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Business Observer Thursday, May 23, 2019 1 month ago

Top Entrepreneurs: Glass company shines in grabbing market share

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Bill Daubmann abandoned one career dream to address a family illness. Now, with a rapidly growing business on the cusp of an even-bigger breakthrough, Daubmann is primed to reach another dream.
by: Andrew Warfield Lee-Collier Editor

 

When he looks into the future of the 16-year-old company he founded as a 2,000-square-foot showroom and assembly operation in Naples in 2003, Bill Daubmann’s vision is clear as glass.

In early June, the company, My Shower Door/D3 Glass, expects to begin moving into its new $8 million, 60,000-square-foot headquarters and manufacturing facility off Alico Road in Fort Myers. The occasion will mark the realization of a six-year vision for the 64-year-old Daubmann, and the beginning of a push of My Shower Door as a national brand.

While his business is now an almost-dream come true, getting here required putting his first career passion on ice and, as a necessity, becoming an entrepreneur. As a young man supporting his wife, Donna, and two sons in Massachusetts, Daubmann worked for a company installing finishing touches on new homes such as closet organizing systems, medicine cabinets, toilet paper holders and shower doors. “Stuff the builders didn’t want to do,” he says. 

That job also supported the pursuit of his dream career: as a top-rated referee in the American Hockey League, he was on track for a career in the National Hockey League.

Then his son, Keith, was diagnosed with Stage 1 childhood Hodgkin lymphoma at age 10. Between travel for Keith’s treatment and his wife at home also taking care of their six-year-old son, Doug, changes had to be made. First, it was a leap into entrepreneurism to keep the hockey dream alive.

“I left my full-time job and tried to find a business where we could work at home so I could still officiate and run a business, and that’s how I became an entrepreneur,” Daubmann says. “Because I didn’t have enough insurance to cover everything, it didn’t take long for me to realize the only way to raise that kind of money was to go into business for myself. I took that leap because we were going broke.”

A year later, Daubmann decided hockey no longer fit in the schedule, so he traded his striped jersey for a work shirt. Daubmann’s first company sold and installed closet organizing systems and shower enclosures. When he moved to Naples in 2003, Daubmann decided to focus on shower enclosures. That's when My Shower Door was born.

Bill Daubmann was a top-ranked American Hockey League referee until a family illness compelled him to become an entrepreneur to meet expenses and leave his hockey career as a result. Courtesy Bill Daubmann

Today, My Shower Door/D3 Glass manufacturers, sells and installs more than its name suggests. It also makes and installs custom, high-impact architectural glass for balcony rails, office space enclosures and more. Specializing in high-end residential, condo and hospitality markets, projects have included Trump National Doral Miami; a conversion of six floors of the Contemporary Hotel at Walt Disney World into executive suites; and new villas at Disney’s Polynesian Resort.

Truly a family business — Bill is president, Keith vice president, Doug secretary-treasurer and Donna, listed as an owner, runs the office — My Shower Door vertically integrated into manufacturing in 2013 with the founding of D3 Glass. That provided the ability to make its own custom products and provide quick order fulfillment, launching it into its next phase of growth. 

The new facility will put the entire operation under one roof and provide space for distribution, new product development and training for affiliate stores — the seven My Shower Door showrooms in Florida, and possibly franchise stores.

“I envision making this a national brand,” says Daubmann. “Everything we have done over the last five years has been geared toward this.”

'Because I didn’t have enough insurance to cover everything, it didn’t take long for me to realize the only way to raise that kind of money was to go into business for myself. I took that leap because we were going broke.' Bill Daubmann

So has its branding. All of the company’s products begin with the word “My” — My Pivot, My Slide, My Glide and more. “Everything includes that element to build the brand My Shower Door,” he says. “That's where I see this going.”

With company-owned showrooms from Naples to Orlando and six affiliates in four states, the company is poised to emerge as a major player in the industry. Averaging 18% growth in the last three years, it reported $16.9 million in revenues in 2018. Now with 100 employees and showrooms and installers in Naples, Fort Myers, Sarasota, Tampa and Orlando, Daubmann is looking at Florida's east coast.

“I can really see now where the business model works and how we can scale it, and I think that will be the key to take this further,” says Daubmann. “That’s why the new building is so important.”

The new building is also the realization of the goal of an entrepreneur motivated by putting his family’s needs ahead of his own.

“This has been a dream of mine for the last six years,” says Daubmann. “To get the business to this level and to finally see the building nearing completion is very exciting.”

Read the stories behind the Business Observer's 2019 Top Entrepreneurs: 

Top Entrepreneurs: A life's passion doesn't come without sacrifices 

Top Entrepreneurs: Family business patriarch's big risks have paid off 

Top Entrepreneurs: Founder, CEO of real estate empire built company with focus on values, customer service

Top Entrepreneurs: Hardware store chain president adopts a Wynn-ing formula

Top Entrepreneurs: Cybersecurity guru defies conventional wisdom 

Top Entrepreneurs: CEO grows boat club business, expands into other vehicles

Top Entrepreneurs: Ex-attorney cleans up with disruptive approach to business 

Top Entrepreneurs: Ice cream company owner scoops out winning formula

Top Entrepreneurs: Roofing component manufacturer's growth is no flash in the pan

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