American Overhead Door goes high-tech

Filed under: Photo,Print,Small Business |
Gary DeJong has turned his company into a more successful operation since buying it in 2010.

Gary DeJong has turned his company into a more successful operation since buying it in 2010.

American Overhead Door

Info: 2812 N. Prospect St., 538-9900

In Business: Purchased existing business in 2010

Number of employees: 19


If you want a new garage door and you call American Overhead Door, you can get accurate estimates, along with multiple photos of what different styles and colors would look like on your house. The varied estimates can include options like windows, insulation, different types of doors. The door of your choice can be ordered, a contract can be written and a delivery date estimated — all before American Overhead Door leaves your driveway.

In business in Colorado Springs since 1985, American Overhead Door is an independent garage door company owned by Gary DeJong, who purchased it from Rebecca Rogers in 2010.

Business is growing

“Sales have multiplied by almost five since I bought it,” increasing from about $450,000 a year to almost $2 million, DeJong said.

In 2010, the company had three technicians and two trucks; now it has 12 installers, 12 trucks and six phone lines. Employees earn their pay on an hourly wage, not by commission, said sales representative Ryan Haisley.

“We don’t try to up-sell,” Haisley said. “That’s why we get recommended. We’re not there to get the big buck.”

After earning his associate of arts degree and his bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting in California, DeJong worked as a controller for a number of companies.

Also in California, he purchased a countertop fabrication and installation company called We’re Tops. He bought it when it had three employees and $250,000 in annual sales. Eight years later when he sold the company, it enjoyed $5.4 million in sales and he had 50 employees.

“I sold the countertop company at the top of the market,” DeJong said.

To the Springs

DeJong moved to Colorado Springs in 2007 after a friend from his church moved here.

“I just came for a visit and fell in love with the place,” DeJong said. “It was a God-thing.”

Here, he worked as an Allstate Insurance agent. During his first year, he was named Colorado agent of the year.

He also worked as controller at Micro Metals, a metal fabrication company.

Feeling comfortable in the construction field, “I was looking to purchase a construction-related company,” he said. “I like being outside, and I like a finished product.”

While researching companies, he found American Overhead Door had a long life and a good reputation, and the sales remained relatively stable.

“The business is not affected much by the economy. Sales remained within 5 percent a year during rough economic times,” DeJong said.

Diversified customers

DeJong had seen colleagues in the construction business fail when subdivision construction suddenly dropped during economic downturns. While he does install some garage doors in new subdivisions, he doesn’t rely on them for the entirety of his business.

“I’ve watched people heavy into subdivisions go broke,” DeJong said.

His market makeup is one-quarter residential door installation and replacement, one-quarter residential repair, one-quarter commercial door installation and replacement, and one-quarter commercial repair.

Customer Eric Amoneno of EA Homes has used American Overhead Door about 10 times.

“I’ve been doing this 23 years, and so far, they’ve been the easiest ones to talk to,” said Amoneno, who added the company responds quickly on repair calls.

“They’ve done everything they said they will do,” said Amoneno, who builds semi-custom homes and some tract homes.

High-tech operation

All the company’s trucks have Global Positioning Systems in them. “We know if they’re speeding. We know if they’re idling,” said Lisa Price Waltman, business development director.

“It’s not to babysit them; it’s to serve customers more efficiently, DeJong said.

If a client has an emergency — perhaps his garage door won’t open and he’s needed across town for an emergency — management of American Overhead Door will look on its map and see who’s close to dispatch to go help, DeJong said.

“We’re the industry leader in tablet electronics,” he said. “We are trying to go paperless.”

His sales reps and estimators have tablets on which they input information about each order — the costs and every detail — all of which is then instantly communicated back to the main office. The tablets can also be voice-activated, he said.

The program then updates all the accounting, sales figures, tax numbers, inventory and more.

“We are the only ones in the area using that technology,” DeJong said.

Community service

DeJong works to make a difference in the community by giving to nonprofits.

In addition to providing recycled doors to the fire department to use for practice, DeJong and American Overhead Door have offered goods, services, funding and donated labor to Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fire victims, the Children’s Hospital Burn Camp, the Lymphoma and Leukemia Foundation and many ministries and food banks.

“More than $20,000 was donated to these and other charities by American Overhead Door,” Waltman said.