Cañon City, Colorado
Founder and CEO Bill Hale came up with an innovative pet door that has entrenched his company at the front of the market.
When Hale figured out a way to install pet doors directly into the glass pane of a sliding door, he switched gears, transitioning his Hale Glass Contracting to Hale Pet Door.
Business took off in this day of sleek modern homes with lots of windows and sliding-glass doors that allow natural light to pour into homes.
Today, Hale Pet Door offers 10 models of pet doors in a variety of colors in 11 standard sizes. The doors are designed to seal tightly to prevent insects, rodents and other animals from getting inside and all doors, except the screen models, come with a security cover that allows homeowners to lock them. The doors are made from extruded aluminum framing and PVC vinyl flaps, which make them heavier for greater strength and durability.
The company also does custom work in its 6,000-square-foot Cañon City production facility, which also includes a training center to introduce new employees to the manufacturing of pet doors. Prices range from about $120 for small doors to nearly $700 for doors for large pets, depending on which model is selected.
Hale Pet Doors has two retail locations -- one in Denver and one in Phoenix -- but the company relies on online dealers to distribute and install the doors, which is a critical piece of its training facility. "Everybody needs to be trained how to install the pet doors we give them," Hale said. "We have dealers all over the world that use our product."
Hale relocated the business from Phoenix to Cañon City about a year ago, offering all employees a chance to move but only two of them took him up on it. Hale had retired and franchised the business to his employees after buying property in Cañon City, but reacquired the company in 2002.
"I felt like the employees would be able to run it, and I retired for four years," he said. "They didn't keep it up, so I took it back. So far it's very good. We're centralizing production here. We shut down the Phoenix factory at the end of [February 2016]."
Hale has been working with Boulder-based Manufacturer's Edge, a Colorado manufacturing assistance center that works to boost the competitiveness of the state's manufacturers. As a result of his work with the organization, Hale has incorporated Lean manufacturing practices into production of his company's pet doors.
Challenges: Teaching employees to be more efficient is one of the challenges facing Hale. "We're short a couple of people right now, but the main thing is we need to learn to work with who we have," Hale said. "That's a learning process, and we're working on that."
Opportunities: Hale says that a handful of companies have entered the market to install pet doors in glass, but they don't provide the level of customer service that his company does. It's that high standard of customer service that sets Hale Pet Door apart and gives the company an opportunity to grow in an industry that the American Pet Products Association forecasts will continue to grow beyond the $60 billion Americans spent on their furry friends in 2015.
Needs: Hale Pet Door needs to find the right employees to keep up with customer demand for its products. The company also needs to invest in equipment. "We're on the cutting edge of technology," Hale said. "We're looking at equipment, but we need to develop our own. We just keep trying to do a better job."