Family Business Opens Doors
He says that he didn’t really explore other options and that it had always been his intention to get into the business, especially since he had worked at the store while growing up.
Crawford and Raynor are two of the brands that the Samra has sold over the years. Today, Crawford Door sells, installs and services garage doors, as well as storm and entry doors, although garage doors represent approximately 95 percent of business. Samra says that about 75 percent of his garage door business is residential.
Compared to commercial overhead doors, garage doors on homes don’t get near the wear and tear that bigger doors do, although Samra says that some lower end doors don’t take normal use as well. However, “Unless they’re damaged, they’ll all last quite a while,” he says of the doors themselves. The spring, cables, rollers and other moving parts, however, are another matter. Those are the parts most in need of repair or replacement when they do their service calls.
The lowest cost garage door is typically not insulated. Next are doors made with two-layer construction, “which is basically the same door, but has some insulation board added to the interior,” Samra explains. “And then from there, they build what’s called a three-layer construction, or sandwich construction, which is insulated on the inside and on the outside. That makes for a sturdier and quieter product.” Finally, there are the decorative, carriage-style house doors. “I don’t know that they’re a better grade or quality,” he says, “it’s just the appearance of them. They take the sandwich door and put action boards––what they call some overlays on top–to give it a crossbuck or some other old-fashioned type of design.”
In today’s economy, he says that the higher end products are not as popular. “It wasn’t too long ago that we would sell the sandwich-type doors—they were the standard that people would go to.” But he says that manufacturers, “have followed [the down turn in the economy] with a less expensive way to make some of these carriage-house style doors.” In a typical house, the garage door will take up about one-third of what you see from the street.
“So putting an attractive garage door on your house really boosts up the curb appeal,” Samra says. “Some people put on a new door when they’re getting ready to move, or they’ve just bought the house and they don’t have much money [and it’s an inexpensive way to make it look nicer]. Or they’ve been in the house for 20 years and they’re replacing it because they want something particular.”
Samra says that locally they work with Mayberry and Schroeder Homes, and to a lesser extent Edward and Goodrich Builders. He says that Mayberry Homes “is really doing quite a lot of business. They’ve gotten themselves quite a nice niche as far as working with first-time home buyers.” Overall, Samra’s business is about 30 percent new construction and the rest what he calls retrofit or replacement.
The garage door openers Crawford sells are the Liftmaster Brand, a brand they’ve carried for 25 years. “We prefer the product consistency,” Samra says, which means less callbacks. “They’re easy to service and diagnose problems if someone has an issue, [and there’s a] lifetime warranty on the motor.” Depending on the model purchased, some come with a one- to five-year warranty on the other parts.
The commercial doors they typically sell will be ones for a repair shop or an oil change place. “One of the nicer commercial accounts [we have] is Meijer,” Samra says. “We service all of their warehouse doors on the west side of Lansing. It’s usually broken springs, broken cables, adjustments and various opener repairs.”
The entry doors they sell are manufactured by Home Guard out of Indiana, and he says that there are so many styles and window options that they can’t keep many samples in their store, located near Frandor since spring 2011, and order them as they’re sold.
Samra says that recently, they’ve been finding new customers by using Valpak coupons, and have had success by offering deals like $79.95 garage door “tuneups” and $100 off a new garage door. Business also picks up after the first “cold snap” when parts that are on their last legs break or fall into disrepair. The retrofit market typically slows down at back-to-school time and remains slow through the winter—although he says service calls are pretty steady throughout the year.
With six experienced employees, Crawford Door is known for friendly service and its knowledgeable staff. “We’ve been around a long time,” Samra explains, and are “competitively priced.” Another plus is that they can service what they sell. He urges people to “call us for good quality and friendly service.”
Crawford Door Company
Ted Samra, Owner
740 Merrill St.