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The key to opening doors? 'Wave a big, fat cheque': loan proceeds open up home interior market for door builder; LacLu Industries plans to grow 'slow and steady'.

In eight weeks LacLu Industries will be opening new doors by turning out another value-added product from their Kenora facility.

Known for their door-in-a-box product, LacLu will now be making six varieties of interior pine doors with matching bifolds.

"Our screen door was a superior product, but now we are taking the interior door to the same level," LacLu president Rex Csuzdi says.

"It is a pretty industrious project to tackle the interior door market, but that is where we are going."

Csuzdi and partner Kelly Gibson restructured their existing 10,000-square-foot facility to accommodate more storage space, three new equipment pieces and up to six new crew members.

"We are keeping our eyes open for select individuals now."

A commissioned salesperson will sell in the Greater Toronto Area and the product is expected to receive the same shelf life in the Canadian Home Hardware Stores Ltd. as does the screened, door-in-a-box product, which has been out for five years.

Being involved with the Home Hardware chains allows Csuzdi to participate in their private trade shows, held twice a year. The idea of building an interior door stemmed from seeing the "same boring doors" at the exhibitions for five years straight. So he and his partner came up with unique designs customers will not find anywhere else.

Securing raw materials these days can be quite challenging, he says, but it helps "when you wave a big fat cheque. They will do whatever you want. That is really how the game is played."

The duo gives three cheers to the community lending institutions for making this initiative happen. The company accessed funds through the nearby Lake of the Woods Business Incentive Corp.

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"They have given us the seed money to take this to the next step."

He would not disclose the amount of the loan, but mentioned area community development corporations can pool up to $500,000 in funds if a sound business opportunity is presented.

A total of 12 employees will work at the facility. Shifts will be increased as demand ramps up. Slow and sure is the motto.

"We don't intend on over-extending ourselves."

Establishing acceptable timelines for delivery of the product will undoubtedly be another focal point in the coming months.

Opportunities are plentiful in the northwestern Ontario value-added sector but jobs are not, Csuzdi says.

The current practice of exporting primary wood to the south and shipping the remnants to other countries needs to be re-evaluated for the sake of the economy. But opportunities come with a price tag. The northwest may be risk adverse due to a lack of new capital.

"There has to be support for people who want to make it work and boy these community lenders are filling the void for entrepreneurs."

LacLu has a website providing access to American screen door buyers and that same site will be used to market the new doors.

Right now, exporting for LacLu is a small part of overall sales. They have one distributor in the U.S., plus the website, which amounts to approximately four percent of their business. Their market is 96 percent Canadian, with half of business coming from Ontario.

www.door-in-a-box.com

By KELLY LOUISEIZE

Northern Ontario Business
COPYRIGHT 2005 Laurentian Business Publishing, Inc.
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Title Annotation:KENORA & DRYDEN
Author:Louiseize, Kelly
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:Jul 1, 2005
Words:538
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