Otis Elevator Company

The Otis Elevator Company is an American company (owned by United Technologies) that develops, manufactures and markets elevators, escalators, moving walkways, and related equipment. Based in Farmington, Connecticut, Otis is the world's largest manufacturer of vertical transportation systems, principally focusing on elevators, moving walkways, and escalators.[2] The company pioneered the development of the "safety elevator", invented by Otis in 1852, which used a special mechanism to lock the elevator car in place should the hoisting ropes fail.

Otis Elevator Company
IndustryVertical transport systems
Founded20 September 1853 (1853-09-20)
(acquired in 1976)
FounderElisha Otis 
HeadquartersFarmington, Connecticut, U.S.
ProductsElevators and escalators
Revenue US$12.341 billion (2017)[1]
US$2.021 billion (2017)[1]
Number of employees
68,078 (2017)[1]
ParentUnited Technologies

Otis has installed elevators in some of the world's most famous structures, including the Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building, the original World Trade Center, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Petronas Twin Towers, Burj Khalifa, CN Tower, the Winchester Mystery House, the Hotel del Coronado, the Demarest Building (first electric elevator), the Singing Tower at Bok Tower Gardens, and the Skylon Tower.


In 1852 Elisha Otis invented the safety elevator, which automatically comes to a halt if the hoisting rope breaks. After a demonstration at the 1854 New York World's Fair the elevator industry established credibility.[3]

The Otis Elevator Company was founded in Yonkers, New York in 1853 by Elisha Otis. When Elisha died in 1861, his sons Charles and Norton formed a partnership and continued the business. During the American Civil War, their elevators were in high demand due to the shipment of war materials. Businesses throughout the United States purchased them. In 1864, with the partnership of J.M. Alvord, the company became known as Otis Brothers & Co.[4] In 1867, Otis opened a factory in Yonkers, New York, the city where the company was founded.[5]

In 1925, the world's first fully automatic elevator, Collective Control, was introduced. Otis opened a factory in Bloomington, Indiana in 1965.[6]

Fayette S. Dunn became president of the company in 1964, succeeding the late Percy Douglas.[7] Otis was acquired by United Technologies in 1976 and became a wholly owned subsidiary. In 1981, the Yonkers factory closed,[8][9] and was later purchased by Kawasaki for use as a rail car assembly plant.[10] Also in 1981, Otis signed a business agreement with an elevator company in China[11] and Francois Jaulin became president. In 1989 Karl J. Krapek became president of the company[12] and was replaced in 1991 by Jean-Pierre van Rooy.[13]

Otis has also dabbled in horizontal automated people-mover "shuttle" systems, such as the Otis Hovair. In 1996, Otis formed a joint venture called "Poma-Otis Transportation Systems" with the French company Pomagalski to promote these products. That partnership has since ended.

Otis Elevator Company purchased Evans Lifts in the UK when Evans Lifts Ltd went bankrupt in 1997 during its merge with Express Lift Company with the name ExpressEvans. It was the oldest and largest manufacturer of lift equipment in the UK, and was based in Leicester, England. Otis' Customer Care Centre is still based in the old Evans Lifts building in Leicester. The building has since been extended by Otis. There are some installations of Evans Lifts in use today. Few lifts made by Otis are branded as Evans. Notably, an original Evans Lift is still in the Silver Arcade in Leicester. It formerly transported people to the upper floors. The upper floors are no longer occupied: the lift is no longer used. Also in 1997, Steve Page became president of Otis Elevator Co.[14]

In 1999, Otis acquired CemcoLift, Inc, located in Hatfield, Pennsylvania. The operation was later closed in October 2012, with the remaining business being sold to Minnesota Elevator Inc. In 2002, Ari Bousbib became president of Otis.[15]

In February 2007, European Union regulators fined Otis Elevator €225 million ($295.8 million) for being part of a price-fixing cartel in the Belgian, Dutch, Luxembourg, and German markets. Competitors ThyssenKrupp, Schindler Group, KONE, and Mitsubishi Elevator Europe were also fined for participating in the same cartel.[16]

Didier Michaud-Daniel became president of the company in 2008.[17] On July 24, 2009, a group of 8 people were trapped for 8 hours in an Otis elevator in Toronto. A repair man who tried to fix the elevator fell 10 floors to his death.[18] The following year on December 14, 2010, an Otis escalator installed in the International Trade station of Shenzhen Metro Line 1 retrograded without notice, triggering a stampede that injured 25 passengers.[19] On July 5, 2011, an Otis 513MPE escalator installed at port A of Beijing Subway Line 4 Zoo Station changed direction without notice, causing 30 people to fall. One boy was killed and 27 people injured, prompting China to halt the use of the escalator model. A Beijing official called the 513MPE escalator "defects in design, manufacturing and maintenance," and Otis had "unavoidable responsibility for the accident."[20] Shenzhen Metro authorities confirmed that the cause of the accident was also similar to the Shenzhen accident on December 14.[19]

Beginning in 2011, Otis cut its manufacturing operations in Nogales and supply-chain operations in Tucson, Arizona as part of a consolidation of manufacturing operations in Florence, South Carolina,[21] where Otis purchased a former Maytag facility on 92 acres.[22] As part of the consolidation, Otis shut down its Bloomington facility in 2012.[23] In February 2012, Pedro Sainz de Baranda was named President of the company, replacing Michaud-Daniel.[24]

In October 2013, Otis won its biggest ever contract; it will supply 670 elevators and escalators to the Hyderabad Metro.[25] Its second biggest contract was in 2012, to supply 349 elevators for the Hangzhou metro.[25] In 2014, Otis had more than 64,000 employees, with a revenue of US$13.0 billion. The company headquarters are located in Farmington, Connecticut.

