More than 15 years ago, Rick Medlen had a home built in Eugene and wanted a real wood garage door. But there was a problem – the builder didn’t want to install a larger garage door header to accommodate the weight and the $8,500 price tag was expensive.
“I thought, ‘There has to be some sort of faux product you can put on the outside of garage doors’ and realized there is nothing at all (on the market),” Medlen said.
Medlen, who has a background in engineering, developed a concept of thin, wood veneers adhered to lightweight foam that attaches to metal garage doors via strong earth magnets, transforming the appearance to high-end wood carriage doors without any alterations.
“Through years of trial and error, I created something that worked and that looks beautiful,” Medlen said.
Medlen founded GarageSkins Inc. in 2014. The startup company has raised more than $1.2 million in early-stage funding and is leasing 60,000 square foot of space for a new production facility at 5405 W. Riverbend Ave. in Post Falls with plans to take its garage door overlay system to market next year.
Medlen obtained two patents, conducted lab tests to show stability of the product and installed prototype systems at homes in Oregon, Texas and Arizona. The startup has received deposits on 220 orders totaling $260,000 and amassed a waiting list of nearly 11,000 customers.
“We’ve been prototyping, lab testing and getting real-world systems up on garage doors throughout the nation,” he said. “Now that we know we have a market-ready product, we have to build it.”
Seven members of the Central Texas Angel Network announced last week they have invested $800,000 in GarageSkins.
“I am delighted to see our investor network identify a startup investment opportunity as compelling as GarageSkins, with its unique, patented product,” Ron Doornink, lead investor for CTAN, said in a statement. “This company has a huge potential market of more than 30 million homes with metal garage doors in the U.S.”
Doornink will be joining the GarageSkins board of directors.
GarageSkins is slated to occupy its Post Falls production facility by April and plans to bring its garage overlay system to market by July.
Medlen’s wife, Julie, a Spokane native and co-owner of GarageSkins, will be overseeing customer-facing operations. The company is also hiring a local manufacturing expert to head operations at the Post Falls facility, Medlen said.
The GarageSkins system costs $1,199 for a two-car garage, significantly less than replacing garage doors, and addresses a need in the home improvement market, which is growing during the coronavirus pandemic, Medlen said.
Homeowners spent $522 billion on home improvements from 2017 to 2019, undertaking an estimated 115 million projects, according to personal finance company Nerdwallet, which cited data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey.
Nearly 61% of homeowners nationwide have embarked on home improvement projects since March 1, according to an August NerdWallet survey.
“With the pandemic happening and the work world changing to a stay-at-home model, people are more focused on their house,” Medlen said. “They are remodeling and upgrading to make their immediate surroundings comfortable and nicer.”
Medlen plans to ramp up production to 75,000 garage overlay systems a month and eventually scale the business nationally by partnering with big-box stores, in addition to selling directly to consumers.
There are also plans to pursue patents for ancillary products to the GarageSkins system, Medlen added.
The Medlens moved to Liberty Lake in August and are excited to be growing GarageSkins in the region.
“We love this area,” Medlen said. “We’ve been blessed to feel that the local community has opened their arms to us. We would like to give that back and support the local community down the road, too.”