Anchorage Battles Snout Houses, Boring Garage Doors

© 2008 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Summer 2008
Author: Tom Wadsworth
Pages 72-74

Garage Doors and Openers in the Media

Clippings are brief summaries of recent news articles in the consumer media. These stories offer insightful clues to the latest trends for the door business.

Anchorage Battles Snout Houses, Boring Garage Doors

Source: “Snout Houses,” Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News, March 9, 2008.

“Snout houses, the houses where the front is mostly a blank, boring garage door, are still legal to build in Anchorage.”

So begins this editorial about a six-year-long process of revising the city zoning code. The editor complains that “Anchorage is filled with look-alike subdivisions of snout houses … (that) make for monotonous, dull neighborhoods.”

The proposed changes require that front entrances be “visible from the street” and that garages take up no more than 65 percent of the length of the front of a house. If the garage exceeds 50 percent, the builders must pick from a list of choices to make the front of the house more appealing.

Editor’s Note: “A list of choices,” eh? How about choosing an upscale garage door to polish that snout into a dazzling “new front door”? Who says garage doors must be blank and boring?

And one more thing. If anyone questions whether the garage door is indeed “the new front door of the American home,” consider these points from Anchorage. Garages now can absorb 65 percent (not 30 percent) of the front of the home, and the front entrance often is not even “visible.”

Sears Upsells to Carriage Doors

Source: Teena Hammond Gomez, “Garage Doors Come Down Front and Center,” Shreveport (La.) Times (Gannett News Service), May 24, 2008.

“Once-forgotten garage doors are getting attention as homeowners realize that swapping out a basic blah door for something more stylish can make a big impact.”

That’s how this syndicated article begins. Appearing in various newspapers around the country, this story tells consumers why it’s a great idea to upgrade to the new classier doors.

The reporter offers several quotes from Jim Sparling, Sears’ product manager for garage doors. “For 70 percent of houses, garages face the street,” he says. That’s why homeowners are looking for doors that enhance curb appeal, he adds.

Steel carriage house doors are the most popular, says Sparling. Chris Cunningham of Cunningham Overhead Door in Louisville, Ky., agrees.

“For years when it came to your garage door,” he says, “you had two or three choices, nothing exciting, and there are so many more choices now.” Cunningham adds that people are now investing in better-looking doors and replacing garage doors to change the look of their homes.

Editor’s Note: How many of your customers this week will already be aware of the smart decision to buy classier garage doors? Will you go ahead and sell them a garage door style from 1990, or will you join Sears and Chris Cunningham in the garage door revolution?

Experts Confirm Garage Door’s Key Role in High Winds

Source: Judy Stark, “Garage Doors Need Extra Precautions,” St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, May 18, 2008.

Many Floridians equate hurricane preparation with windows covered with plywood.

“But here’s the plain truth,” reports Judy Stark. “Approximately 80 percent of residential hurricane damage starts with wind entry through garage doors, according to the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes.”

Besides quoting FASH, this article quotes Jeff Burton of the Institute for Business and Home Safety. “The larger the door, the more vulnerable it becomes to high winds,” he says.

The garage door is “one of a building’s weakest points.” Plus, garages tend to be at the corners of the house, “where wind pressure and suction are greatest.”

The article encourages homeowners to either buy a new door that meets hurricane codes or apply appropriate retrofitting to an existing door. Bill Houser of Genie of St. Petersburg offers helpful advice to define “appropriate.”

Editor’s Note: With each hurricane season, new attempts must be made to educate homeowners about the importance of wind-resistant garage doors. The news media, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, the Institute for Business and Home Safety, and Genie of St. Pete are delivering the message. Are you?

GDO Break-Ins Spreading Nationwide

With warmer weather here, burglars are enjoying their peak season. And more thieves are using remote controls to gain entry through garage doors. Here’s a sampling of recent break-in reports.

