The History of The Garage Door


For any history buffs out there, we thought we’d share some historical information on the garage door industry which was provided by Door + Access Systems Newsmagazine. The Door People take pride in understanding their roots of the garage door industry, and it is in fact quite interesting to learn how it all evolved!

Somewhere between 1921 and 1941, the garage door industry was launched. C.G. Johnson of Detroit, MI, started Overhead Door Corporation in 1921. This is when the mass manufacturing of sectional garage doors began. Vehicles were becoming more popular and affordable. In 1913, Ford introduced the Model T and was the first company to produce more than 100,000 cars. The first Model T’s sold for approximately $850, but by 1924, mass production techniques brought the selling price down to just $290.

Through the 1920’s auto production remained high and Americans traded in their horses and buggies for gas-powered vehicles. They began building garages with doorways sized to accommodate the height and width of cars and trucks. Sectional garage doors became preferred over swing-out barn doors.

The crash of Wall Street in 1929 put a major halt to auto production and dropped over 75 percent. Even though the 10-year Great Depression took its toll on car production, many entrepreneurs pushed through the tough times to find a new way to make a living. By the outbreak of World War II in 1941, about 10 companies were making sectional doors and the top three were Overhead Door, Crawford Door and Rowe Mfg.

The postwar boom forced some garage door companies to shut down, while others contributed to the war efforts by producing needed parts such as aircraft wing struts and bracing for fighter planes. By 1944, garage door manufacturers knew business was about to take off. Housing skyrocketed and Americans realized the importance and convenience of having attached garages and sectional garage doors. By 1960 the number of garage door manufacturers more than doubled.

In the beginning most of the commercial and residential garage doors were made of wood. In 1956, federal funding for the interstate highway system began and this led to the demand to have aluminum and even glass garage doors. In 1959, the production of fiberglass garage doors became popular.

By 1970, more than 30 garage door manufacturers existed in the U.S. By 1974 a majority of new homes that were being built included a two car stall garage, which helped the garage door industry to expand once again. By this time, some of the first door manufacturers had been in business for nearly 30 years. A number of acquisitions began taking place.

Consumers’ preferences continued to evolve. Wood and fiberglass doors lost their popularity while steel doors became the most desired for commercial applications. Between 1980 and 1999, the steel raised panel garage door spurred a boom in garage door production, regardless of a stale economy. Many garage door manufacturers pushed for expansion by entering into other markets, including Canada, and began exporting to other locations around the world. In addition, some of the earliest garage door brands/companies opted to close their doors including Rowe, Barcol and McKee.

By the year 2000, garage door companies were forced to do away with old, boring designs and raise the bar when it came to offering new designs, colors and styles. Even during this most recent time period, our economy has faced its own challenges, resulting in the garage door industry feeling the overall impact as it saw new construction for homes decrease significantly. The economic downturn forced several manufacturers to exit the market, which some focused on acquisitions. For instance, Overhead Door bought out its long-time major competitor, Wayne-Dalton in 2009. The financial strength of Sanwa Shutter of Japan, Overhead Door’s parent company, helped make the purchase possible.

You may be asking yourself, what does the future hold? Some experts believe our economy is comparable to America’s resurgence after the Great Depression. In the meantime, Overhead Door Distributors are proud to offer garage door products and services that are second to none for its customers in northern Iowa and Minnesota.


"Brandon and crew were very easy to work with. Doors were put in in a timely manner and everything was cleaned up when done. Would definitely recommend to anyone."
- Jane Heiny
5 Stars
"Everyone from the salesman to the tech that installed the equipment were very professional. Great job!"
- Jason Brown
5 Stars
"I’m very pleased with the work done, and in a timely manner. The guys were friendly, answered all my questions, and left the property cleaned up. I love the quiet door movement."
- Lorna Thompson
5 Stars

"Excellent service very friendly and knowledgeable high quality. love our doors thanks overhead doors!!!!!"
- Dianna Weaver
5 Stars

"I’ve had nothing but pleasant experiences! The individuals on the other end of the phone are always so kind and organized. We have received quick service twice and have been so pleased with the level of professionalism and courtesy shown by technicians. Great and honest company!"
- Olivia Hildebrand
5 Stars
"Torsion spring broke on my garage door. Called Overhead Door and spoke with Brandon. He scheduled the techs for the next day which they came out and replaced both torsion springs on the door and adjusted the door so it worked perfectly!! The technicians were very knowledgeable and experienced and had the new springs installed very quickly. Great job!!"
- Dale Rogers
5 Stars
"Very professional! Completed the repairs in an hour and gave the rest of the unit a checkup. Would definitely give them my business again. "
- James Edmonson
5 Stars
"Had a very good overall experience. They arrived within one hour of my request for a quote and provided a written formal quote an hour later.They arrived on time, completed the job in a couple of hours and left the garage spotless. Very professional installers. Highly recommended!"
- Bruce Costigan
5 Stars
"HI called them and they were extremely friendly and made you feel comfortable. I told him my problems and he knew what was wrong. They scheduled me for the next day and they came when they said they would. The two men that came were very professional. Upbeat and knew their job. The job took them 15 minutes. They oiled everything up. (above and beyond) I will use them again I hope I don’t have the need anytime soon. But I would recommend them highly."
- Yvonne Berryman
5 Stars
"The technician did a very nice job replacing the springs. He was very proficient in his work. He also shared ideas for lubricants for maintaining the opener."
- Paul Johnson
5 Stars
"I called on Friday at 11am with a broken garage door spring. I was told the soonest they would be able to get to me was early the following week. By 3:00 p.m. Friday afternoon to my surprise they arrived and fixed the spring. I had a very positive experience recommend them!!"
- Chris Beaver
5 Stars
"Workers were friendly and did good work."
- Robert Hanson
5 Stars
"We and a non-emergent problem with our door. They were there the same day."
- Phillip Blake
5 Stars

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