Featured Dealer: Gerald Orr, Garador Dunedin

Featured Dealer: Gerald Orr, Garador Dunedin

Dunedin local Gerald Orr is "in it for the long haul". 2022 marks Gerald's 20th year owning 2021's Dealership of the Year (Medium), Garador Dunedin. He feels lucky to have chosen the business he’s in. “It’s good fun," he says. "You’d think after 19 years it might be time to change but what else would I do?” 

Gerald does actually have a wealth of other skills, having originally been a builder. He bought Garador Dunedin in 2002, continuing to build and running both businesses for six years. Then in 2009 the GFC hit and the building industry wasn't going so well but garage doors were having a moment, so he decided to focus on Garador. Gerald hopes his son Harry might one day take over the business. "He’s an electrician, a good cut of a lad," Gerald tells us. "I’m quietly hopeful that one day he might come into the business. I’d prefer that than to sell it."

Though it's the largest dealership in the area, the team is fairly small, having three full-time installers and two contractors to be brought in when things get really busy. Murray has been with Gerald the whole time he's owned the business, Jamal two years and D’Arcey 12 months. "I’d be buggered without them," Gerald says matter-of-factly. He likes to keep the staff involved in decision making so it’s not just an employer/employee relationship, noting "You have to treat people well, they need to be included and happy in their job. If you get good staff you need to hang on to them”.

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Above: Gerald keeps a modern fleet, incentivising staff with new vehicles every five years.

Each installer usually works solo and has the skills to install, repair and service garage doors. With a large area to cover, there's plenty of driving involved and Gerald runs a modern fleet. "If they treat the vehicle well, keep it tidy then every five years I buy them a brand new one," he says, adding "that helps with the company's image as well".

Gerald's own role encompasses measuring & quoting, pricing, ordering and the like. He employs Clare part-time to take care of office admin, reconciling bills and payroll. 

The Garador Dunedin premises situated on Kaikorai Valley Road has served the business well for over 19 years. It's a busy thoroughfare so gets plenty of exposure and has the capacity to accommodate the large trucks necessary to transport multiple garage doors. The building houses an office, workshop and showroom with interactive residential and industrial garage doors, being a Sectional Camden in colour Flaxpod, a Series 1 Residential Roller Door in Pioneer Red and a Series 3 Industrial Roller Door in Flaxpod. It's easy for customers to take a look at the doors, which perform a working role on the outside of the building.

Visitors are welcome, but it's best to call first to make sure Gerald's around. Though he finds people have often done their research and get the most benefit from meeting with Gerald on-site, where he can give them the advice and get down to measuring up for a quote. Gerald estimates 50% of his customers plan to update an existing garage door and the other half are new builds through relationships with architects, group home builders and trade stores such as Placemakers, Mitre 10 and ITM. "You have to be proactive in forming relationships with those guys," Gerald tells us. "We don't sell the cheapest brand of garage doors but people know they are getting a quality product with good warranties and after more than 50 years in the business, Garador isn't just here today, gone tomorrow."

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Above, clockwise from top left: The modest yet adequate showroom at Kenmure features panel samples inside and has interactive doors outside; An office shelf groans with its load of awards; Gerald and Murray receiving the award for Dealer of the Year (Medium) at B&D's 2021 Dealer Conference.

The comprehensive offering is another aspect that keeps customers coming back to Garador Dunedin. Not only does the company fit and repair garage doors, but with Murray's skills as a former engineer and Gerald's building background, they are known in the district for being the business to turn to if structural work is needed. "Homes built back in the ’80s often had 2.4 metre wide doors, but now modern cars tend to have big wing mirrors and it's a tight fit," says Gerald. "If you convert to one large door you can drive in easily and have more uses for the garage. We manage the structural engineering, drawings, building work and install the big steel beams required when you make two garages into one. We’re a one-stop-shop".

Getting better use from a garage is a growing trend amongst Gerald's customers, with a noticeable increase in the uptake of Garador's Insulated Series of garage doors. “People build a nice double garage and then carpet it and add an insulated garage door so they can do yoga inside or convert the garage to a gym. Then the garage is full of stuff and the cars live out on the forecourt don’t they?” Gerald quips. He estimates that out of his jobs 50% of retrofitted garage doors include insulation and up to 70% of new builds include insulated garage doors.

Gerald has also noticed - as have our other dealers - a big trend towards flat panelled sectional garage doors with a smooth finish. "With new subdivisions, the garages are usually at the front of the house and people want a nice street frontage," he says. "The most popular colours are Flaxpod, Ebony and Windsor Grey." Gerald's own doors at home are Aspen in Grey Friars and he gets great use out of his smartphone control kit

Along with noticing a spike in new builds, Gerald's business has experienced a huge spike in renovation work since the pandemic. "Seeing we’re not travelling people seem to have money to spend on their house. So kitchens, bathrooms, the garage door, roofing and double glazing all get done. There were a lot of homes built in the late ’70s, early ’80s and now all those homes need new garage doors, spouting, fascias and double glazing, they're getting rusty or deteriorating. The current building boom might not compare with the post-war boom but all the garage door dealers and builders certainly are very busy."

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Services provided include the supply, installation, servicing and repairs of residential, commercial and industrial doors, offering the full range of Garador products.

The team covers a wide area with around 140,000 residents. That includes the city of Dunedin plus Mosgiel, Palmerston, Middlemarch, Tapanui, Owaka and parts of South Otago.

When asked what drives him, Gerald answers “I just love the people. I meet some amazing folks. When you deal with garage doors you see what people keep in their garage. That's what inspired us to make a TV show for Southern TV called ‘Behind Garage Doors’. On each episode we'd show what people had in their garages; their collections of cars, bones, rocks, Tonka Toys, petrol pumps and memorabilia, vintage cars, vintage tractors - the list goes on."

Gerald is still active with the local TV station, channel 39. For three years now he has sponsored 'The Rugby Chat Show' with presenter Paul Dwyer. Advertising on the channel is his preferred media spend. "If you put an ad in the paper people might see it but then it goes in the pile. Whereas we have some quite good little local shows and it's amazing how many people watch them. It’s great bang for buck advertising." Gerald plays a quieter community presence with preferred charity, Dunedin Men’s Shelter. "For people who need somewhere to stay when they're down on their luck or have come out of prison for instance," he tells us.

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Above, a retrofitted Newport makes a world of difference to this small garage.

On plans for the future, Gerald muses "We’ll grow as we’re forced to grow. Everything can be affected by supply, so in the current climate we’ve got to take things as they come. So for this year, it’s 'steady as she goes' with an eye on growth." It's a humble response from Garador's '2021 Dealer of the Year (Medium)’ award winner. The business has also won the Supreme Dealer award more than once over the years and has quite a collection of awards trophies on the office shelf. "The conferences are always good," Gerald shares. "I really enjoy the speakers, Antonia Prebble (Emcee for 2021) is an amazing woman. A good speaker and just a great lady."

Gerald values the help from Garador's parent company B&D and finds them very obliging. "It's great having the support of the local rep," he says. "It's kind of a family atmosphere, that's one of the reasons I've stayed in the business. As a builder, it was a lonely life but with this, you're part of a group, you help each other out. You try and help your comrades in business."

You can visit Garador Dunedin at 553 Kaikorai Valley Road, Kenmure or contact Gerald Orr direct on 021 414 252. You can also email sales@garadordunedin.co.nz or find your local dealer here.

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