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From convenient access to reduced heating costs, automatic doors provide retailers with some key benefits. Chain Store Age spoke about industry trends with Mark Dugo, VP sales, record-usa, which provides swing, slide and folding door systems that incorporate the latest in automation technology.

What trends are you seeing with regard to the use of automatic door systems in retail stores?

We’re seeing a lot more concern with the overall savings associated with the cost of running the door as opposed to simple acquisition price. Other factors, including UV values, wattage consumption and other green initiatives, are also coming more into play than ever before.

What is the biggest mistake retailers make when it comes to these types of systems?

Retailers that simply purchase based on low price normally will find themselves with higher service costs and dissatisfaction with the manufacturer they have selected. The ones that ask questions, seek information and want proven results inevitably are more content with their choice.

Are most retailers in compliance with ADA as it applies to doors?

On the front entrances of stores, usually when sliding doors are chosen, ADA requirements are easily met.

But most convenience stores and fast-food restaurants still maintain manual doors, which meet the requirements of ADA but not the spirit of the law that states free and equal egress to all Americans. In general, we would like to see more focus from convenience stores and restaurants to provide with the spirit of ADA by proving free and equal ingress to the 150 million Americans with disabilities. And that figure doesn’t include the elderly, who find it very hard to open heavy manual doors. For some reason, the minimal added expense of a push button actuated surface-mounted unit seems to prevent these types of businesses from doing the right thing.

One day, hopefully soon, these major establishments will agree to assist those with disabilities by automating their manual entrances.

How have automatic doors changed over the years?

I like to say we do not sell doors — we sell technology. Given the right manufacturer, today’s doors can advise the end user with some key information, from when planned maintenance is due to providing a reminder to do a daily safety check. They can even let the end user know if a part has failed. Add to that the virtual silence now offered by many systems — automatic doors have come a long way in a very short amount of time.

Tell us a little about record-usa and the products it offers retailers.

We are a full entrance integrator that offers the very best in technology with our sliding, swinging and folding door systems. We offer advantages that nobody else has, and we go to market through differentiation. When we are allowed to introduce our products and solutions, we very seldom are not awarded at least part of the business.

How does record-usa take care of the installation and maintenance aspect of its automatic doors?

We self-perform throughout the Midwest, the East Coast and Canada. In those states that we don’t self-perform, we partner only with the very premier independent dealers in assuring prompt and efficient installation and service at all times. But our products hold up very well against any other manufacturer so service after the install is rarely a concern.

Swing door entrances, folding doors, sliding doors, revolving doors — what are the main criteria for deciding what type of door is best for a retail/ fast-food store?

We usually will discuss traffic flow, durability, the elements, aesthetics and functionality when deciding on which types of door may be best for any particular retailer.

If you could give retailers one bit of advice when it comes to selecting a door system, what would it be?

Analyze the overall performance and cost of the door system through the expected life cycle (approximately 10 to 12 years) as opposed to just the acquisition cost. There are differences in products offered; a door is not simply a commodity. There are reasons why some operate more efficiently and last longer. Ask the proper questions and don’t make low price the number one determining factor.

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