Rising Above the Competition
With a surge in commercial business, Elite Overhead Garage Doors expands for future growth
Elite Overhead Garage Doors (Elite) provides garage door installation, repair and accessories for commercial and residential customers throughout Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee.
Family-owned since 2003 and operated by the husband-and-wife team of Joshua and Melynda Brown, Elite is opening new locations, growing its leadership team and putting a new fleet of commercial trucks on the road. Elite also recently added equipment to accommodate its surge in commercial business, including scissor lifts, equipment trailers, forklifts and various material lifts.
The company’s growth has been organic, driven by client word-of-mouth. “New customers typically tell us they were referred to Elite by an existing customer,” says Co-Owner and CEO Joshua Brown, better known as Josh.
Elite serves the Atlanta area from its Buford, Georgia, headquarters. The company recently moved to a larger facility that includes a storefront, showroom, commercial warehouse and its own parts store, The Local Garage Door Store, to serve businesses and the public alike. The parts store is a welcome convenience for Atlanta-area businesses. “It’s more expedient for them to come directly to us and buy the parts they need, rather than place an order and wait for it at the dealer’s warehouse,” says Melynda Brown, Co-Owner and CFO. Additional Elite locations are in Bluffton/Hilton Head Island and Greenville/Spartanburg, South Carolina; Savannah and Valdosta, Georgia; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Birmingham, Alabama.
Showrooms are located in Buford, Savannah and Greenville, where full-size, 8-foot residential doors and working commercial models are on display for customers to see and touch. Elite also maintains mobile showrooms.
Ready, Set, Action!
The company is on call to perform work for movie and television studios in the Atlanta area. “One studio has been our customer for years,” Josh says. “Like every industry, the people who work in film and television talk to each other.” Word spreads and, for Elite, this niche grows every year.
In addition to installing and servicing the loading docks at studios, the team is often called in to provide specialty services to meet film crews’ script-specific requirements. Elite’s technicians sometimes help set the scenes before the cameras roll. For example, when a location shot needs to realistically portray the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse, the Elite team is prepared: They tear down existing warehouse doors, and then reinstall and restore them to their original condition, once the living dead are gone and filming is complete.
Elite’s attention to detail on all projects is especially valued behind the camera. “One of our studio clients films their exterior scenes elsewhere,” Josh explains. “For continuity, the equipment shown in exterior scenes has to be replicated in the studio where the interior scenes are filmed. The Elite team may source and install duplicate motor and garage doors, for example, to ensure the scenes fit together seamlessly and appear to take place at one physical location.”
One time, for a scene shot at two locations, Elite worked directly with equipment manufacturer, The Genie Company, to obtain motors that were no longer manufactured. “We pay attention to the details, for example, ensuring garage door angle irons are the same length and that placement of decals on the equipment is identical in both locations,” Josh adds. That level of detail builds on the company’s natural strength: getting the minutiae right.
Taking Care of Business
Elite provides garage door expertise to commercial clients of all sizes. For instance, the company services and maintains seven Atlanta-area warehouses for America’s largest online retailer. “We install and maintain all of their loading dock equipment: truck restraints, dock levelers, rolling steel doors and high-speed doors,” Josh says.
Commercial clients also include some of the largest tire and mechanic shops in the nation. Retail owners are another primary customer group where Elite is often called upon to install security grills to protect inventory after-hours.
Elite maintains a busy residential garage door business as well, installing and servicing doors for builders and property management companies as well as homeowners.
Authorized Dealer for Top Manufacturers
“Quality lasts. We sell the best-quality garage doors and equipment manufactured,” Melynda says proudly.
Elite is a Master Authorized Dealer for Clopay, a high-end garage door manufacturer that has earned the Good Housekeeping Seal. Elite is also an authorized dealer for Amarr, a leading manufacturer of residential and warehouse doors.
The Elite team takes pride in remaining attuned to industry trends in design and technology. In the residential market, they’ve seen great interest in Coachman carriage house garage doors, manufactured by Clopay, and its Canyon Ridge collection featuring modern steel designs.
LiftMaster’s smartphone-enabled garage door opener line continues to be a hit with customers as well. The technology lets users open and close their garage doors from any location using the manufacturer’s myQ smartphone app. Elite is a factory-authorized dealer for LiftMaster.
