Volume 7 | Issue 3 | Year 2004

The Peelle Co. has been manufacturing freight elevator doors for 100 years and was founded on a humanitarian concern, you could say: Back then, the absence of elevator doors meant that the black abyss of the elevator hoistway was all the more near and threatening for the unbalanced users.Initially, there was a mesh barricade that acted as a door but Caleb Peelle thought that this, indeed, was not enough protection so he decided to invent a proper door. Peelle had worked as a manufacturer’s representative for Richmond Safety Gate Company, a company founded by his brother, Charles, to manufacture hoistway covers, safety gates, fire doors and fire shutters – the earliest forms of elevator hoistway opening protection. What Caleb Peelle invented was a more secure barrier in the form of a counterbalanced freight elevator hoistway door, designed to protect a building in case of a hoistway fire. In 2005, the business he founded will be celebrating its 100th anniversary and still manufactures the same basic biparting metal door for freight elevators.

Peelle’s invention also entitled the entrepreneur to lay claim to pioneering freight elevator doors, since no other company manufactured a rugged, bi-parting hoistway door for freight application during the early 1900s. With Otis Elevator Company manufacturing in Yonkers, N.Y., just up river from Peelle’s Brooklyn factory, the two companies began to work on several projects together, a relationship that continues to this day. In 1909, The Peelle Co. received the first of its 215 patents.

Through the years the door components have changed with the times; better steel and the use of micro-processor controls are among the technical advances, but in a lot of ways, notes Vice President of Marketing Mike Ryan, “the door itself has changed little.”
Nonetheless, there are distinguishable features that set a Peelle door apart from its competitors’ products; the main being that Peelle installs two operators per door. This feature provides smooth operation, and eliminates problems with excess wear and door slamming. Peelle’s doors also feature a light curtain that senses when a person is near the door so it doesn’t close; similar to passenger elevator doors.

“We are the biggest international manufacturer and we manufacture thousands of custom built doors per year,” Ryan says. “There’s no such thing as a standard product.”

In fact, the Peelle Company has probably manufactured more vertically sliding doors than any other company in the world. The company’s guide shoes, interlocks, and compact, two-speed door operators are said to be the best in the business. In addition, Peelle installs and maintains freight doors on a world wide basis, giving it a unique understanding of a building owners’ needs coupled with an understanding of what is important from the elevator lift company perspective.

Elevating the industry
Peelle maintains one manufacturing facility of 80,000 square feet in Ontario and limited manufacturing, in addition to corporate headquarters, in Hauppauge, N.Y.

Included in its product lineup are hoistway doors, which are biparting doors that counter balance each other as they move in opposite directions or slide-up doors which utilize a counter weight, equaling the door weight, which moves in the opposite direction of the door panel. The company also produces vertically rising car gates that sit on the elevator platform – counter balanced with a counter weight, equaling the gate weight – that moves in the opposite direction of the gate when opening and closing. The car gate matches the style and operation of the freight elevator doors. For example: power freight elevator doors with a baked on powder coat finish would be furnished with power car gate(s) with a baked on powder coat finish.

Another essential elevator component manufactured by Peelle is the car enclosure (the shell of the elevator). Included in the construction are the side and rear walls and a top, two-light fixtures, an emergency exit and electrical contact and cutouts for the car operating push button panel. Peelle will also customize enclosures, providing more value, i.e. all stainless steel construction for wash downs, excessive depths to accommodate tractor-trailers, channel steel or hard wood bumpers, etc.

One of the many areas in which Peelle has excelled is in its ability to modernize the existing freight elevator door, gate and car enclosure equipment of any manufacturer’s existing equipment. These modernizations, repairs and/or replacements up date existing equipment for modern day operation with code compliant state-of-the-art components and, where possible, direct replacements. Modernization programs range from motorizing the existing manual doors to door rail replacements to controller replacements and much more.

Longevity in the business
The Peelle Company not only has longevity on its side; it is also the only company in its industry to remain under the same ownership for a century. Still family owned, Peelle is now seeing its fifth generation of family members coming to work at the company. “The family is very particular with how we do business, as far as research and development, product quality and image are concerned,” Ryan explains. In addition, longevity serves its business in other ways. For example, its employees average 20 years of experience and seven retirees served for more than 50 years.

As Peelle continues to stretch the boundaries in the production of safe, efficient and state-of-the-art elevator equipment, the company is also expanding its horizons, pushing into the Pacific Rim to supply elevators to a whole new market. With a vertical biparting door and vertical sliding door that are considered the best on the market, Peelle’s research and development department continues to leverage that success to invent components and systems of even greater technology.

By continuing its pursuit of unique elevator solutions, the Peelle Company stays true to what got it to this place in the industry; that is, an inventive nature and an understanding of what customers need. Employing these attributes, the Peelle Company greets the 21st century poised to make further advances in the elevator industry.