Manufacturing/distribution winner: Amarr Garage Doors

When the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce selected Amarr Garage Doors as the winner of its Excellence in Commerce Awards for manufacturing and distribution, it was as much as anything a recognition of a good, two-way relationship.

At least that’s how Delbert Phlipot, Amarr’s vice president of manufacturing, saw it.

“It was a privilege to receive the award. Amarr prides itself on being an active member of the community and also trying to participate in local charitable organizations,” he said.

“Lawrence has been good for Amarr, and, I think, Amarr has been good to Lawrence.”

It’s hard to dispute the plant’s beneficial effects on the city’s business and employment scene. It’s a story of nearly constant growth.

Amarr Garage Doors came to Lawrence’s East Hills Business Park in 1989, partnering with two other door companies to form Garage Door Group. The three firms opened a 120,000-square-foot plant together and hired 60 employees.

In 1995, the plant doubled in size, and by 1998, Amarr bought out its business partners at the site and swelled to a work force of 350 people.

In 2006, the plant expanded again, with Amarr investing more than $17 million.

Kirsten Krug

The addition of 12 new loading docks – the first phase of the expansion plan – took place in September 2004 and marked an important step toward eventually doubling the plant’s production capacity.

The loading dock expansion added about 40,000 square feet to the Lawrence facility.

The entire expansion project added about 130,000 square feet to the 250,000-square-foot plant. In addition to the loading docks, it includes space for new production, warehouse and office functions.

At the start of 2006, the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce listed Amarr as the ninth-largest employer in the Lawrence area – at that time having 501 employees.

The plant here has now grown to 700 employees.

Amarr’s strategic plan is to triple the size of its business by 2012. The company’s mission is to produce a quality product that is safe, dependable, attractive and a good value to its customers.

But Amarr is also committed to being a good corporate citizen.

Kirsten Krug, the plant’s director of people, ticked off a few examples.

“We were just really happy to be recognized by the Lawrence chamber for our contribution to the community, both in the employment that we bring to Lawrence and in the way that we are able to give back to the city in the form of wages that we pay our team members, most of whom live in the area and spend it locally,” Krug said.

“And then there are our charitable contributions. We’re big supporters of Lawrence Habitat for Humanity, for example, and we have a huge fund drive for the United Way. Our team members typically pull together $18,000 to $20,000, and then Amarr matches it 100 percent.”

Amarr has been honored for its ongoing efforts to help build homes for low-income residents through Habitat for Humanity. It received the Tradesman of the Year Award in September 2005 during Habitat’s annual meeting.