Profile: Industrial Door Company

Industrial Door Company was founded in 1974 by Gerald Sizer in Coon Rapids, Maryland. Sizer began by assembling garage doors in his own garage. He then founded the company with 20 employees, making residential and commercial garage doors, repairing broken ones, while providing efficient service and quality products .

In 1981 IDC received $120,000 in financing. The company proceeded to purchase Twin City Spring, and began the spring manufacturing division of the Company. In 2007 IDC acquired Holmes manufacturing in Tempe, Arizona, expanding the spring manufacturing division to the west coast. In 2011 IDC acquired another local garage door dealer in the Twin Cities. The company has grown steadily until today it employs a workforce of 171 and earns a revenue of $34 million.

IDC is an impressive company in a number of ways, and a model for how a small, straightforward business can flourish into a large, successful company in a relatively short time.

First of all the company found a good niche, then it built on that organically. A garage door is a common product, requiring special skills to manufacture, install, and repair. A company that does a good and efficient job in these areas has a good niche. They cannot be easily out-priced by mass producers, because their business involves customized products and hands on services requiring particular skill and know-how.

After succeeding locally with garage doors, IDC received relatively modest financing, which it used very effectively by expanding into spring production. This was a clever choice for expansion since springs are a major component for garage doors, which they were already making. They now produced easily transportable springs for garage door companies across the US, plus all kinds of other types of springs for other industrial use. They now have branches in Minnesota, Ohio, and Arizona, supplying industrial springs across the country. Meanwhile, the garage door department continued to grow locally, taking over another company in the Minneapolis area and increasing its local strength.



Spotlight in Manufacturing: Braun Industries

In an era  long before 3D printing, pattern shops created 3D models used for manufacturing. One such company found demand weakening, and it pivoted its entire business into an unlikely niche – ambulance manufacturing – that enabled it to survive and expand for over forty-five years.

Braun Industries, Inc., based in Van Wert, Ohio, was founded in 1961. The company designs and manufactures custom-built ambulances, and also repairs, modifies and upgrades ambulances and ambulance parts.

The company began as a pattern shop (a company that creates patterns from wood, plastic, metal, etc. according to customer needs, making parts for pumps, castings, motors, etc.). In 1972 when the pattern making industry began to soften, the Village of Lithopolis (where the Braun Company was originally located) requested bids for a new ambulance. So Braun used their designing and manufacturing skills to create an ambulance, which won the bid and pleased their customer.

First Braun Ambulance

Meanwhile, there was a growing demand for high-quality, custom built ambulances, so Braun became a primary address. They built 12 custom built ambulances in that year.

The company had strong designing and manufacturing skills and capabilities, but their original business plan turned out to be weak. They succeeded because they were clear minded and detached. Rather than sticking blindly to their original idea, they saw an opportunity for a new angle for their skills and jumped on it. As a result they found themselves at the forefront of a valuable, developing niche, which they successfully cultivated and developed.

In 1996 Braun Industries received $538,460 in financing. The company relocated to Oakwood, Ohio, and expanded their facilities for ambulance design and production. In 2000 they again moved and expanded, building a 76,000 square foot facility. .

Between their beginning in 1961 and the present, Braun grew to a company of 265 employees. They are currently have an annual revenue of $130 million, according to the IncFact company profile on Braun Industries. Braun has been growing steadily over the past five years, and is now larger than the average company in its sector.

Trump-Score: In Van Wert County, where Braun Industries is headquartered, 76% of voters voted for Donald Trump.


Today in history: Poly-America

February 13, 1976: Poly-America was a fledgling, 35-employee company. It took a $300,000 small business loan, which helped propel it to its current size of 2,634 employees and nearly $1 billion in revenue.

Poly-America produces a variety of plastic trash bags. It continues to innovate, both with its products and marketing. Most recently, with the Flex-Tech plastic trash bags, and Husky-branded trash cans.

With the Husky-branded trash cans, Poly-America identified a product adjacency (i.e., trash bags require cans) and applied its branding for consumables to influence less frequent garbage-can purchase decisions.