About DDM

Celebrating 20 Years on the Web

Friday, November 17th, 2017 at 8:26 pm by Dan Musick

The year was 1997. The Internet was just coming of age. Interest in the profit potential of web-based businesses was reminiscent of the gold rush in the last century. It was the year that my 12 year old son, Erich, posted our first web page.

It began, “Welcome to our web site. God knew we could not afford a computer guru to develop this so He gave us one about 12 years ago at the local hospital.”

We had registered our domain, www.garagedoor.org on April 16, 1997. The man who arranged this said businesses use the .org as well so I took his word for it as the www.garagedoor.com URL had already been taken. For more than a decade afterward customers would ask, “Why are You a .org?” That took a lot of explaining.

The company name at the time was DDM Enterprises, Inc. I was a dreamer; I didn’t want to limit the scope of our business to just the garage door industry.

My 12 year-old son was also experimenting with an email link. I can’t remember if he actually posted it.  

Erich also posted a picture made from a photo taken with an old 35 mm camera. At the time I was proud of it. If you can imagine how much computers have changed in 20 years, you might appreciate how this image degraded through multiple file transfers.

After explaining what I was doing, one of my suppliers warned me that people go to the internet just to get free information, and he advised, “you’ll never make any money that way.” I continued posting free information on our site. I later discovered that I was pioneering what later came to be called “content marketing” in college courses. And, we continue to offer service before the sale.

The wild web gold rush exploded in the next few years. Companies invested and lost millions. But not us. We certainly didn’t have any money to invest, and we hadn’t even made enough to pay the quarterly web hosting fee.

My family also had this thing about food, shelter and clothing, so I continued a full time job at Area Door from about 1995 until about 2010. I also had my own repair business on the side and I continued to sell parts. Many of these orders had come from printed catalogs we mailed in the early 90’s.

In 2005 we noticed that people started buying parts from us after getting our name and contact information from the internet. In the same year we posted instructions for replacing garage door torsion springs, along with a second page explaining torsion springs. This page also included a conversion program for longer life springs. These two pages soon provided enough income for me to leave my full time job.

In the same year we encountered what is still a lingering problem – intellectual property theft. One competitor stole both of our pages. He copied the text to his server but he linked to our images, so we found a nifty way to warn customers that the page had been stolen. In one of the earlier images we substituted one of the images with this one. It showed up on his page, but not on ours.

The thief who had stolen several of our pages and who still has much of our property on his site, was booted off Richard Kinch’s site. I had asked Google for help but I don’t think they had their DMCA notice program in place.

From there the business has continued to grow. My older son, Erich, went on to graduate with a software engineering degree from Milwaukee School of Engineering. Now, he’s a senior software developer at Microsoft.

In September of 2011 we moved out of our garage. I had earlier assumed that our kids would just clean out the garage when we died. But God had other plans.

My younger son, David, studied physics, math and German at Wheaton College. Early in his college years he photographed and posted most of our garage door parts, and during most of his remaining college years he worked on our high lift conversion instructions and conversion quote program.

There are three things I remember about his high lift work. One is that he was a perfectionist; he kept me up until 2 AM taking pictures as I installed that high lift for the tutorial.

I also remember the conversion quote program. The first month the program was up high lift purchases almost died. I later discovered that the diy-ers were doing their homework and it took more time before they were ready to order.

A third memory was that David’s program didn’t always match the calculations from our supplier’s program. After some testing we discovered he had actually improved the industry calculations.

David later picked up a masters degree in photonics from the Friedrich-Schiller University in Jena, Germany, and is now working in the same city for Jabil.

Much has happened since those early years. Today we’re in a large warehouse –  the size that customers used to imagine when they saw the magnitude of our web site. They assumed we had a big warehouse, and they were surprised when I would lead them back to our garage to help them get the part they needed.

God never ceases to surprise me.

 

WWJD – What Would Jesus Do?