Elite is also Amazon Key certified. This is a new way for homeowners to receive package deliveries from Amazon directly inside their garages. How it works: When customers choose “in-garage delivery” for Amazon purchases, they receive mobile notifications before the delivery driver opens their garage door and immediately after it is securely closed.
And as a Gold-level Genie Pro Dealer, Elite is one of the largest, independent Genie suppliers. Elite installs and services Genie garage door openers, opener remotes, sensors and keypads as well as replacement parts, battery backups and LED lighting.
On the commercial side of the business, equipment from manufacturer Pioneer Dock Equipment is in demand. Elite is an authorized dealer for all of Pioneer’s loading dock equipment, truck restraints and all types of dock levelers, seals and shelters. “We’re excited about the growth on this side of our business,” Josh says.
In addition to installation and services, Elite’s team often trains commercial customers’ employees on how to use all of the equipment safely and correctly.
"New customers typically tell us they were referred to Elite by an existing customer." Josh Brown, Co-Owner and CEO, Elite Overhead Garage Doors
Veteran Team Members and New Faces
Nathan Mitchell is now Director of Operations, overseeing Elite’s day-to-day operations from the main office in Buford, including dispatchers and all technicians and installers. He’s been with Elite for five years. Brad Chatham is Sales Manager for Atlanta. Team members stepping into new management positions include Commercial Service Manager Matt Kirven and Project Manager Austin Adams.
Office Administrator Beth Michael is a woman of many talents. For example, she is adept at creating composite images for customers, combining product images from door manufacturers with photos of a customer’s warehouse or residence. “This allows customers to see exactly how a door style and color will look before they make a purchase,” Melynda says. Beth also handles invoicing, price quotes and ordering.
“Elite increased the size of its warehouse to stay fully stocked on inventory of regularly used items. Manufacturers deliver directly to our warehouse,” Melynda says. “Then project materials are staged in-house and ready for our crews to pick up early in the morning. It’s very efficient.” Thomas Mills Jr. manages the Buford warehouse and logistics.
Across the region, Brett Crissey is Sales Manager for Elite’s Savannah and Bluffton/Hilton Head Island locations. Cosmin Avram is Sales Manager for Greenville/Spartanburg.
Treating Customers and Team Members Like Family
Between the warehouse, office and the field, Elite has doubled its head count in just two busy years. “When we started the company, it was just me!” Josh says. Josh and Melynda’s roles have evolved to lead the larger business and growing team. “Josh is a walking encyclopedia for all things garage doors,” Melynda says. “I’m always available for questions,” Josh says. But he’s also still out in the field. “That’s where I’d rather be,” he adds.
Melynda’s work has also increased in responsibility and intensity, with more people in multiple locations.
“We make sure everyone knows we are a team and that we have to work together. Above all, I want everyone we work with to feel like they are part of a family,” Melynda says. “That includes our customers; we treat them the same way. Our customers are our most important asset—we never lose sight of that. We’re committed to having the best customer service in our industry.”
Melynda’s mantra for all employees remains consistent: “Treat every customer just like you would your grandma.”
The company hosts a big annual Christmas party for employees and their families at Dave and Buster’s, featuring a lavish buffet and game cards for everyone. Each year, the team lines up for a group picture. Each year, that group is bigger.
Elite holds season tickets for the Gwinnett Stripers, the Triple-A affiliate team for the Atlanta Braves, and shares game tickets with employees. “At the end of the season we take up a whole section and have a party for employees and their families,” Josh says. “We have the best seats at Coolray Field—in the first row by the Stripers’ dugout.” The entire Elite family, kids, parents and grandparents have a great time interacting with the team’s mascot, Chopper, a cartoon-like groundhog.
Give and Grow
Josh and Melynda are committed supporters of their local community. They’re passionate about working with children through their church, where they lead weekly Awana classes that cultivate a love of God and country. They also support overseas missions.
Josh has contributed time and labor installing garage doors at several houses built by Gwinnett Habitat for Humanity.
What keeps Josh and Melynda working hard and marching forward? “It’s the gratification that comes from providing employment opportunities that support so many families. It’s not just about our family,” Josh says.
On his desk, Josh keeps a picture of the 60 people who attended Elite’s last Christmas party. “That’s who he’s working for; not just for himself, not just for us,” Melynda says. “It’s for all of these people. These are more than just workers; they are part of our family and that’s what keeps us going.”