Forest Garage Door is a Women-Owned garage door company based in Cicero, IL right outside of Chicago. As a women-owned business, we hold a unique position in a male-dominated industry.
It is a remarkable feeling to sit back and realize that our company has been operating in the garage door industry for three-quarters of a century. In January 2021 Forest Door Co., Inc. celebrated 75 years in business. Though our location and family ownership has remained the same, A LOT has changed. Not the least of which is that I am the first woman to run the company. With three generations of men before me I now proudly hold the title of President, overseeing, operating, and deciding the business’s next best steps.
I am confident that if anyone had told my great-grandfather that his company would one day be led by a woman he would have laughed it off as highly unlikely. But with numerous changes in the industry including competition, market saturation, customer expectations, a better-informed consumer, and a multitude of distribution centers cropping up it feels like the emergence of women in leadership roles within the industry happened without much ado.
Women in the Garage Door Industry
I didn’t give the idea of being a female in a male-dominated industry much thought until recently when my Service Spring rep moved to a new role. The replacement rep was a woman. My excitement over this caused me to realize how few women are in sales roles within the garage door industry and that a shift was occurring.
My dad shared with me that back when he started in 1975 there was an unspoken understanding among business owners that men made the decisions and women (secretaries, wives, etc.) were not involved. My, how far we have come!
Fast forward to the present where I recently had the honor of being on a call with other women from our industry. Women are no longer relegated to only answering phones, but instead are selling, installing, repairing, and running shops. By the end of the call, I felt supported and confident that women are helping move our industry forward.
Of course, it is not without challenge. Over the years there have been questions as to whether women are strong enough to lift a section, or if a man needs to double-check spring measurements, and if women really know what they are doing. Let’s face it, there will always be those doubts. So I opt not to pay attention to the doubters and continue pressing forward. If you’re so inclined, you’ll always be able to find someone to tell you that you can’t do something. But for each of those people there will be 10 more to tell you that you can.
Women bring unique and valuable perspectives to our industry, whether operating a business or installing products with skill and attention to detail. I am hopeful that opportunities for women in our industry will continue to grow, and that a great way of encouraging this would be training programs that are fully inclusive.
Competence breeds confidence. Confidence sprinkled with courage enables us to open doors to success. With more training from IDA, there will be more competency within our industry. Training designed for or inclusive of women will foster confidence and enable more of us to find our place within the industry. The IDA has an awesome opportunity to be a positive example for others by being inclusive and empowering all people. Opening doors for women only strengthens our industry.
I look forward to the day when there is no shock or awe when women show up on job sites with tools in hand, and when our industry is simply people serving people.