Interview with Dean Carman - CEO of The Garage Door depot

Date: MAY 24th, 2010

Topic: Interview with a CEO

Dean has more than 20 years experience in sales, marketing, management and executive leadership. Dean is the Co-Founder, President and CEO of both Canadian Access & Door Systems and The Garage Door Depot.

Prior to founding these companies he held a very successful post as Vice President of a leading sales and marketing consulting firm, Power Marketing International which saw him deliver management consulting services to companies within Canada and Europe. His entry in to the garage door industry began with a consulting engagement with the Overhead Door Company of Vancouver which later evolved in to a full time General Manager role for this organization. In addition to this experience, Dean has held sales & management roles in the Information Systems, Software, Consumer Electronics and Gaming industries.

Dean is accredited by the International Door Assoc. and is an active Director and Board Member with the BC Chapter of the Canadian Door Institute of Manufacturers and Distributors. He is also a retired member of the Canadian Forces regular army, 3 PPCLI, and is a member of the Royal Canadian Legion.

BeTheBoss - What’s the story behind The Garage Door Depot?

Dean Carman - The Garage Door Depot was founded in mid 2007. We already had a garage door company which opened in 2005 but we really needed an new name and one that would say exactly what it was we were selling - Garage Doors. So, we blended this with Depot and here we are. We always had the intent to move in to retail and then take that model and move in to a franchise program. We just needed to get some history behind the brand and get our new retail operation fine tuned. Today The Garage Door Depot is one of the largest independent retailers of garage doors and related products in Western Canada.

BTB - What made you decide to franchis

DC - Expanding the brand has always been an objective and after seeing other home improvement franchises succeed so well, we thought a garage door sales, install and repair franchise would be a fantastic idea and relatively easy to implement.

BTB - Tell us a little about the Garage Door Market?

DC - It's very hard to quantify the value of the market. Some estimates put the Canadian garage door market at a value of over $500 million annually. For garage door dealers, these are great times. New construction in Canada is strong and this presents a huge opportunity for those wanting to market to builders however one of the most exciting aspects of our industry is the retrofit opportunity. Garage doors have been around for a long time, but they really became popular during the past 2 to 3 decades. Most of those homes had wood garage doors installed and today those doors are showing their age. Garage door dealers and repair companies are truly cashing on this as they repair or replace these old doors with new steel doors. In general garage doors are an afterthought for most homeowners however the last 10 years has seen some great advances in terms of variety of style when it comes to garage doors. Consumers are beginning to see the garage door as a "fashion" element for their home and with the wide array of designs and styles, particularly in carriage style doors, consumers are seeing how "curb appeal" plays a significant role in the look and value of their home.

BTB - What have some of the challenges been in growing your franchise?

DC - So far we haven't seen any real challenges other than time. I could really use more of it sometimes.....

BTB - Who has been your greatest inspiration?

DC - There a lot of people I have looked to for inspiration and some that I still do. To be honest, it's my wife who's inspired me and supported me the most. She's certainly a big part of my advisory council.

BTB - What are some of the advantages in being a Garage Door Depot franchisee?

DC - Getting in to a business venture on your own can be more than just challenging - it can be downright scary! As a Garage Door Depot Franchise, you're in business for yourself but you are by no means in business by yourself. So that's the first advantage - you're part of something bigger and you've got incredible direct support whenever you need it. The next big advantage is you get to share in the benefit of being part of a bigger "brand". That helps with so many things including customer confidence. Although there are plenty more advantages, one last big one is "buying power". As a small independent dealer, it's hard to compete but as a Garage Door Depot Franchise, you've got the same if not even better buying power than the big door dealers out there.

BTB - What “Gadgets” (Blackberry, Iphone, Ipod, etc) can’t you live without?

DC - Well, my Blackberry goes everywhere I do. That's about it for gadgets though.

BTB - What do you do in your spare time?

DC - I've learned to leave work at work (for the most part...) and so in my off time I enjoy spending time with my wife and family at the lake. Outside of that, our biggest fun comes from travelling which I would love to do more of.

BTB - What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?

DC - To start, make sure you're ready both personally and financially to become an entrepreneur. If that's covered than the other piece of advice I have is find something you love to do, if you can, and then make sure you do some research. Not all franchises are created equal so be sure to do your homework.

BTB - In your opinion, why do you think that Garage Door Depot would be a great opportunity for someone?

DC - Well, I already spoke of the advantages a Garage Door Depot Franchisee might have. Beyond that I would have to say that being a franchise owner with the Garage Door Depot allows you to be as big or small of a business as you like and if done right, can give the franchisee and his/her family a great livelihood. It's something people need and the industry isn't going anywhere.