It’s the season of love and we love our distributors! This month, we’re sharing some of the stories of our Overhead Door Distributors who run their business as a couple or family. As many of these distributors know, working with family has its challenges but underneath it all is a bond that can’t be broken. We’re proud to be a part of family-owned businesses that make up an important part of our Overhead Door Community.
Gene and Susan Walker have owned the Overhead Door Company of Brunswick for 22 years. Gene was hired and trained at the age of 19 at the Overhead Door Company of Savannah and started back in the garage door business when he returned to his hometown of Brunswick, giving him 35 years of experience in the industry.
One day, Gene attended a PTA meeting at a Brunswick school for his son, where Susan was introduced as a member of the Glynn County Board of Education. Gene struck up a conversation after the meeting and before they knew it, they were the only two left in the building. During this conversation, Gene learned that Susan had a background in bookkeeping, and asked if she would like to help him out at the company. She agreed and the two were married two years later.
When asked what it’s like to work with family as a distributor, Susan said, “It can be challenging, but for the most part we enjoy working together. We try not to step into each other’s areas and we always discuss and make large decisions together. The most important thing is to respect each other’s boundaries and keep a sense of humor.”
Working together and keeping a sense of humor appears to be working for the Walkers. The distributorship was recently featured in International Door & Operator Magazine as a top performing door dealer for their strategic planning, diversification and continued steps toward business efficiency and improvement.
While they continue to strive for improvements, their core focus remains the same. “We always offer a quality door, because you are doing the customer a disservice by selling them anything else. We practice good, fundamental customer service, and we always do what we say we’ll do,” said Gene.
The Attersons have been in the garage door business a long time. Steve’s father started the business 50 years ago, bringing Steve on at the age of 16. His future wife Heidi stumbled upon this family business when she needed her car’s stereo installed, not knowing she would later become an essential part of the office.
“One of her friends was a friend of the family and recommended that I could help her install it. I installed that stereo and we have been together ever since,” said Steve. The family tradition continued when their son, Stephen, graduated college and came to work at the distributorship as well.
Steve considers his career as an Overhead Door distributor destiny. Even as a young boy, he would respond to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” with, “I’m going to be an Overhead Door man!”
Working as a family is very special to the Attersons, and something they are most proud of. “Times have been good and times have been bad, but to make it through everything with your family still by your side brings you closer together.”
The Attersons see the changes with smart phone remote operation as one of the biggest trends hitting the garage door industry right now.
Michelle Johnson grew up with Overhead Door. For her entire life her dad, Delbert, had worked with the company. Jack had the opportunity to get in the business after he and Michelle were married, managing the distributorship for five years before eventually owning it for the last 18.
They decided to own the distributorship together, “Because we saw its potential, that it supported many families steadily year round and we’d heard that the Ribbon was so much like a family that we desired to be a part of that legacy,” said Jack.
Since they are always there to support, encourage and believe in each other, the couple credits their family bond to much of their success over the years, including receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award and hitting the Million Dollar Club.
“Working at Overhead Door has allowed us the opportunity to build relationships in the community and to invest back into the community through events and charities. It is an honor and privilege to represent the company at these events,” said Michelle.
The couple sees more modern looking residential garage doors and more sophisticated technology for operators as two of the biggest changing trends in their business.
Be sure to read Love and Garage Doors – Part II in the coming weeks, where we’ll feature three more Overhead Door families!
Do you run your distributorship with your partner, spouse or family? What is the best and most challenging part? Comment below and tell us!