Featured Dealer: Tim Harris of Gisborne Garage Door Centre

A chat with Tim Harris of Gisborne Garage Door Centre

A two man band makes short work of stunning residential projects and huge farm shed doors all over Gisborne and the East Cape. We caught up with Gisborne dealer Tim Harris to talk about running his business ‘back home’.

A carpenter by trade, Tim returned to his roots after many years in Auckland working in the construction industry on everything from household alterations to high rise buildings. The experience he gained has been invaluable, but the hours and stress levels required weren’t the lifestyle Tim wanted longer term. He returned to Gisborne, in his words, “to grow up, settle down and have a family”. But first, Tim needed a break to re-centre and rediscover his hometown, so he decided to take a year off. However it seems that Tim and long breaks don’t mix because before the year was up, he found himself helping out in a family business while the owner made moves towards retirement. He definitely did not want to stay long term, it was more of a fill-in that suited everyone until the business could be wrapped up and sold.

That business was - you guessed it - a garage door business. The owner, Lester Traue, was a long standing leader of the Gisborne Building industry who was on the tools into his eighties. Lester trained Tim in garage door installation and servicing for the first couple of years. "I got a heap of oldskool growlings in that time, I also gained a heap of oldskool knowledge, which I hold very dear" Tim tells us. After a couple more years learning the ropes of running the business, there was no need to look for a buyer, Tim purchased the business and the rest is making history! This year Tim’s business Gisborne Garage Door Centre won Garador’s Small Business of the Year Award at our dealer awards. Even more prestigious for this down to earth family man, he also took out the major award, Garador’s Supreme Dealer of the Year. That’s no mean feat for a guy who has only one employee and does the whole kit and caboodle of running his business while share parenting three children.

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Tim has created an office in his home so that he can fit in admin duties while Aria, 13, Hazel, 11 and Landon, 8 are with him “My office hours are all hours,” he says with a laugh. Two adjoining workshops and an office in town house parts and accessories while providing an area to work on bespoke jobs. The space also acts as a showroom of sorts, with an interactive Camden featuring insulation and windows and sample door panels on display. Customers are welcome to visit but be sure to make an appointment as Tim is often out on site installing, servicing or quoting new jobs.

Getting out and around the huge area they cover is part of the job that Tim looks forward to. Gisborne Garage Door Centre services the whole of the East Cape to Opotiki and Matawai and down to Wairoa. “We get to go to some special places” he says, “especially the coastal areas and farmland, I really enjoy getting out there”. Tim takes his trainee Alec along and they’ll sometimes stay on site or in local campgrounds if it’s a big job such as a large farm shed door. Most residential garage door installations take the team half a day or so.

Alec has been a welcome addition to the team, learning quickly to reach the goals that Tim has incentivised. “It’s a specialised industry so once you have the training you can get a job anywhere” says Tim. “It’s a technical job that not just any builder can do without training”. It won’t be too long before they’ll take on a new trainee to work alongside Alec and free up a little more time for Tim to get out in front of customers, which is what drives his passion for the business.

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Above, some of Tim's recent shed door installation projects.

“In a small town it’s good to specialise in something. It gets you out and about in front of so many people every day, everyone gets to know you,” Tim says, adding “I like the variety of work because no one job is the same, there are so many different aspects. There is building work, engineering, welding, electrical work, there’s so much to know. There’s a lot of older equipment you need to keep your head around so you can repair that as well.” When a new installation or garage door upgrade requires building work, Tim's experience in carpentry and joinery comes to the fore. He has the ability to make alterations as required, such as widening openings for new garage doors, turning two small garage door openings into one large and so on. It's of great benefit to customers, who don't need to engage another tradesperson to complete the job.

Tim loves to keep on top of new innovations and works alongside Garador's parent company, B&D on technical developments and new product trials. His work is never short of variation, from installing roller doors on farm sheds and commercial projects to residential supply and installation packages for group home builders, servicing and repairs, insurance work and new motors. Roller door installation forms a good portion of the work, with shed and garage building booming at present.

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Above, Tim has noticed that dark garage doors and flat panels are in favour with most - but not all - of his customers.

Being part of the community he lives in has true meaning for Tim. In a small town such as Gisborne, buying locally has a noticeable knock-on effect and Tim encourages other businesses to join him in supporting local. He enjoys getting involved with various community projects such as the Gisborne Master Builders Golf Tournament charity auction. Tim rallied local businesses raising around $5000 for the local health camp to purchase water sports equipment. Tim was also a major sponsor of the community fundraiser for security cameras in the St Johns building at Ruatoria. 

It’s not often that a small business wins the supreme award, so the importance of that achievement speaks for itself. Winning was a welcome surprise for Tim after a tough year with the ups and downs of COVID and changes in staff, along with ensuring he has time and energy for his three favourite people. Tim certainly has his plate full - yet it seems his cup is overflowing.

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Above, top left: Tim was presented with two awards at this year's Garador Dealer Conference; right, a before & after transformation; bottom left, a recent install project.

Make contact with Gisborne Garage Door Centre via their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/gisgaragedoors or call Tim direct on 06-868 3308. Out of the area? Find your local dealer here.

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