ANY MANUFACTURER WITH A FINGER on the pulse of its customers knows that its products must adapt and evolve in order for the company to remain competitive.
In other words, you must satisfy your customer base if you want to keep it. This maxim applies to all players in the building industry, and garage door manufacturers are no exception.
Faced with a variety of issues, such as America's love affair with sport utility vehicles (SUVs), garage door companies have stepped up with product innovations and alterations to meet buyers' demand. When the public started buying SUVs in droves, for example, manufacturers started offering 10-foot-high garage doors. Now, manufacturers are at it once again, with additional product improvements that are a direct result of customer requests and architectural trends.
STOP THAT NOISE! Tim Matthews, vice president of sales for builder programs at Dallas-based Overhead Door Corp., says the space above the garage is again becoming a popular place for builders to locate entertainment rooms, bedrooms, and other living spaces. As a result, noise mitigation in the garage is becoming increasingly important.
“The average garage door is opened and closed about 1,200 times a year,” Matthews says. “It's often the primary means of getting into and out of the house, [and] you don't want to keep hearing that sound.”
In response, manufacturers are focusing their efforts on products that reduce noise. Overhead's Banner Collection, Matthews says, helps keep the peace for those living above the garage.
“We combined steel and polymer rollers and new DC motors to help eliminate the clicking sound as the door goes up and down,” Matthews explains. Other manufacturers, such as The Chamberlain Group, a makers of garage door openers in Elmhurst, Ill., have developed ultra-quiet belt-driven openers that will become more prevalent, Matthews says.
SENSING AN OPPORTUNITY Cincinnati-based Clopay Building Products used one part intuition and one part observation to capitalize on a consumer demand it suspected might exist. Earlier this year, the company introduced to its residential lineup a modern-looking aluminum-and-glass door that generated quite a stir among design-conscious buyers and builders. The secret, however, is that the door—in the Avante Collection—isn't actually new.
“It's been available in our commercial products division for a while, but a lot of people who like modern styles were specifying it,” says Mischel Schonberg, Clopay's public relations manager. According to Schonberg, the builders, architects, and home buyers who were using the door just happened upon it. Sensing an opportunity, the manufacturer moved the product to its residential lineup; modified the design slightly, increasing the thickness of the frame sections; and gave it a name. “Now, we're getting calls from all kinds of people, including builders,” Schonberg says.
Another factor that's forcing manufacturers to develop new garage door products is stringent building codes for hurricane resistance. River Falls, Wis.–based Designer Doors has introduced the Hurricane Frame garage door, which it says is the first solid-wood–frame door to have been tested to withstand 140 mph winds.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Miami, FL.