Designer Doors is an employee-owned company that manufactures high-end architecturally distinctive wood garage doors and complimentary entranceways, shutters and gateways. David Soyka pulls to the curb to see how this company harmonizes home appearance.
The national scope of Designer Doors is somewhat unusual. “There are only one or two other national wood-only garage door makers,” John Gardner, vice president of sales and marketing, says. “Most wood-only manufacturers are regional. Another thing that distinguishes us is our attention to detail in building a truly handcrafted piece of architecture. We want to be involved right from the design phase in working with architects and builders, and frequently, the homeowner, to discuss the possibilities we can realize. Whether it’s to find a certain species of wood, or to duplicate an existing set of doors, of if they want us to go to an old barn site to use reclaimed wood, that’s all part of our Architectural Harmony approach. The goal is to come up with a turnkey solution delivered in a finished condition ready for installation by one of our authorized contractors. On top of that, we always follow-through after the installation to make sure everything is working right and the customer is totally satisfied. We get involved in every step in the process to ensure the highest level of quality.”
Gardner emphasizes that all doors are made of solid wood with hand-built attention to detail. Depending upon the complexity of the design, in most cases doors can be made and delivered within a six- to eight-week period upon receipt of the order. “We have two plants totaling 100,000 square feet where we make our doors. While there is some automation, mainly in the manipulation of the wood, our personal attention to detail is unmatched. All the joints are hand sanded. The edges are precisely beveled to shed water away from the door; there’s a tip cap embedded at the bottom of the door to direct water to the exterior. We use only stainless steel screws and we hand drill holes to vent moisture so the core can easily dry out after a rainfall. The way we make doors, they’ll last at least 50 years, if not more, as long as they get a new coat of finish every year.”
In addition to durability and heft, Gardner maintains that the wood look, while often imitated, can never be replicated. “Whether it is painted or stained, nothing looks like wood except wood. You just can’t get that same richness of the grain.”
One popular design trend involves the use of windows. “Demand for specialty glass in our garage doors is on the upswing,” Gardner says. “Offering a range of 16 different glass types provides yet another reason why both consumers and the trade will choose Designer Doors when they want the ultimate in class, unique design and unsurpassed curb appeal.”
Garages are also becoming more than just a place to park the car and lawnmowers. “These days, for a lot of people, the garage is the workshop, and they spend a lot of time and money on cabinetry and flooring to make the space look good. Yet one of those four walls is the back of your garage door,” Gardner notes. “So, frequently, we pay as much attention to the back of the door as the front. We just recently did a project where the homeowner had an industrial quality shop in the garage, with a lot of metal cabinetry. So, on the back of the wood garage door we put brushed aluminum with Ferrari red accents on the panels.”
Gardner emphasizes that the more than 20 years’ experience of Designer Doors distinguishes it in the market. “Kent Forsland is still actively involved in the company. He’s the guy that the industry often refers to as the grandfather of wood garage door manufacturing, though he’d prefer to be known as the father. At the same time, with a 100 percent employee ownership in place, he’s established a succession plan to ensure the company will continue to grow and evolve. We have a saying here that innovation is our passion and I think that’s what’s built our brand.”
For Designer Doors, there’s no telling what new opportunities they are capable of opening.