Editor's note: This is one in a weekly series of profiles on locally owned and operated businesses in Southern Oregon.
What do you do and how long have you been doing it?
Business: Shower Doors and More
Owners: Ron Harris and Garr Erskine
Ages: 43 and 47
Address: 4770 Industry Drive, Central Point
Ron Harris: We do flat glass glazing, specializing in shower doors. We do household window retrofit and mirrors as well as attached heavy shower doors. We've been doing this for 11 years and in the glass business almost 30 years. At one point we were doing shower doors, mirrors and towel bars for 75 percent of the contractors in town.
How long have you lived in the Rogue Valley?
Off and on since I was 5, and Garr grew up here. We both moved to the Bay Area different times for 12 to 13 years.
What inspired you to go into this line of work?
I kind of fell into it. I got out of the National Guard and came back from basic training and went to work at Fabricated Glass in Talent. Garr also worked at Fabricated Glass in the early 1980s. Then we both were down in the Bay Area and ended up working almost next to each other. He moved back here in the mid-1990s and I moved back in 2000.
What decision or action would you change if you could do it again?
We pretty much hit it at the right time, Garr had come back and had been running a two-man-shop for three years and then I bought it in 2000. For three years, it was gangbusters. I would've maybe picked up some different lines or different things because we had such a large customer base. Perhaps we could have gotten into other products, like fiberglass inserts, they needed at the time.
What's the toughest business decision you've made?
Probably the biggest decision was to move from a 2,400-square-foot business with five guys to make a jump to this 6,000-square-foot building three years ago. We were up to 13 employees and running three trucks — crews of two apiece — every day. Since then we've had to cut back a bit, but there is building still going on here.
Who are your competitors?
Most of the glass shops in town compete with us, but we specialize in heavy glass custom shower doors and we really don't have a lot of competition in that market. But just about every glass shop in town will sell you a door. We've tried to cut out the middle man by stocking all the parts in house and building them here. We can push it out in one day that way, while everyone else has to wait.
What are your goals?
We would like to get bigger and maybe move into a storefront and do more commercial work. We brought in a partner in a separate company that did commercial work and we sold that. We've been covering from Klamath Falls to Ashland and Grants Pass. We opened a new location on Airport Road in Roseburg in January with one salesman there. I think we miss-timed it just a little bit because building has gone down; since it is a new store it hasn't hurt us that much.
What training or education did you need?
Pretty much the only way you can learn this work is hands on. There isn't any training you can get other than going to work for someone. There aren't any courses, it's just something you learned to do. Garr worked for ACI in Santa Clara and I worked for Western States in Fremont. Our backgrounds are in fabrication and installation.
What's your advice for budding entrepreneurs?
Have a really good work ethic, be involved in your company as much as possible and put in the time. A lot of time, people just aren't there. We go to work at 6:30 and go home at 5, Monday through Friday. You have to have faith in yourself, nobody gets anywhere by sitting still. You definitely get what you put into something, no matter what it is.
To suggest an idea for this column, contact reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org