Pella recently announced that the company will begin offering overhead doors, along with their traditional window, patio and entry door products. Pella isn’t the first major window manufacturer to enter the garage-door fray. When we first began to focus on the door and window industry in 2006, Jeld-Wen offered a complete line of garage doors. It was discontinued during the downturn.

The return by Pella to the overhead-door segment could be seen as  a natural progression in the fenestration industry toward addressing every opening in a structure. The building-envelope approach is increasingly common in the industry and provides door and window manufacturers with opportunities for additional revenues and deeper connections with customers.

This trend works in both directions, by the way. More than one overhead-door manufacturer has shared with us their intention to add traditional doors and windows to their product line. That alone explains why a door or window manufacturer should spend at least a small amount of time examining whether there are other major product areas that they could profitably offer.

That, after all, is the key. A company can offer any product under the sun but they must do so  profitably. The good-better-best approach applies to overhead doors, as it does to any other sector. Pella’s new product launch is designed to address the full price spectrum from architectural wood doors to entry-level products. That is a critical approach, since companies that misprice an overhead-door offering are often essentially taping a $50 bill to every door they ship. This is a shame, since a garage door is typically the largest moving object in a home but often commands among the lowest level of gross margin dollars per square foot of opening covered.

Before getting to the pricing decision, a manufacturer crossing over into overhead doors must also address the distribution question. The garage-door industry has developed over time a very distinct distribution channel from the entry door and window industry. Pella will be able to ensure distribution of its products because of its broad, well-developed distribution network. Before any manufacturer pursues an extension product, they must ensure that their current distribution partners have an appetite to collaborate in selling that product. If there is any doubt that the product will succeed, it is best to begin by undertaking a private-label arrangement with an existing manufacturer in that product segment, rather than creating a greenfield operation.

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