Founded in 1988 by Dave Thompson and Brian Payne, Service Door Industries Ltd. – which soon became known to customers simply as Service Door or SDI – soon built a reputation for quality, professionalism, and customer service.
Initially a supplier of replacement parts to door-service companies, this homegrown Canadian success story provides a host of door and gate automation products, including rolling steel doors, sectional doors, residential doors, automated products, safety accessories, parts and more.
Before taking over the reins from Thompson and Payne when they retired five years ago, CEO John Hart spent years in the door industry. Soon after graduating with a degree in psychology, Hart worked for a small installation company in Mississauga, Ontario, on the dealer network/installation side before joining SDI.
Working his way from product manager to general manager and CEO, Hart was brought into SDI to develop the company’s imported product from Italy and create a platform for selling across Canada. This involved many aspects, from ensuring the regulatory legality of these products in Canada to educating customers, technical support, and even packaging.
“I believe my education prepared me for the CEO role, because I think psychology has a great impact on how you run an organization, and communicate with your team members,” says Hart, who took continuing education courses on financial management.
Strong company culture
Growing to a staff of about 70, privately-held Service Door Industries has a team of experts in door mechanical assembly, which requires cutting, grinding, drilling and riveting work; the services of technical welding pros; and an in-house professional engineer to work on engineered solutions, often highly technical.
Setting up its own information technology system, the company’s IT staff created proprietary software that renders all production completely paperless. “Every door that we build, we build without paper,” says Hart. “I joke that we have more computers than people.”
Known for its technical expertise, SDI is also recognized for its formidable company culture, which benefits from a management team that grew up together in the business. Supporting each other’s perspectives on how to achieve goals, the team at SDI explicitly believes in openness and honesty, an attitude that has spread throughout the organization and empowers the entire staff.
“This transparency is really important to our team members,” says Hart. “As a collective group, what we have as a goal is providing our customers with the right solution, not just a sale. We’re looking at working with our dealers, and our clients and partners. By doing that, they become part of our team. And that culture goes outside our walls.”
Connecting with technology
As a B2B company, Service Door has built a solid customer base over the years. Many distribution centers choose SDI for its quality perimeter doors.
“But we don’t provide just the door anymore,” Hart says, “we provide technology solutions – that’s the real difference. Distribution centers are becoming more fully automated, and we have the ability with our doors to interconnect to automation systems. So now, the door is talking to the owner/operator so they know status or if there’s a truck in the bay, and you’re getting more of a fully connected solution.”
Hart says that another strong area for SDI is the automotive industry, where SDI provides aesthetically pleasing door solutions to dealerships or carwashes. “Clients are getting doors that are high speed, but low on maintenance, and a really unique solution for their business needs. Automotive has really changed, and our solutions are part of that change.”
Service Door’s customers deal at the site level, taking down all the information they need for an opening and providing SDI the details so they can build the door for them. “We are strictly focused on our manufacturing and the support of those products, providing those complete solutions and more importantly, having the distribution facilities across Canada where customers can pick up the components that may be needed for future service, as well as accessories around the doors,” says Hart.
Focused on the Canadian market, Service Door has value-added distribution services in Vancouver, Calgary, and at its Mississauga head office. Even during COVID, the company opened in Calgary, and aims to have a Montréal location this year.
After 34 years, the company has gained much of its business through word-of-mouth, but in the past few years, SDI has amped up its online presence through social media, revamping its website and adding online shopping carts for its dealer network. “The benefit of being a B2B company is that we are behind our dealers, and we work with our dealer network to make sure they are in front of the end user with our technology and with our experience.”
Made to last
Manufacturing doors ranging from small fire separation doors about three feet by three feet (0.91 m by 0.91 m) used in condominiums when windows are on property lines, SDI has also made massive doors used in nuclear power plants for fuel containment storage. One of the largest to date — a fire separation door — measured almost 200 feet (61 m) in length. Required in a shopping mall because interconnected floor space needed to be separated due to fire regulations, the specialized rectangular curtain had a drop height of about 14 feet (4.2 m).
Another innovative product from SDI is its line of springless door solutions. Released to the market about a decade ago, the product has seen demand increase in the past two to three years as customers accept the need for more environmentally sound products. Designed for exterior applications and also used for interior separations, the door moves at two feet per second, with no counterbalance springs. “Our clients really like this solution, because not only are we operating a door fast, we are operating it safely, and with minimal maintenance over the life expectancy of the product.” Designed in Canada for Canadian operations, the door is aesthetically pleasing and energy-efficient.
Since doors can vary in width, height, material and configuration variances, all SDI products are custom made to order. Depending on the application, doors are manufactured differently for indoor or outdoor use, where they face Canada’s brutally cold weather, snow, ice, and negative and positive pressure. “With larger buildings you have wind loads, but then you also have negative and positive pressure and have to deal with that,” says Hart, adding, “The other challenge in Canada is our power grid and getting solutions that work properly with our power requirements, because we are unique with the 600-volt power that we have.”
Recognizing that doors must not only be functional but attractive, they are available in a variety of finishes. Some customers are happy with the standard galvanized finish of rolling steel doors, while others want a distinctive powder coat finish or different accessories to complement the look and functionality, such as automated products, gate hardware, activation devices and safety accessories.
Standing apart from the competition, SDI is proud to be the only rolling steel manufacturer in Canada. “That ability gives us a niche,” states Hart. “We are not only providing and building products for the local market; we are also building a product line that is somewhat unique to the Canadian market.”
No matter the size or type of product, Service Door Industries will be there, supporting customers for the long term, ready and able to assist and educate clients on the company’s many products and solutions. “How can they reduce their inventory levels? How can they improve their lead times? How can they reduce the time on site? And more importantly, how do we bring the right value to the user of that door?” asks Hart. “Our doors can be simple galvanized steel rolling doors, or they can be very complex moving machinery. Our team is here to help these dealers gain knowledge on finding that right solution, with the right Canadian-built door.”