Opening Doors

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-By Claire Suttles

Airport Doors founder Gregory Czapp survived four years in a concentration camp during World War II before emigrating from Poland to Airport, West Australia. In 1958, he launched a door manufacturing operation and named it after his new home. It was a small and perhaps inauspicious beginning. “He started the business in his backyard,” director Frank Cassar explains. But, the company grew steadily. A small factory eventually made way for a larger one, and over time Airport Doors expanded to cover all of Australia, with branches in Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, and Perth. Today, the business supplies and supports builders, architects, and private home owners throughout the continent, and remains family owned.

According to its website, Airport Doors strives to remain “at the forefront of door technology,” and emphasises quality assurance and research and development. The team is careful to stay abreast of current trends, styles, and materials in order to offer the best solution to each client. The company makes over 40 styles of residential, commercial, and industrial doors, many of which are not offered by other manufacturers. “They are similar,” Mr Cassar explains, “but not exactly the same.”

The team believes that it is these subtle differences in craftsmanship and design that make Airport Doors’ products stand out. Furthermore, every door is custom made to meet each client’s exact needs. “We measure on site and manufacture to suit,” Mr Cassar summarises. The company utilises architects and designers to create the best door for each situation, and Mr Cassar stresses the company’s “versatile” and “innovative” approach to projects through its unique engineering capability. Give the team any space that needs a door, he says, and “we can make it.”

The company offers a wide range of doors, each of which is described in detail on the company’s website to help consumers navigate the many choices. The popular Roller Doors are known for their smooth operation, low maintenance and economy. These high security doors have residential and light industrial uses in garages, carports, lane ways and mini storage warehouses. Canopies are available for weather protection of freestanding or fence-line Roller Doors.

The strong, yet easy to operate Roller Shutter Door is one the company’s most versatile and oft-utilised designs. These doors contain individual interlocking slats, which allow for cost effective repairs if the unit gets damaged, and may include wind locks for extra protection. The large, Aluminium Shutter Door offers security and ventilation, and is used in shopping complexes, storefronts, chemical enclosures, sporting complexes and arcades.

The team also offers a security Shutter Door that is tastefully fashioned out of wood to blend into upscale, sophisticated surroundings, such as showrooms, bars, or clubs. The Roller Shutter Door is also available in reduced sizes to secure small openings such as kitchen or tool cabinets. In yet another application, Roller Shutters can be used as fire doors to prevent flames from spreading. This is particularly important in industries that deal with flammable material, but the doors are also necessary in highly trafficked areas, such as shopping malls and supermarket entrances, to protect the public.

Fold-Up Doors are particularly well suited for large-scale needs and have a wide range of cladding options for a unique and stylish look. This door type is used for commercial, industrial and residential uses, but is most commonly seen in showrooms, fire stations, and aircraft hangars. These doors are often built on a massive scale, and Mr Cassar reports that the largest door the company has made is a Fold-Up Door measuring a whopping 23 by 7 metres. The structure was installed in an aircraft hangar and, despite its size, opens easily to allow planes through.

Sectional Doors are also popular, particularly for residential garages. Steel or timber Sectionals are available in sleek, contemporary designs, and are custom cut to fit each home. Industrial use Sectional Doors are also available in aluminium, and can be designed with visual panels for workshops, fire stations, car parks and showrooms.

Airport Doors has a showroom in Melton, Victoria with samples of all these door types, and a good many more. Builders, architects, and private homeowners can examine the wide range of products first hand and receive expert advice from the company’s sales staff. According to Airport Doors’ website, having a showroom is vital because it allows clients “a better understanding and image of our products by being able to see and touch the real thing.”

Airport Doors has a number of major projects under its belt. In 2006, the team completed two massive doors for Melbourne’s Southern Cross Station in consultation with Grimshaw Jackson Joint Venture and Winward Structures. Mr Cassar says that the first, measuring 3 metres high and 30.5 metres wide, is one of the largest single span glazed counterweight doors in the world. The second door measures 16 meters wide by 5.7 meters high, and opens using cam levers and hydraulic cylinders. This door is also fully glazed and doubles as a canopy when opened. These imposing structures welcome pedestrians at the station’s main entrances and stay open during business hours.

In 2002, Airport Doors designed and manufactured doors for Federation Square, an important Melbourne tourist site. In this challenging project, the team, in conjunction with Federation Square’s architects, specially designed doors to blend into the surrounding architecture. The company completed four Fold-Up Doors and five Automatic Glass Sliding Doors electrically driven by underground carriage. The team also made a specially designed, 11 metre by 7 metre atrium acoustic wall with pedestrian access for concerts and conferences. This five tonne acoustic barrier is composed of six sliding panels managed by a safety control system.

The company is currently supplying over 500 doors to Pentridge Village, a new upscale housing complex at Coburg on the site of an old prison. For this project, the Airport Doors team is primarily installing Steel Sectional Overhead Doors into residential garages.

Airport Doors has faced its share of challenges alongside its major accomplishments. “We are trying to get over the financial crisis,” Mr Cassar reports. “It’s been tough.” He knows that sluggish sales aren’t unique to his company, however. “Everyone in Australia is concerned at the moment,” he reflects. Whilst overcoming an “up and down” economy, Mr Cassar has also noticed a surprising increase in competition. There are a handful of new manufacturing companies, as well as a number of already existing ones who are beginning to branch out into the market space. “It’s a tough industry at the moment,” he admits. “We have lost some of the work.”

He isn’t concerned, though. The company is continuing to grow at a steady and sustainable pace, and is taking steps to increase productivity even further. For example, management has implemented a series of training sessions to improve efficiency and encourage stronger relationships with clients and fellow team members. Another industry challenge is “the cost of materials and wages.” Mr Cassar says that this problem, combined with the weak economy and increased competition, means that “no one is making any money at the moment.” But, he admits, “That’s the way the industry is,” and remains optimistic that it will improve soon.

Overall, Mr Cassar reports that Airport Doors has proactively “readjusted” to meet these challenges and has managed to come out on top. The team is eager to continue offering solutions to the commercial, industrial, and residential markets, and encourages clients to come to them for any need, large or small, complex or elementary. “Our doors are open for anyone.”

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June 19, 2018, 10:44 AM AEST