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Right on track: an unconventional venture and smart partnership open doors for two brothers.

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FOR BROTHERS JAMON AND TAJ JONES, ENTREPRENEURSHIP is in the blood. "Our grandfather started a construction business back in 1949," says 33-year-old Jamon. Today, Jamon and his 35-year-old brother, Taj, have added a twist to the family's construction legacy by focusing on servicing and selling an often overlooked component of properties: the humble garage door.

Their efforts have resulted in The Garage Door Co. (www. thegaragedoorcompany.com; 770-774-1900), an Atlanta-based business with six employees that grossed nearly $250,000 in revenues last year and is currently projected to grow about 10%--to more than $275,000 for 2010.

The idea for the business came to Jamon while he was in an externship at a garage door company. Jamon says garage doors aren't considered sexy, leading many to choose more high-profile construction specialties, such as home building or general contracting. Recognizing opportunity, Jamon and Taj started the company in 2005. They also linked up with a college friend, Terrence Arthur, and began cold-calling area homeowners to offer their garage-servicing skills.

To finance the business, Jamon, the company's president, and Taj, the vice president, borrowed about $65,000 from their parents, Fred and Betty Jones. The money went toward the purchase of two trucks, a business license, computers, and cell phones. It seemed only natural for them to sell garage doors too, but while it was easy to persuade homeowners to service malfunctioning garage doors, it wasn't so easy to get them to buy new doors entirely, since they could run anywhere from $400 for builder's grade to $10,000.

"If potential customers were going to spend extra money, they wanted to see the product hands-on," says Jamon. Then there was the issue of credibility. As a service provider, The Garage Door Co. didn't need a storefront. But when it came to sales, some potential customers sniffed, "'Are you a legitimate company or are you just working out of your basement?'" Jamon recalls.

Building and stocking a garage door showroom was out of the company's financial reach so, in 2007, The Garage Door Co. forged an alliance with Salt Lake City-based Martin Garage Doors, an established manufacturer. "They sell doors all over the world, but we would be their one dealer here in Georgia," says Taj. As part of the arrangement, Martin Garage Doors would build and stock a showroom for The Garage Door Co. so long as the Jones brothers made them their preferred vendor. Since the competition did not have showrooms, The Garage Door Co. had a serious edge. Jamon says thanks to the showroom, "customers could see the safety features on our doors, they could see the quality of the materials, and they understood the difference."

While most of its business has been in the residential space, The Garage DoorCo. is looking to expand into industrial and commercial markets. And while The Garage Door Co. has focused so far on the Southeast, the Jones brothers plan to slowly spread its presence.

"Eventually, the world is going to know about us," says Jamon. One garage door at a time.

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Title Annotation:Garage Door Co.
Author:Holmes, Tamara E.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2010
Words:511
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