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Security the door to opportunity
by AnnElise Hatjakes
Mar 26, 2009 | 727 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
<a href=>Tribune/Debra Reid</a> - Gene Martin designs, forges and welds custom steel doors, gates and furniture at J & S Security Doors in Reno.
Tribune/Debra Reid - Gene Martin designs, forges and welds custom steel doors, gates and furniture at J & S Security Doors in Reno.
Kathy Martin is the co-owner of a business she calls a “mom, pop, son and brother shop.” The Martins’ business, J & S Security Doors, is the only company in the area that manufactures and installs its own security doors.

The Martins complete hundreds of projects a year. "Right now, I have a list of 40 customers that I’m working with," Kathy said. "It takes about four or five weeks to complete a project."

J & S Security Doors is based out of Reno, but Kathy and her husband, Gene, live in Sparks.

“We do a lot of our work in the Sparks area,” Kathy said. “We mostly do residential work and we work in a lot of the surrounding areas.”

Gene and Kathy Martin purchased the business from a friend in the same complex eight years ago this month. They previously worked on engines with their business All-Gen Services, which was started shortly after Kathy and Gene moved to Sparks in 1990.

“This is more of a creative outlet,” Kathy said and added with a laugh, “I also stay a lot cleaner.”

J & S manufactures steel doors, gates, outside railings and window guards, installs them and does the powder coating on site. Powder coating is a process where a finish is applied to the product. Kathy said this process is one way that they differ from other businesses.

“A lot of similar products are spray painted,” Kathy said. “Powder coating is a process where you have to sandblast the metal and then it get electro-statically charged, and then it bakes for 20-25 minutes. It’s a very durable and long-lasting process. Some customers have had doors for 15 years and spray paint only lasts a year if you’re lucky.”

Kathy said J & S offers some designs that are standard throughout the industry. There are some pieces that they purchase and weld onto the products to give them a more decorative feel.

“People can also design their own doors or gates,” Kathy said. “There are standards doors and then more high-end products. We do a lot of work for middle-class families, though, so maybe around 5 percent of our business comes from customers that do their own designs.” J & S has done custom doors with parrots and ducks on them and have made doors that enhance the appearance of the stained glass doors behind them.

J & S is participating in the Reno Total Home Show taking place this weekend and with less business currently coming through their door, Kathy said the kind of exposure the business gets from the home show is important.

“Business has slowed down in the last eight to nine months,” Kathy said. “We’re down a lot from last year. We do at least four shows a year and it has been worth it up until about a year ago. I think people have started to watch their money more, so business has been harder, but you have to go and do the show.”

Kathy said that one of the reason she regularly participates in the home shows is because there are people who expect their business to be there.

“Sometimes, we’ll see people we saw five or six years before and they’re just now considering buying a door,” Kathy said. “This isn’t a spur of the moment kind of purchase.”

Another problem J & S has encountered is that the costs of the materials that the business uses have increased.

"All the prices have gone up," Kathy said. "It’s pretty comparable to the price increases of most things, but we're trying to maintain what we’ve been charging."

J & S is different from other businesses not only because they manufacture their own product, but also because their business is completely family run.

“It has its ups and downs, but it’s great to work with your family,” Kathy and Gene’s son Joe said. “It’s a lot of fun and you learn a lot of things along the way. My dad was the one who taught me how to weld.”

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