Atlas Overhead Doors: Maintaining a Strong Family of Employees

When Atlas Overhead Doors (AOD) started over 30 years ago it filled a crucial need in the Ontario region. “There were really very few door companies operating then,” recalls George Atlas, one of the company founders and the current vice president of sales. Since then competition has certainly grown, but AOD has evolved as well, and the company continues to be a leader in the fabrication and installation of garage doors for the Toronto area.

Although the company is constantly updating itself through new and innovative technology, it is past performance and good relationships that keeps AOD successful. “The majority of our business comes from word-of-mouth,” reports Atlas. “We’ve been doing this for over 30 years – the construction industry knows us and likes us, and they consider us the leader in our field.”

AOD understands the industry, and can service the needs of its clients, which include commercial, industrial and residential customers needing service for their parking access needs. “Everybody’s heard of us in the world of construction. The reason why is because we know the industry very well, and once we do the job people don’t have issues. Year in and year out, when the job is completed there’s no problems, because we are good at we do.” AOD continues to thrive because of an experienced team of employees that have been with the company since the beginning and are perfectly in tune with the needs of the client.

High-rising Above the Competition

AOD’s geographical footprint extents east to Oshawa, north to Berrie, and west to Hamilton. “But 75 to 85 percent of business is in Toronto, and two-thirds of that is downtown Toronto,” explains Atlas. The business has three divisions: residential, industrial, and high-rise. “We keep employees within their section to fine tune their craft and knowledge,” Atlas adds. Most of the work involves traffic flow and building secure garage doors to large parking lots. The firm can install doors that are cladwood, plywood, aluminum-insulated and steel-insulated, as well as remote control keypads, telephone entry systems, card access systems and swing gates.

The company prides itself on being able to fabricate nearly all of its work in-house. AOD has its own 20,000-square foot operating warehouse, where it can create all its products except for the face of a steel-insulated door.

While these design-build capabilities are an important aspect, the way the company really separates itself from competitors is through its work on high-rise buildings. “Our niche is high-rise buildings, or multiple-dwelling buildings, like condominiums and rental buildings. There are very few companies that do this in the region,” according to Atlas.

The company has developed a complete understanding of the quirks of high-rise buildings. “The needs of high-rise buildings are changing rapidly, they’re changing quicker than the technology,” Atlas reveals. “For example, there is more emphasis on sound travel – create quieter doors and quieter operators. The term is acoustic-packaging. What we’ve had to do is take existing equipment and make them quieter. There’s nothing on the market that you can just buy to accommodate the acoustic problems that high-rise buildings are incurring. So what we’ve done is mix and matched the technology that we’ve come up with to existing technology in order to keep up with the demand of the high-rise industry.”

While the company continues to be innovative in its solutions for high-rise buildings, AOD makes sure to do it in the safest way possible. “We’re always coming up with something state-of-the-art and something new,” according to Atlas. “But when 1,000 people are going through your doors everyday, you need to be careful and make sure the product has gone through rigorous testing.”

Some recent notable projects AOD has done include work on the Toronto International Film Festival and buildings in Regent Park. “One that really sticks in my mind is the Toronto Film Festival,” Atlas says. “We installed all their doors, really anything to do with getting in and out of the buildings for traffic flow.”

Another project that Atlas is especially proud of is in the Regent Park section of Toronto. Regent Park is an area with a lot of low-income families and there are attempts to refurbish the area. “They’re trying to help the poorer people of the neighborhood live more comfortably and not feel like second-rate citizens,” Atlas says. “It’s nice to be involved in such a well-meaning project.”

Turning Employees into Family

Anyone in the top brass of AOD will tell you that the reason the company succeeds in quality, customer satisfaction and value is because of the employees. There is an unwavering commitment to build a family through the workforce that’s based on trust and support. “We have little to no turnover. In a 30-year period, we pretty much have the same people we had three decades ago, with only some new ones on board. Our employees are very strong technically because they’ve been doing it for such a long time. That’s worked out well, because you’re only as good as your people. So we’re pretty good,” Atlas says.

In fact, the company has 55 people working for it, and management has never fired anyone. Employees have the time to train and become masters in their respective field. As a result, the company has the expertise to create custom doors for any need through a staff that has the trust of both the client and management. According to Atlas, “We tailor make things – we take your size, weight, your needs, and we make a suit for you, as opposed to finding something off the shelf, which is what a lot of companies do.”

What keeps AOD going is simple: putting food on the tables of its employees through doing quality work. And the company's continued success means its often fed complements, as well. Says Atlas, “At the end of the day, we know we’re successful when people just say, ‘Thank you very much, we’re very happy with the work you’ve done.’”

Atlas Overhead Doors has literally risen to the top of Toronto, doing work on city’s tallest buildings and continuing to reinforce its position as a preferred specialty contractor in the Ontario market. However, the company has been able to stay grounded by focusing on the same things it did when it first started: providing for its employees as it satisfies the customer with integrated security design, fabrication and installation solutions.