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Business Observer Friday, May 26, 2017 1 year ago

See it through

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After a decade of success in Great Britain, a company has brought its different kind of doors stateside. It has some hurdles to overcome.
by: Mark Gordon Managing Editor

A business on two continents, approaching $60 million in combined sales, can trace its birth to a family of impatient — yet opportunistic — entrepreneurs.

The company, Origin, got its start building indoor pools in and around London. Some higher-end clients, says executive Neil Ginger, sought better track doors to get to the pool area. They sought something wide and sleek, but also functional and safe. Ginger and the team, including his father, uncle and his cousin, Victoria Brocklesby, found a German manufacturer that made aluminum bifolding sliding doors. Customers loved them.

One problem: The German supplier quickly ran out of inventory. “That was the seed that started Origin,” says Ginger. “There was a lack of an ability to buy them from someone else. We weren't looking to start a business.”

That was in 2002. For the first six years, says Ginger, “our biggest constraint is we couldn't make enough of them.”

The company manufactured 10,000 doors in 2010, the first time it passed that milestone. In 2011, it launched a sales office in Dubai. Based in High Wycombe, 30 miles outside London, the British Origin now has 300 employees, a full-capacity manufacturing plant and $55 million in annual sales.

In 2014 Ginger, with his wife and four children, relocated to the United States, with the goal of duplicating the British success.

The company chose Venice as its American beachhead. Ginger cites the beaches and lifestyle, and a thriving business community, for choosing south Sarasota County. Impact-resistant window and door manufacturer PGT Industries, one of the largest employers in the region, is located less than a mile away from Origin. But Ginger says PGT didn't factor into the decision of where the company would open an American office.

Origin USA is essentially in a third-year transition phase: not yet a mature business, but no longer a baby, with a growing customer base. It did $2 million to $3 million in sales in 2016, says Ginger, and he projects the company will do $4 million to $5 million in 2017. The company, with 20 employees, recently moved to a larger facility, going from less than 3,000 square feet to 6,000 square feet.

“The interest and confidence is growing every day,” says Ginger. “It's an exciting time.”

Part of that stems from the product's spot in the marketplace. Only eight of the largest 100 window and door companies nationwide offer the bifold design, says Ginger. Origin's products are made with high-grade aluminum, he adds, which makes them more durable and aesthetically pleasing, albeit sometimes more expensive than traditional patio and lanai doors. The doors also pass Florida's rigorous High Velocity Hurricane Zone testing standards, the company says.

Origin's unique features present a marketing problem. “The main challenge we face is having a product that isn't mainstream and isn't understood,” says Ginger. “An astronomical amount of companies have said, 'Yes, we want to sell your products.' But turning those yeses into revenue streams is a long process.”

Origin USA sells its doors and windows to home products retailers, such as ABC Supply Co. Inc. The company's sales staff, led by Origin USA President Ben Halvorsen, meets with suppliers and vendors, talking up the features of bifold doors and the Origin brand.

“We're growing extremely well,” says Ginger, “but we are still a long way from where we want to be.”

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