In-house air mail Featured

9:50am EDT July 22, 2002
With 90 percent of its work outside Ohio, the Columbus architecture and engineering firm WDA&E has fax machines running constantly.

Those faxes don’t always wind up on the right desk, especially considering the company’s expansion three years ago into a building next door. That left employees running constantly — until someone came up with the ingenious idea of installing a pneumatic tube, similar to the ones used by bank tellers at drive-thru windows, between the two buildings. The tube even connects the two floors of one building.

Now, about 10 times an hour, paperwork whooshes through the tube, saving countless steps for the firm’s 100-plus employees — and two secretarial staff members.

“We were asking ourselves whether we were crazy to do it,” says company president and COO Christopher Doerschlag, referring to the $12,000 investment, “and now we don’t know how we could do without it.”

In fact, some staffers, noting the late hours architects often keep, have suggested other innovative uses for the tube.

“There’ve always been jokes,” Doerschlag says, “although I’ve never seen it happen, of shipping pizzas back and forth.”

Joan Slattery Wall