Relationships You Can Count On
Written by Carla Waldemar   

Doom-and-gloomers worry that small businesses in America are going to the dogs (or, the Chinese). Clearly, these naysayers are not from the Northeast; nor do they have a clue about our industry, where wholesale suppliers and their retail dealers still flourish by honoring good, old-fashioned values and evolving their businesses with the times.

What does it take? Good products, fair prices and great service, that’s all. But that’s a huge order. And one Ken Montuori, president of Wholesale Doors, Inc. (WDI), of Watertown, Mass., is prepared to deliver—just as he’s been doing all his life, and his dad before him.

In the 1950s, when Pat Montuori found himself out of a job and looking for work, he did what many a self-confident, enterprising fellow would do—launched his own business. Its success was built on offering a level of service and evolving product mix that only a small entrepreneurial environment could provide. The formula worked and WDI grew steadily through the decades.

Today, Ken is excited to build on that tradition. “The pace of change on so many fronts, nowadays, is nothing short of relentless. The challenge is to design the future course of a business and be part of a successful evolution,” he says.

And evolution is the name of the game at WDI. A saying framed in Ken’s office drives the message home: “Yesterdays magic is today’s commodity.”

Thus, over time, the company expanded its service area, relocated to larger, more convenient quarters, and, more importantly, transitioned from residential to the commercial market, even diversifying into hollow metal doors and frames.

Then, four years ago and again ahead of the curve, WDI began pre-finishing its doors. “Pre-finishing was where the market was going, what the end user was expecting, so we made the
investment and installed an automated prefinishing line: same quality as the factories, doing it right,” says Montouri. Not only did WDI do it right, but—heeding another emerging trend—did it while going green in the process by using LEED-approved water-based materials. “Our employees really stepped up to the plate, maintaining control of the entire process, even custom color matching.”

Other pluses: WDI provides a breadth and depth of inventory based on quality products. Meshing these strong components with the other machining and milling services it provides means that in just a few days WDI can produce orders that it takes a manufacture weeks to complete.

Another key asset to WDI’s success is the expertise its sales staff offers. Backed by commercial knowledge, while maintaining their roots in the residential market, the team has cultivated the experience and industry skill sets to work with both lumber dealers and the contract hardware base. As Ken emphasizes, “We understand the different needs and expectations of both.”

Today WDI serves the entire Northeast corridor, from Philadelphia to Portland. The company remains in the vanguard, thanks to a philosophy of continuous improvement and a commitment to quality products—products that are ready to go, pre-fitted, pre-machined, prefinished and even pre-hung, if that’s what’s needed, supplied with hardware, too…the whole nine yards. It offers the ultimate in one-stop shopping that saves customers, and their customers’ customers, precious time while delivering ultimate satisfaction.

Bob Naughton of Curtis-Newton Lumber, based in Dedham, Mass., is one among multitudes of diverse and loyal clients who receive what every one of them recognizes as WDI’s signature
model of customer service. Naughton has been a solid customer for as long as he’s headed the business his father bought into, way back when. In fact, his dad and Ken’s dad did business together.
Growing up, Ken and Bob met over the summers when Bob was working the yard and Ken was making “instant deliveries” in his dad’s station wagon.

Since then, both companies have evolved along similar paths—both are headed by second-generation owners; both are moving to newer, larger quarters; both are changing their paths from residential to commercial customers—a niche, Bob testifies, where “there’s not a detail you can overlook; lots of regulations, and more hats to keep happy.” There are lots more hoops to jump through, so both the product line and its delivery time had better be perfect.

And that’s where WDI comes in. Naughton and every dealer like him knows they can count on the company to perform. “They know their products,” he testifies, “and know how to deliver—which is not easy for our customers, who may each want their loads built a different way. They offer a great product mix and a better quality of product.

“But, just as important, their service is timely and backed by 30 years of experience; they have great expertise on the phone. The exchange of knowledge between us makes them very customer- friendly. It’s never the usual, ‘We’ll get back to you....’ They run the doors quickly, so we don’t need a long lead time; their inventory is strong; and they offer competitive pricing. We stress our own service to our customers, and WDI backs us up.” Just as important, it’s all about relationships. “Relationships meant a lot to our fathers; they hit it off together. And I still have a lot of that left in me, so I’m glad to see it continue,” Naughton states.

“Bob does a great job in developing a knowledgeable sales staff and cultivating commercial contractors,” says Montouri. “He knows what his niche is—what to look for. He’s a good customer. He knows what he’s doing, and he’s fun to work with. When Bob or his staff places an order, we know they have a handle on things. We can move it right along.”

Naughton cites the example of a recent job on the Cape. “We did a take-off and gave WDI the things to check for. The job dealt with a lot of offices, some fire doors, some with metal frames and some with wood; some to be prefinished in one color, and some in others—slightly different variables, plus different hardware. And some needed to be ‘green’ doors, prefinished with no VOC materials. Bottom line, Ken would do all that.

“Everything went smoothly, no worries about it. I could hang up the phone and just go home. It’s a nice outfit,” he underscores. About the relationship, he says simply, “It’s a good fit.” And that same great fit is what keeps customers throughout the region coming back and back to WDI.

For information, contact Wholesale Doors, Inc. at 800.225.4252, or visit www.wdiinc.com.

 
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