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YOUNGSTOWN Despite move, Omega Door keeps a lock on customers



Published: Mon, April 29, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The local garage door company operates in five cities and wants to expand further.

By DON SHILLING

VINDICATOR BUSINESS EDITOR

YOUNGSTOWN -- Omega Door Co. officials breathed a sigh of relief this month.

They had their annual scratch-and-dent sale for the first time at their new office and warehouse on Gibson Street in Youngstown. The sale always had been successful at its warehouse on McClurg Road in Boardman, but officials weren't sure how it would do away from the township's retail environment.

Turns out, shoppers were willing to come to the company's new location on the South Side near downtown.

"The same amount of people came here as came to Boardman," said Tony Orlando, Omega general manager.

The turnout was important because 20 percent of the company's residential sales come from walk-in business.

Decided to move

Even though the company was unsure of how walk-in customers would welcome the move, officials moved the company in January anyway, Orlando said. The building and a financing deal from the city was too good to pass up, he said.

To move into the former Grief Brothers Container Products property, Omega received a 75-percent tax abatement and a $60,000 loan, which will be forgiven if it hires five people within three years. Orlando said the location and design of the building will enhance the company's service and installation businesses as well as its warehouse operation.

In Boardman, the company's operations were spread over four leased buildings. The operation was inefficient because sometimes workers needed supplies and had to travel between the buildings, Orlando said.

In Youngstown, the residential division occupies one side of the 60,000-square-foot building, the commercial division occupies the other and the parts department is in the middle.

"The layout is perfect for us," Orlando said.

Location importance

Being in Youngstown with easy access to Interstate 680 is important because the office serves areas within 75 miles of Youngstown, he said. Omega's sister companies expand the company's reach to Sandusky in the west and Pittsburgh suburbs in the east.

Omega had sister companies in Pittsburgh and Winchester, Va., when John Thompson bought the business in 1999. He has since added sister companies in Cleveland and Kansas City.

Omega employs 45 in Youngstown and 150 overall. Orlando wouldn't disclose the company's annual sales, but said it is large enough to strike deals with the largest home builders in areas where it operates.

It has more than 2,000 doors in its warehouse, giving it an inventory worth more than $1 million.

About 70 percent of its business is residential doors, with about half of that amount going to new construction. The other 30 percent is supplying doors for stores and factories.

The business has been growing at about 20 percent a year in recent years, Orlando said.

Key to company's success

Despite its work with large companies and home builders, Orlando said the key to its success has been serving individual customers.

The company has a 24-hour emergency service number and has a 34-year history to back up its warranties. Richard Buonpane, founded the business, but sold it to Thompson, a Kansas City native who came to the company in 1997 as general manager.

Orlando, who was hired in 1998 and named general manager in 2000, said company officials have plans to expand to other cities as opportunities arise.

"If you provide good products, good service and good prices, you can do business anywhere," he said.

shilling@vindy.com




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