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Putting the Family to Work: Fathers and Sons tirelessly Keep Opening (Garage) Doors

Martin Overhead Door President JD Martin knows what it’s like to be in a family business. His father, David, founded Martin Overhead Door in 1991 when JD was still a teen. Today he’s moved into David’s seat as the company president, while his son, Grant, works as a technician. The values David brought to the business have filtered down through the generations, ensuring that Martin Overhead Door customers get a good product for their money and are satisfied with every transaction.

“Dad would be totally honest with everyone, and that’s the part I appreciated,” JD recalls. “If he said it was going to be done one way, he was going to try to do it that way.”

The Martin Overhead Door story began in 1991, when David rented a building in Greensburg from his own father to start his own garage door business. JD joined the business a decade later, when he and his now-wife, Rainee, had Grant. The family business has gone full circle, with grandfather, son, and grandson each playing an important role.

Keeping a family business in the family isn’t always easy. According to Businessweek.com, the average life span of a family-owned business is 24 years. But only about 40 percent of family-owned businesses ever become second-generation family-owned businesses, and only 13% survive to be passed down to the next generation and beyond. Fortunately, Martin Overhead Door is thriving, expanding its business footprint from its loyal south central Indiana customer to Indianapolis, Columbus, Ind., and northwest Cincinnati.

A commitment to the family business and community

When JD joined his father’s business, he had to learn by getting his hands dirty. That’s the point, he says. JD spent his early years in the service and installation side of the overhead garage door business before transitioning to the office side, where he handles sales calls, emails, and other business-related tasks. Of course, when things get busy, he’s happy to join the crew and do some heavy lifting. Grant is starting a similar journey, working for his father as a technician while he picks up on the important lessons of running a family business.

“He definitely did a lot of grunt work first,” JD says. “In order to be in my spot, you must know how to do the job. Fortunately for Grant, I’ve coached a lot of his baseball teams over the years. He’s gotten good at listening to me and following my lead.”

Coaching comes naturally for JD, who also coached Grant’s younger sisters, Izzy and Mila, in youth sports leagues around Shelbyville. The Martin family remains committed to south central Indiana area, sponsoring Little League teams, local pickleball tournaments, and other community events. Although JD bought out David’s portion of the business seven years ago, he still knows he can call on Dad for some good business advice when necessary.

The overhead garage door business continues to evolve and offer new features and choices. JD remembers when garage doors came in six colors. Today, he has a color wheel that rivals the ones found at the local Sherwin Williams store. Each manufacturer carries several different styles, so residential and commercial customers can choose a unique product that works with their homes, brand, and vision. Today’s smart garage door technology is a hit with homeowners who like to be able to make sure their garage door is closed at night without having to get up and check. Recently, the company began offering retractable motorized screen doors for homeowners who want to expand their their outdoor living spaces.

Changes will continue, but the business ethics on which Martin Overhead Door were founded in 1991 will stick around for years through the fathers and sons who run the business.

“My father taught me that if you want something you have to go get it,” JD says. “Nothing is going to be easy. That’s stuck with me quite a bit.”

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