Sometimes success and reputation are still earned the hard way; with passion, a family legacy for hard work, innovation and engineering, uncompromising quality and design, exceptional service and tremendous national respect. This is an Edmonton, AB story – and their 60th anniversary milestone – of the vibrant and innovative, second-generation family owned and operated business, Steel-Craft Door Products Ltd.
“Of course we’re in a dynamic and fiercely competitive industry,” explains the plugged-in and kinetic president and CEO, Kimberly Mihalcheon, who leads the Steel-Craft Door Products team. She credits her father, visionary Edmonton entrepreneur, Arthur Mihalcheon and his early driven and strongminded beginnings, with setting the foundation for the company’s 60-year focus on people, innovation, quality and service.
“It is true in life and it is true in business,” she says with passion and enthusiasm. “Where we come from matters and helps determine where we are going. Perpetuating my father’s legacy, as well as embracing today’s and tomorrow’s technology, automation and efficient new ways of doing things. We are now moving into our seventh decade of hard work and success.”
Since 2008, when Kim Mihalcheon assumed ownership of Steel-Craft, the company has grown rapidly, with dealership networks and distribution facilities across Canada.
From the beginning, she was gutsy and determined. She asked questions, she studied, reviewed and scrutinized every aspect of Steel-Craft’s operations from the people, the equipment, the automation, R&D and the limitless and exciting opportunities for emerging technology.
“My early focus was to take my father’s initial designs and work with our design team to expand on these styles and introduce new product offerings and roll-forming processes at Steel-Craft.”
Recent facts and figures show that the approach is definitely paying off. The adjustments and changes continue to spark the company into its 60th year of earning a solid reputation as Canada’s premier source of commercial and residential garage doors.
She acknowledges that, particularly the past four years or so, the pandemic, the economy, supply chain issues and more have been a challenge for many businesses.
“Our attention on vertical integration, from raw materials to finished goods, and the vision to keep moving forward, has allowed us to be agile and mostly unencumbered by various recent global and industry situations.”
While Kim Mihalcheon is supercharged and savvy about the products and the business, she is enthusiastically proud about Steel-Craft’s momentum and success.
“It’s a fact. We know garage doors top to bottom, and we make them from the inside out. A key is that we understand exactly what architects, industry leaders, developers, home builders and homeowners across Canada expect from the Steel-Craft brand.”
Although history and tradition are valuable, and perhaps because experience is such a resoundingly good teacher, times do change. Customer wants, needs and trends change. Business and industry changes. Especially due to technology and new ways of doing things, manufacturing, products and services change.
And Steel-Craft changes. Mihalcheon underscores that transitioning Steel-Craft Door Products into its 60th year of success continues to be exciting and rewarding. She appreciatively praises the hard-working and high-achieving Steel-Craft team and emphasizes the vital importance of innovation and investment.
She underscores that business-of-business is crucial, saying, “Innovation keeps the company current and real-time relevant in a growing and competitive industry. Investment ensures our ability to constantly find solutions and efficiencies, giving us a competitive advantage. But there is no doubt about it, technology is a game changer! Infusing technology and automation into the Steel-Craft manufacturing process continues to be essential. It drives the company forward as a respected industry leader, every step of the way.”
There is a consensus among members of the company’s management team that private ownership is a vital part of Steel-Craft’s competitive advantage. It is invaluable for making changes quickly and, coupled with the in-house design and manufacturing capabilities, allows Steel-Craft to react quickly to market changes.
In management’s opinion, the flexibility of private ownership empowers Steel-Craft’s greater efficiency, reduces waste, presents raw material requirements in real-time and allows for effective and uniform manufacturing processes.
“Being Canadian-made and manufactured is a unique and core aspect of our company. We are uncompromising about quality materials and all of the hardware we make ourselves. Absolutely every piece of a Steel-Craft door, from hinges to track to weather stripping, is made on-site, with 100 per cent Canadian steel and 100 per cent Canadian-made means ultimate quality control.”
“We skimp on nothing,” she adds with palpable gusto. “It’s a claim that no other garage door manufacturer can make!”
Although the company offers many decorative design options, the most important feature of each Steel-Craft door is the high quality, designed and manufactured for efficiency and trouble-free heavy use. From wind to rain, warm sunshine to freezing snow, the company’s reputation continues to be built on design, leading-edge engineering and manufacturing to withstand and keep out even the most extreme Canadian weather conditions.
With delight, not rote shop talk, she highlights some specific examples of the company’s uniqueness and excellence.
Innovations like the patented Steel-Craft Weatherlock System, which overlaps the interior and exterior skins, which keeps out the cold and prevents heat loss, significantly extending the life of the garage door, making our doors the most robust in the industry. The CLIMACORE insulation, which achieves the highest possible R-value, maximizing the durability and protection of each product offering to best suit the customer’s needs.
Popular Steel-Craft residential doors like Thermo-Craft, the classic design along with the Ranch-Craft, Carriage-Craft, Flush, Contemporary and Mid-Century-Modern, all lead in thermal efficiency. The Ranch-Craft RidgeLine long panel design is a stunning standout on homes across the country. The Carriage-Craft line is distinct for connecting modern technology with a more traditional aesthetic, delivering immaculate fabrication.
And some industry-leading commercial products like the SC-Industrial, with two-inch thick polyurethane insulated panels and with an R-value of 19, TD-134 and the Commercial Flush, are several preferred choices for a wide range of commercial and agricultural applications. Steel-Craft’s aluminum doors, SA-6500 and SA-7500 are elegant, practical and durable – whether these doors are for car dealerships, fire halls, restaurants or contemporary homes, just to name a few.
Mihalcheon is high energy and animated, not only about the Steel-Craft products but the company’s solid track record of service. “Every aspect of every Steel-Craft garage door is expertly engineered. Combined with the various choices of finishes, lifts and hardware, it is delivered with outstanding customer service.”
She is genuine, upbeat and a bit emotional admitting that, in addition to the 60 years of innovation, quality and service and the company’s growth and success, “Much of it is personal.”
“The knowledge and experience of our people is so important. It is who we are. Our true strength is our people and our people are our family. We rely on their input and their expertise. We have more than 425 employees across the country, including Edmonton’s head office and manufacturing centre, and offices in Surrey, Toronto, Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina, P.A., Kelowna, Lethbridge and more.”
The motivated and accomplished, Edmonton-based business leader is also openly reverent about family business’ traditions and core values.
“My father believed in Edmonton, in Alberta and in Canada. He was enthusiastic about supporting our local communities and our workforce. He was part of the Edmonton Ownership Group of investors, which bought the Edmonton Oilers to make sure the team stayed in Canada. We are a proud contributor to Concordia University for The Mihalcheon School of Management and our continued support of Edmonton hospitals is unconditional and spans more than four decades.”
“When it gets right down to it, we are so much more than a Canadian-owned and operated company in the residential and commercial garage door business,” Steel-Craft’s personable Kim Mihalcheon concludes. “We are family and we are community. Putting our people first and being unafraid to be bold and innovative creates success for everyone involved. I am very proud to be part of a Canadian legacy company.”