Elevators are like referees, according to Kevin Lavallee, CEO of Thyssenkrupp Elevators’ North America branch. You only think about them when something goes wrong.
But Lavallee wants to change that. On Friday, the company celebrated the “topping off” of its new, 420-foot testing tower, Cobb County’s tallest building.
“I’ll give you a metaphor here, considering our neighbors, the Braves,” Lavallee said in an interview with the MDJ. The topping off “basically signals that we’re rounding third and heading to home. ... We’ve got the hit, and we’re on base. ... Now it’s about advancing to the interior work of the building and the aesthetics.”
The tower is part of the elevator giant’s new, three-building North American headquarters, which is scheduled for completion in 2021 and for final move-in in 2022. The campus will employ a total of 900 workers in high-wage fields such as engineering, software development and marketing.
Lavalle said elevator technology is more complex than people realize, possibly a result of companies’ putting testing towers in remote, rural locations.
When it’s finished in 2021, Thyssenkrupp Elevators’ tower will be one of the few in an urban setting, with a glass facade on one side allowing people at the Battery Atlanta a peek inside — an opportunity for them to see how interesting the technology can be, Lavallee said.
Given its height, the building required special approval from Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Lavallee said.
Although he wasn’t part of the process that identified Cobb as the ideal location for the new regional headquarters, Lavallee said Georgia was an ideal location for its culture, universities and mix of skilled workers, from tradespeople to corporate, white-collar workers.
“And then, you know, the weather didn’t hurt at all,” Lavallee, a Canadian, added.
As for why the company chose Cobb specifically, the Cumberland area is a “great access point,” Lavallee said — not too far from a major interstate, downtown Atlanta or the airport. He also cited the presence of the Atlanta Braves and the Cobb Chamber of Commerce.
Of the 900 employees who will ultimately staff the headquarters, 330 are already there, according to Lavallee. The 900 will be a mix of key employees from around the region who have agreed to relocate and new hires.
“Now, instead of being tucked away in a rural area, as these test towers typically are, this is the first one in North America this size, and it’s going to change the idea about the industry,” he said. “You know, the automotive industry maybe wasn’t so exciting, but Tesla made it exciting. People would like to (work at) Tesla, maybe over another company. And so that’s the way we think about it from the elevator side.”