Donald Gelestino: A Visionary Leader Creating Difference in Elevator Industry
President and CEO of Champion Elevator, Donald Gelestino is a visionary leader who has been a driving force for the company. Incepted in 2015, Champion is one of the fastest-growing elevator companies in the United States. Champion currently services over 4,252+ elevators monthly in four states with an employee base of just under 300 people as of Sept 2021. Champion Elevator Corp. is an independently owned, full-service elevator maintenance, repair, violation removal, and testing company. All services are provided throughout New York City’s five boroughs, Westchester, Nassau & Suffolk counties, as well as Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The company offers the customers a hand-selected and carefully screened group of highly dedicated and talented elevator professionals to work with.
With changes in technology, codes, labor laws, and safety, Champion has adapted and integrated with the new changes in laws and procedures through different departments. Donald keeps real-time transparent communication with the staff and clients which eases the transformation in any given situation. The team at Champion believes in finding the best way to achieve all changes in a timely manner. Champion provides Management Companies and Facility Engineers workshops on code changes as well as lunch and learns in order to keep the riding public and real estate industry abreast of changes.
Champion successfully deals with all the challenges on an everyday basis which makes it a better company. They thrive to achieve higher standards, increase efficiency and provide the customers with the very best elevator services possible. The companies’ goal is to continuously reaffirm its selection as a superior industry leader and to provide the employees a fair, safe, and committed place of employment. “I am extremely proud to be part of such a great team! The strategic pre-planning of our business model combined with pro-active daily operations have made Champion the elevator source for many building-related professionals. The referrals we frequently receive from our clients are confirmation of our successful efforts to provide superior products and services,” expresses Donald Gelestino the companies President.
Transparent Real-Time Communication
Donald believes ideal leadership is hiring good people first, then harnessing their strengths and helping them with the existing team learn their role within the company. Some of the best employees are the ones who started with the least experience. As a leader, he believes in self-motivating himself and building a team of self-motivated people. Don makes conscious efforts every day to change his leadership style by delegating to others. Delegating can be one of the hardest things to do. Donald feels delegating can be a leap of faith but with good honest people in the place things definitely work out. “Sometimes the decisions of my team may vary from my own ideas… that is tough and challenging but with the company’s best interest at top of mind we move forward. Some of Champion’s best policies, procedures, and methods were not my thoughts, and they are very good!” says Donald. Champion provides transparent real-time communication to its employees and customers. Donald loves the business and likes to provide people with good opportunities, that may be employment or service. Currently, Champion is a growing company and intends to continue down the path of organic and acquisition growth.
A People-First Company
The transparent communication at Champion has helped to build a strong culture in the company. Donald conducts weekly meetings with all departments and he has a daily call with the maintenance team and goes through all jobs that have scheduled maintenance or maybe down for any reason. At Champion, all employees know that they are part of a team and their suggestions are valuable. Also, the company has a suggestion box where employees can express themselves. Champion is a family. The team attends many charitable events together. The company supports the employees’ sports teams, charities, and when in need, as a team step up for each other. Champion has fishing trips, holiday parties, and meets regularly during the Safety meetings. The most important part of our culture is safety. Donald asserts, “Coming to work is easy… it is my vision that all my people go home at the end of the day more educated, safer than the day before, and have more money then when they got to work! That’s our culture.”
The supporting culture at the company is one of the reasons why Champion could face all the challenging situations with ease. During the outbreak of COVID-19, the company faced many scheduling conflicts and employee uncertainties. It did not lay off any employees. In case any jobs were shut down, the company managed to relocate those employees to perform extra maintenance to its clients free of charge. Champion is a people-first company. In the elevator industry, there is never a slow time, for example, social distancing caused fewer people to ride the elevator at the same time… this means more runs, wear and tear, and more maintenance is needed. Champion also received 3.4 million in PPP funds from the government that required NOT to be paid back and the company gave the full amount back! The industry took a big hit during COVID, but Donald personally feels the funds were needed by the real “mom and pop” business which had no re-occurring revenue during these challenging times.
Working towards Groundbreaking Ideas
Over the years, the elevator industry has witnessed a lot of consolidation by private equity. Donald believes that the Champion service and culture will be its competitive advantage while this is happening. Champion is working on some software and customer communications that Donald and the team believe can make a big difference in the industry. He is also working closely with the National Association of Elevator Contractors to help better the industry through education and safety. The team has some real groundbreaking ideas in the works.
“Creating a Culture Of Employee And Client Relationships Thru Real-Time Transparent Communication And Elevator Service”
A Special Message to the Readers
You must be genuine and dedicate a lot of time to your industry whole heartedly. Helping others to learn and achieve their goals is paramount and educating others is a blessing. It’s our choice as leaders to acknowledge the great people we employ and teach them to become even better leaders… Then it’s up to them to take that knowledge to their own personal comfort leadership level.