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Rochester Chamber Top 100: Small-town firm delivers big-time growth

Rochester Business Journal
October 28, 2016

Upstate Door Inc.’s growth has been the result of several strategic moves through the last few years, in particular its renewed focus on the customer and end user of its high-end, custom-made doors.

“Over the last three years, from a marketing standpoint, we’ve focused on our key partner accounts and worked with them to develop plans to increase their sales, which increases our sales,” said Robert Fontaine, president and owner. “We’ve basically taken what works with key accounts and replicated it to other accounts in other areas.”

From 2013 to 2015 revenues for the Wyoming County manufacturer grew more than 40 percent, Fontaine said. Employment also grew from 62 people in 2013 to 81 staffers this year. Fontaine said his industry closely follows the housing market. When the housing market rebounded, Upstate Door’s sales boomed.

Fontaine founded the company in 2001. Its main facility is in Warsaw, where roughly 50 are employed. A second location was opened a few years ago in Castile, Wyoming County.

Several things set the company apart from its competitors, including that Upstate Door is a one-stop shop for high-end, solid wood doors.

“We’re a complete source, the door and the frame and everything that goes with it,” Fontaine said.

In addition, Upstate Door provides both interior and exterior doors, unlike many manufacturers that focus on only one type of door, he said.

The company adheres to four core values: offering distinctive solutions, enthusiasm in its work, the importance of learning and growing, and collaboration throughout the process.

“Our competitors do a nice job, there’s no question about that,” general manager Brock Beckstrand said. “But our adaptability and, I think, our model of hiring people and training people and focusing on our four core values really sets us apart.”

Criticism offers the biggest opportunity, Beckstrand said, so listening to customers is crucial to success.

“If you listen to all the constructive feedback you get, positive and negative, and you adapt based off that to make your product better, it makes the customer feel like they have an impact in the outcome of their product,” he said.

Upstate Door’s business fluctuates with the economy, Beckstrand noted, and because the firm’s clients tend to be wealthy, whenever the stock market takes a hit, Upstate Door feels the pinch. Maintaining controlled growth will help the company through the peaks and valleys, he said.

In recent years, Upstate Door has gone from having independent representatives in the field to having employee representation, which has led to growth at the firm, Fontaine said. The company also is using software that allows it to do things faster, from estimates to production.

“The change in technology is happening very fast,” Fontaine said. “And you can always invest in technology, but the biggest challenge is not only to make that investment but to be able to utilize technology effectively and efficiently.”

Technology presents both a challenge and an opportunity, Fontaine acknowledged. Ultimately, technological advances will play a role in the company’s future growth.

“We’re not looking to be in the Inc. top whatever-it-is,” Fontaine said with a laugh. “But our objective as a manufacturer is to have consistent but manageable growth.”

As a manufacturer, Upstate Door needs to be able to maintain its quality levels and consistency related to lead times, Fontaine added, so manageable growth will be key.

“We’re looking to increase sales and increase employment over the next few years,” he said.

Upstate Door’s small-town location may lead to questioning whether the company is able to produce the merchandise available in bigger cities. But Fontaine said it is just the opposite. A rural environment lends itself to a focus on hard work and values of the community.

“When you’re dealing in ultra-high-end, you wouldn’t think in an area where there’s more cows than people that that type of craftsmanship would take place,” Fontaine said. “There’s a lot of pride in what we do and how we do it. Bigger things can be done in the country too; it’s just that there’s not as many of us. It’s really a matter of the people, the values and the collaboration that make that happen.”

The Rochester Chamber Top 100 program is presented by the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and KPMG LLP. Launched in 1987, it recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in Greater Rochester. The 2016 Rochester Top 100 event will be held Nov. 3. For more information, go to greaterrochesterchamber.com.

Upstate Door Inc.
Manufacturer of custom residential and commercial wood doors
Year founded: 2001
Top executive: Robert Fontaine, president
Employment: 81
2015 ranking: 100
Headquarters: Warsaw, Wayne County
Website: upstatedoor.com

10/28/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.



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