Friday, November 3rd, 2017 at 5:25 pm by Dan Musick

Many years ago I was replacing a gear on a Chamberlain/Liftmaster/Sears opener. I had learned from previous jobs that the top neck of the drive shaft often wears from dried grease. I put two and two together and I concluded that if I replaced just the gear, I would probably need to return in a few months to replace the drive shaft and another gear because it is not possible to purchase just the drive shaft.

At the time each repair cost over a third of the price of a new opener. What should I do? Then I asked, “What would Jesus do?” And I thought, Jesus would not just replace the gear; He would also clean and lube the neck of the drive shaft. He would treat others, in this case the customer, the way I would want to be treated if I were the customer. That’s the golden rule.

I attend Bethel Baptist Church where redeemed sinners learn to be more like Jesus. In our small group last night, David Kells, one of the elders, wrote on the white board two words, “excellence” and “obedience.” Then he asked, “Which is more important?”

The answer that quickly came to my mind is “obedience.” Treating customers the way I want to be treated – obeying Jesus’ golden rule – will produce excellence in all we do.

When I sold our service and installation company to Matt’s Garage Doors, I reminded Matt to honor Christ in all he does, not to worry about reviews, and to continue serving customers as he did so well when working for us. And I remind him and our employees even now: “Pursue Christ’s standard of perfection and it will inform every dimension of our work. Sacrificing to serve a customer is as much a part of our worship as singing the rich hymns of our faith on Sunday morning.”

We are different because of our hope. As we were reminded last night, God has shown us mercy – not giving us the punishment we deserve, and He’s shown us grace – giving us the joy we don’t deserve. We received that hope through faith in Christ’s perfect life, His death for us, and His resurrection from the dead. It’s good news indeed!

The reality is that our lives are hidden in Christ. (Colossians 3:3) And, as the quote on our church’s website reminds us, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20) If you see anything commendable in us, it is Christ you see, His work, not ours.

It is for His kingdom and His glory that this business exists.

Business Kingdom Purpose

Friday, October 20th, 2017 at 5:09 pm by Dan Musick

Business Focus

Over the years our main focus has been to honor God by being good stewards of the resources He has provided.

I learned this principle from two Christian business men, Bill Pollard and Dick Lauber, elders at a church I attended many years ago. Several years ago I began a Twitter Page expressing my gratitude for them. The purpose of that page is to help other entrepreneurs understand business from God’s perspective.

In the early years of our business the resources to steward included a camera, my writing skills and my son’s internet skills. As the business grew, the resources God provided became more specialized, from photography to video, from html to PHP, from employees and accountants to lawyers and numerous other skills and professions.

One of the more recent treasures God has provided for us to steward is the Convene business network which links Christian businessmen.

Their site states: “We believe two heads are better than one. And a peer team committed to each other’s success is exponentially better. . . . Time is money. At Convene, we can guarantee that your time is well-spent. The people, resources, and materials available to our members help to multiply their time.”

This is my first month in their program; the resources they provide are incredible. One of my first tasks was to help focus the business by establishing a kingdom purpose.

It took time, but I knew the time invested would be worth it. Here it is.

“God has uniquely positioned, gifted and called DDM Garage Doors to glorify God by exemplifying Christ-likeness in our leadership, by praying for and discipling our employees, by sharing the gospel with our customers, and by funding ministries that take the gospel to the ends of the world.”

To God be the glory!!!

 

Way to go, Jorie!

Friday, October 6th, 2017 at 2:23 pm by Dan Musick

In an earlier blog we mentioned Jorie’s and Neal’s wedding. Neal is our warehouse manager and Jorie has helped here with personnel matters, including completing a company policy manual that had been started several years previously. She also helped to see that the orders got to their intended destinations.

At the time she had just finished her education. After a little time to get settled and to look for a career in her field of study she is embarking on a career in human resources in the corporate offices at Aldi Foods.

As part of her going away celebration we brought in scrumptious fresh cooked pot pies from Pie Boss. The owner there is the worship leader at Neal’s and Jorie’s Faith Bridge Church.

