February 9, 2015

Highlights from DASMA’s First Comprehensive History of the American Garage Door Industry

The Fall 2014 edition of DASMA’s Door & Access Systems Newsmagazine included something very special written by the editor of the magazine, Tom Wadsworth. He has spent more than 25 years researching and building the first ever comprehensive history of the American garage door industry.

Chronicling the years from the advent of the industry in 1921 all the way to 2014, the study looks at the history of garage door manufacturers, technologies, and innovations. Not only were we excited to see Garaga’s inclusion, but we also found the article to be full of highlights that we just had to share!

The First Comprehensive History of the American Garage Door Industry

We were also interested in the behind-the-scenes work on such an authoritative study, so we reached out to Tom Wadsworth. He was happy to provide a compelling look into just what it took to create such an article. Look for that in the Winter 2014 edition of DASMA’s Door & Access Systems Newsmagazine!

Highlights from Nearly a Century of Garage Doors

Did You Know that Sectional Garage Doors Date Back to 1921?
Manufacturing advances in the early 20th century made it possible for sectional garage doors to be produced on a mass scale just a few years after the end of World War I. It was in 1921 that C.G. Johnson started Overhead Door in Detroit, Michigan.

Overhead Door’s Innovations Are Still Found in Modern Garage Doors!
Overhead Door had first mover advantage in the garage door industry, but they also had the difficult task of inventing systems and components to reliably operate sectional garage doors. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the company created the first graduated-track closure system and a graduated spiral drum for torsion-spring counterbalance.

The Industry Played a Vital Role During World War II
It goes without saying, but the war effort had an enormous impact on day-to-day life throughout the United States. Garage door manufacturing slowed to a near halt as resources were devoted to war materials.

However, not all manufacturers simply locked their doors for a few years. Companies such as Crawford Door and McKee converted their factories and manufactured military aircraft parts, while Frantz & Raynor made ammunition boxes, cots, and artillery shell palettes.

A Huge Boom Occurred from 1945 to 1960
After the war, consumer demand for garage doors skyrocketed and the number of garage door manufacturers more than doubled. This was also a period of transition, with the rise of durable and light-weight steel and fibreglass garage doors over traditional wooden doors.

The 1970s Began an Age of Acquisitions
The industry boom started to lose momentum in the 1970s and many manufacturers shifted to an acquisition mentality that continues to this day. Smaller companies were absorbed by larger manufacturers and the major names in the industry started to truly define themselves.

Garaga’s Story Begins in 1983!
Michel Gendreau purchases the assets of Garaga Doors of Saint-Georges, Quebec and Garaga is born! Shortly after the acquisition, we introduced the first light-weight insulated aluminum garage door to the Canadian marketplace. Read more about our history here!

Market Volatility Defines the 2000s and Beyond
The economy as a whole is now existing a long period of volatility and the garage door industry is no different. The past few years have seen a number of acquisitions and closings as a result of the housing crisis and recession. However, with the markets now starting to rebound, we’re optimistic for the future!

Our Thoughts on the Future of the Industry

Being able to comprehensively look back at the growth and advancement of the garage door industry soon turns your attention to what the future may look like as well. We thought to ourselves about what advances may be upcoming very soon!

Sectional Garage Doors Are a Mature Product
The 20th century solidified the core components and technologies needed to produce and operate sectional garage doors. Tracks and counterweight systems for example have become standardized across the industry, so industry innovation will likely be elsewhere.

The Quality of Components & Materials Continues to Evolve
Even over the past 15 years, the quality of materials used in the construction and operation of sectional garage doors have improved greatly. The steel used in garage door panels and components has become more rust resistant, and polyurethane insulation is now free of CFCs to benefit the environment. We’re excited to see what advanced materials and ongoing scientific developments will do for garage door manufacturing!

The Near-Future is About Technology
One of the most innovative developments in the garage door industry is the adoption of the “Internet of Things” and home automation. Just like how automatic garage door openers saved homeowners from manually lifting their doors, home automation systems are now making the process even easier! Garage door openers can now be controlled over the Internet and through smartphones, which we think is one of the most exciting developments on the horizon!

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