Volume 14 | Issue 1 | Year 2011

Success results from its dedication to architectural authenticity, innovation and creativity – as well as attention to detail.

It calls this trademark approach architectural harmony. Chief Executive Officer Paul Goudreault described this unique approach for Dan Harvey.

Designer Doors Inc. crafts custom garage and entry doors, each one built by hand and reflecting the company’s unparalleled attention to detail. The River Falls, Wis.-based enterprise developed an approach called Architectural Harmony™ that enables it to coordinate the doors, as well as outdoor shutters and garden gates into a unified design.

In 1987, Designer Doors pioneered the revival in handcraft carriage doors, combining architectural refinement and authentic appearance with innovations. “In that year, Designer Doors created the new carriage house wood garage door market, and we subsequently led the market,” says President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Goudreault. “We have retained the market’s premier brand position.”

Indeed, the company gained the reputation as the finest custom crafted wood door manufacturer in the United States. Customers include architects, luxury home builders, home owners and dealers. While competition has entered the market, Designer Doors continues to differentiate itself as the “brand of choice,” says Goudreault.

According to Goudreault, Designer Doors gained its market leadership position by investing in two brands. These include the Designer Doors Inc. brand, which was established in 1987, and the Sawmill Creek brand, which was established in 2005.

Along with its brand investments, Designer Doors developed an overall brand promise, which created significant brand loyalty and market recognition. “Our Architectural Harmony promise allows us to bring a complementary mix of products to the market, all manufactured with the same craftsmanship and quality. Essentially, it means the development of new products that are high quality and innovative, developed and produced under a consistent theme. It also represents a response to the market, in terms of what customers were asking for,” says Goudreault. “Our portfolio of overhead doors, walk through doors, entrance door systems, shutters and gates bring unique solutions to the client.”

In addition, Designer Doors, Inc. maintains individual Web sites for its two brands. It has also deployed social media instruments including Twitter, Facebook, and a blog, and it developed a monthly i-Contact Newsletter to promote brands and develop sales leads. This relatively new marketing element is due to Goudreault, who came on board in January 2010 and is very enthusiastic about new electronic communications technology. “It’s a fairly inexpensive way to get your brand in the market,” he says. “It’s a seed to build attraction.”

Designer Doors sales are primarily in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and the Middle East. Commitment to quality, customers and employees has been instrumental to success – as has the company’s aggressive sales strategy and territory development, particularly in the United States.

“Our territory managers have developed deep and lasting relationships and positioned us in fertile markets including Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Miami, Chicago and Minneapolis/St. Paul,” says Goudreault.

The company was founded in 1987 by Kent Forsland, who previously founded a steel garage door company. Last October, Steve Williams purchased majority ownership of Designer Doors. He comes along at a time of change in the construction industry. In recent years, many companies – Designer Doors included – have been impacted by the changes. Goudreault is excited about Williams’ input. “As we’re entering a new chapter that involves a renewed focus on our products and customers, Steve’s experience in manufacturing will be essential, as we streamline operations and develop efficiencies,” he says.

Of course, the construction industry was negatively affected by the recent economic downturn beginning in 2008. In response, the company has made changes in its structure to lower costs and simplify processes.

Looking ahead, Goudreault says Designer Doors sees future growth as a key to continued success. The company has developed core products on reliable platforms that can be highly customized. The focus on the near term will be to continue concentrating on the custom wood market and to spotlight its unique abilities.

“We’re also always working to make our products better and even more customizable,” says Goudreault. “At this time, with the industry the way it is, we’re not really looking to make new products. Rather, we are looking to do what we do even better.”

That way, Designer Doors will continue to turn customers’ vision into reality, and in a manner that is graceful and simple.

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