As the worldwide market leader in the vertical transportation industry, Otis is conscious of its responsibility to its customers.

Otis provides developers and planners of buildings and structures with an evaluation of all of the factors related to their vertical transportation needs. Otis not only provides a detailed recommendation of the system required, but also detailed specifications which may be incorporated in the general specifications of the building or structure.

As part of United Technologies Corp., Otis can draw on considerable resources in the areas of engineering, product testing, purchasing, marketing and information systems. Utilizing these strengths, Otis develops safe, reliable and innovative solutions for customers.

In these ways, the company helps set the pace for the entire elevator industry.


Innovation


Otis offers innovative and reliable high-quality products and services to its customers.

In recent years, a significant technological advance has been the ReGen™ regenerative drive, which captures the energy given by the elevator braking system and returns it to a building’s electrical grid. Another innovation is the use of polyurethane belts and permanent magnetic gearless machines rather than chains and geared machinery on elevator products. This new approach requires no additional lubrication, while chains require frequent servicing. The new belt system is featured in the company’s Gen2 brand elevators, which are 50 per cent more energy efficient than conventional elevators.

Passenger traffic flow has been improved with technology. The Compass® Destination Management System simplifies floor selection by allowing passengers to enter floor selection before entering an elevator, and then directing them to elevator cabs dedicated to serving specific floors. As a result passenger wait times are reduced, elevator cabs are less crowded, and fewer floor stops are required per trip. The system automatically optimizes traffic flow by analyzing passenger trip data and using the results to adjust cab/floor assignments.


History


Otis Canada, Inc. previously Otis Elevator Company Limited, was until November 1949 known as Otis Fensom Elevator Company Limited, which was created by the amalgamation in 1905 of the Canadian Otis Elevator Company Limited and the Fensom Elevator Company of Toronto.

The Fensom Elevator Company was founded by John Fensom. It is not known just when John Fensom, who was in the diversified machine shop and mill supply business, decided to specialize in elevator manufacture. The earliest Fensom elevators were operated by hydraulic pressure but, by 1880, the steam engine had been satisfactorily adapted to elevator purposes. The pioneer Canadian elevator installations were primarily for freight.

During the 1880s, an increasing public demand for passenger elevator facilities became evident. This, and the successful application of steam power, resulted in a decade of prosperity and consolidation for the Fensom business.

By 1895, all three basic types of elevators were manufactured – hydraulic, steam, and electric – and by the turn of the century the Fensom Elevator Company employed about 100 persons and was substantial enough to display an interest in export business. No official records are available, but it is known that one of the first export contracts undertaken were duly produced and shipped to Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

At this time, Otis Elevator Company of New York was heavily engaged in expanding its organization throughout the U.S.A. and also concluded that the Otis name and know-how in the elevator business should be projected across the border.

In 1902, Otis was established in Canada by acquiring three small elevator organizations in Hamilton, Toronto, and Montreal respectively. The Canadian Otis Elevator Company was incorporated and construction of a new plant and offices in Hamilton was started. In the perspective of one-hundred years, the keen competitive issues of the nineteen hundreds take on a remote, almost historical complexion. But they were very real to those engaged in them and this new Canadian Company and the firmly established Fensom interest soon collided head-on. Lusty blows, in the business sense, were dealt by both sides and there soon emerged the inescapable fact that the thinly dispersed nature and slow expansion of the Canadian economy could not continue to support a competitive dog fight in the narrow, highly-specialized field of elevator manufacture. On March 7, 1905, the Canadian Otis Elevator Company Limited and the Fensom Elevator Company Limited were merged in the Otis-Fensom Elevator Company Limited.

The benefits of this amalgamation, from a purely Canadian standpoint, were evident. To the long established good name and wide connections of the Fensom organization were added the technical resources and potentialities behind Canadian Otis, based upon the vastly greater and more rapidly developing economy of the United States.

The new company at once embarked, with Canada at large, on some years of vigorous expansion and development. Substantial properties were acquired or built in various principal cities. During the next fifteen to twenty years, the Otis-Fensom Company shared the common fate of the Canadian construction industry.

That is to say, business built up to moderate boom proportions in the years immediately preceding World War I, marked time during the war years (with an interlude of shellmaking in the latter years of the conflict) and again steadily mounted to the high business levels of 1928 and 1929. It is a natural characteristic of the elevator business that it is almost identical in trend with total construction volume. Like the Canadian building industry in general, the Otis-Fensom Elevator Company encountered the full force of the Great Depression of the thirties, culminating in March, 1933, the only month on record during which no new elevator sales were registered throughout Canada. The Company emerged from this trying period somewhat leaner of flank but unimpaired in all essentials and in good condition to face the looming task of World War II. From 1940 to 1946, the Company was heavily engaged in the manufacture of war materials in addition to maintaining a high level of elevator output for essential purposes. Tens of thousands of antiaircraft and light naval gun barrels, tank gun mounts and various other high-priority war products were turned out in the existing elevator plant. In addition, a 40 MM Bofors anti-aircraft gun plant was erected and operated for the Department of Munitions and Supply.

The immediate post-war years were devoted principally to large-scale machine tool replacements and additions, the reinstatement of cost and other operating controls disrupted by the war and reduction of the large accumulated backlog of elevator requirements.

October 31, 1946, saw the retirement of Charles J. Fensom, youngest son of founder John Fensom and long-time consulting engineer of the Company. This marked the last active association of the Fensom family with the business, an association extending over a century. This led to the changing of the Company name on September 19th, 1949, to Otis Elevator Company Limited. This was a name change only, implying no change in ownership, policies or management of the Company.

In May of 1965, Otis integrated the sales and service operation of its Quebec City office with Ascenseurs Alpin Cie, Ltée. A minority share interest was acquired by Otis in Ascenseurs Alpin and the name of the latter company was changed to Ascenseurs Alpin Otis Cie, Ltée. In 1975, Otis acquired the remaining interest in Ascenseurs Alpin Otis Cie, Ltée., and late in 1984, merged the Sales and Service functions into its own operations.

In 1976, Otis installed elevators in the CN Tower, Canada’s national landmark, and has continued to service those units as well as units in other buildings throughout the country.

United Technologies Corporation (www.uts.com), which acquired Otis in 1975, is a diversified, multi-national company whose products include vertical transportation systems, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration systems, fire and security systems, aerospace systems, power generation, management and distribution equipment, aircraft engines, and helicopters. In 2014, UTC had over 210,000 employees and more than USD $65 billion in revenues, making it the 91st largest company in the world, according to Forbes. This acquisition provided Otis with further technological support to continue its leadership in the elevator business.

To learn more about Otis and its products, please visit its web site at www.otis.com.


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