D+AS MAGAZINE

FEATURES — New Garage Book to Hit Stores in September

© 2004 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Summer 2004
Author: Tom Wadsworth
Page 41


New Garage Book to Hit Stores in September
A Talk with the Author

A new book, "Your Garagenous Zone — Innovative Ideas for the Garage," is scheduled to be available in bookstores in September. The author, 53-year-old Bill West of Fort Collins, Colo., says, "My book truly is a ground-breaking book in this new category of home improvement."

The 183-page paperback, which includes a chapter on garage doors and openers, attempts to ride a wave of new focus on garages, offering organizational tips for improving this forgotten but valuable room of the home.

We caught up with West before he attended the BookExpo America in Chicago in early June.

What are your qualifications to write this book?

I've been a partner in a real estate firm for the last 27 years. I also remodeled and organized my garage in 1998 and did a lot of research since then. That's given me a good background to identify the cultural norm for how Americans use their garages.

What's your garage door background?

As a Realtor, the design of garage doors has always captured my attention. I've often considered how the looming garage doors on the front elevation could be diminished by good architectural design.

I've seen the garage door industry make leaps and bounds in improving the looks of the garage door itself. There has been a healthy sensitivity toward good design.

What were your primary sources for the chapter on garage doors and openers?

Various sources, really. I gleaned information from the literature of many companies and from Web sites. I also consulted with a now-retired 40-year garage door veteran installer (Gene Schouenweiler) who worked with The Garage Door People in Fort Collins.

Is the typical homeowner attaching more value to the garage?

Absolutely, without question, yes.

I think 1992 was the benchmark year of the trend to the three-car garage. Automobile sales were actually stable then, but garages grew because people were acquiring more possessions.

We're now seeing new home builders offering upgrade packages for garages, with options for better-looking and more-functional floors, walls, and ceilings.

A finished garage will have great appeal to men and women. But women will actually drive this trend.

If the garage has more value, what will that mean to the garage door industry?

Homeowners are becoming more aware of their garage, both inside and out. I think the garage door industry will respond to that growing interest by embracing innovation and emphasizing the design and appearance of doors.

I believe you will also see more emphasis on making the garage door's interior design more consistent with the finished interior of the rest of the garage.

Do you think homeowners are now willing to spend more for a better garage door?

One of two things will happen. When building a new home, homeowners will either try to hide the garage door entrance, or they will showcase their garage opening.

In general, there will be a higher sensitivity to improving the overall appearance of the garage. An unfinished garage in a new home by 2020 will be rare. Companies that focus on the style and design of the garage door are heading in the right direction.

Do you have any advice for garage door manufacturers?

Listen to the consumer. Know what's going on outside your industry. We all get embroiled in what we do every day, and we're always looking over the shoulder of our competitor.

But we need to look beyond to see the big picture and get a sense of how customers are responding to different designs, colors, trends, and materials.

Do you believe the garage is in a transitional phase?

Indeed. This space has been abused and ignored for over 100 years.

Now, the garage is where the closet industry was 20 years ago. And today, the closet industry is a two-billion-dollar industry.

I like to call the garage a drive-in closet. It's ripe for installing systematic ideas to get more functional use out of the garage.

Besides that, it is, of course, the best place to park your car.

For more information on the Garagenous Zone book, go to www.garagez.com or e-mail Bill West at bwest@paragongarage.com.