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ects such as the installation of escalators in
the new Kai Tak Cruise Terminal are excep-
tional, although the company's Macau office
has captured a significant share of the new
casino development on the Cotai Strip and is
also involved in the proposed light railway
Today, maintenance is the bulk of the
company's revenues. "We have a very strict
Electrical and Mechanical Services Depart-
ment and maintenance is our biggest busi-
ness," says Ip. For the past decade, lift and es-
calator mechanics have been able to service
any brand, not just their own, making the
market more competitive.
Ip's major cost concern is labour. "The
maintenance business is all about people,"
she says. "Our highest cost is salaries and
wages." That is exacerbated by a shortage
of skilled manpower. The vertical transport
industry is not especially lucrative and fewer
young people are seeking apprenticeships.
"We are talking to the government about
what we can do about the shortage," she says.
"It's not just us -- it's the whole industry."
In the meantime, Ip concentrates on achie-
ving efficiencies. "We spend a lot of time on
financial analysis of costs outside labour," she
says. Finance staff will talk to the mechanics,
who travel around Hong Kong on a small fleet
of motorcycles, about where they think sav-
ings can be made. "We have to come up with
things out of the box, such as changing [the
mechanics'] routings," she says.
To augment the maintenance ser vice, Otis
also offers modernization and upgrading ser-
vices, which have been sold to recent clients
such as the Mass Transit Railway Corporation
and installed in The Peninsula Hong Kong and
the Pedder Building, the oldest client location
(built with Otis lifts in 1924).
Heading back to the Taikoo Shing office,
Ip says she is confident about the business,
despite strengthened regulations. "We have a
very strict safety ethic so I'm not worried." Ip
is full of praise for government safety notices
urging the public to be careful on escalators
and in lifts.
"These measures by the government can
help," she says. Ip looks at her fellow riders on
an escalator. The children are standing away
from the edges, acting responsibly, although
one man wearing pink Crocs manages to es-
cape Ip's attention.
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