While You Sleep. An Indiana man admits involvement in 15 separate burglaries and crimes, confessing that he “used garage door openers in unlocked vehicles to gain access to garages while homeowners were sleeping.” WRTV-6 (Indianapolis, Ind.), May 1, 2008

The Break-In After the Break-In. Omaha police report, “We’re seeing a lot of (car) windows broken out. The glove box is ransacked and the garage door opener is taken.” Burglars get the home address from the car’s registration and then break into the home several days afterward. KETV-7 (Omaha, Neb.), May 1, 2008

Victims Shocked. “Garage Door Opener Thefts Shock Victims” is the title of this Charlotte, N.C., story. Thieves pop the lock assemblies on vehicles parked outside businesses, then they steal the GDO remote controls. Police believe thieves use registration cards and a GPS system to find the houses quickly. Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, March 28, 2008

Churchgoers Beware. This brazen thief hit four Texas church parking lots, broke windows of vehicles, and snatched the remotes. The thief is also suspected in “similar burglaries where garage door openers were taken from vehicles.” Midland (Texas) Reporter-Telegram, April 18, 2008

New Burglary Tool. The title of this Massachusetts story is, “Thieves’ New Tools: Garage Door Openers.” Police say, “There has been an increase in these (types of crimes) in surrounding towns, and we’re starting to see more and more here.” Lexington (Mass.) Minuteman, May 1, 2008

3 Cars, $100,000 Stolen. Nebraska police warn of a “new crime trend” in which “a group of men are stealing garage door openers from cars parked outside.” The break-in occurs days later when no one is home. One victim had three cars stolen and more than $100,000 in other losses. KMTV-3 (Omaha, Neb.), April 3, 2008

Police Issue Warning. After a spree of Missouri home burglaries, police warn, “If you park your vehicle outside, make sure you take your garage door opener inside.” Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, May 18, 2008

Early Morning Hours. In Wisconsin, a rash of burglaries occurred in the early morning hours from April 26 to May 10. Police say, “Suspects enter unlocked vehicles and use the garage door openers to enter garages and residences.” Green Bay (Wis.) Press Gazette, May 10, 2008

Late-Night Assault. In this Connecticut case, the burglar targets a woman, not property. Police say a burglar grabbed a remote control from an unlocked car to get into a house at midnight and attack a woman inside. The Hartford (Conn.) Courant, Jan. 17, 2008

Editor’s Note: We’ve previously reported about the growing problem of GDO break-in burglaries. Door dealers can provide a distinct service by urging customers to keep their remotes locked up and by selling mini-remotes and open-garage-door monitors.

The Foot-in-the-Photo-Eye Trick

Source: “Man Sought in Garage Attack,” WRTV-6 (Indianapolis, Ind.), April 29-30, 2008.

This harrowing report tells the story of a 28-year-old woman who comes home at 2:00 a.m., opens her garage door with the remote, and pulls her car inside. After trying repeatedly to close the door, she then notices a large hooded man standing in the garage doorway.

“(He) stuck his foot out (blocking the photo-eye beam) so my garage door wouldn’t go down,” she says.

The man points a silver semiautomatic handgun at the woman and tells her to go inside. She instead screams and runs out of the garage past the passenger side of her car. He gives chase but eventually leaves. Police say the woman’s actions may have saved her life.

Editor’s Note: This is the first I’ve heard of a photo eye being used by an attacker. At the same time, the photo eye probably saved her. If the door had closed, she would’ve been trapped.

Door Guy Tries to Reclaim Garage Door

Source: Matt Calman, “Housing Row Flares After Contractor Takes Back Door,” The Dominion Post (Wellington, New Zealand), April 28, 2008.

What do you do when you get stiffed by a customer? In New Zealand, police were called to a housing development when a garage door installer tried to take back one of his doors. He claimed he was owed $50,000.

The development originally planned to build 500 homes but scaled it back to 90. The developer, apparently in financial trouble, owes about $40 million.

The door guy, frustrated and near retirement at age 64, went to an unoccupied house, removed the garage door, loaded it on a trailer, and waited for police to arrive. He said he had installed the first of 12 doors a year earlier and was never paid. He said his terms and conditions “state quite clearly” that the doors are his property.

“We don’t want to be cowboys,” he says, “but … we are hurting and no one is listening.”

The police asked him to place the doors inside the garage until the issue is resolved. The matter appears to be headed for civil claims court.

Editor’s Note: Hmm. What do your terms and conditions say? Can you reclaim a door if it’s not paid for?