In March 2017, eighteen people suffered injuries at a Hong Kong's Langham Place shopping mall when an escalator maintained by Otis reversed direction from up to down.[26][27] On October 9, 2017, Judy Marks was named President of Otis Elevator Company, replacing Philippe Delpech.[28]

On July 9, 2018 a one year old Otis escalator at Stockholm City Station changed direction from up to a rapid descent, in what local officials called a "free fall",[29] causing minor injuries. Inspection of the gear boxes of several Otis escalators revealed unexpected rust and heavy wear. This led to the newly-built train stations Stockholm City Station and Stockholm Odenplan being temporarily closed on July 13, 2018, for security reasons until the problems were understood and resolved.[30][31]

United Technologies will be divesting Otis Elevator into an independent company, announced on November 26, 2018.[32]

See also


  1. "United Technologies Annual Report 2017" (PDF). UTC. Retrieved 23 May 2018.
  2. "Otis Fact Sheet 2011-2" (PDF). otisworldwide.com.
  3. "Elisha Graves Otis". Invent Now. Retrieved December 18, 2007.
  4. Allison, Charles Elmer (1896). This History of Yonkers. New York: Wilbur B. Ketcham. p. 348.
  5. Dan Robbins, Founded In Yonkers, Otis Elevators Took American Industry To New Heights, Westchester Magazine (September 2014).
  6. Press, Associated (2003-12-07). "Otis Elevator to close plant in Indiana". New Haven Register. Retrieved 2019-10-11.
  7. "President Elected For Otis Elevator". New York Times. October 26, 1964. Retrieved 2009-08-18. Fayette S. Dunn The Otis Elevator Company over the weekend the election of Fayette S. Dunn as president and director, succeeding the late Percy L. Douglas. ...
  8. James Feron, Otis Elevator to Leave Birthplace, New York Times (December 1, 1982).
  9. Workers at the Otis Elevator Plant, United Press International (June 16, 1983).
  10. Thomas J. Lueck, In Yonkers, Kawasaki Offers Hope, New York Times (April 17, 1987).
  11. "THE REGION; Otis Signs Accord On Chinese Trade". The New York Times. 1981-10-09. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-10-11.
  12. Feder, Barnaby J. (1990-08-28). "BUSINESS PEOPLE; Head of Otis Elevator To Become Carrier Chief". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-10-11.
  13. Writer, BARBARA A. NAGY; Courant Staff. "PRESIDENT OF OTIS ELEVATOR PLANS TO RETIRE NEXT SPRING". courant.com. Retrieved 2019-10-11.
  14. Writers, MICHAEL REMEZ And BARBARA NAGY; Courant Staff. "UTC TAPS OTIS EXEC". courant.com. Retrieved 2019-10-11.
  15. GERSHON, ERIC. "Ari Bousbib Leaving UTC Sept. 1". courant.com. Retrieved 2019-10-11.
  16. Brand, Constant (February 21, 2007). "Europeans slap $1.3 billion price-fixing fine on 5 elevator makers, including Otis". USA Today.
  17. "Didier Michaud-Daniel: New heights in the world of elevators". Retrieved 2019-10-11.
  18. "Worker Dies & Passengers Trapped For Hours After Elevator Accident At TD Towers". CityNews. Archived from the original on 16 December 2014.
  19. "China subway stampede leaves 25 injured". china.org.cn.
  20. "China Halts Use of Otis Escalator Model After Deadly Accident". Bloomberg News. July 8, 2011.
  21. Otis Elevator Co. to curtail Nogales operations, Inside Tucson Business (October 22, 2011).
  22. Joshua Lloyd, Otis Elevator outgrowing its Florence facility; expansion coming, officials say, The Morning News (July 10, 2017).
  23. Ernest Rollins, Closures manufacturer looking to expand to former Otis Elevator site, The Herald-Times (September 23, 2017).
  24. "United Technologies Corp. Names New President at Otis Elevator Co".
  25. Reporter, B. S. (2013-10-23). "Hyd metro contract is largest for Otis". Business Standard India. Retrieved 2015-04-29.
  26. CNN, Karina Tsui and Elizabeth Joseph,. "2 mechanics arrested after escalator malfunction".CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  27. "At least 18 hurt in mall escalator accident". 27 March 2017.
  28. Prang, Allison. "United Technologies Hires Judy Marks to Lead Otis Elevator Manufacturing Division". WSJ. Retrieved 2019-10-07.
  29. "Presskonferen om rulltrapporna på pendeltågsstationerna".
  30. "Svt nyheter July 13, 2018".
  31. SvD, Matilda Bjerlöw and Sophia Sinclair,. "2 Stationer i Stockholm stängs – rulltrappa skenade".CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  32. "United Technologies Announces Intention to Separate Into Three Independent Companies; Completes Acquisition of Rockwell Collins". United Technologies. Retrieved 2019-10-11.
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