In the card we gave her I let her know I trust her husband, Neal, will keep me apprised of all Jorie’s achievements. We expect to hear great things about her.

Best wishes, Jorie. We’re all proud of you!

New Page & Software for EZ-Set Torsion Springs

Friday, August 4th, 2017 at 5:40 pm by Dan Musick

In order to help our customers find the correct springs for their garage doors, we just posted our revised page with new software to make it easier to purchase Clopay, Ideal and Holmes EZ-Set Springs.

In the past we encouraged do-it-yourselfers to measure the springs, but because of gaps between the coils and because of the coatings on the springs, the wire size was often difficult to determine.

Now customers can order by manufacturer and model number. In our most recent blog we showed how to identify Clopay, Ideal and Holmes door by model numbers on the stickers.

If this information cannot be found, we have an additional tab for selecting a spring or springs by door weight. Customers have found our instructions for how to weigh a garage door helpful.

If you have any questions please contact us.

 

Finding a Reputable Garage Door Repair Company

Friday, July 14th, 2017 at 2:58 pm by Sales Team

DDM Garage Doors is a retail garage door parts company, but sometimes customers contact us for help getting their doors professionally repaired. What is the best way to find a reputable garage door repair company? Here are some suggestions.

 

Check Online Reviews

Online sources can help you determine what fellow consumers are saying about prospective service companies.

Yelp®, Facebook®, Google™ Reviews – Social media is helpful because you will find honest and thorough reviews directly from customers and their personal experience. But beware of false reviews posted by greedy competitors or by the companies themselves, trying to create a false image. Here’s one posted by Tommy a while back to discourage customers from buying from us.

Better Business Bureau® (BBB®) – The BBB is helpful for a verified, accurate, and professional rating of a company. A BBB accredited business and the accompanying rating is based on customer reviews, filed and resolved complaints, time in business, and known business practices. If a company is an accredited business and boasts a B+ or better rating, you can be pretty sure that they will treat their customers fairly and honestly. Do realize, however, that many A+ rated companies are rated high only because there was a problem requiring the customer to contact the BBB. A satisfactory settlement will restore a company to the A+ rating. Better companies will settle problems before the customer has to go to the BBB to resolve the difference.

Ripoff Report® – A lesser known service, but extremely helpful, the Ripoff Report is a good last search to make sure there are not major complaints against a company. This source is where you will find any major negative reviews or rip-offs from a certain company.

 

Look Out for Bad Business Practices

A good test of a reputable company is how they treat their customers, and if they operate their business in an honest, fair, and trustworthy manner. If a company tries something that just doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t, and you’re probably not the first customer to suspect the company is not reputable.

Not keeping appointments – A reputable company will do everything they can to honor their appointment, and if they cannot make it on time, they will let you know. If you have a scheduled service time of 1-3 PM, and they show up at six, they probably don’t value their customers’ time and schedules like they should.

Drastic Increases to Quoted Service – Honest businesses will always try to give their customers the best price, and the most accurate quote based on the service requested. If the charge varies they notify the customer before performing the work. Beware of those who stiff customers with the classic bait and switch technique.

Up-selling Parts – When it comes to garage door repairs, only the broken or damaged parts need to be replaced. There are some situations where parts have been discontinued and parts need to be upgraded. If the cost varies from the quoted price this should not be done without first notifying the customer. There are other times when the door and opener need standard routine maintenance, but beware when companies insist you change more of the parts than you need.

 

 

 

 

 

Business Philosophy

Friday, June 30th, 2017 at 2:00 pm by Dan Musick

There are not seven nor ten nor fifteen ingredients for success. There are thousands and one mistake can torpedo a business.

One important ingredient for the Christian in business is to honor God. In the book of Proverbs the wisest man who ever lived prescribes timeless principles for success and failure in business as well as in your personal lives.

In short, obey God and you succeed; disobey him and you fail. Cause and Effect. This applies to the sale of garage door parts and anything else that can be bought and sold.

