Most of us have ridden in one at one time or another, but we rarely consider them—they simply help transport us from one floor to another, safely and without breaking a sweat. Elevator cabs—commonplace in many buildings today, from public schools to offices to universities and even private homes—generally tend to be generic in design, color, and adornments, but if you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary, Eklund’s is the company of choice.
Crafting complete elevator cabs and custom elevator interiors—whether for a new construction project or a renovation—Eklund’s has developed a unique, wide range of elevator cab solutions to meet performance and budget requirements, and, most strikingly, aesthetic considerations.
The company was founded by James (Jim) Eklund in Grapevine, Texas in 1983. Eklund had spent his entire career in the elevator cab and entry industry before starting the company. Embracing his belief that all products could be improved, Eklund’s has since emerged as the market leader for customized elevator cabs.
A family business to this day, Eklund’s daughter Beth Cunningham joined the expanding business in 1984 as Vice President of Sales and is President today, while Beth’s son and nephew, Heath Cunningham and Joseph Eklund, both hold executive positions.
With a corporate office in Dallas-Fort Worth and a manufacturing facility in Maryland, Eklund’s has brought its expertise to unique elevator cab solutions that satisfy all client needs.
“The Eklunds identified a gap in custom elevator cabs, so Jim started the company with the priority of making a superior elevator cab product and tailor-made cab interiors,” explains Shelby Tidmore, Marketing Coordinator.
Jim Eklund’s specialization—and genius—was in turning elevator interiors into practical, aesthetically beautiful, and safe realities by collaborating with architects, elevator consultants, elevator contractors, general contractors, and building owners.
Today, Eklund’s design, production, and installation of unique elevator cabs and interiors are all included in its comprehensive elevator cab solutions, complete with innovative engineering and design concepts, strict safety compliance, and a wide range of material options. Projects range from remodeling current cabs to building custom glass observation cabs and elaborate interiors for new structures. The company’s clients stretch from coast to coast, but wherever they are, they can experiment with cab layouts and finishes via the company’s virtual design tool, the StreamLine Cab Design Studio.
This tool dramatically shortens the design cycle, speeds up manufacturing, and reduces costs for customers. Eklund’s expert designers employ cutting-edge manufacturing processes with durable, functional materials that adhere to the strictest codes, safety, and quality standards.
With Business Development Representatives working throughout the country, Eklund’s has continued to expand its customer base and grow its staff, manufacturing capacity, and capabilities since its founding in 1983. The company’s projects span hospitality, medical/health care, commercial offices, government/justice, multi-unit residential, airports, civic/cultural, education (colleges and universities), entertainment, and retail, all the while maintaining its strong family dynamic.
Celebrations for the impressive 40th anniversary included a company picnic for the team. “We’ve done great business in the past couple of years; we appreciate the team, and have an upcoming employee and customer appreciation party,” shares Tidmore.
Eklund’s business model—which embraces designing tailor-made cabs ranging from basic garage cabs up to observation passenger cabs overlooking downtown Dallas, and a large corporate office building in Chicago, a huge project that Eklund’s is particularly proud of—starts with initially meeting with a client and understanding their vision for what they want, says Tidmore.
Eklund’s StreamLine Cab Design Studio lets clients visit the website and “play around” with different materials and finishes to make their own cab. From there, Eklund’s can create something fully tailor-made, providing an inspired answer to the customer’s needs.
“The sky is pretty much the limit,” she says. “We can go anywhere, from using Italian stone to laminate and vinyl—all different sorts of elements.”
Other notable projects include corporate offices, buildings, and hotels all over the country. “We’ve done a lot of notable buildings, and although a lot of people I meet don’t think about cab interiors or the process, everyone realizes that there’s a special company that makes them,” Tidmore says—proof that although elevators are usually considered simply functional, they can be so much more when designed by the right company.
“You don’t think about it until you’re in a really nice one,” she says. “We do anything from office buildings to hotels, sports stadiums, and college campuses. Anything you can think of, we can tailor-make. And it’s a very niche industry; there are few companies or organizations that do what we do and I’d say we’re arguably one of the best artists doing it because we’ve been around for so long and have so much industry knowledge.”
A major Chicago-based corporate office building, for instance, one of Eklund’s biggest and most unusual projects, featured numerous units and took five years to construct. And Eklund’s not only designs the cabs, but takes care of installation as well, through sister company BCE Specialities.
“We can do the design—we work with architects a lot—and then we also do the installation,” Tidmore says. “We have a sister company called BCE Specialties, which Beth is also President of, and we work closely with the elevator companies that do the mechanics to install the cabs ourselves. We handle it from design conception to installation.”
While work often comes by word-of-mouth for Eklund’s, the company bids on jobs as well. “Projects also come from other elevator companies who have used our services in the past and refer us to potential clients,” Tidmore notes.
Being a full-service business helps the company elevate itself above the competition. “What sets us apart is our industry experience and knowledge and then how we install the cabs. Not a lot of companies do installation,” says Tidmore. “It is what makes our business unique… We have a quicker turnaround time on projects and manage it from the design to completion, getting to be with the customer every step of the way.”
Challenges have included, of course, the ongoing pandemic and the numerous difficulties, such as supply chain constraints, it has created over the past few years, but Eklund’s has persevered. “It’s good to be back in an office setting again and having that company culture back,” shares Tidmore. “I felt like it was hindered during COVID.”
Despite supply chain disruptions, Eklund’s determination and commitment have enabled the team to maintain timely delivery and keep up the momentum. This, in turn, has led to a variety of notable accomplishments.
“All of our jobs are an accomplishment,” says Tidmore. “Being part of a big project definitely is. Two large office projects in downtown Chicago—about 100 cabs total—is one of our accomplishments in the past year.”
Tidmore is also particularly proud and pleased to be a part of not only a family-owned and family-run business but one that is headed by a woman.
“It’s inspiring working for a woman-owned business in 2023,” she says. “Being a fresh graduate from college and having good woman leadership sets a standard in a male-dominated industry. I think that also sets us apart. I wouldn’t say it’s easier, but it’s more comfortable for me to have the camaraderie of a woman owning your business and being able to highlight that,” she says. “It makes me as a young professional more comfortable being in such a male-dominated industry.”
It’s been encouraging for Tidmore to start out working for a company that prioritizes family values, care for employees, and the importance of encouraging young employees to not only do their best but also to make their way in the construction world.
Not only is she enjoying her work at Eklund’s and learning from the mentorship of President Beth Cunningham; it’s something she can see herself doing for years to come. “I’d love to make a career of being here and being in this industry,” she says. “It gives me as a young professional something to be proud of and look forward to as well.”