In the last five years, Madden Elevator has more than tripled its number of employees and worked on some of Louisville’s largest construction projects. And the client list keeps growing. Through a partnership with Citizens Union Bank, the company gained access to capital so that Madden could ride its “success elevator” all the way to the top.
“It’s been a ton of fun to grow the company,” says Sean Madden, president and CEO. “We take care of our customers like family. And we take care of the elevators like we owned them.”
Madden’s clients include Fort Knox, Louisville Metro government, U of L Physicians Center downtown, and several buildings being developed by NTS at the University of Louisville’s ShelbyHurst Campus. Madden often contracts with Messer Construction Company on large projects.
“We started with one construction job and it all spun from there pretty aggressively because the customer was Messer Construction,” Sean says of his company’s earliest days.
Sean, who started the company in his basement with his wife in 2010, initially grew the firm using 11 credit cards with zero percent introductory interest rates. An engineer by training with excellent credit, he kept meticulous notes of credit card due dates.
“You should have seen my spreadsheet,” he says. “And then I met this incredible bank.”
CUB saw a star in-the-making when it met Sean, who contacted the bank in 2013 after reading a Business First article about cybersecurity written by Kim Dodson, treasury manager at CUB.
“I think what struck me most about CUB is they were very laid back and comfortable,” Sean says. “It wasn’t at all corporate. We just talked. They weren’t trying to sell me something.”
Dodson says creative entrepreneurs like Sean are often attracted to CUB’s non-corporate style.
“We have always seen ourselves as consultants, not salespeople,” Dodson says. “We listen first.”
Sean needed a line of credit in 2013 so that in addition to servicing elevators, his company could expand into the elevator construction and modernization sector. CUB arranged an initial $150,000 line of credit.
“Right off the bat it enabled us to buy tools and vehicles,” Sean says. “It allowed us to bid on projects. We couldn’t go after that business unless we had funding. The most important thing CUB did was listen to me about my plans. We’re always talking about how we can make existing banking products fit our needs.”
Madden’s work is one part mechanical, one part electrical, and three parts inspired art. For example, a ride in an elevator at a ShelbyHurst building feels like riding in a jewel box with vibrant sunflower art on the ceiling. The lush polished wood walls give the elevator a soft golden glow with hints of mirrored accents.
Because Madden Elevator is growing exponentially, Sean is meticulous about managing the growth at an appropriate pace.
“That’s what is so smart about Sean,” Dodson says. “He is very structured in the way he takes on new customers and projects. One of the most exciting things about my work is partnering with companies and watching them grow!”
Sean, whose entire career has been in the elevator industry, launched his own business after working for other large firms. His father, who worked for Otis Elevator for many years, helped build the elevators in the World Trade Center in New York City.
“It’s very rewarding for CUB to grow alongside its customers,” Dodson says. “The bank is enjoying success because our customers are expanding, growing and achieving success, too.”