No where in the history of mankind is this principle explained more clearly than when the nation of Israel was about to enter the promised land.

Blessings:
“So it shall be, when the Lord your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant — when you have eaten and are full — then beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.” (Deut. 6:10-12)

Curses:
“But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you. . . You shall betroth a wife, but another man shall lie with her; you shall build a house, but you shall not dwell in it; you shall plant a vineyard, but shall not gather its grapes. Your ox shall be slaughtered before your eyes, but you shall not eat of it; your donkey shall be violently taken away from before you, and shall not be restored to you; your sheep shall be given to your enemies, and you shall have no one to rescue them. Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, and your eyes shall look and fail with longing for them all day long; and there shall be no strength in your hand. A nation whom you have not known shall eat the fruit of your land and the produce of your labor, and you shall be only oppressed and crushed continually. So you shall be driven mad because of the sight which your eyes see.” (Deut. 28:1, 30-34 – All verese are from the NKJV.)

At DDM Garage Doors we take God’s promises and warnings seriously.

Blessings!

 

Garage Door Sales

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017 at 4:17 pm by Dan Musick

DDM Garage Doors no longer sells garage doors outside of the Chicagoland area. In the past we built wood crates for shipping garage doors over the road. We recently stopped doing this because the $500-$1,000 freight costs were often as much as the price of the door itself.

We also tried shipping doors through the Amarr dealer network; the closest regional Amarr warehouse would deliver doors directly to our customers. We stopped doing that due to frequent complications regarding door features, lead time, and shipping details.

If you are still interested in purchasing a door, and if you are outside the Chicagoland area, we suggest you try a local Lowes, Menards or Home Depot. Their prices are reasonable, but you may have to wait a few weeks for the order. Sometimes local mom-and-pop stores have the door you need at even better prices. There are also a few companies that sell doors on line.

Sometimes it’s better to bite the bullet and hire a professional installer. From past experience we have found that an installing company can better size your opening and provide the best door for your application. I’ve never been impressed with the advice I’ve gotten at home centers.

 

High Lift Kit FAQ

Friday, June 16th, 2017 at 1:27 pm by Sales Team

 

1: How much does a high lift kit cost?

A custom high lift from DDM typically costs $200 – $350 when an operator is not included and $600 – $750 when an operator is included. In addition to the kit cost, expect shipping costs of $50 – $100, sometimes more if the kit is pre-assembled or includes extra hardware. Note: these price ranges are estimates, NOT guarantees.

 

2: How long does it take to receive the high lift kit?

On average, DDM receives 20-25 high lift inquiries every week. When we receive an inquiry, we look it over and judge based on our 35 years of experience whether there are any measurements or specs of concern. We will often contact customers if something looks unusual so as to confirm that we have all of the correct information. If the measurements are reasonable and the customer contacts us soon after receiving the email quote, the turn-around time can be as quick as 1-2 days. Once the kit ships from our warehouse, shipping time within the lower 48 states is usually 1-4 business days. Expect longer transit time for Hawaii/Alaska, or if shipping internationally.

 

3: How high can I mount my high lift assembly?

Our custom high lift program designs each high lift assembly with the shaft mounted four inches away from the ceiling and jamb. This is to allow sufficient space for the standard high lift cable drum which has an outer diameter of almost 6”. This will place your horizontal tracks 7.75” – 8.75” away from the ceiling. On assemblies with more than 54” of high lift, the horizontal tracks will be closer to 10” away from the ceiling because even larger drums are required. In reality, the tracks can usually extend another inch or two without any problem, but we cannot guarantee the door will operate without issue.

http://ddmgaragedoors.com/blog/2016/01/11/high-lift-how-high-can-i-go/

 

4: What does it mean to have a “balanced door”?

