Interview with Bob Clark – The Past, Present, and Future of Doors by Design
I sat down with Bob Clark, the owner of Doors by Design in Daphne, AL, to chat a little about the history of the company, the evolution of the store’s product, and the company’s five year plan.
How many years have you been in business?
I started doing doors probably about 35 years ago. I was doing remodeling back in the 70’s, but I didn’t start building doors until 2001. Up until that point, most of my experience had been in remodeling: windows, doors, siding, decks, kitchens, baths, building additions, etc. Eventually, I focused on just windows and doors and in 2001, my partners and myself opened our first door store called Doors by Design.
Where was/is the first store?
We opened our first store in Ridgeland, MS, right outside of Jackson, and it’s still there today. In the beginning, we mainly imported doors from Brazil, but eventually we realized that there was also a market for custom doors, so we opened our mill shop in 2002 and started building custom doors. Business was going well, and we had a solid product, so in 2003 we decided to branch out and we opened another store in Daphne, AL.
Tell us a little about your iron doors.
Soon after we opened the store in Daphne, one of my partners (my brother Lloyd) opened a third door store in Charlotte, North Carolina called Clark Hall Doors by Design. That was when we realized the need for us to have our own iron door. Up until that point we had been selling other company’s iron doors, but we quickly realized that we could make a product better than what we were selling. We decided to partner with Jesus Meta out of San Antonio, Texas. We helped him build a factory in Monterey, Mexico, and we went to work creating our own iron door design.
We upgraded the hinges, but putting heavy duty ½ inch barrel hinges on all of our doors. We re-engineered the doors to make them more aesthetically pleasing by creating smoother lines, and making the window flush with the inside of the door. We decided to make an elite model, which is built to withstand hurricane force winds up to 170 mph, and we made a lighter version which can withstand up to 140 mph winds. Our doors can even be installed in homes in Dade county Florida, which is where they have the toughest hurricane code in the US. Lastly, we chose to use a five and six step paint process which allows us to put a five year paint guarantee on our iron doors. When we were selling iron doors made by other companies, we found that most of the time the paint wasn’t holding up to their five year guarantee. Often times, we ended up having to go back and repaint their doors before the end of their guarantee. I can proudly say that we have not had to go back and repaint even one of our iron doors.
Where would you like to see Door by Design five years from now?
Our future is to expand into other markets, possibly even including the Caribbean and Hawaii. We are currently working to set up dealers of our doors nationwide and in Canada, and we would like to work with lumber stores, window companies, door companies, remodelers, contractors, builders, etc. Through our three store locations we have over 30 dealers now, but in five years time we’d like to double or triple that number.
What do you love most about this career?
I love to see when a house is reborn with a new entry door, but the truth is that seeing a new door installed is just the icing on the cake. Customers come into our stores all the time with a very clear vision for what they want their new entry door to look like. It’s a great feeling to help them bring that vision to reality and nothing is better than when a customer is really excited about their design and happy with the finished product.
Interview by: Asheley Clark
Doors by Design
Social Media and Marketing Director