Carriage House Door Co.
Carriage House Door Co.’s craftsmanship has earned the devotion of customers.
By Alan Dorich
After nearly 20 years, Carriage House Door Co. has earned a reputation for consistently meeting its clients’ needs. “Our customers have an expectation of quality and service that we’ve been able to maintain over the years,” General Manager Shawn Guthrie says.
This dependability has turned many into loyal Carriage House Door customers. “Our top five customers have been with us since the beginning,” he says. “We continue to grow with them.”
The company, which has operations in Sacramento, Calif., and Old Fort, N.C., manufactures custom wooden garage doors, pedestrian and driveway gates, and shutters. The company started operations in 1999 as part of Garage Door Specialists, which built the wooden doors.
Carriage House Door broke away as its own company and opened its North Carolina shop in 2006. “We felt the need to have another facility on the East Coast,” recalls Doug Sequeira, the general manager of its Sacramento office.
Today, the company sells its doors through wholesale distributors to architects, designers, contractors and homeowners. Guthrie, who runs its North Carolina office, notes that the majority of its doors are installed on custom homes that take one to two years to build.
“Architects and designers will have that design hammered out before coming to us,” he says, noting that these firms are familiar with Carriage House Door’s work. “They have ideas of what they want that door to look like.
“We also provide a great tool on our website for architects and designers to assist with design,” he adds. “They can go to carriagedoor.com and request a password to access the site designed specifically for architects and designers.”
Setting Itself Apart
Carriage House Door is the industry leader in its niche, Sequeira says. When the company releases a product, “We’ll see our competitors follow suit with something similar,” he claims.
But Carriage House Door sets itself apart with the quality of its doors, which incorporate the best quality materials available, such as vertical grain western red cedar and ribbon Sapele Mahogany. “They are a very stable product for exterior application,” Guthrie says. “Purchasing vertical grain materials versus flat or mixed grain materials makes a big difference in the stability of the materials.”
Sequeira agrees, adding that the wood can endure harsh weather conditions. “It’s all kiln dried,” he says. “It holds up well outside.”
The company also provides prompt service that includes delivering quotes to customers within 24 hours. “We provide [that] along with AutoCAD drawings,” Sequeira says. “We make sure they get that as soon as possible.”
Checks and Balances
Carriage House Door promotes a culture of quality throughout its operations. “The expectation of the end-user is high,” Guthrie admits. “When you take this cedar door and put a finish on it, it’s no longer an exterior product.
“It’s like a piece of furniture,” he says, noting that the company’s employees go the extra mile when it comes to sanding or putting details into its doors. “That translates all the way to the finished product.”
Its North Carolina division ensures quality through a checks-and-balances system throughout the manufacturing process. “We inspect the doors as they’re being built,” Guthrie describes.
“At the end, there’s another inspection prior to wrapping them,” he adds. “[We want to] catch everything to make it a door that’s ready to be a finished product.”
But people are critical to this process as well. “It all goes back to the guy building the door and knowing the standard that is there,” Guthrie says, explaining that the company’s experienced employees make sure it follows these standards.
Sixty percent of its North Carolina employees have been with the company for more than a decade since its office opened in 2006. Its Sacramento office has people who have worked for it “since the very beginning,” Sequeira adds, noting that its employees also respond to calls promptly. “Everything’s right away with us.”
Carriage House Door is seeing changes in what its clients want in their garage doors. For many years, the Mediterranean style was very popular, but now “you’re seeing homes that are more contemporary where things are super modern,” Sequeira says.
Guthrie agrees. “What used to be your typical carriage-style door has gone by the wayside,” he says. “You’re starting to see a little more artistic value.”
Carriage House Door adjusted by releasing a catalogue featuring a Contemporary door collection. “We offered different designs that were a combination of wood, metal and glass,” Sequeira says.
Doors also are getting bigger, Guthrie says. “A lot of the market is driven by the $2 to $5 million and up homes,” he says, noting that the larger homes require larger garage doors. “Twelve-foot ceilings relate to a 10-foot garage door.”
Some customers also are putting car lifts in their garages, which have required Carriage House Door to adjust its product as well. “I’ve also done doors where they put the door straight up so they can put a basketball court in the garage,” Guthrie adds.
Although the doors still have the same look from the outside, the track selection has become very custom, he notes. “We can design the track for lift clearance or follow the roof line of the interior,” Guthrie explains.
“The idea is to keep the door as close to the front wall and ceiling for unique applications inside the garage,” he continues. “Common lift clearance is for car lifts or sports courts.”
Areas of Opportunity
Sequeira, who has been with Carriage House Door since 1999, is proud of how the company has grown over the years. “We’ve been able to change with the times and hold our position as an industry leader,” he says.
The company plans to grow its presence. “I see us expanding and moving into different areas where we may not have a strong foothold,” he says, noting that this would bring the company further from the coasts.
“We have dealers in every state,” he says. “But it would be nice to focus on filling in those gaps and grow into the areas where there’s a lot of potential.”
These may find the company opening new offices in Denver or elsewhere in the Midwest. “That’s what we’re working on right now,” Sequeira says.