A “balanced door” is one which stays on the floor when closed, remains at rest when in the middle of its travel, and stays up when opened fully. This will be the case if you have the correct springs that are wound the correct number of turns. If your springs are correct but you still have problems balancing the door, you can usually adjust the springs accordingly, up to ½ turn in either direction. If you still have balance issues, check the cable timing on the drum. On a high lift assembly with the correct cables installed, the cable should begin wrapping on the flat portion of the drum as the top roller of the door begins rolling on the horizontal tracks. If your cable does not perform this way, then the cable is either too short or it was improperly installed.

http://ddmgaragedoors.com/blog/2015/11/03/a-balanced-garage-door/

 

5: Can I reuse the springs from my previous application?

Most customers understand that standard length cables will need to be changed out for longer cables on a high lift assembly, but it’s a common misconception that the springs can be reused. Because the vertical portion of the door travel is now extended, there is not an immediate weight offload into the horizontal tracks. Additional turns are needed on the springs to account for the extra distance and extra stationary weight (see question 6). However, simply applying more turns to your current springs will not work because then the force of the springs will be too great when the door is in the closed position, and it will not close all the way. Instead, you need to purchase springs which are specifically sized for the new setup.

http://ddmgaragedoors.com/blog/2015/11/12/common-high-lift-problems/

 

6: Why do high lift systems require more turns on the springs?

When the door is in the open position on a standard lift setup almost 100% of the door weight is sitting in the horizontal tracks. This allows the springs to be almost fully unwound, with about ½ turn on the springs just to hold tension on the cables. Once a high lift kit is installed and the tracks are modified, the door will still only open to just past the opening. Instead of sitting fully horizontal, a portion of the door will be held in a vertical position. Therefore, a percentage of the door weight still needs to be held by the springs. The new larger springs, requiring additional turns, hold this extra weight. Depending on the amount of high lift installed, it could be as much as 2-4 extra full turns. This is also a reason that the previous springs cannot be reused (see question 5).

http://ddmgaragedoors.com/blog/2015/12/11/how-many-turns-do-you-wind-a-torsion-spring/

 

7: Can I reuse the drums from my previous application?

You cannot reuse your old drums. Due to the longer vertical travel in a high lift assembly, the resting weight of the door will stay constant for the first few feet of travel. But as soon as the springs start unwinding they begin to lose force. The tapered ends of the high lift drums account for this by proportionally decreasing the moment arm as the springs unwind and thus helping the door stay balanced throughout this vertical extension. The flat portion of the high lift drum is then used as the weight of the door is offloaded into the remaining horizontal track (see question 4). Standard lift cable drums are completely flat and therefore the moment arm doesn’t change.

http://ddmgaragedoors.com/blog/2015/11/12/common-high-lift-problems/

 

8: Why is my track extension shorter than the inches of high lift?

A common point of confusion for high lift customers is the fact that the track they are adding to the vertical (track extension) does not seem to reach the ceiling. In reality there are two dimensions, the length of the track extension, and the inches of high lift. The “inches of high lift” (see photo above) is the distance between the top of the closed door and centerline of the horizontal track, as a flat plane. Therefore, even standard lift systems technically have a few “inches of high lift.” The vertical track extension just adds to this dimension, placing the tracks as close as possible to the ceiling. The track extension simply adds to the inches of high lift, it is not equal to it.

 

9: I purchased a high lift kit in the last few years. Why are my cables fraying?

Back in 2015 we came across an issue with the high lift cable drums having rough edges. These rough edges were left by seams in the molds used for casting these drums. While the rough edges do not compromise the drums in any way, over time the installed cables can get worn down and start fraying. We have been working with customers that purchased high lift kits during this time to get the cables replaced and to fix the drums to avoid future issues. The rough edges can be ground down with a hand file or angle grinder and the drums can still be used without issue. We now make sure to grind down the rough edges of the drums before they are shipped out with a kit. Please contact us if you still run into this fraying problem.

http://ddmgaragedoors.com/blog/2015/11/16/rough-edges-on-high-lift-drums/

 

10: Is a vertical lift a good alternative to a high lift?

