In the news, Great Garage Doors Earns Incredible Recognition From Satisfied Customers!
When Sam J. and Sandy Ciminero decided to open Great Garage Doors in 1984, they didn’t have much to begin with besides gumption and his experience. “We started pretty much from scratch,” he recalls. “We just had one truck.”
Nearly two decades and 30,000 garage door sales later, the Cimineros employ 15 and operate seven trucks, and it’s not unusual for the company to receive 1,000 sales- or service-related phone calls each month.
“We always had a saying when we started, `Keep it simple, stupid.’ It’s a simple business. It’s not brain surgery to treat you like a regular human being instead of being abrasive,” Ciminero says. “We don’t run it too much different than when we started. If it’s not broke, why fix it?”
Great Garage Doors sells electric door openers and is a factory-direct distributor for Wayne-Dalton and Haas garage doors, selling to residential and commercial customers. “A major part of our business is garage door repairs. We’ve stressed that a lot in the last 10 years,” Ciminero says.
The company has worked to build a reputation of fast, same-day service, and accomplishes this by keeping a considerable inventory of doors, operators,- springs, and other parts in its 11,000-square-foot warehouse on Andrews Avenue in Youngstown.
“We never have qualms about inventory because it’s almost like money in the bank. Everybody wants everything fairly quickly. Our inventory has been a big help for us,” Ciminero observes. “Service is the name of the game whether you’re unplugging sewers or installing garage doors. You lose the edge if you make customers wait two or three days.”
Keeping the company’s stock diverse also creates business opportunities. “We stock parts that are pretty much universal to most garage doors, so we can service just about any residential or commercial garage door or garage door opener,” Ciminero states.
The company also stocks the same electric opener it did 26 years ago. That way, if customers need a replacement part on a 10 year-old opener, Great Garage can supply it. “Some companies switch around and consequently you can’t get parts for openers that are maybe three years old.
“The electric openers might cost a few bucks more, but it leaves a really good taste in the customer’s mouth over the next 10 or 15 years because we have a lot of referral business,” he continues. “When we do a job on a street, it’s not uncommon for us to do another dozen jobs in the next two to three years on that same street because people have seen the product, they talk to their neighbor, which is by far the best advertising you can do.”
Still, Great Garage’s owners admit an aggressive advertising plan has helped to build and maintain business. The company’s sales and service trucks are “moving billboards every day,” and “we do a fair amount of advertising in newspapers, radio and cable TV,” its president says.
“We figured out a long time ago we can’t sell all the garage door openers in the Youngstown area. We just want to sell a good percentage of them. We stay in about a 40-mile radius. Because of our service orientation and our stress on fast, quality service, we don’t go too far out.
“We have a lot of people call us from farther away. We could install the doors, but one or two years later and they need a really small repair, it would be really difficult to get back because we’re so busy in this area. Time is money when you’re on a service truck, and we’re able to get in more service calls.”
“You would think that you sent people a $50 gift certificate the way some of them act — it’s a little $3 or $6 coupon that people really appreciate,” her husband observes. Most companies, after selling a product, don’t follow up with the customer, he says, “but the sharp companies, they do. We’ve paid a lot of money to get that phone to ring, for them to call us. We want to make sure we keep them for the next 20 years.”
And when calls come in after business hours, points out Sandy Ciminero, also vice president and treasurer, they’re forwarded to the owners’ home.
“Being in business is a two-way street. Some people in business think it’s always just one-way. We respect the people that we work with and respect their families, try to make their hours convenient for them,” Sam says. “Mostly everybody — whether it’s the office staff or technicians on the truck — have been with us for 10 to 15 years. We have hardly any turnover at all, which makes a huge difference in the service business. We try to treat people right — try to keep everybody smiling.”
Monday, October 27, 2014
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Sam Ciminero points to stacks of folded steel garage doors, all packaged and ready to move out should they be needed to serve someone in a pinch.