The appropriate answer is “Which one do you need?” While high lift doors rise a given distance vertically before entering the horizontal tracks, vertical lift doors rise vertically for their entire travel. These doors do not require horizontal tracks because they rest above the door opening and “parallel” to the jamb. A vertical lift is typically the better option when there is sufficient ceiling height within the garage. Minimum ceiling height for a vertical lift is double the door height, i.e. 14’ ceiling for a 7’ tall door, etc. If the space is available, a vertical lift is a good long term option to allow maximum space for lighting, workshop equipment, or storage.

http://ddmgaragedoors.com/blog/2011/10/13/vertical-lift-a-good-alternative-to-high-lift-garage-door/

 

11. How do I keep the windows from scraping the stop molding?

Because the door will no longer pitch immediately into the track radius as it opens, the track for a door with windows may require adjustment so as to avoid scraping the glass against the PVC stop molding or header. If you have windows installed on the door, in order to avoid the need for adjustment after installation, select the option in our high lift inquiry form that you have an outside lock or handle that you want to keep. This will provide the added pitch you need.

http://ddmgaragedoors.com/blog/2016/02/08/gaps-on-high-lift-doors-with-windows/

 

12: What if I have low headroom tracks currently?

If you have low headroom tracks currently but sufficient headroom for a high lift assembly, the tracks can be modified to fit the high lift assembly using the parts we provide. You will need to separate the two track pieces in order to reuse the lower horizontal track and radius. We will provide the standard horizontal track angle to connect the track to the high lift angle. You will probably need to replace the top and bottom fixtures as well.

http://ddmgaragedoors.com/blog/2016/03/15/converting-from-double-low-headroom-tracks-to-high-lift/  

 

 

Business Ethics

Friday, May 12th, 2017 at 4:30 pm by Dan Musick

Business Ethics:

A Comment on Matthew Stewart’s article “The B-School Boondoggle”

In the April 22-23, 2017 issue of The Wall Street Journal, Matthew Stewart reviews Duff McDonald’s recent book, The Golden Passport: Harvard Business School, the Limits of Capitalism, and the Moral Failure of the MBA Elite.

In this work, McDonald examines the history of Harvard Business School (HBS) and its damaging effect upon business management in America in his summary of a few of the business theories that “populate the promiscuous intellectual history of the (HBS).”

Stewarts affirms McDonald’s claim that none of them should be taken seriously. Stewart provides two reasons and implies a third: “First…they all start and end with the belief in a magic measuring stick that will reduce the problems of human collaboration to a game of numbers…second is that they always, always, justify the power and the glory of management. Did I mention the money?”

In his book, McDonald emphasizes a commitment to “the pursuit of corporate donations and consulting contracts” early in its history rather than genuinely pursuing knowledge. Meanwhile, HBS hails corporate managers as “the moral center of modern civilization.” Such a commitment and pedagogical strategy has encouraged the development of a market stocked with managers who possess little to no moral conscience and who justify criminal practices because they – being the corporate managers – determine morality.

Stewart’s article documents disturbing examples of corporate managers whose business practices and lifestyles demonstrate the effect of this commitment by HBS. This is not to blame HBS with all of the problems present in American society. However, such an approach has certainly not encouraged ethical behavior within the business sector where the greedy take and others suffer loss.

Our experience at DDM Garage Doors confirms the dark side of McDonald’s study. In recent years our website and YouTube tutorials company have suffered countless attacks. To cut corners thousands of unscrupulous companies and individuals have stolen images and text from our website. In addition to this, one greedy competitor has used click farms to drag down the ratings on our more popular YouTube tutorials such as our “How to Replace Garage Door Torsion Springs” video as well as videos of other competitors. As a result a substantial portion of our annual budget is spent on legal work to protect our intellectual property.

That’s the moral landscape of American Business. Harvard Business School’s contribution to it is an American tragedy. Thank you, Matt, and thank you, Duff, for helping us see our failures.

(Written by Daryle Worley with comments from Dan Musick)