“We’re one of those unique companies that actually stocks doors,” says the owner of Great Garage Doors Inc., which this year celebrates 30 years in business. “This way we can give better service, especially in the winter months.”
Sales are the best they’ve ever been, Ciminero relates, for the Youngstown-based company that has operated from its site on Andrews Avenue a quarter century. Key to that success is the ability of Great Garage Doors staff to deliver product on time, and when there’s an emergency, often the same day, he says.
“We have on hand at all times anywhere from 200 to 300 doors in stock,” Ciminero says, which gives the company the ability to respond quickly should a customer require a replacement door immediately. “Say you have an accident. The last thing you want to hear is that your door will be there in two weeks,” he says.
Today, Great Garage Doors employs 12 and is a distributor of Haas garage doors and LiftMaster openers, Ciminero says. “We have five trucks on the road, and most of our guys have been with us 25 and 30 years.”
Business is good, Ciminero relates, noting that 2014 should end as the strongest sales year in a decade. “Our guys in the field are very experienced,” he says, “and we seem to be getting a bigger piece of the pie every year.”
One employee is Bill Pekkanen, who on this day is busy installing a garage opener where a house is being built in Canfield.
“I think these are the last ones made in the U.S.,” Pekkanen says, as he points to an opener suspended from the garage ceiling. “These usually take between one and two hours to install. It depends on what you’re getting into.”
Pekkanen, an installer 28 years at Great Garage, confirms business is steady for the company – most of that work derived from replacement orders and not new construction. “I think I’m the longest-serving employee,” he reports, as he puts the finishing touches on safety beams installed at the base of the garage bay.
Ciminero says all of Great Garage Doors’ products are made in the United States and residential work commands most of his company’s business. “Commercial is pretty stagnant,” he says, “so we don’t do a lot of it. It’s residential, mostly.”
On average, replacing an old door with a new one takes about four hours, Ciminero says. “Our market is mostly Trumbull and Mahoning counties in order to keep it close for our drivers,” he relates. The company is also kept busy with repair work in the region.
Doors today are made of steel and come equipped with safety features that weren’t standard when Ciminero started in the business 44 years ago. Back then, garage doors were made mostly of wood, but over the last 20 years, manufacturers’ preferred material has been insulated steel.
New safety measures have also changed the industry over the last two decades, Ciminero adds. Older door-extension springs, for example, had a tendency to snap when put under high tension and be propelled at high velocities. “We’ve seen old springs where they’ve broken and shot right through the partition wall into the kitchen,” he recalls. “Unless there was a safety cable through them, they could hit you or damage your car.”
Great Garage installs torsion springs on its doors and each spring is calibrated to a specific door size and shape. “We sell zero of these over the counter,” Ciminero says, “Most people want these to be done by experienced installers. These are 100% safe now.”
Electric door openers have undergone safety overhauls over the past 20 years as well, Ciminero says. The last big change came in 1993 when the federal government mandated that all door openers come equipped with sensors mounted at the bases of garage door rails. The invisible beams the sensors emit can detect an object, such as a pet, in the path of the door, and prevent that door from closing.
“In the old days, the door would have to hit something, and if it were adjusted properly, it would lift back up,” he explains. If it wasn’t adjusted right, the door would continue pushing down and could cause injury or, in some severe cases, death.
The company remains busy replacing many of those older openers, some dating back to the 1970s and early 1980s, with new LiftMaster models. “It’s the Cadillac of the industry,” he says.
Ciminero has found that consumers do their homework before they purchase a new garage door. “We naturally say that you should look at the company that you’re buying it from,” he says. “Check them out.”
Second, do research on the product itself to ensure it matches your needs. “With the Internet, most people do that.”
For Ciminero, doing a good job means repeat business, noting that word-of-mouth has generated much of Great Garage Door’s growth.
“It’s mostly through referrals,” he says. “We have experienced installers and our doors are all-American steel, located right here in Ohio. We’re pretty proud of that.”